Summary: Jesus is risen and why it matters
He Is Risen
Ogden Baptist Church
April 12, 2009
In Matthew 27:62-28:6, the Bible says…
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and make the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 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. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said…”
He is not here…He is risen! The cross is empty and the tomb is empty…He is risen! In the most powerful words Jesus ever spoke, He said,
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.”
False Christs and false messiahs have been making that claim for thousands of years, but they’re still in the ground. You can go to their tombs and shrines today and see where they lay. But only Jesus had the power to take His life and raise it up again! He is risen! He alone is the resurrection and the life!
But what does that really mean? I mean, so Jesus is risen. So what? Does it really make any difference? Does it really matter? Is it all that important? They might sound like trite questions, but they’re not. They’re enormous questions with huge implications for our lives.
I am so glad to be here this morning to worship a risen Savior! I really don’t want to waste a bunch of time this morning with a clever sermon that’ll try to sneak something up on you or offer up useless platitudes that only marginalize the significance of Easter and the resurrection. Instead, I’d like to get right to the point by making two simple observations from our text and follow that up with what it means for you and me.
People will go to great lengths to keep from being persuaded of something they don’t want to believe.
Once Jesus was in the tomb, the religious leaders knew how damaging it would be for rumors of a resurrected Jesus to spread around. He’d predicted his resurrection throughout His ministry, but of course they didn’t believe it was any more possible that He was the Savior or Messiah than I believe you to be. In their minds Jesus was a heretic, a blasphemer, a slap in the face of God and all Jews – so there was no way on God’s earth that this man was going to do anything other than rot in the grave and quickly fade from the minds of the people gullible enough to follow Him.
But what they did believe to be possible was for Jesus’ disciples to plot and carry out the theft of Jesus’ body so it’d be possible to spread rumors of a supposed resurrection. Even though in their minds it couldn’t possibly happen, rumors that it had would be just as bad. So they went to Pilate and pressed him to assign Roman soldiers to guard the tomb and prevent anything from happening until after the third day. You can see the fear they had of anyone claiming Jesus was raised. “This deception (that Jesus was raised) would be worse than the first deception (that Jesus could be raised).
The Bible says “the fool says in his heart that there is no god.” The fool also says in his heart that Jesus isn’t the Savior, or Jesus isn’t the Son of God, or Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead, or that Jesus never lived in the first place. The fool says that Jesus was just a man, or Jesus was just a good man or a good prophet or a great spiritual leader, but not the Son of God and certainly not the only way to eternal life.