Summary: A Lenten or Easter sermon using the people, things and events of Matthew’s resurrection story.
It is redundant to say, “Easter Sunday.” Why? Because Easter is always on Sunday. Sunday has become the Christian Sabbath ever since Jesus arose from the dead on that first day of the week. He became the first fruits of the dead.(1 Corinthians 15:20) His resurrection has given us a new hope, a new beginning, a new life, a new covenant or New Testament—and we begin every new week by putting him first on the first day. The apostles did it and throughout history most Christians have worshipped on the first day of the week. It has become our Sabbath and we keep it holy by putting God first on that day. He is to be first every day, but Sunday is special.
Sunday is special because the Resurrected Christ is special. Take a look with me at seven of the persons, things and events of that first Easter resurrection morning that are described in Matthew 28:1-15. Let us look at them as they were then and then we will apply them to today.
A. Then: At dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.”(v.1) They brought spices to embalm the body of the Jesus whom they loved. As they walked to the tomb they must have thought of the prophecies that on the third day Jesus would rise again. I wonder what was going through their minds. Did they really believe? Probably not…? Maybe…? I do not know…
B. Today: Millions of people who call themselves Christians go to church on the first day of every week. My questions are: Do they really believe that Jesus is alive and that he will one day pass judgment on them? Have they been putting him first during the week? In the book of Hebrews it is recorded: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”(Hebrews 11:6)
Are you here today because you believe Jesus is who he and the Bible and other Christians have said he is? Is he first in your life?
A. Then: The two Marys felt and heard a violent earthquake. Surely those in that geographical region also witnessed the commotion of nature. Often in the Bible we see God using the forces of nature to get man’s attention and to signal something unique, or to settle a new covenant. Some examples are the rainbow, the quaking of Mount Sanai, the earthquake and darkness that took place while Christ hung on the cross. Now God got their attention as he was about to reveal that Jesus was alive. Later God got people’s attention on the Day of Pentecost when there was a violent wind, tongues of fire that rested on the believers and the use of the gift of languages. The church was started on that eventful day.
B. Today: The Bible reminds us that Jesus is coming again. It teaches us that just as in the days of Sodom and of Noah that there will also be certain events or things that we should look for as symbols that the time is near. It talks of signs and wonders in the sky. Earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars… Look at the wonder of TV. A satellite is able to beam the gospel message to most all of the areas of the world. Look at the cell phone technology, radio… We have all the signs we need to urge us to get ready—But we also have the words of the Jesus who arose on the first day—Promising that he would come back and that we are to be looking up. Are you looking? Are you ready if he should come today?
A. Then: “An angel of the Lord came down from heaven and…rolled back the stone and sat on it.”(v.2) The earthquake seems to have been created by the angel as he rolled back the stone. He certainly got the lady’s attention and he gave them the good news that Jesus was alive. Angels are messengers of God and they sure brought good news that morning.
B. Today: As I said, angels are messengers of God. It seems to me that not since the Renaissance has there been such an interest in angels in our world. Remember the protests when the TV show, “Touched By An Angel,” was rumored to be canceled because of an atheist’s complaint?(A hoax.) Finally it was cancelled because it had run its course--But even now it has become a popular rerun. Look at the angel greeting cards, angel books in the bookstores, gift items—Angels, not just watching over me—but Angels everywhere that I look. Sadly, some trust more in angels than they trust in Jesus. We may have guardian angels today—but everyone must realize that angels are not just cute creatures—But that they are also creatures that one day God will send to pour out his wrath in judgment upon non-believers.