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Summary: A short Easter sermon. An empty tomb and a risen Christ are the greatest discoveries in the world. They compel us to 1) Believe the facts; 2) Share the message; and 3) Rejoice in hope.

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Sermon Notes

“The Greatest Discovery in the World”

Matthew 28:1-20

Introduction: This Easter, the world is asking lots of questions. “What’s so important about this holiday?” “Why should I care about the death of some guy 2000 years ago?” “Where was God when tragedy struck?” “Can I trust Him to be there for me?”

Proposition:

An empty tomb and a risen Christ are the greatest discoveries in the world. They compel us to:

1. Believe the facts

Some things seem too good to be true.

Consider the angel’s message to the women:

Remember Jesus’ promises

Examine the empty tomb

His every word is a summons to believe!

We can take Jesus at His word!

"He is not here, but risen." He had been there. The women watched as others buried him (see Luke 23:50-56). But now? The grave is empty!

Imagine an ad in the Jerusalem newspaper shortly after Easter: For sale: one garden tomb, only used one weekend. Contact Joseph of Arimathea for details.

He literally died. No fainting. No swoon theory. People tried to explain away the resurrection then, just as they try to explain it away now (see verses 11-15).

Illustration:

One lady wrote in to a question and answer forum. "Dear Sirs, Our preacher said on Easter, that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think? Sincerely, Bewildered."

"Dear Bewildered, Beat your preacher with a cat-of-nine-tails with 39 heavy strokes, nail him to a cross; hang him in the sun for 6 hours; run a spear thru his side...put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours and see what happens. Sincerely, Charles."

My friends, He is risen!

2. Share the message

The first duty for those who have discovered the reality of the risen Christ is to share Him with others.

The ladies who came that Easter morning were more concerned about the stone blocking the entrance to the tomb.

The heavy stone that sealed Jesus within the confines of that rock-walled tomb was only a pebble compared to the rock of ages inside!

“Go tell!” is the first command given to anyone who discovers the wonder of Jesus Christ.

Jesus, by the way, is a real liberator! The resurrection narratives in the four Gospels differ in detail, but in all four the women become the first witnesses, with Mary Magdalene explicitly named as an eyewitness.

God Often Sends His Message through the Least (Matthew 28:1-3).

Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries held little esteem for the testimony of women. This reflects the broader Mediterranean culture’s limited trust of women’s testimony, a mistrust enshrined in Roman law.

By contrast, to those who rejected the power of God, the guards’ report that the disciples had stolen the body (Matthew 28:11-15) would have commanded much greater respect.

It’s no different today.

Matthew places these two reports, the true one and the false one, side by side, forcing his audience to declare their choice. The testimony of the women became a model for all the disciples who came after them (Matthew 28:16-20).

We need to go tell!

Illustration:

One Sunday morning a pastor was dressing for church and had the radio on listening to a local church service. Suddenly he heard to minister say, "It’s Easter, and it doesn’t make any difference if Christ be risen or not..."

Shocked, A.H. Ackley shouted, "It’s a lie! He is risen!"

His wife said, "Why don’t you write a song about it?"

Reading in the gospels again "He is risen," and feeling God’s presence, he began writing. His words have been sung in churches every Easter since: "I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today, I know that He is living, whatever men may say...He Lives!"

3. Rejoice in hope

The words “Greetings,” “All hail!” or “Peace” are used in many translations.

The literal Greek word most often means “Rejoice!”

The same word was used in Luke 1:28 when Mary that she would bear the Son of God.

Those who meet the risen Lord cannot help but live in the joy of His presence.

Illustration:

Every year thousands of people climb a mountain in the Italian Alps, passing the "stations of the cross" to stand at an outdoor crucifix. One tourist noticed a little trail that led beyond the cross. He fought through the rough thicket and, to his surprise, came upon another shrine, a shrine that symbolized the empty tomb. It was neglected. The brush had grown up around it. Almost everyone had gone as far as the cross, but there they stopped. Far too many have gotten to the cross and have known the despair and the heart break. Far too few have moved beyond the cross to find the real message of Easter. That is the message of the empty tomb. Lavonn Brown, "The Other Half of the Rainbow," submitted by Michael Adams, First Baptist Church, Union City, TN.

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