Summary: This messages shows that not only was Jesus' resurrection a reality but it led others to the ministry that would take the message to all the world.
BIBLE MESSAGES ON EASTER
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Annual Sermons Text: Matt. 28:6; Acts 5:29-30
Vol. 9 No. 12 Bob Marcaurelle
JESUS’ RESURRECTION - ITS REALITY
Thursday night, most of us probably saw the beautiful full moon shining down on Anderson. That is the same moon that shone down 2,000 years ago on Jesus Christ on His last night on this earth, as He knelt “neath the old olive trees” and prayed for the strength to die for you and me. It is the same moon that shone down 50 years ago today on a young Lutheran pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, his last night on this earth. He was hanged by the Nazis that next morning for His faithfulness to Christ. Today, I want to tie these two death, and our lives together and do it with the resurrection of Jesus.
I. THE REALITY (Matt. 28:6)
1. The Record.
The angel said, “He is risen!” At three o’clock in the afternoon, after six long hours of suffering “God only knows what,” as our sin bearer, the strong Son of God died. He whispered a prayer to the Father and gave up His spirit. This does not mean He as a living Person ceased to be. No. He went to be with the Father, but His body was dead. Life holds back the decay but now life was gone and decay was on its way.
The Jews had only three hours to finish their dirty work since their Sabbath began at 6:00 p.m., and they didn’t want dead bodies hanging around on their Sabbath. So they scurried like rats to Pilate and asked him to have his soldiers break the three victims’ legs and induce death. The soldiers did this, ending the lives and the misery of the two criminals.
But when they came to Jesus they saw He was dead. To make sure, one soldier stuck his steel spear into our Lord’s body and out lowed a mixture of blood and water. Some physicians see this as death caused by the literal bursting of the human heart. John tells us this fulfilled two Old Testament scriptures - not one of His bones will be broken and they will look upon Him whom they have pierced (Jn. 19:31-37). Even in death our blessed Lord was in control, fulfilling scripture.
The friends of Jesus, the women who stood by the cross, no doubt wept their hearts out with Mary His mother. But two new friends did more than weep. They were Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemas, two members of the Jewish Supreme Court, who probably were not invited to the crooked trial.
They were “secret disciples because of their fear of the Jews” (Jn. 19:38). But when the danger came of our Lord’s body being jerked down by soldiers and carted off to the garbage dump, their secrecy fell away. Taking their life in their hands they went and asked Pilate if they could take Jesus’ body and give it a decent burial. He agreed and they went to the cross, lovingly took the body of Jesus down, washed it (Acts 9:37), anointed it with spices, and wrapped it in layer after layer of linen, anointing each layer.
Then they, probably with the help of others, took it to Joseph’s family tomb, a cave carved in the side of a mountain, laid it inside, and rolled a large stone over the entrance. Then they, and the women who watched them do this, hurried to the houses where they were staying, to get there by the beginning of the Sabbath. Jesus was dead and buried! This is a fact of Roman and Jewish and human history!
From 6 p.m. on Friday to 6 p.m. on Saturday, the Sabbath, nothing could be done except weep over the terrible death of One so lovely. When 6 p.m. Saturday came, the women who ministered to Him in His ministry, went to work preparing spices to anoint the body. How long they worked into the night we don’t know, but early Sunday morning a group of them headed for the tomb with their spices. Among them were Mary Magdalene, out of whom Jesus had cast seven demons, Mary the mother of James, Salome, the mother of James and John, and Joanna (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10).
At 6 p.m. Saturday our Lord’s enemies were also busy. Spending the Sabbath, no doubt, laughing at the death of Jesus, they felt free of this troublemaker. But then they remembered how He made the ridiculous claim that He would rise from death. Fearing His disciples might steal His body, and make this claim, they hurried to Pilate and asked him to seal the tomb, probably with clay, and put soldiers there to guard it (Luke 23:55-65).