Summary: The Resurrection Day Changes Everything. God has planned for us something much better. He’s preparing us for a new world, a better world, a greater world. Jesus was the first fruit. His resurrection changes everything. His Church will be the next harvest.
The Day Everything Changed
Reading: Matthew 28:1-15
What a wonderful day this is, as all over the world people are acknowledging and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords! From the earliest times, Easter Sunday has been observed by Christians each year but in a sense we observe Easter every week. On the first day of the week we gather together with fellow Christians on what we call the Lord's day. Did you ever stop to think about why?
Up until the beginning of the church, God's people were used to going to synagogue on the seventh day of the week (what we call today, Saturday) which was called the Sabbath. This was a holy day to the Lord, the fourth of Ten Commandments God gave Moses. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8). This was, and will always remain, the official Sabbath. However, after Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, the New Testament shows that the early Christians began meeting together on this new day (what we call Sunday) as a weekly commemoration of their new life in Christ.
Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.
1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save...
There are several early historical references which confirm this practice and address why this shift occurred. In the History of the Christian Church by Philip Schaff, one of the clearest references is accorded to Justin Martyr from approximately AD 140: “We assemble in common on Sunday [the Lord's day], because this is the first day, on which God created the world and the light, and because Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples.”
That first day of the week was the day everything changed.
I. It Changed Everything For His Disciples
A. First for the women at dawn. Matthew 28:1-8
1. These women had been at the cross and witnessed the death of Jesus.
a. The account in Luke tells us they were carrying spices with which to prepare Jesus' body (perhaps because the preparations done by Joseph of Arimathea were done in haste and incomplete.
b. We can imagine their state of mind as dawn broke on this first day of the week.
c. They found an empty tomb and a risen savior. They came in sorrow and left with Joy! v8
A. Then for the Apostles
1. The Apostles and disciples were scattered, confused, fearful following the crucifixion of Jesus.
a. On this first day of the week the Apostles were in hiding, fearful of the Jews. John 19:20
b. Several appearances of the resurrected Jesus are recounted in the gospels and Acts – some to individuals and others to groups, some indoors and others outdoors, some to softhearted people, and others to skeptical doubters.
c. Forty days later, in Jerusalem, they received the Holy Spirit and proclaim Jesus as Lord and Christ! Acts 2