Summary: Some people may not understand it, and some people may not want to hear it, but Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!
Messiah Is Risen!
Text: Matt. 27:62-28:15
1. Illustration: All but four of the major world religions are based on mere philosophical propositions. Of the four that are based on personalities rather than philosophies, only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder. In 1900 B.C. Judaism’s Father Abraham died. In 483 B.C. Buddhist writings say Buddha died "with that utter passing away in which nothing whatever remains behind." June 6, 632 A.D. Mohammed died. . In 33 A.D. Jesus died but came back to life appearing to 500 people over a period of 40 days. "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." (I Corinthians, 15:14). (McDowell, Josh. Evidence That Demands a Verdict. 180).
2. There are Three Important Truths About the Resurrection I want to explore this morning...
a. They tried to prevent it.
b. They tried to explain it away.
c. But Jesus did it anyway.
3. Let's all stand together as we read Matt. 27:62-28:15
Proposition: Some people may not understand it, and some people may not want to hear it, but Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!
Transition: The first thing we will consider is that the religious leaders...
I. Tried To Prevent It (27:62-66).
A. Leading Priests and the Pharisees
1. The dictionary defines the word arrogance as "having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities."
a. As you might remember from last week's sermon, the religious leaders of Jesus day were feeling and acting pretty arrogant while Jesus was hanging on the cross.
b. They said things like, "so you are going to destroy the temple and raise it up again in three days! Well, let's see you get yourself out of this mess Jesus!"
c. However, one day later, these same arrogant men when awfully nervous!
2. Matthew tells us, "The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate."
a. The day after the crucifixion a delegation from the leading priests and the Pharisees, two groups normally at odds with one another, went to see Pilate.
b. They were aware that he had given Jesus' body to Joseph of Arimathea.
c. They felt as if this turn of events, which they had not foreseen, took circumstances out of their control. (Horton, 643).
d. Not satisfied with Jesus' execution and burial, the chief priests and the Pharisees go to Pilate to make certain that the dead man does not rouse more support even after his death.
e. Despite the Sabbath and the other celebrations associated with the Passover, the Jewish officials obtain an audience with Pilate because of the threat of Jesus' followers (Wilkins).
3. When they got there they said, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ 64 So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.”
a. Notice how they kiss up to Pilate by calling him "Sir," but they disrespectfully refer to Jesus as "that deceiver."
b. They were concerned because they remembered what Jesus had said about rising from the dead on the third day, and they wanted to do whatever they could to prevent it.
c. On at least one occasion Jesus specifically predicted to the Pharisees that he would rise in three days. They have not forgotten.
d. What they understood by Jesus' declaration is unknown, but they assume Jesus' followers will come to their senses and gain courage to continue the movement by perpetuating Jesus' deception (Wilkins).
e. It is interesting, however, that they remembered what Jesus said, even though they didn't believe it, but his disciples did not understand what Jesus was talking about (Horton, 643).
4. Everything went just as they had hoped it would for "Pilate replied, 'Take guards and secure it the best you can.' 66 So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it."
a. Pilate says more than he realized when he said, "secure it the best you can."
b. This ought to go in the dictionary as the definition of "futile attempt."
c. They not only had this huge stone, which took several strong men to move, but they also had the guard plus a seal on the stone.
d. The seal was done by taking a piece of rope and stretching it over the stone and then fastening it by a wax seal.
e. They must have thought to themselves, "We have him now. Let's see him pull this one off."
f. Little did they know...