Yesterday’s sermon is now posted below:
Video from the Bible miniseries or the Passion of the Christ
Jesus’ resurrection is one of a few things that separates Christianity from other faiths.
POSSUMS AND THE GRAVE
I have heard that possums are smart animals. You wouldn’t think so because you hardly ever see one except when it’s dead on the road. There’s a joke that goes, “why did the chicken cross the road? To prove to the possum that it could be done!”
But possums, it turns out, are smart. They won’t enter a hole if there’s just one set of tracks going into it. They know there’s something in there. But if there are two sets of tracks. The possum will enter and not be afraid.
The message of Easter is that we can enter the grave – we don’t have to fear death because there are tracks leading out of the tomb. Paul preached the proclamation of Easter: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
This is the message that we need to hear this Easter. Jesus is risen!
BAD NEWS, THEN GOOD NEWS
Nearly 20 years ago at the height of Operation Desert Storm, Ruth Dillow received a very sad message from the Pentagon. The message stated that her son, Clayton had stepped on a landmine in Kuwait and was killed. Ruth later wrote these words, “I can’t begin to describe my grief and shock. It was almost more than I could bear. For 3 days I just wept. I expressed anger and loss. For 3 days people tried to comfort me but nothing worked … the loss was simply too great.
But 3 days after she received that message the phone rang. The voice on the other end said ,”Mom, it’s me.” It’s Clayton. I’m alive. Ruth said, I couldn’t believe it at first. But then I recognized his voice and realized he really was alive. The message was all a mistake. She said, “I laughed, I cried, I felt like turning cartwheels because my son who I thought was dead was actually alive.”
This morning we come to a story that is very similar. The disciples, family members, those who were at the cross have all received the news that Jesus has died. (From a sermon by David Henderson, “Overcoming Death,” 5/25/2011)
So, now, let’s read the passage that gives us the resurrection account, read with me Matthew 28:1-10
28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
- Notice first that women went to the tomb.
- Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary went to the tomb.
- All 4 of the Gospel record this and this a proof of the gospels. Jesus even uses the women later in verse 10 to tell the rest of the resurrection.
- Now, these women are very upset. They are mourning. Jesus, whom they were following, had been crucified and now they are going to put spices on His body. The Jewish people did not do anything to prevent the decay of a body. Within three days the body would be decaying. Yet, not in this case.
- Verse 2 records a great earthquake and an angel had descended and rolled away the stone.
- Interesting that Matthew records this earthquake and an earthquake previously in chapter 27:51.
- Why did the angel roll away the stone?
- Jesus did not need the stone rolled away. The stone was rolled away to let the world in, not to let Jesus out!
- Verse 3 describes the angel and notice in verse 2 the angel is sitting. Sitting means that his work is complete.
- In verses 5-7 the angel tells the women what to do.
- The angel acknowledges that they are looking for Jesus.
- The angel tells them that He has risen.
- The angel tells them to look in the tomb.
- The angel tells them to go and tell the others.
- Notice again the commonality of the Gospel. Jesus uses women to tell of His resurrection.
- Now, they see Jesus in verses 8-10
- Notice that they see Jesus and they fell at His feet.
- This means humility but it also means they realize that they realize He is not an apparition. They realize He is real. They then worship Jesus.
- We must worship Jesus. This is why we worship on Sunday because Jesus rose on Sunday.
- Next, Why does the resurrection matter? What is the importance of the resurrection?
In the villages of Northern India a missionary was preaching in a bazaar. As he closed, a Muslim gentleman came up and said, “You must admit we have one thing you have not, and it is better than anything you have.”
The missionary smiled and said, “I should be pleased to hear what it is.”
The Muslim said, “You know when we go to Mecca we at least find a coffin. But when you Christians go to Jerusalem, which is your Mecca, you find nothing but an empty grave.”
But the missionary just smiled and said, “That is just the difference. Mohammed is dead; Mohammed is in the coffin. And false systems of religion and philosophy are in their coffins, but Jesus Christ, whose kingdom is to include all nations and kindreds and tribes, is not here; He is risen. And all power in heaven and on earth is given unto Him. That is our hope.”
- In 1 Cor 15:3-8 the Scriptures write about Jesus appearing to the disciples and later over 500 people all at the same time. Again, Jesus showed many that He has been resurrected.
- Later on in 1 Cor. 15:13-15 the Scriptures tell us that if Christ was not raised from the dead our faith is in vain! This means that our faith is useless. Later on in that same chapter the Scriptures write about our hope in the resurrection. You see, because Christ rose from the dead we have hope. We have hope that when we die it is not the end. We have hope that when our family members and friends who are Christians die they are not gone, but with Christ in eternal paradise. We can see them again because they will have resurrected bodies as Jesus did. Paul wrote, “Where O death is your sting.” (1 Cor. 15:55) There is no sting because we have eternal life in perfect bodies.
- Also, Christ’s resurrection shows that this is not simply His normal body coming back to life. No, this is a renewed body. In John 20:11-18 Jesus enters a room when the doors are locked. It seems as though our resurrected bodies may not be as limited as our current bodies. Jesus’ resurrected body will not die.
i. Neither will yours. If you are a believer in Christ, you will have an eternal, perfect body.
Our bodies are weak and frail. That is why we die, but the resurrection gives us hope as death no longer has a sting. This happened because Jesus went to the cross. The cross is something that has caused many to stumble. To think that a King should die on a cross!
Cicero, the Roman author and orator, said, “Let the very name of the cross be far away from Roman citizens, not from their bodies only, but from their thoughts, their eyes and their ears.”
But the cross was the way that Jesus died. In His death He paid the penalty for the wrong things we do and then He rose from the dead, the first fruits of the resurrection. Our bodies are frail, but because Jesus went to the cross we have this hope that someday we will have perfect, eternal bodies in an eternal home where there is no death.
One once wrote:
He is risen!
Christ is risen! Sing it out with joyful voice!
He has burst the three days’ prison, let the whole wide earth rejoice! Death is conquered, we are free, Christ has won the victory.
Do you believe that? Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross paying the price for your sins? Sins are the wrong things we do.
The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him. (John 14:6). The Bible teaches that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says that God will not let the guilty go unpunished (2Thess 1:8-9). Yet, the Bible teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). That is a dilemma. God can’t tell a lie or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind (1Sam 15:29). That is why God sent Jesus. The guilty must go punished. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. The penalty of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.
A simple way of saying that is the following:
You can accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation right now.
Pray with me and if you would like to believe in Christ today, pray this:
Dear Jesus, I know that I have sinned. I know that you died to forgive me for my sins. I know that you rose again. Please come into my life, I believe in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Our closing hymn is:
*Closing Hymn: He Lives (Hymn 220)
As always our closing hymn is an opportunity for you to come forward to signify that you would like to go deeper in your faith journey through baptism or church membership.
 “Resurrection Victory”