Summary: For Easter Sunday on Matthew 28 (Adapted from Bob Russell at: http://bobrussellsermons.org/sermon-mp3s/by-series/the-passover-plot/the-responsibility-of-the-resurrection)
A Sunday School teacher had just finished telling her third graders about how Jesus was crucified and placed in a tomb with a great stone sealing the opening. Then, wanting to share the excitement of the resurrection, she asked: "And what do you think were Jesus’ first words when He came bursting out of that tomb alive?" A hand shot up into the air from the rear of the classroom. Attached to it was the arm of a little girl. Leaping out of her chair she shouted out excitedly "I know, I know!" "Good" said the teacher, "Tell us, what were Jesus first words." And Extending her arms high into the air she said: "TA-DA!"
The Easter message is one of great joy. Matthew 28:8, NIV.
Preacher who meets another preacher asks, “Did you have a good Easter?” Even if it is October he asks because almost every church has a good Easter. A time of celebration.
Also a time of responsibility. VS. 7 and 19. Easter is a reminder of our responsibility to tell others the good news.
Thesis: Let’s review the responses of these disciples in Matthew 28 and then imitate their response to the resurrection
I. Convinced that Jesus rose from the dead
Women were the last at the cross and the first at the tomb. The resurrection began with a group of women who believed that Jesus was alive. Vs. 1
There was Mary Magdalene. “When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.” Mark 16:9
other Mary- Mary the mother of James Mark tells us. Other women as well.
4 persuasive evidences that Jesus was alive:
1. The angels testimony- vs. 5-7
2. Jesus’ prophecy: Vs 6- he has risen, just as he said- told the disciples this several times. Vs. 7- is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. Talked about this at the Sunrise service. “But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”” Mark 14:28, NIV.
3. The empty tomb. Vs. 6- Come and see the place where he lay. The women went in and saw the empty tomb. Peter and John did the same in John’s account.
4. The appearance of Jesus himself. Vs. 9-10
For us to convince others, we need to be convinced ourselves. There is so much evidence for the resurrection, so much more evidence for resurrection of Christ than any other historical event. Josephus wrote- Jesus of Nazareth was crucified by Pilate and his disciples claimed that he appeared to them after his death.
Chuck Colson was convinced of the resurrection of Jesus Christ by the Watergate scandal. Chuck Colson was involved in the cover up. “There were only 8 or 10 of us around the President who really knew the situation. All we had to do was stonewall for a period of months and then the Watergate scandal would be over. We had all the power and prestige of the Presidency at our fingertips. If the truth broke out it would be an embarrassment to our career and maybe a short prison sentence, but there was no grave danger, our lives were not threatened, but we could not hold the conspiracy together for more than 2 weeks. We could not contain the lie. Once prosecution was possible, the instinct for self preservation was so overwhelming that the conspirators one by one deserted their leader and caved in and sprinted into the prosectors office to tell the truth and escape jail.” From this Colson reasoned that the disciples could not perpetrate a lie like the resurrection because not just their reputations were at stake but their lives were in danger. They had nothing to gain by the lie and yet they all stood fast in their conviction that Jesus was alive. Colson wrote: Take it from one in the Watergate web looking out, one who saw first hand how vulnerable a cover up is, nothing less than a witness as awesome as the resurrected Christ could have caused those men to maintain to their dying whisper that Jesus is alive.
Peter wrote: “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of his majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16.
II. It takes conviction but also courage to testify of the resurrection.
A. Not everyone was excited about resurrection. Vs. 11-15- Couldn’t deny that it happened but so hardened they tried to cover it up. Problems: 1) If soldiers are sleeping, how did they know disciples came and stole the body? 2) If a Roman soldier was caught sleeping on duty, he could be executed. Soldier wouldn’t want to talk about this 3) How did the disciples manage to roll a stone that weighed at least a ton away from the door without waking any of the soldiers up? 4) If disciples stole body, when things got hard, why not bring body out to clear themselves?