Why were guards placed at the tomb of Jesus? The reason is important. For today we celebrate an empty tomb, a resurrected Jesus, and eternal Savior,but lies have been told about that event. Will you believe the lie that is understood or the truth that is a mystery?
A. Angels have been a topic that has fascinated mankind for years. In the last several decades we in America have been captivated by angles so much that even Hollywood has stepped in to market the desire with shows and movies. Books are written about angels interacting with man, and scholars have dived into the Bible to examine the topic more deeply.
B. Questions like “How is Satan a Fallen Angel?” and “Do angels still take on human form today?” are popular among both Christian and seekers alike. Yes, we like angels. But in just a cursory read about angels interaction with people in the Bible finds that man times people were frightened by an angel because an angel was God’s supernatural interaction and possessed great power. In the Bible people often talked to and treated angels as though they were in the presence of God himself. Even in the best of times, angels caused people to wonder or be amazed.
C. When Jesus came in the flesh as a little baby born of Mary in the town of Bethlehem, the Bible tells us that shepherds were out in the field watch over their sheep. You remember what happen… (Luke 2:9-10). The story continues but the point the angel wanted those shepherd to understand is that he was bringing “good news of great joy.” The birth of the baby Jesus was a celebration in heaven and God wanted to the earth to celebrate the good news – the light had come into the world, the living message of God was now dwelling with man in human form, God with us!”
D. Jump forward 33 years. We have walked through the streets of Jerusalem where Jesus came in like a king and the people cried out “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” That week would be the week all four writers of the Gospels wanted their readers to know. Matthew spends 7 chapters dealing with that week, Mark and Luke 5 chapters each, and John 8 chapters. That’s a lot of text for period of about 5 days.
E. All four end that week with Jesus in a tomb and all four tell of the resurrection. They write about the first day of the next week. That is what we are reflecting upon today.
I. Angelic News!
A. Matthew tells us that on Sunday morning, after Jesus was buried for 3 days that an angel of the Lord came, rolled back the stone in front of the tomb in which Jesus was buried and sat on the stone. He did so to prove the tomb was empty.
B. Mark writes almost the exact same statement about a young man sitting on the right side of the tome dressed in a white robe. John tells us that after Peter and John had left that Mary Magdalene was at the tomb and there were two angels now inside the tomb. One sitting at the head and one where the feet of the body of Jesus was laid three days earlier.
C. Then we have the reading that was given today from Luke. He also mentions about two men appearing in dazzling apparel and the woman being frightened.
D. But what I want you to know is the angelic news that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all give from the angels. The news is the same. Jesus is not in the tomb, because Jesus is alive! “Why are you weeping? He is not here, he is risen! Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
E. Yet, the truth we find in scripture is that the woman and the disciples don’t believe or at best remain confused by the announcement. (Luke 24:10-11) Think of the faith it would take to believe but at the same time think about who it is that is making the announcement. So why is it so difficult to believe that Jesus died, was buried and three days later rose never to die again?
II. The Official Report
A. We have heard the angelic news, but let’s hear the official report. To do that lets step back into the week prior. You see, a person dying was not news or even important. A “criminal” dying and being buried was not that important. But there is more to the death of Jesus than just a man dying on a cross and being called a traitor who calls himself king. Yes, the religious leaders who hated Jesus knew there was much more.
B. There was more to the deal with in the garden where the body of Jesus was placed than just a stone. (Matt. 27:62-66). In Matt. 12, Jesus tells the Pharisees that the only sign given to them will be the sign of Jonah. That he would rise after 3 days.
C. To the disciples Jesus said in Matt. 16 that he must go to Jerusalem, suffer at the hands of the elders, be killed and on the third day rise again. This teaching of the resurrection was not sprung on them, but one Jesus boldly proclaimed. Yet, the disciples were less willing to believe than the chief priests.
D. Matthew continues to tell us the story of how on that resurrection morning when the angel appeared, the guards at the tomb were so frightened they trembled and became like dead men. But when they came to their senses (probably seeing the open tomb that they were called to guard and that it was empty) Matthew recounts what they did. (Matt. 28:11-15)
E. There you have the official story. The disciple came, overpowered the guards, opened the tomb and stole the body. That is also more believable to many people than the truth. To this day, many, if not most, do not believe that Jesus is alive.
III. Your News???
A. So we have heard the angelic news, we have heard the official report, but what story do you tell? I am very happy you chose to be here today. For some, this day of remembrance is very holy. But I must ask, what does it mean to your life?
B. It is great that people post on social media great things about the death and resurrection of Jesus, proclaiming their faith. I applaud that public testimony, but that doesn’t answer my question. What does the resurrection really mean you?
C. The disciples wouldn’t believe, the chief priests couldn’t believe, the women believed and told the story. The resurrection of Jesus is more than just a story. It is more than kids learning about Easter eggs and candy. It is more than coming to worship. The story of the resurrection of Jesus is our story also. For when we believe it sincerely and deeply, it changes how we view life. We can’t help but share the story and we most definitely desire to live the story. Paul speak of the importance (1 Cor. 15:12-19).
D. How tragic it is if we don’t believe. We live a life that is nothing but a lie. We worship nothing and waste time with a crutch to somehow make us feel better. If the resurrection is not true, then we, of all people, are most to be pitied.
A. VERSE 20!!!
B. But In FACT! The fact is Jesus rose from the dead, is now seated at the right hand of God, and because of his resurrection, you and I will be raised from the dead.
C. What Easter means to me is life. What Easter means to me is that heaven is real and I am going home. I will live each day in such a way as to show the world my faith. I live in obedience to the One who reigns on high. I live in love and honor to my savior, my father, my God-Spirit who dwells in me. I live desiring to proclaim the angelic news that Jesus is alive!
D. Today, right now, you have the opportunity to proclaim that faith. In a few seconds we will sing a song. If you are here today and feel a need to come before God either in repentance, in a need to be saved by Jesus, or have some other need that we can help by praying for you, then we invite you to come forward now, as we stand and sing.