Summary: Four different groups were quite surprised to find Jesus alive on the third day. To which group might you belong?
I. Even after his death, the Pharisee’s were concerned.
A. Matthew 27, verses 63 and 64 read, “...’Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ 64 ‘Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.’”
B. Two things we need to know about the fear of the Pharisee’s,
1. One, the disciples were hiding in Jerusalem, in fear that they would suffer the same fate as Jesus, therefore the Pharisee’s fears were without warrant.
2. Two; grave robbing was a capitol offense, and again, the disciples were not quite ready to give their lives in order to perpetuate a myth; therefore the Pharisee’s fears were unnecessary.
C. Personally I believe the Pharisee’s greatest fear was not that the body of Christ would be stolen, but that they had at least a bit of fear that Jesus might actually rise from the dead.
D. If a guard was posted, they could at least keep him sealed in the grave, but then if the cross didn’t kill him, how could they believe a tomb could hold him.
II. Matthew wrote in chapter 28, verse 15 that a rumor of Christ body being stolen still circulates to “this day”, because for the audience to which Matthew wrote his gospel, that was the rumor.
III. That rumor was false then, and is still false today, but today there is a new rumor that some are trying to start.
A. Some three weeks or so ago, the Discovery Channel aired an expose attempting to prove that the body of Christ was still in a tomb, “to this very day.”
B. But the rumor that the body of Christ had been stolen was false then, and is false today,
C. Just as well, the rumor that Christ is still in a tomb was false then, and it is still false today.
IV. For “He is risen! He is risen indeed!!”
V. On that special day, Jesus had a surprise for the world, and it began with the guards at the tomb..
The Guards (Matt. 28:1-4)
1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from the heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.”
I. Actually, the guards probably never got the chance to see Jesus alive,
A. All they got to experience was seeing a stone rolled away from the tomb by an angel of the Lord.
B. And notice, these guards seem not to be afraid of the earthquake, but rather verse 4 states that they “became like dead men” for fear of the angel.
II. One thing I really wonder is just what Pilate believed.
A. The Pharisee’s approached Pilate to ask for a guard at the tomb.
B. In retrospect, Pilate’s response seems almost funny.
1. In verse 65 of chapter 27, Pilates’ response is, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.”
2. It’s almost as if he was saying,
a. “Look. Didn’t you hear what this Jesus said; “I will rise again.”
b. But go, do you best to contain him, if you can.”
III. The Pharisee’s left guards, and sealed the tomb; “We’ll make sure this Jesus stays dead.”
A. He may have raised Lazarus from the dead, but he can’t raise himself.
B. But on resurrection day, God had a surprise for the guards, and for the Pharisee’s.
IV. A man that seemed to be dead, rose again,
V. While men that seemed to be alive, became as dead men.
A. These guards probably thought they had pulled some light duty, just watch over the tomb of a dead man.
B. What a surprise it must have been to see an Angel of the Lord roll the stone away.
VI. What really strikes me as interesting in Matthew’s account of the resurrection is who the first people are to give testimony that Jesus was not longer in the tomb.
A. It was not the disciples, who we can say, should have been the first to know the truth.
B. Although probably a close second, it probably was not the ladies that had followed and cared for Christ, and probably often heard Christ tell of his resurrection.