Cooper P Abrams III
It was the greatest and most important miracle in the life of Jesus. The miracle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most extraordinary event all in history.
It is interesting that the movie the Passion of Christ, which is probably 60% unbiblical and not according to the biblical account, gave only one minute to the resurrection. Even that it not biblical. Yes, the Bible tells of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and of His suffering, but it does not dwell on the beatings and suffering of the Lord. The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus suffered on the cross for our sins....each of us. It was my sins and yours that caused Him to suffer.
But movie emphasizes the physical torture of the beating of Christ, but it misses the truth. Jesus was not only just enduring the pain of being beaten, but was enduring the penalty for all the sins of mankind from Adam unto the last person born on this earth.
2 Cor. 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
We cannot fathom the depths of the suffering of Jesus that took place on that hour when Jesus, our Savior and God, took upon Himself the penalty for the sins of the world. People are shocked and horrified by the brutality of depicted by the Gibson movie, but it in no way shows the real suffering He bore for us.
His suffering and resurrection brings hope to an otherwise hopeless world. Amazingly, people responded to it differently. Though all of them experienced fear, but responded in different ways. Some responded with: Fainted, some a Fabrication, and others with Belief and Faith.
I. FEAR AND FAINTING - Matt. 28:2-4
A. Verse 2: And, behold, there was a great earthquake: The Bible records that the shaking of the ground was a supernatural occurrence.
1. An angel came and rolled back the great stone from the door, and sat upon it: A large stone weighing tons sealed the front of the tomb. Often these stones were rolled down an inclined track. These stones were large and difficult to move in order to protect the grave.
2. Verse 4: And for fear of him (the angel) the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. In other words they began to tremble and the fear overcame them and the fainted. The soldiers were surely carefully trained not to show fear or even think about running in the face of danger. But as they tried to stand at their post they were knocked to the ground and watched as the immense stone rolled away from the door.
3. We know from the report that they later gave to the chief priests that they looked inside and saw the empty tomb.
a. How did these fearless, well-trained soldiers respond? They began to shake with fear and then they fainted!
b. All of their training and conditioning did not prepare them for the greatest miracle in history.
4. It is not likely that people will faint today because of the miracle that took place 2000 years ago. The New Testament does not record that people where shocked and upset by seeing Jesus hanging and suffering on the Cross. The Bible says that as He hung their the religious leaders of Israel came by and spat on Him, railed and mocked Him. They were indifferent to His suffering. The soldiers beneath the cross gambled for His clothes.
But many still "become as dead men" in a spiritual sense. THOUGH they go through the motions of normal life, they are dead to spiritual things.
ILLUS: Across the world today people are celebrating Easter. There will be much more interest in ham and yams and the Easter bunny than there will be in the resurrection and salvation.
Easter is a holiday for most people rather than a holy day.
II. FEAR AND FABRICATION. V11-15
A. Verse 11: behold, some of the watch came into the city: The fearful guards recovered from their fainting spell and ran from the graveyard back into the city.
1. Shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done: They had to share their fear with someone so they told the enemies of Jesus of the miraculous earthquake and the moving of the massive stone door. They told of the empty tomb and perhaps they even told of the appearance of the angels.
[These men were the religious leaders who lead the people in supposedly worshiping God, . . . yet they despised God's Son....They knew he arose, yet tried to hide the fact! Why? They did not know the God. They held their religious posts because it gave the great prestige and honor, and also they greatly benefited financially from their position. ]
2. Verse 12: and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers: This was the way these false teachers dealt with problems. They had great wealth and they used the money. . .they had robbed from God to bribe these soldiers into lying.
3. The same men conspired with Judas and agreed to pay thirty pieces of silver for him to betray Christ. Now they find themselves paying out an even greater sum as "hush money."
B. Verse 13: The Lie.....Say ye, His disciples came...stole him away while we slept: Why the fabrication? Why did they lie? They were afraid of what the news of the resurrection would mean to their leadership and position. But their lie did not cover the resurrection, but instead offered convincing proof of the resurrection.
C. Verse 14: "we will persuade him, and secure you": There was a promise of a continued conspiracy that would stop at nothing to see that their plan succeeded.
1. Verse 15: The soldiers, took the money...did as they were told. The money they received bought their silence. They were willing to say whatever the Jewish leaders wanted.
2. This saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day: Luke penned these words years after the resurrection. But he reported that even then the lie that Jesus' body was stolen was being circulated. That same lie is still being told today....
[How sad for them and their souls that they rejected what they knew to be true. Many today do the same. Many ignore the truth, the willingly believe all the lies, the false teaching...reject the only one who can save them.]
ILLUS: Some years ago during the week of Easter the news reported "they" (did not say who "they" was) had found a great discovery in Jerusalem. They found the coffins of three people. The names on the coffins were Jesus, Joseph and Mary. It is not interesting that they chose to announce it just in time for Easter?! Folks, Christ was not buried in a coffin! That was not the way Jews buried in New Testament times.
For decades people were all excited about the Shroud of Triune. In 1978 or 1979 I heard James Dobson the radio "Christian" psychologist devote a hold program to praising the shroud as being the actual garment of Christ. Folks again, Christ was not a Gentile, but a Jew and we know as the Bible says, that Jews did not bury their dead in shrouds, but wrapped them in linen strips. They learned that while they were in Egypt for 400 years. Now years later the Shroud is finally proved to be a fake, dating hundreds of years after Christ. It was a hoax done during the time the Catholic church was taken with relic hunting.
Those who have been saved by the marvelous grace of God do not have to base their faith on relics or are they caused to doubt because of the false rumors and scheming of men who try to discredit the Bible and cloud what really happened.
What joy and hope those who are saved have in knowing Christ arose and conquered death, and that those are trust in Christ are forgiven of sin and know we will arise one too.
BUT LET US TURN OUR ATTENTION TO MORE POSITIVE THINGS....
III. FEAR AND FAITH. V1, 5-10
A. V1: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary: What do we know about the two Mary's that came to the tomb?
1. Mary Magdalene was the woman that Luke (8:2) reports had seven devils cast from her. She is called Magdalene because her home was in Magdala on the north west side of the Sea of Galilee.
2. The "other Mary" is the mother of James and Joseph (Matt. 27:56).
B. Verse 5: angel answered...: Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus: The women were terrified at the appearance of the open tomb.
1. They were prepared for the possibility of rude soldiers who would make their mission to anoint the body of the Lord difficult.
2. They were expecting to have difficulty getting help moving the mammoth stone from the door. They anticipated everything except an empty, unguarded tomb.
C. V6: He is not here: The heart of the Easter message is the empty tomb.
ILLUS: There are many today who want to think of Jesus as a great teacher in the same vein that they consider Mohammed or the way they consider Confucius to the great teachers. But these teachers, whether we would consider them great or not, died and today they remain dead.
Every religion on earth had a founder and most religions can point the finger at a tomb where their founder body was laid. Yet not so with Christ. We have an empty tomb because only He rose from the grave and is alive today.
1. for he is risen, as he said: But Jesus did not remain in the grave. He rose after being three days and nights in the grave just as He said He would.
In Matthew 12:40, Jesus said, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
2. Come, see the place where the Lord lay: The proof of the resurrection was more than just an empty tomb. (Their other proof: the miraculous moving of the great stone and the appearance of the angel, and then for fifty day the Lord appeared many times to many people...at one time to over 500 people.)
3. But the sight of the empty tomb that first Easter morning was the evidence that they needed to convince them that Christ had risen from the grave.
4. In Luke 24:12 we read of Peter coming to the empty tomb and looking inside. It says, "he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves."
a. From the language used it is evident that the spiral-wound grave clothes were left intact.
b. Christ's resurrected body passed through the grave clothes and then through the stone walls of His tomb. Later, the stone door was moved, not to allow Jesus to get out (He had already risen) but to allow the witnesses to see the empty tomb.
D. V7: and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee: These were intended to be words of comfort to the disciples. They could go into Galilee and expect to find that Jesus had already gone there before them and was waiting for them.
E. V8: they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy: There was fear because of the shock of seeing the empty tomb and the angel. But there was great joy because Christ was alive!
1. Evidence for the resurrection? Yes.
a. Hundreds saw Christ during the fifty days he remained on earth. At one time 500 people saw him as once.
b. History: The whole world dates time from His life! Every time you write the date you testify of His coming. There are hundreds of extra Biblical writings which tell about Jesus Christ.
c. Biblical account: Proved to be the Word of God (our Bible study on how we got the Bible)
2. The greatest proof that we have that Christ rose from the grave is our own experience with Him. Because of His resurrection we can place our faith in Him and receive the new life that He offers. Of seeing the changed lives of those who believed and received Him as their Savior.
3. How will we respond to the resurrection? Will we respond with fear? Fainting? Or will you respond with faith?
CONCLUSION: Some respond in faith. Luke 24:32-35.
A. Jesus shortly after His resurrection appeared to men who were walking on the Emmaus Road. After talking with the resurrected Savior they said,
“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.”
1. Down through the centuries, men have heard the message of God’s word. They and read of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ and have believed. This very hour, those that have died are in heaven with the Lord and they are waiting for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus, of the rapture of all believers both dead and alive.
You see...they believe and God kept His promise....that was the reason Christ’s suffering and for His resurrection...that you and I might through simple faith....believe in Him and receive eternal life.
2. The fact of the resurrection will probably not bring you fear but it should bring you great joy.
That joy comes not just from the knowledge that the resurrection really did occur, but because you place your faith in the One who rose from the dead and offers you new life.
New life can be yours today. Salvation waits for all who will repent of their sin and place their faith in Jesus Christ. Will you respond to Him as your Savior today?...
3. Again I want to remind you of the words of Romans 10:9-10,
"If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
4. This Easter Sunday, if you have not already done so, will you publicly confess that you believe that Christ rose from the dead for you and place your faith in Him? This is the day of salvation for you....
How will you respond?
1. Some see the truth, know in their hearts it is true, yet for many reasons, turn away and go along with the world's rejection of Christ. They see with their hearts, yet do not accept the truth.
2. Some fabricate false teachings and they persuade other men to believe the untruth. False religion is abundant, and they away turn men away from accepting the real truth and the real Savior.
3. Yet, thank God.......Some believe, and rejoiced that Christ had arose. Those folks will eternally rejoice in that in believing God, has forgiven their sins, and given them eternal life.
What will be your response to your God and Creator this morning who beckons you in love to believe and receive Him as your Savior....