Summary: In this message titled “Urgent News” from our 2008 Easter Morning service, we look at the resurrection from the perspective of the ladies who arrived at the tomb early on that first Easter morning. How did they feel? What did they see? More importantly
How many of you took a look at the newspaper this morning? If you can stomach it, I think it’s a good idea to keep up with what’s going on in the world. But here’s the thing about news. Whether you get your news from the paper or the TV, news comes in all different shapes and sizes. There’s different perspectives and biases. Different styles and substances. One thing you’ll notice when you pick up the paper or when you watch the news on TV is that the news is compartmentalized. It’s broken up into segments. You might have the local news, then the national news. Then you might have some sports. You might have the weather. You might have some human interest stories where stories are told about people and the things going on in their lives. And you might have some continuing investigative journalism story where the reporter is trying to solve a mystery or unsolved crime. Well, they didn’t have newspapers back in first-century Jerusalem. But just because they didn’t have newspapers didn’t mean they didn’t have news. If they would have had newspapers, the Saturday morning front page headline might have read, “King of the Jews crucified.” Like headlines today, that headline would have meant different things to different people. To Pilate, it would have meant that he was politically safe because peace was restored with the Jews in his district. To Caiaphas and Annas and the rest of the Jewish leadership, it would have meant that their authority and power over the Jews was still intact. To most of the soldiers, crucifixion was so common, they probably skipped right over the story and flipped to the sports section. But what about Jesus’ followers? How would they have looked at that headline? I’m sure some were angry. Some were hurt. I’m sure all were confused. And every single one of them was grieving.
In the garden when Jesus was betrayed, all of His disciples ran away. They all deserted Him. John and Peter followed from a distance and tried to blend in with the crowd as they watched Jesus’ trials and beatings. John is the only disciple we know of who was present at the cross as Jesus was crucified. But the women were there. The women were there watching as Jesus was beaten. They were there as Jesus struggled through the streets of Jerusalem, up the Via Dolorosa to Golgatha. They were there as Jesus was nailed to the cross and as the cross was dropped into place between two renegade murderers. They were there at the foot of the cross the whole time. They were there until Jesus said, “It is finished” and surrendered His spirit and died. They didn’t need a newspaper. Sometimes I get tired of seeing the news always full of bad news. But these ladies had seen the worst news of all—face-to-face. Jesus was dead. What did that mean? All of the hopes and dreams of kingdom and heaven and salvation. Were all those hopes in the tomb with Jesus as well? The Saturday morning news was bad news indeed.
Back on Friday afternoon, Jesus died around 3:00. Sometime after that, a very important Jew named Joseph of Arimathea received permission to remove Jesus’ body from the cross. He was a wealthy man, so his family had their own tomb. Joseph and another important Jew named Nicodemus wrapped Jesus’ lifeless body with strips of cloth soaked in burial spices. More spices were stuffed into the folds of the cloth until the body was encased in about 100 pounds of cloth and spices. Although they did a very thorough job, the ladies wanted to do a little bit more. But evening was coming and with evening came the Sabbath. So, they placed Jesus in the tomb with the understanding that the ladies would come back on Sunday morning to place more anointing spices on Jesus’ body. The news was bad. Jesus was dead. Their hopes were dead. All that was left was duty. All that was left was mourning. All they could do now was try to help their grief a little bit by giving Him a decent burial. So the ladies showed up to the tomb on Sunday morning. They were ready to get the guards to open the tomb so they could coat the body in another layer of fragrant spices. And then the news changed.
The news changed from bad news to investigative news. Because when they got to the tomb, what did they find? It’s easy for us, because we know the end of the story. But imagine yourself with the ladies that morning. They are emotionally numb. The kind of numb that comes in the early morning hours before you go to the funeral of a loved one. They had no expectations other than the gruesome task of anointing a mortifying corpse. Then, to the numbness was added surprise and shock. The surprise and shock of arriving at an open tomb. In our text, we see that sometime before the ladies arrived, there was an earthquake and an angel rolled back the stone from the tomb. Why do you think he did that? Was it to let Jesus out? Of course not—Jesus was already gone. His glorified body wasn’t limited by walls and stones. So if the angel didn’t roll back the stone to let Jesus out, why did he do it? He did it to let the ladies in. They came seeking Jesus out of duty and obedience. They had no idea that He would be raised. But God opened the door so they could see the truth. Maybe you’re here this morning and you have all sorts of questions about God and Jesus. Maybe you’re just walking around numb from all the circumstances of life and you’re confused. I’ve got news for you. If you seek Him—He’ll make Himself known to you. He has promised that those who honestly seek Him will find Him. If you follow the example of these ladies. If you, in the middle of the mind-numbing circumstances of your life…. If you will seek Jesus…. God will open the door on your investigation. He won’t lay out all the facts for you like a jigsaw puzzle. But He’s already given you His Word. And if you seek Him in His Word, He’ll roll the stone away and show you who Jesus really is. The ladies got to the tomb and were shown where Jesus’ body had been. They saw the empty shell of hardened graveclothes. They saw how they hadn’t been removed, but had been passed through. And they believed. They left home that morning with nothing but bad news. Once they got to the tomb, the bad news turned to investigating news. But now, their investigating news turned to good news.