Summary: Easter Sermon in the "Miracles in Matthew" series. How do we react to the news of the resurection?
The Greatest Miracle
I don’t normally begin with sad news, but I think sometimes it’s good for us to pause and remember how precious life is. Larry LaPrise, died recently at age 83 in Boise, Idaho, after a career that brought him no fame, modest fortune, and a job with the Postal Service. You probably don’t recognize the name but Larry touched all of our lives in a small way—He wrote the song, “the Hokey Pokey.” And so in some small way, I suppose we all grieve his passing.
He lived a full and long life, but still, for his family I’m sure it was a difficult time. Made more difficult no doubt by what happened at the funeral parlor. As they went to put Larry in the casket, they put his left leg in … That was when the trouble started.
Well they had similar trouble in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. A man brutally tortured and killed didn’t stay in the grave. You’d have to call that the news story of all time.
The question I’d like to ask today is how do we react to that news?
The answer I think is the same way that the first people who heard it did.
How do we respond to the news of the Resurrection? We are…
2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
Imagine how they must’ve felt. they’d experienced the crucifixion, still in mourning, now this eath-shaking development. It was natural that they be frightened.
It’s natural, too, for us to be shaken by the story of Jesus. Many people have been shaken by the recent movie, “the Passion.” Even if we’re unable to form the words, the reason is that inside we sense, if he went through that much to save me, I must be in bad shape.
But to receive the salvation He offers by the price He paid, he asks us to believe something earth-shaking not just that He died, but that he who was beaten and tortured, in the words of Isaiah the prophet more than any other man
15So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
It’s normal to be skeptical about things that are outside your experience. But the fact that it’s outside your experience doesn’t mean that it couldn’t or didn’t happen. The Biblical account over and over again invites us as the angels invited the women in our story to “come and see.”
The New Testament writers make a great deal of the witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To them it wasn’t merely important that people put their faith in a fantasy...It was important that the message be true. Faith in the Gospel has always been Faith in fact, not faith in fantasy. And so the witnesses are listed and the reader of Paul’s day is invited to go looking for them, most are still alive, go ask them yourself.
Now if I was going to concoct a false religious pseudo-supernatural story, I would never invite people to go looking for witnesses, I would instead pronounce a curse on all those who doubt. But from Thomas to today skeptics are invited to look at the evidence.
Soldiers on gaurd at the tomb, who were paid to circulate a story that they were sleeping, which is difficult to believe because if true they wouldn’t be alive to tell it, under the Roman UCMJ the punishment for sleeping at the post was death.
Women as the first witnesses of the resurrection-- something that a person making a story up would never invent because women at that time were not considered viable witnesses.
If you’re skeptical about the resurrection , that’s OK, I’m not asking you to leap by faith into a story with nothing there, I’m asking you to consider the proof and reach out in faith for the rest.
Once you’ve done that you’ll have a different reaction. You’ll be…
8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
Once you’ve accepted the truth of the resurrection, your whole world changes. Christ’s resurrection—his cheating of death, the scripture says is the down payment on eternal life for all who trust in Him.