************ Sermon on Matthew 28:1-10 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 5, 2015
"He has Risen"
Easter Sunday 2015
I Plans for the Dead (vs 1)
A In one of the churches I served a mother went everyday to the grave of her eighteen year old son. She sat there. She cried there. She rocked back and forth. She wailed. She screamed. She stroked the gravestone. Day after day, even in the Winter, even in the rain. There she was, alone, with her grief.
I think of this mother every time I read the opening verse of our Bible reading this morning:
(Mt 28:1) After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.Why did they go to the tomb? They "went to look at the tomb." Isn't that sad? They were going to the tomb to sit there and sit there and sit there. They were going to the tomb to cry, weep, mourn. They were going to the tomb in their despair. They were going to the tomb with their dashed hopes and dreams. They were going to the tomb to think about everything that happened. They were going to the tomb with their memories. They were going to the tomb to try and make sense of everything that had happened during the short time they had known Jesus.
It is obvious, isn't it?! They went to look at the tomb because they thought Jesus was dead. You don't go to the grave when someone near and dear is alive. You go to the grave because you believe someone near and dear is dead.
They "went to look at the tomb."
Easter Sunday was not the only time they were looking at the tomb. Go back to Good Friday. After Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea asked for Jesus' body. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance (Mt 27:59-60). Guess who was watching? Guess who was sitting there watching?
(Mt 27:61) Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
So, Mary and Mary saw Jesus' body. They saw the tomb. They saw Joseph place Jesus in the tomb. They saw the stone.
Go back a little further. Do you remember what the women were doing as Jesus suffered and died on the cross? They were "watching from a distance" (Mt 27:55). So, the women watched the crucifixion. The women watched the burial. The women watched the tomb. They watched and watched and watched as grieving bystanders and spectators.
The women sat and watched and mourned and wailed because they forgot. The women forgot what Jesus taught repeatedly about His resurrection (Mt 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 26:32). In fact, Jesus never taught the truth of His crucifixion without also teaching the truth of His resurrection. The two go hand-in-hand. They are like the two sides of a coin. Jesus died and Jesus arose. Jesus was crucified and Jesus was resurrected. Jesus had a bloody cross and Jesus had an empty grave.
Here is a reminder that we don't focus just on the cross. Here is a reminder that the Gospel is more than what happened on Good Friday. Here is a reminder that the Gospel story doesn't end with Golgotha Hill.
That's why we confess -- with those who professed their faith today -- that Jesus died and Jesus arose.
So, the plan of the two Marys was "to look at the tomb."
B We know the two Marys are not the only ones with plans for the dead. Go back one chapter and take a look at the Pharisees, Pilate, and the soldiers. At the request of the Pharisees, Pilate posted a guard of Roman soldiers at the tomb to keep it locked and secure (Mt 27:62-65). The tomb was guarded and sealed to keep Jesus locked inside.
The world wants to keep Jesus locked in the tomb. The world needs to keep Jesus locked in the tomb. The world does not want to believe that Jesus rose because then everything the Bible proclaims about Jesus is true and needs to be taken seriously. For instance:
-Jesus is proclaimed to be God's Son. His resurrection proves this to be true.
-Jesus said death is not the end. In fact, life never ends. Life continues after death. His resurrection proves this to be true.
-The apostles proclaimed that someday we will be raised to be like Jesus. His resurrection proves this to be true.
-We confess that someday Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead. His resurrection proves this to be true.
-Christ's resurrection affirms the truth of both the Old and New Testament Scriptures.
The world cannot accept the resurrection of Christ because then difficult changes need to be made. The truth of the resurrection means there are ultimate standards of right and wrong and no one can get away with what is right in their own eyes. The truth of the resurrection requires repentance and faith. The truth of the resurrection means there is more to life than the body and food and drink and clothing and shelter.
Things have not changed after two thousand years. The world still cannot accept the resurrection of Christ. The world still tries to keep Jesus locked and sealed in His tomb. The world wants Jesus to be on the same level and in the same spot as every other religious leader:
Mohammed's tomb - occupied
Confucius' tomb - occupied
Buddha's tomb - occupied
Jesus' tomb - not empty but occupied!
That's what the world wants. So mankind can pick and choose. So no faith is better than any other. The world wants a Jesus Who is still in His coffin. The world does NOT want a Jesus Who is alive and in heaven with all power and all authority.
The plan of the world is to keep Jesus locked in the tomb.
II Plans that are Interrupted (vs 2-7)
A Into this situation steps God. And, He shakes up the plans of kings and women with the appearance of an angel who displays the might of heaven.
Look at what happens to the earth when the angel came down: There was a violent earthquake; not a mild foot massage; not a minor shaking; it was a violent earthquake (Mt 28:2). Look at what happened to the soldiers of Rome: They shook and became like dead men (Mt 28:4). Look at what happened to the women: They, too, were afraid (cf Mt 28:5). All of this shaking on Resurrection Sunday before the might of heaven.
Do you hear the unspoken message? Pilate and the soldiers of Rome are powerful. But on Resurrection Sunday we see there is ONE more powerful than Rome. Because before Him everything and everyone is shaking.
B With the might of heaven God shakes up the plan of the Pharisees, Pilate, and the soldiers to keep Jesus dead and buried in the tomb. An angel of the Lord interrupted all their plans. The angel came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it (Lk 28:2). He sat on it. Like he owned it. Like he didn't have a care in the world. Like he was waiting.
What nerve! The stone had Pilate's seal. The tomb was guarded by Pilate's soldiers (Mt 27:66). To break the seal and move the stone was to challenge the might of Caesar and Rome. No one, absolutely no one, had permission to do that. Yet, the angel violated Pilate's order. And, by sitting on the stone he was in Pilate's face about his disobedience.
Easter's resurrection interrupted the plans of kings and men to keep Jesus in the tomb.
C These are not the only plans that were interrupted. Consider the women. They went to look at the tomb. They went to mourn and cry and grieve about Jesus Who was crucified, dead, and buried. Instead, they hear an incredible message: "you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said" (Mt 28:5-6).
Easter's resurrection has interrupted the women's plans. Because you cannot mourn someone who is alive. You cannot grieve and cry and wail over someone who is not dead.
"Come and see the place where he lay" (Mt 28:6). Have you ever noticed that none of the Gospels describe the actual resurrection? We aren't told that Jesus, like Lazarus, comes out of the tomb, His hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around His face. Unlike with Lazarus, we hear no order to remove the grave clothes (cf Jn 11:44).
"Come and see the place where he lay" (Mt 28:6). The stone was not rolled away to permit Jesus to come out, for He had already left the tomb. The stone was not rolled away to permit Jesus to come out but to permit the women to go in. The rock was rolled away so the women could see for themselves that the tomb was empty. The rock was rolled away so the women could see for themselves that Jesus had risen.
Easter's resurrection has interrupted the funeral service.
III Plans that Turn into Worship (vs 9)
A Now, notice what happens next: "Suddenly Jesus met them" (Mt 28:9). They met the risen Lord. "They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him" (Mt 28:9).
The women were planning on a funeral. Instead, it turned into a time of worship.
The same thing happened with the disciples. Listen to what we are told in Matthew's last verses:
(Mt 28:16-17) Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. (17) When they saw him, they worshiped him ...When the disciples meet the risen Lord their response is exactly the same as the women: worship.
Whether you are one of the women or one of the disciples, when you meet the risen Lord you worship Him.
B So, what is this worship? It is NOT what we call worship -- a formal worship service with the preaching of the Word, sacraments, prayers, songs, and offering. What is the worship that happened on Easter Sunday? It is a spontaneous and heartfelt response to the good news that He has risen, He has risen indeed! It is adoration. It is awe. It is submission.
When the women and the disciples meet the risen Lord they fall to His feet in adoration and awe. Of course they do: because He was crucified, died, and buried but now He lives.
The same thing happens today. Those who profess Jesus worship Him Who has risen from the dead.
IV Plans that End in Mission (vs 7, 10)
A On this Easter Sunday I want to end with the words "go and tell." The angel said this to the women. They were told to go and tell the disciples.
Tell them what? Tell them that Jesus Who was crucified has risen. Tell them that Easter's resurrection has happened. Tell them that He lives.
"So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples" (Mt 28:8). They didn't waste time. They didn't walk. They didn't jog. They ran. They ran because they had good news to pass on. They ran because they had the best news to tell the disciples. They ran because the angel had told them to "go quickly" (Mt 28:7).
But it isn't only the angel who told them to go and tell. Jesus also said this to the women. So two times they were told to go and tell. So two times they were given the same mission.
B Do you remember how Matthew's gospel ends? After the disciples worship Him, Jesus gave them almost the same command He gave to the women. The disciples are told to "go and make disciples" (Mt 28:19). Make disciples of the risen Lord. Make disciples of Him Who is no longer in the grave.
Whether you are one of the women or one of the disciples, you are told to pass on the good news of the risen Savior.
C This remains true for today. It isn't just pastors and missionaries who are to go and tell. It isn't just pastors and missionaries who are to go and make. The book of Acts makes a point of telling us that it was and is ordinary believers who also spread the good news that Jesus is alive (Acts 8:4; 11:19).
Those who meet the risen Savior go and tell.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page