He is Risen!

Posted: April 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

Matthew 28:1-10, “He is Risen!”

For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of the disciples that week. On Sunday, you had walked behind Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey…people were praising Him shouting “Hosanna!” & you thought now was the time & place that Jesus would be received as king. You made preparations for the Passover, gathered together to eat, and Jesus didn’t seem to act like a king – He disrobed Himself & washed your feet & the weirdest thing happened with Judas that night. For most of the night, Jesus is talking like He’s going away – He’s completely distressed & praying. And then everything goes haywire. Soldiers come & arrest him – most of the disciples run away. Jesus is put into kangaroo courts & the unthinkable happens: He is sentenced to death by crucifixion. By Friday afternoon, Jesus (the Messiah of God!) is dead & buried. All your hopes & dreams seem to be buried with Him…there seems to be no hope.

That was Friday. That was Saturday. But praise God that wasn’t Sunday…

The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything! It caused His followers to go from fear to joy as they worshipped Him & witnessed of Him. It is the very cornerstone of our faith – everything we have in Christ depends upon His resurrection. We can rejoice with the disciples because Jesus is risen from the dead!

Matthew 28:1-10 (NKJV)
1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

A. Some debate the actual day of the crucifixion, but there’s no doubt what day on which Jesus was raised: “after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn…” Plain reference to Sunday morning. Nowhere in Scripture do we find the actual date of the Sabbath changed from Saturday to Sunday (though the NT does tell us how the Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ because our rest is in Him – Heb 4). But the reason most Christians worship on Sunday is because Jesus was raised on a Sunday! We call today “Resurrection Sunday” – but truly EVERY Sunday is Resurrection Sunday! …

B. What makes Mary Magdalene & the other Mary showing up at the tomb so interesting is that apparently, they were the very last at the tomb when the door was shut (Mark 15:47). They were the last to see Jesus entombed; they were the 1st to see Jesus alive…serves as a continual, unbroken witness.
__a. Speaks highly of their love & devotion to Jesus. Others had completely abandoned Him – they were still with Him at every opportunity; even at times they didn’t understand what was going on.
__b. Speaks highly of the truth of the eyewitness account we are reading. Culturally speaking, the testimony of a woman wasn’t trusted…their testimony would be used only if there were no other options. To have the greatest event in history be initially witnessed by 2 women means that those who wrote it down thought it MUST be true. …
__c. Speaks also of the wonderful privilege God gave to womankind! Some often complain that they believe the Bible puts down women – that’s simply not true! The fall of man is placed at the feet of Adam; not Eve. Yet the lineage of Eve was blessed to bring forth the Savior to reverse the fall… Beyond the incarnation, the lineage of Eve was blessed to be the 1st to witness the Resurrection. Women are highly valued & privileged in the sight of God! Truly we can say that in Christ there is neither male nor female…

2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.

A. What a sight! Sometimes it’d be great to have a picture Bible. 🙂 Luke tells us of two angels that spoke to the women – the different perspectives in the different gospel accounts give us a more complete picture of what happened. It’s possible that either Matthew only mentions one of the two, or that one was all that appeared to the Roman guards. Obviously one was all that was needed to roll back the stone.

B. Note that neither the earthquake nor the angel let Jesus out; both of them serve the purpose of rolling back the stone allowing witnesses in. When did Jesus leave the tomb? We don’t know – but the Lord who created the world & conquered death certainly didn’t need anyone to open a door for Him.

4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

A. Remember, there was a contingent of Roman soldiers there. The Pharisees had requested it of Pilate… (Matt 27:62-66) How many were there standing guard? Estimates vary: anywhere from 4-16 men…certainly more than two!

B. Out of the strongest army the world had known to that point, their guards were left speechless & shaking. The Empire of Rome was no match for the Lord God Almighty! …

5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.

A. Good admonition not to be afraid! The Roman soldiers were paralyzed with fear; the Jewish women were comforted by the angels of God. Granted, the Romans had every right to fear! They represented an empire that had placed themselves in direct opposition to God – crucified the Anointed Son of God – demanded that their own king be worshipped. But the women? These were women devoted to the Lord Jesus. They came on a day of grief & confusion seeking to complete the burial rituals. To find an angel (or two) in the place where Jesus should have been would have been terrifying, to say the least!

B. WHY shouldn’t they fear? Because they were seeking Jesus! They may not have understood what was taking place at the time, but they knew they needed to see Jesus – their faith was perhaps shaken, but steadfast. [] Anyone who seeks Jesus Christ need not be afraid! God does not give a spirit of fear, but of power, love & a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7). For those who honestly seek Christ, you can be assured God will not restrain you. Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. [] Granted, left to ourselves, we don’t seek God (no – not one, Rom 3:11) – but when we feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit regarding sin, righteousness & judgment…when we hear the voice of the Good Shepherd & follow Him – we never need to be afraid that God will turn away those who come to Him in faith. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him!
__a. Perhaps you’re here today seeking Him. You’ve given up on the excuses – you’ve stopped trying to ignore the Lord… If that’s you, you do not need to fear to surrender your life to the Lord Jesus today. Come in bold faith to the empty tomb, for the promises Jesus gives are NOT empty!

6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

A. Amen & amen! Some of the best words in all history! …

B. “He is not here”: We know where Jesus is NOT. Jesus is not in the grave. … No matter how many skeptics & TV “documentaries” try to place Jesus in the grave, we’re not going to find Him there. He simply isn’t there. Moreover, we know where Jesus WAS: “…where the Lord lay.” The simple truth of the matter is that Jesus was dead. He did not faint – He did not swoon – He did not have a substitute slip in unnoticed…Jesus was dead when the Romans took Him off from the cross. He had to have been dead, otherwise the wages of sin would never truly have been paid (Rom 6:23)… But the fact is He was dead:
__a. Rome proved it when they pierced Jesus’ side with a spear. Pericaridial fluid was the blood & water that flowed (John 19:34)… Indicative of either cardiac rupture or cardiorespiratory failure. Either way, the centurion verified that Jesus had died. Equivalent of a death certificate.

C. “for He is risen”: We know where Jesus IS. Jesus is alive!! More than alive, Jesus is risen from the dead. Understand the difference? It’s not simply that Jesus never died (He DID die); it’s that Jesus is victorious over death. Many other people were raised from the dead temporarily (Elijah/widow’s son, Lazarus, etc.). There were apparently saints in the Lord who were raised shortly after Jesus’ own resurrection (Mt 27:52-53). The crucial difference between these people & Jesus is that Jesus never died again. Lazarus assuredly tasted death a 2nd time, but not Jesus. When Jesus raised from the dead, death had no more hold on Him – He is completely victorious over death to the glory of God.
__a. We need to understand that Jesus’ resurrection is not a nice story or a myth to tell our children. The resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact! [Review]
____i. Testified by the Apostles: almost every one died preaching the gospel.
____ii. Testified by the Romans: the bribe proves it…
____iii. Testified by the Jews: the day of Pentecost…
____iv. Testified by changed lives: Peter (coward to courageous), Paul (persecutor to preacher), you & me…
__b. Understand what this means: the Lord Jesus Christ is alive TODAY. This very day Jesus lives & sits in the presence of God, having being given all authority in heaven & on earth. But Jesus is not in heaven having died; He is in heaven having a physical glorified body that ascended to His Father. Today He lives, offering eternal life & forgiveness to all who call upon His name… Today He lives, offering a preview of what life will be as we share in His eternal inheritance… Today He lives, interceding for every believer & giving His grace & power to us in our deepest need… Jesus is ALIVE!

D. “as He said”: We know what Jesus DID. None of this was by accident or surprise. Many times Jesus told the disciples that He would suffer, die, and rise again (Mt 16:21, Mk 8:31, Lk 9:22, Jn 2:19). Even Jesus’ teaching ought not to have been a surprise – this was foretold throughout the OT… (Ps 22, Isa 53). Over 300 prophecies in the OT speak of Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, and resurrection – and Jesus fulfilled all of them to the letter!
__a. As we mentioned on Friday, though the events surrounding Jesus’ death looked to be absolutely chaotic, there was not a single drop of blood shed that was not intended by God to be shed. This was not a random act of violence – this was not an instance in which God had no control. This was something completely controlled & intended since before the foundation of the world. John 10:17-18 (17) “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. (18) No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” [] … If Jesus has power even over death, what is there He does NOT have power over? …

7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” 8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

A. What a reason to rejoice! They go from confused despair to joy & praise at a word. Of course, they didn’t receive just any word…they received the best word possible: Christ is risen! Even with a bit of fear still lingering, their entire lives changed in an instant. (Which is exactly what happens when we have faith in the resurrection of Christ – our entire lives change instantly…)

B. What did the angel tell them to do? He sent them out to tell others as they have been told. He told them of a future appointment the Lord would keep with them in Galilee – but most importantly, he told them to tell the disciples that Jesus is risen. That’s the essence of the Great Commission! We are to tell others as we have been told… We are to be witnesses of everything we have experienced in Christ as we share our testimony we others.

9 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.

A. How do we respond to the risen Jesus? #1: Worship. The women fell in humble adoration of their Lord & King which is the most appropriate response possible with God. [] How we need to be a people who worships our King! Whether we fall to our knees, sing out with abandonment, or lift our hands isn’t the issue – the mode of worship varies widely. The question is simply: however it is you worship, have you worshipped Him? Especially today of all days! Yes, we worship through our lives & actions because as believers we are to continually walk with God as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1) – but don’t miss out on the need for God’s people to simply adore Him & worship Him because He is worthy & He is risen. …
__a. On the flip side: one of the worst responses possible is to understand that Jesus is risen from the dead & yet walk away unchanged. If that’s you, you are denying or ignoring the greatest event ever revealed in the universe: the fact that God Himself died for your sins & offers you new life. …

B. “Rejoice”: most English translations say “Hail/Greeting” & the word was used in that context. However, “rejoice” is the proper use & root meaning of the word. Yes, He was greeting them, but it was a wonderful greeting & reason to rejoice! Never was the greeting “rejoice” more appropriate when seeing the risen Lord Jesus!

10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

A. Response #2: Tell others (witness). Jesus reinforces with the women the instructions the angel already gave them. John’s gospel tells us that Jesus would see them in just a few hours when He walks through the closed door & stands in their midst (Jn 20:19), but Matthew simply relates the instruction to go to Galilee. [Not contradictory; simply different perspectives & details…] The essence of the instruction was the same: tell the disciples – tell others the glorious good things you have seen & witnessed.
__a. If you’re a believer in Christ Jesus, you’ve seen – you’ve witnessed. Maybe you haven’t physically seen the empty tomb, but through history & faith you believe that Jesus is risen from the dead. You’ve not seen & yet believed, and are blessed because of it (John 20:29). Hopefully you’ve worshipped – but hopefully you’ve also told others. It is unfathomable that someone would keep this good news to themselves without a thought to share with another. If you knew the Lord Jesus was going to have a public meeting in Bergfeld Park today, you’d be knocking on doors, calling friends, sending FB messages & more – doing everything you could to let people know that Jesus is here! The Lord Jesus Christ is just as available to meet with people today than as if He appeared in person… May we tell others Who & what we have seen!

B. Like the disciples at the time, we “will see” Jesus. For them, it was a matter of a few days. For us, it’s no different. At any moment, in any instant we could see the Lord Jesus. Either by death or rapture, we could be standing before the Lord at any time…and what a glorious promise that is to the believer! We WILL see Jesus!

What an amazing day for the disciples! Jesus is risen from the dead! Yet some would ask “So what?” There are a ton of people that can recite the fact that Christians believe that Jesus is alive – but they have no idea why it is so important. Of all days of the year, this is the day we need to remember why the Resurrection is the single most important event in all of history. Our historical records & timeline was literally split in two because of the Resurrection…if Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead, we’d have no reason to trust Him as God. But because He did, He stands apart from all other men throughout all time.

What does the Resurrection tell us?

1. Jesus is none other than God in the flesh: Romans 1:4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. []

A. The resurrection is the declaration from God to the world that Jesus is His Son – thus that He is God of true God. Think of it: if Jesus had not risen from the dead, it would have shown Him to be powerless (like any other man) and to either be a liar or insane (or both) since He repeatedly prophesied that He would indeed rise from the dead. How does this show that He is God incarnate? Simple:
__a. No one raised Jesus. No prophet came into the tomb & laid hands on Him…
__b. Jesus specifically claimed to BE God. And the testimony of John the Baptist, the prophets, the works of Jesus, and God the Father Himself (4-fold witness, John 5) all point to Jesus as God in the flesh. The resurrection is the ultimate seal of approval upon it all.

B. This declaration is made through the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit… … Through this demonstration, we can SEE that Jesus is the Son of God. The work of God points directly to the Son of God…

2. The penalty for sin has been paid: (Justification) Romans 4:24-25 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, (25) who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. []

A. Context: Paul was writing of the righteousness of Abraham… He did not earn his standing before God; it was imputed (charged – via accounting) him by God not because of anything he did, but simply because Abraham believed God’s word & promise…

B. The point? We can be made righteous in God’s sight the same way – not through any works that we do, but through faith in the work that God has done… What was that work? The resurrection! We desperately need perfect righteous credited to our ‘spiritual bank account’ (because we have none!) – that’s exactly what God makes available to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

3. Those in Christ can live new lives: (Sanctification) Romans 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. []

A. Our life with God begins with faith in Christ Jesus, believing that He is the Son of God crucified for our sins, resurrected from the grave – and in response, turning away from our sin to receive Jesus Christ as our personal Lord & Savior. Amen! But our walk with God begins there; it doesn’t end there. The moment someone trusts Christ as Lord & is born-again of the Holy Spirit, they have been justified (given a right standing in the sight of God) – but now that person still has a life to live. That person is still faced with trials & temptations – and is likely more aware of them now then they every have been before. So what to do? They need power to walk in the newness of life God has called them to. And God promises that through the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ!

B. Understand that left to ourselves, we are absolutely powerless against sin – as demonstrated by our life outside of Christ. Through the resurrection, Jesus not only shows our justification in that death was paid – but He also shows the demonstration of power to live new lives, because that’s exactly what Jesus Himself did. Keep in mind that Jesus could have ascended immediately after exiting the tomb (however He left!) – but that’s not what happened. For 40 days Jesus showed Himself alive to the apostles (Acts 1:3), teaching them & demonstrating the new life God offers to us.

C. We WERE powerless over sin in our lives, but no longer! Christian, you have been born of the Spirit of God, sealed by the Spirit of God, and may be endued with the power of the Spirit of God…all of this shown to be yours through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ…

4. We need to be ready to see Jesus! Acts 17:31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” []

A. Paul had been preaching to the council in Athens (Aeropagus/Mars Hill). Among a people who believed in every god except the One True God, Paul walks systematically through creation, sin, and the need for repentance as he prepares to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them. Paul gets to this statement & gets cut off as some of the people mocked him & others gave the pretense of listening – but the point here is absolutely clear. A judgment IS coming, our righteous judge will be none other than Jesus Christ, and the assurance of this fact is the resurrection.

B. We cannot afford to be ambivalent when it comes to the Lord Jesus Christ. We WILL stand before Him one day; we need to be ready to see Him…

Christ is risen! Everything about our faith is wrapped up in this one act – it is impossible to understate how fundamental the resurrection of Christ is to Christianity. Without it, we have no Christianity at all…

So knowing that Jesus is risen from the dead:
A. Have you worshipped Him?
B. Have you witnessed of Him?

Most importantly, have you put your faith in the One who has been raised from the dead?


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