We live in a world that demands evidence of satisfaction. AMAZON, EBAY, and nearly every website contains a CUSTOMER REVIEW section in which people are urged you to “TESTIFY to the VALIDITY of this product.” Gives us trustworthy FEEDBACK! Does it work? State the PROOF in order to make me a BELIEVER! In our world TRUTHFUL TESTIMONY is difficult to find! We met the Lord Jesus at the Lord’s Supper on Friday night and Jesus testified to the effectiveness of His death through His Word and Spirit that His broken body and shed blood were given as payment for sin to those who believe in Him, trust Him, and FOLLOW Him.
Today we celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead and see many ‘WITNESSES” to that Truth. In Matthew 27:65:”Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how." 66 And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.” (In the minds of unbelievers, JESUS’ DEATH and Burial WereTO BE FINAL!)
Matthew 28: Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him 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 has been crucified.
6 "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7 "Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you."
8 And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid ; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me."11Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests ALL that had happened.”
This account in Matthew fills our eyes and ears with sights and sounds of Jesus’ Resurrection. It screams with the true witness and testimony of the fact that JESUS IS RISEN. We immediately notice THE WITNESS OF THE WOMEN. In verse 55 it says that MANY women followed Jesus and witnessed His death from afar” but two women are mentioned by name: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. It might seem rather strange that “2 Mary’s” are mentioned, since the Hebrew name means REBELLION, however, these WOMEN had shown that they DID NOT REBEL or BETRAY Jesus, but had been FAITHFUL followers, following Jesus to the Cross and keeping watch until the end. This was not strange at all for Mary Magdalene because she had been healed by Jesus from demon possession. (Luke 8) She had been transformed into a living testament and TOWER to the power of Jesus Christ. (TOWER is what “Magdalene” means.)
These women followed Jesus in their living, witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus in His death, and now had the powerful privilege of witnessing the RISEN JESUS. In John 20:18 it says: “Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and that He had said these things to her.” For these faithful followers, THEIR FAITH IN JESUS HAD BECOME SIGHT.
Another powerful testimony is THE WITNESS OF THE ANGEL. There are several things which God tells us in this passage about the angel: his appearance (or countenance) was like lightning, (it was absolutely DAZZLING) and his clothing was as white as snow. “Lightning” APPEARS to come down from Heaven. It is seen in the sky and it is beyond the earth. Clothing that is as “white as snow” speaks of Godly purity, spotless, without sin, and so the angel’s Clothing and Countenance were PERFECT.
The Angel’s form affirms that this ANGEL had come from the very Holy Presence of the Lord God Almighty, the Lord of Hosts. It also testifies what the entire Bible teaches: That only those who are PURE can exist in the presence of God.
But the Angel’s presence is not the only witness: The angel speaks, as angels should, for they are messengers from God’s Holy Presence. His Manner was that of peace as were the Message of his Words: "Do not be afraid ; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6 "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” This message was a soothing message of peace to the women, because they were true followers and believers, but MESSAGES FROM God do not have the SAME AFFECT on UNBELIEVERS!
Look at the The WITNESS OF THE GUARDS (who became as dead men) In Matthew 28:4, it says, “The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.” There is a warning here: UNBELIEVERS: BEWARE of MESSENGERS sent from the HOLY God! The guard’s DISPOSITION was that they were almost SCARED to death. They became like dead men because of the HOLY and dazzling appearance that was before them. If angels, creatures made by God, have this effect on unbelieving men, imagine what will happen to uncleansed sinners in the presence of the Great and HOLY, Everlasting God.
Although they were almost scared to death, that did not stop them from pulling themselves together and going into the city. When they arrived there it says in verse 11, that they REPORTED “ALL the things that had happened.” Even in their frightful DECREE, they divulged ALL to the chief priests and leaders. Unknown to them, they were acting as WITNESSES to the Glory of Christ’s resurrection in TELLING ALL by spreading the good news of Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead. It just demonstrates to us how God uses even unbelievers in furthering His message and Plan.
God even USES STONES to witness to His Power and Strength. Last week we saw that when the Pharisees told Jesus to silence His Disciples, He said, “If they are quiet, these very stones will cry out.” At Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the very stones DID CRY OUT.
Several times in the Matthew, we read that Earthquakes occurred on this greatest weekend in the History of the entire world. In verse 2 we read: And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.” The Greek words for “severe earthquake” are “mega seismos.”
I looked at an earthquake activity record that dated such events back to 856AD. In the area of Israel, I was surprised only ONE quake has ever been recorded on this chart, and that was in 2004 and registered 5.3. My point is that when God wants to do ANYTHING, He can: He can move stones, mountains and men. He can rattle the earth. Angels are at His command. He IS FATHER, SON and HOLY SPIRIT, not because WE totally understand, but because He is ALMIGHTY. There is nothing He cannot do!
Earthquakes in the framework of Biblical history mean one thing: The LORD is Speaking so you had better PAY ATTENTION. The earth shook at the sound of God’s voice at Mount Sinai In Exodus 19:18. In Isaiah 6, the foundation and doors of the temple shook before God’s Holy Presence. The Witness of Stones decrees to us that the Inanimate creation of God has the “good sense” to shake at God’s Power and majesty, and so should we!
The earth quaked at Jesus’ Death and Resurrection because God CAUSED it to occur in mega proportions. He did not send an angel to announce that a good man, “prophet” or teacher had died, but because the WORD INCARNATE KING OF GLORY, appointed before all eternity had died and HE DIED so that HIS KINGDOM MIGHT COME and HIS WILL WOULD BE DONE. It seemed that Jesus would ascend an earthly throne with the cries of “HOSANNA,” SAVE US, “BLESSED IS HE HOW COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD”, but He instead ascended a CROSS and NOW HE HAD RISEN FROM THE GRAVE.
A crown of Thorns had been placed on His head instead of a crown of Gold. When He died, the curtain of the Temple was torn from top to bottom because God HAD COME DOWN in the FLESH and DIED on the CROSS: THE PENALTY for sin had been paid.
In Matt. 27:51-53, it tells us that the earth quaked, and some who were dead even rose. Rocks were MOVED by the hand of God so that those who were once dead, came to life because HE ALONE SAVES! Hallelujah!
Did you notice that the angel moved the stone away AFTER Jesus had already risen! Another undeniable witness! THE STONE WAS MOVED for BELIEVERS to BEHOLD the EMPTY TOMB, not so that Jesus could escape. He did that IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: the same power by which He was conceived was the same power that gave Him victory over Death: THAT SAME POWER GIVES US victory over death as FOLLOWERS of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. We trust in HIS POWER to forgive and to provide new and eternal life.
The last witness we’ll look at is really the most important one, and that is the WITNESS OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. Revelation 1 opens with this greeting: “Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, (THE EVERLASTING I AM) and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, (The fullness of ALL that God IS!) and from Jesus Christ, the FAITHFUL WITNESS, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood -(THAT’S the LORD JESUS CHRIST) 6 and HE has made US to be a KINGDOM, priests to His God and Father - to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
The word for “witness” is “martus”, from which the word “martyrs” is derived. Jesus is the FAITHFUL WITNESS (“martus”) because HE became SIN FOR US. He is THE WITNESS of God’s love displayed on the CROSS. He is God’s faithful WITNESS IN THE FLESH. The WORD of God came IN THE FLESH and DIED in the flesh, never sinning, always obedient, victorious over sin and death. He is our Redeemer, our Savior, our “JESUS” and THE WITNESS of the “SUCCESS” of the CROSS is in His RESURRECTION.
In Verse 8, the women “left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.” Why didn’t Jesus push them away? Why didn’t He and say: “WAIT! You can’t worship me; You are to worship only God.” Instead He said, “Don’t be afraid.” The LORD JESUS CHRIST IS to be honored and He is worthy to be WORSHIPED; The women beheld the Glory of the Risen LORD, and fell down and worshiped Him BECAUSE He IS God in the Flesh.
The name, the LORD JESUS CHRIST is referenced 89 times in the New Testament: Jesus’ Resurrection vindicated Him as the RIGHTEOUS ONE and indicates Him as DIVINE DEITY: in Romans 1:4 Paul says this:
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God-- 2 the gospel he (God) promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his HUMAN NATURE was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared WITH POWER to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” 5 “Through him and for HIS name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And YOU ALSO are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. and proved Him to be VICTORIOUS over death and satan.” We are to worship Him THROUGH the Spirit of God given TO us, and we are to worship Him in the TRUTH of the Gospel, which is witnessed and proclaimed in HIS NAME: He is the anointed Lord and we have been anointed by His Spirit to be His TRUE WORSHIPERS.
In verse 10 Jesus says: “Do not be afraid ; go and take word (proclaim or tell) to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me." The LORD JESUS CHRIST speaks WORDS of comfort, conviction and commission: GO and TELL. Jesus has the authority to command: His Death and Resurrection paved the way for His Ascension, after which, He would send His HOLY SPIRIT to Comfort and to anoint His followers to GO and TELL. His Holy Spirit convicts us to an obedience that comes from faith, NOT our faith, but the FAITH of Jesus Christ.
WE ARE WITNESSES of the Resurrection and will one day be the RECIPIENTS of our promised glorified everlasting bodies, even as Jesus REVEALED HIS to His followers.
Hebrews 12: 25: See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. 26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, "YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN." 27 This expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. (WED) 28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.”
In Acts 2 on Pentecost, Peter preached: 32 "This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33 "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.”
God has provided MANY RESURRECTION witnesses: The question is not IS there EVIDENCE? ARE there WITNESSES? The question is: DO YOU BELIEVE the witness of JESUS' RESURRECTION? Have you been received into God’s Kingdom which cannot be shaken?
“The glorious riches of this mystery, which is (the Crucified, Resurrected AND ASCENDED) CHRIST IN YOU, the HOPE of Glory.” (Colossians 1:27)
A. The Witness of the Women
1. They were Faithful Followers..
2. Their Faith had become Sight.
B. The Witness of the Angel
1. His Clothing and Countenance were perfect.
2. His Manner and Message were that of peace.
C. The Witness of Guards
1. Their Disposition: almost scared to death.
2. Their Decree divulged ALL.
D. The Witness of Stones.
1. Inanimate creation has the “good sense” to shake at God’s Power.
2. Stones are moved so that Believers might Behold.
E. The Witness of the LORD Jesus Christ (Rev. 1, Rom 1, Heb. 12, Acts 2)
1. The JESUS is God’s WITNESS in the flesh: Our Savior from Sin
2. The LORD JESUS is worthy to be WORSHIPED.
3. The LORD JESUS CHRIST speaks WORDS of conviction and commission: GO and TELL.