Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Easter morning message about the three commands given by the angel to the women at the tomb on that first Easter morning

Text: Matthew 28:1-7, Title: Angelic Instruction, Date/Place: NRBC, 3/23/08, AM

A. Opening illustration: The Call to Worship had just been pronounced starting Easter Sunday Morning service in an East Texas church. The choir started its processional, singing "Up from the Grave He Arose" as they marched in perfect step down the center aisle to the front of the church. The last lady was wearing shoes with very slender heels. Without a thought for her fancy heels, she marched toward the grating that covered that hot air register in the middle of the aisle. Suddenly the heel of one shoe sank into the hole in the register grate. In a flash she realized her predicament. Not wishing to hold up the whole processional, without missing a step, she slipped her foot out of her shoe and continued marching down the aisle. There wasn’t a hitch. The processional moved with clock-like precision. The first man after her spotted the situation and without losing a step, reached down and pulled up her shoe, but the entire grate came with it! Surprised, but still singing, the man kept on going down the aisle, holding in his hand the grate with the shoe attached. Everything still moved like clockwork. Still in tune and still in step, the next man in line stepped into the open register and disappeared from sight. The service took on a special meaning that Sunday, for just as the choir ended with "Alleluia! Christ arose!" a voice was heard under the church shouting…"I hope all of you are out of the way ‘cause I’m coming out now!" The little girl closest to the aisle shouted, "Come on, Jesus! We’ll stay out of the way."

B. Background to passage: The Passover Seder would have been eaten on Thursday night if you were from Galilee, and Friday night if you were from Jerusalem. Jesus and the disciples after eating the Passover, sang a hymn and retired to the Garden of Gethsemane for prayer, betrayal, and arrest. After a lengthy trial on Thurs night/Fri morning, the Sanhedrin convened at Pilate’s house about 6 AM to demand Jesus’ execution, which they eventually got. Jesus was crucified on Friday at 9 AM, and died six hours later after three hours of darkness about 3 PM. His body was taken down, hastily prepared for burial, and entombed on Friday evening before sunset by Joseph and Nicodemus. Now the women noted the burial site, and were returning on Sunday, the first day of the week, after the Sabbath on Saturday (which they could not touch the body), in order to complete the burial process and anoint Jesus with oils and spices. All instructions given were under the assumption that the disciples of Jesus had committed their lives unto him.

C. Main thought: In the text, the Angel gives three instructions to the women at the tomb on Sunday morning about what the Resurrection does for them and for mankind.

A. The Resurrection Destroys Fear (v. 5)

1. The first words out of the angel’s mouth to the women were “don’t be afraid.” The hardened soldiers passed out from fear after the earthquake and the sight of the angel. And by the way, this was the common reaction to angels in scripture, and the common first phrase too. But even though this phrase is very much tied to the situation, it had far reaching implications. Remember that it wasn’t too often that dead people rose, and if a person saw a person that they knew was dead, they would naturally be afraid.

2. Rom 8:31-39, Gen 15:1, Num 14:9, Deut 33:29, Ps 27:1-3, 46:1-3, Isa 43:1-3, 50:7-9, Hab 3:17-19

3. Illustration: Finally, he dove into the river, swam beneath the surface until he emerged on the other side. He raised a triumphant fist into the air. He had entered the water & escaped. It was then that the Indians broke into a cheer & followed him across. Isn’t that what Jesus did? He entered the river of death & came out on the other side so that we might no longer fear death, but find eternal life in Him. Bobby is a small 4th grader who somehow caught the unwanted attention of a bully in the 6th grade. One day, the bully said, “After school I’m gonna beat you to a pulp.” With no apparent fear, Bobby simply said, “Ok,” and went on his way. What the bully didn’t know is that Bobby’s 11th grade brother picks him up every day after school. Bobby wasn’t scared because he knew who’d be with him…but even if…

4. For us the resurrection destroys fear in many ways. We have to fear death no more, because Jesus went through it and beat it. In fact, it destroys all kinds of fears. We fear death, but we also fear other unknowns—tomorrow, financial ruin, failing health, divorce, rejection, loneliness, other people, crime, for our children and grandchildren, for our country, for our church, for our city. But the death and resurrection of Jesus teaches two things supremely, God is in absolute control of all of life and he loves us enough to sacrifice his only son on our behalf. Nothing can stop Him, thwart Him, slow Him down, restrain Him, or keep Him from doing all that He pleases. And his tender mercies endure forever, to all generations, unto a thousand generations for those who love God and keep His commands. The resurrection is a reminder to you this morning that even when the worst possible thing that you can think of happens in your life, God is still majestically sovereign, and loves you with an everlasting love. And if you have been born again, always is working things out to His glory and your good. Always!

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