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Matthew 28:1-10: Four Events of the Passion Week: His Resurrection from the Grave Print E-mail
Easter Season
Sunday, 24 April 2011

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We normally tell everyone we can about good news.  Let me give you a couple of examples from my life.  I asked Glenna to marry me while we were home for Christmas in 2002.  We spent some together singing songs we had written (something we did and still do) and I proposed by telling her that in biblical times a man would propose by offering a drink, symbolizing his life, to the woman.  If she drank from the cup she was saying yes and if she spilled the drink on the ground…well you get the idea.  I offered her my cup and by God’s grace she drank.  After we spent a few moments together we quickly began calling everybody we could think of.  We actually have pictures of both of us on our phones, smiling and laughing, letting people know that we were engaged.  It was good news and we wanted to share it.

A second example came about three years ago.  Someone had given me some Cardinals tickets for a Tuesday night game.  Glenna was not all that interested in going so I asked Barry if he would like to go and he agreed.  Before we went to the game that night, Glenna and I turned in the final part of our adoption paperwork, which meant that we had entered the ‘waiting’ phase in which we waited for a birth-mother to choose us.  In our situation, the wait was literally a few hours.  While Barry and I are making our way into Busch Stadium, I get a phone call from Glenna.  She tells me that a lady has chosen our profile and wants to meet with us.  I can’t believe it.  Then she tells me: “And she’s going to have a boy.”  That was good news.  The tickets we had allowed us access to dugout concession, which was enclosed.  Since the game was delayed for rain, Barry and I hung out in there.  I’ll never forget calling my parents and telling them that they just might be grandparents real soon.  It was good news and I could not wait to share it with them.

Today on Easter Sunday, we have gathered to celebrate good news.  In fact, we have gathered to celebrate the best news that has even been shared, namely the resurrection of Jesus our Lord.  Each of the Gospel writers gives us a snapshot of the resurrection.  Of course they all tell it from their unique perspective (which explains the various details and any alleged contradictions).  As we have done for the past few weeks, we want to look at Matthew’s account of the resurrection in Matthew 28:1-10.  He gives us a snapshot of some of the first witnesses to the empty tomb.  Thus, I want us to consider the angel and his announcement along with the women and their response.  I believe by looking at these witnesses we begin to see just how glorious the good news of Christ’s resurrection really is.  Let’s begin with the angel and his announcement.

The angel and his announcement (v. 1-7):

Matthew begins by giving us the setting in verses 1-2.  Look at those with me.  In verse 1 Matthew tells us that it is Sunday morning.  Jesus came into Jerusalem one week ago to the singing of the fickly crowd.  On Thursday night He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane.  And on Friday He was crucified on the cross.  Joseph of Arimathea had buried his body in a new tomb and sealed it with a large stone (see 27:57-60).  It is this tomb that the ladies are going to visit early on Sunday morning, the first day of the week.  Mark tells us in his account that they were coming to anoint Jesus’ body.

As they approach the tomb, Matthew speaks of a great earthquake and the appearance of an angel, who had rolled back the stone and sat upon it.  He describes the angel’s appearance in verses 3-4.  Look at those with me.  The angel looked like lightning and his clothes were as white as snow.  It was such a startling appearance that the guards trembled and became like dead men.  They were afraid of what they saw and passed-out in their fear.

Then the angel addressed the women.  He begins with a greeting.  Look at verse 5.  He has to tell them not to fear for indeed His appearance is terrifying.  He knows why they have come: to seek Jesus who was crucified.  They have come to see a corpse.  Then he gives them the good news.  Look at verse 6a.  He has risen!!  He is not here for He is alive!!  God has raised Him from the dead!  What great news!  Yet, it really should not be surprising news.  Notice what the angel says: He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.  Jesus told his disciples that He was going to die.  But each time He told them that He would arise.  Look back at 20:17-19 (see also 16:21, 17:22-23).  He told them of His resurrection, but they doubted.  In a gentle way the angel reminds them (and us) that we can take Jesus at His word.  He goes on to add the proof of the empty tomb.  Look at verse 6b.  Notice as well that the stone was rolled away for their benefit, so that they could see that He was not there.  Finally, he leaves them with a command and a promise.  Look at verse 7.  He tells them to go and tell the disciples and to do it quickly.  He promises that the risen Savior will appear to them.  What an announcement?!!  What glorious good news?!

The women and their response (v. 8-10):

So then, how do the women respond to such glorious good news?  Before we look at their response, we should say a word about who these women are.  Matthew identifies them in verse 1 as Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.  He has already told us that these women were present at Jesus’ death (27:56) and burial (27:61).  They were followers of Christ and they knew were to find the tomb of Christ.  Of course what is notable is that they were women.  Many would not even accept the testimony of women in those days.  Thus, if Matthew was trying to lie about the resurrection to convince others it was true, he picked an odd way to do it.  No, he tells us of the women because they were there.  The Lord chose them as witnesses.  They were the first to be told the good news of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

So then, how did they respond?  Following Matthew’s narrative, let me mention a couple of their responses.  First, they ran to tell the disciples (hurried proclamation).  Look at verse 8.  The angel told them to go quickly and Matthew notes that they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy.  They were excited about the news that they had received.  Then Matthew adds that they ran to tell his disciples.  I love that picture.  They ran.  They didn’t stand and around and think about what to do.  They didn’t worry about what others would think or contemplate the best strategy for conveying the news.  No, they ran!!  As we have spent the last few weeks looking at the Passion Week, I have been amazed and convicted by certain details.  Matthew notes that Jesus prayed on his face in the garden.  Here we see the overwhelming excitement of the women as they run to tell the disciples the good news of Jesus’ resurrection.

Second, Matthew tells us that they took hold of Jesus’ feet to worship (humble praise).  As they ran to tell the disciples they run right into Jesus.  Look at verse 9.  Notice their response to Christ: they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him.  Again, I am amazed at this picture.  They took hold of His feet.  They put their faces on the ground.  They were the first to see the risen Savior and they did not waste the opportunity, no, they fell at His feet and they worshipped.  Many will come after them.  Many will humble themselves before the resurrected Christ and worship.  But they are the first.  Jesus tells them to go and tell the disciples that He has risen and that He will appear to them, echoing the promise of the angel with His words: and there they will see me. 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the best news you will ever be told.  Without the resurrection, Paul says that our faith is futile and that we are still in our sins.  He goes on to add that if Christ has not been raised, then we are of all people most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:17, 19).  But, as Paul argues, Christ has indeed been raised.  The grave could not hold Him.  When He died in our place, suffering under the righteous wrath of the Father for our sin, He paid the full price for our redemption.  How do I know?  Because three days later the Father raised Him from the dead, declaring His death enough.  Samuel Davies captures the hope we have in resurrection well when he writes:

“Jesus has abolished death, overthrown its empire, and delivered its captives; and he has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Therefore be it known unto you, O Death, you king of terrors, that though we cannot now resist your power nor escape your arrest—yet we do not surrender ourselves to you as helpless, irredeemable prisoners. We shall yet burst your bonds, and obtain the victory over you.

And when we commit the dust of our friends or our own to you, O grave! know, it is a trust deposited in your custody, to be faithfully kept until called for by Him who was once a prisoner in your territories, but regained His liberty, and triumphed over you, and put that song of victory into the mouths of all his followers, ‘O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?’ (1 Cor 15:55).” 1

So then, how should we respond to such glorious good news?  We would do well to respond like the women on that first resurrection Sunday.  First, we must worship at the feet of the risen Lord.  Jesus has died in our place and conquered the grave on our behalf.  He has purchased our pardon and defeated death.  In light of such truth, we should turn from our sins and trust in Jesus.  We should join the long line of those who have humbled themselves at the feet of King Jesus.  If you are here and have never trusted in Him, then do not delay.  Repent of your sins and believe in the Risen Lord.  He is worthy of all our praise.

Second, we must run to tell others of His victory over death.  Do not walk.  Do not delay.  Do not sit around and wonder how people will respond.  No, go quickly and tell everyone you can that the grave could not hold Him and that through faith in His work in will not be able to hold us either.  This is the best news that could ever be shared and it must be shared.  All men will stand before the judgment seat of Christ one day.  All will have to give an account for their lives and their sin.  And only those who have turned from their sins and trusted in Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross and His victory over the grave will be free from the fear of condemnation.  We must spend our lives telling anybody and everybody of the hope that we have in the Risen Lord.  This is good news that must be proclaimed.  Like the women on that first day, may we run to tell the world that Jesus is alive!  Amen.

1 Samuel Davies, Life and Immortality Revealed in the Gospel, taken from: http://firstimportance.org/2010/10/jesus-has-abolished-death/ 

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Thursday, 26 January 2012 )

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