EASTER 2021 Risen King | Matthew 27:62-28:15
Topic: Gospel Passage: Matthew 27:62–28:15
Christopher Rich – April 4, 2021
Risen King | Matthew 27:62-28:15
Introduction | Where are you at?
Good Morning! Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Happy Resurrection Sunday! Christ has risen! This past week and this Sunday in particular is unique and set apart, looking at Jesus path to the cross where He took our defeat for us on Good Friday. We remembered Good Friday is Good because Jesus in on the cross in our place. This morning we celebrate His victorious resurrection on Easter. Jesus is the savior-king, Christ, Messiah of God’s people. He is the king crucified for His people; He is the Savior risen for His people. This isn’t only significant for Christians but we believe it is for everyone. Why do you believe what you believe? Where do you look to for Hope, Identity, and purpose? All of us believe in something. All of us come with our own bias, experiences, and perspectives each limited to what we can perceive and process, none of us are truly neutral or faithless.
“Our moral values, our belief about human nature, our beliefs about whether the material universe was its own cause or was created by God – All of these fundamental assumptions about reality come through a combination of reasoning, evidence, and faith.” – Tim Keller, Hope in Times of Fear
- We recognize many of you are believers here to be reminded of and celebrate the risen King Jesus.
- Some of you are active opposed to Jesus as Lord and savior and resistant to any claims of His divinity.
- Still others are not ignorant of the claims of Christianity and are not hostile but rather are indifferent to their implications on your life and would prefer to place your focus on other areas of your life.
What we are doing today in gathering is not expecting to hear something new, but be reminded of what is true. We all need constant reminders of what is true about God, this world, and us because we easily forget, get distracted, discouraged, or even deceived. We look out at the world and something within us cries out “It shouldn’t be this way!” We begin to search for answers, we seek comfort, and rest for our souls. We desire purpose and wholeness. We believe this can be found in the resurrection of Jesus. Here in the Gospel of Matthew we see how resurrection was resisted, received by some, and rejected by others.
PART I | Resurrection Resisted | Matthew 27:62-66
Matthew 27:62-66 | 62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
Opposition to Jesus never Rests - Jesus has been crucified, dead, and buried in a particular grave on Good Friday. It is now Sabbath Saturday, a time when the religious participate in legality mandated “rest” and yet even with Jesus dead and buried they are not resting; they are unsettled and they’re going to do something about it. Pilate is shown reverence calling him “Sir” as they reject the claims of Jesus. To the religious leaders, Jesus is nothing more than an imposter or fraud (Deceiver). CS Lewis breaks down the claims of Jesus and says he is either a lunatic, liar, or he is the risen Lord. The chief priest and Pharisees (two groups that do not usually get along) come together and they’re settled Jesus is a lunatic liar. This isn’t based on hard evidence, after an exhaustive unbiased investigation of who Jesus is, they are driven by irrational envy. There greatest hope is in Jesus staying dead. That Jesus isn’t who He said He was, namely He is God and they are not. Jesus isn’t not the imposter, they are - They want to be ruler and reign over their own lives. They have their kingdoms and influence to protect, and so do we. We believe, wrongly, that we are the masters of our own domain and rulers of all around us. We don’t easily consider the possibility of a God who created us for a purpose and that purpose might not always be our glorification, but his. Conspiracy against Jesus, Clarity by Jesus - The whole reason they opposed and crucified Jesus was because he claimed to be the Savior King of God’s people. Many times claimed he was going be killed and in three days rise, and Jesus has a knack for being right. They do not consider this is possible; but they do believe his disciples might try to make it look like he rose by stealing the body, announcing the fraud, and people again will rally around Jesus as their champion. It is still a popular notion that the disciples and followers created a fraud or perpetrated a myth that Jesus rose to attain power and influence for themselves and later the church. If power and influence were their desire they were bad at it, because each of them faced trials and death that could all easily be avoided with their recanting. Their accounts include details completely unflattering to them personally and as we’ll see the first witnesses are women who were disrespected as second-class citizens in the first century.
First fraud is Jesus is the king, second is he will rise. If either of these were actually true then it would completely upset the world as it was known, each of them would have to reassess their own sense of self-importance and where their allegiance is placed. All their hope is in attempting to secure their own authority and protect their kingdom. Let’s make sure Jesus kingdom is dead and buried in this tomb. So they do all earthly possible to prevent any human means of the tomb of Jesus body being artificially emptied. There are armed guards under legal authority from the state, there is a seal on the tomb to prevent tampering, there is a clear timeline, you only have to guard it long enough for Jesus words “on the third day I will rise” to be proven false and Jesus (even as a teacher or prophet) to be discredited. They’ve got the lead and the ball, so if they can just run out the clock it’s game over. Keep Jesus in the tomb for three days, everything will go back to normal (which wasn’t that great). With the tomb is sealed, nobody is coming in steal the corpse, and no body is going out dead or alive. Yet on the third day the tomb of Jesus was empty so the only real question is “How?”
PART II | Resurrection Received | 28:1-10
Matthew 28:1-10 | Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
Women last at the Cross are first at the Tomb –They saw the brutality of the cross and they burial of Jesus. Hope dead, future uncertain, their Sabbath Saturday wasn’t restful either but mournful. They came to the tomb expecting a dead Jesus. If this was as story, legend, or myth it wouldn’t be women meeting Jesus, it would be prominent men. In this garden tomb scene all is not quiet. The Creator of the Universe displays His power as the ground shakes. Worldly authorities playing imposter kings look pretty silly when compared to the overwhelming power of the creator God. The grave would not be sufficient to contain the kingdom of Jesus. God at work overcoming Opposition- A messenger of God from Heaven comes and rolls the great stone away unsealing a tomb that has been made “as secure as it can”. His appearance is not underwhelming or humble but remarkably brilliant and pure. Confronted with the power of God and His royal messenger the Roman guards respond with paralyzing fear. They are catatonic, making no attempt to undo the unsealed tomb or overcome the work of the angel. Opposition to the Risen Jesus is irrelevant compared to the resurrection power of God. If God is real, and Jesus is really God, then a stone and few guys with sword isn’t much of an effective opposition. Ironically, all the Pharisees plotted to resist the resurrection from happening (or being staged) was used to provide multiple witnesses and more compelling evidence of it happening.
Hope in Seeking Jesus - Unthreatened, the angel pays no attention to the soldiers. He doesn’t even speak to them. God’s message is directly to those who are concerned with Jesus only. The stone-faced guards are not there to see Jesus, worship Jesus or even to remember/mourn Jesus they’re only interested in Jesus remaining dead and the tomb sealed and they have failed miserably. So the angel turns his full attention to the women. “Do not be afraid,” You’ve seen Jesus murdered on the cross and buried. You’re afraid because you do know what is next. You’re coming to the tomb, the ground shook, and now you’re talking to a bright angel. But you have nothing to fear because you are seeking Jesus. “who was crucified” (Not the crucified one) Jesus isn’t defined any longer as the crucified one, but the risen one! The angel tells them “He is not here” Luke says “Why are you looking for the living among the dead.” Jesus is alive. “As he said” Jesus called it, death would not be the end of him. This is unbelievable to them, and to us! The angel says don’t just take my word for it, come on into the tomb where the body lay, it is empty! The empty tomb is incredibly significant evidence of the risen Jesus. No empty Tomb and Jesus is as dead as your great-great grandmother. Maybe it can be explained more simply. Jesus doesn’t jump out and say “Just kidding I wasn’t really dead; I just faked it, hid out here waiting for the right time to come out.” Are you kidding? The guards would have taken Jesus, brought him back to the chief priests or finished the job. The women see the tomb and are commissioned to go and tell the disciples, “Jesus, God the Son has been risen by the plan of God the Father and power of God the Holy Spirit.” Specifically, they are told to meet him “back home” in Galilee. They respond with quick obedience. The women who came to prepared to morn Jesus are now leaving propelled to magnify Jesus!
With Fear and Great Joy – This is the essence of what it means to live the Christian life. It is realistic, there are doubts and challenges, but ultimately there is joy. In part, because the forces opposed to resurrection (Legalistic Religion, Oppressive Government) are shown to be powerless. The women don’t stay and marvel or set up a shrine. Christians don’t worship an empty tomb; we worship a risen Jesus! We find hope not in the idea of resurrection, second chances, or new beginning but an actual event where a powerful God displayed overwhelming power over our greatest enemy which is death. Our evidence and faith is more than “no body in the tomb” it is in Jesus who is alive. As they go the risen Jesus meets them on the road and stops them with a word. “Greetings” this is a wholistic term mean “Rejoice.” “Peace”. When Jesus shows up in your life the result is inviting you to hope and wholeness which compels you to rejoice. The Risen Jesus leads them to eager action. An encounter with the risen Jesus leads them to humble worship as they fall to the ground holding on to his feet as a sign of reverence given to a King and worship Him in a way only fit for God alone. These women were last at the cross, first at the tomb, first to have the joy of seeing the risen Lord. Jesus doesn’t say “let’s stay here and chat” there are others who need to know about the me risen Jesus. “Do not fear.” “Go and tell” The mission continues to do what? “Go and tell my minions, my followers, my army, my subjects? No, go tell my brothers. They’ll meet me back in our familiar home land. The message of Jesus and the mission of Jesus is seeking estranged sinners, exiled out of paradise, and bringing them back into the family of God through the work of Jesus who leads them to “Home” where God and His people dwell together.
PART III | Resurrection Rejected | 28:11-15
Matthew 28:11-15 | 11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
A resurrected Jesus presents great problems for those who desire to remain in charge of their own lives or part of the world believe they have influence over. The Chief Priest hear of the power of God and the truth of the empty tomb,and are completely unmoved. They would rather cling to their personal rather than embracing truth universal. Like many in our world today who have already made up their mind about something and even when presented with overwhelmingly challenging new information to what they believe and are unwilling to even engage with alternatives. They don’t care about the truth only how it would affect them. They gather, they decide, they pay a “significant amount” to buy their own version of the truth. No amount of money spent can change the truth. They hope to explain the empty tomb, but they cannot deny it.
Lame Gospel – The Guards saw and experienced something great and powerful, but quickly traded it for comfort of the familiar. They traded some temporary gain in exchange for their pride and denial of the eternal power of God. They didn’t even get to have a cool story that they were overwhelmed by a dozen armed disciples who attacked them and took the body by force. If the disciples were involved at all it would have been so easy to discredit or arrest them. They could have followed the women and pursued something valuable, transformational and eternal but instead they take the money and settle for something cheap and temporary. Paid off, the guards become evangelists of a false gospel written by the chief priests. Tell everyone the news “you failed, bear the shame, and tell them Jesus is still dead, there is no hope to be found in him.” No Resurrection means in your sin and brokenness you’ve failed and have to bear your own shame too, because Jesus would be just an example of sacrifice rather than an effective one. “The essence of sin is humans substituting ourselves for God. The essence of salvation is God substituting himself for us” - John Stott
The Gospel is God is good, we all failed, Jesus bears our sin, failure and shame in our place on the cross, but there is hope because Jesus is alive, and he promises new life for all who place their trust in him!
Chief priests, dead. Pilate, dead. Pharisees, dead. Soldiers, dead. Friend and disciples, dead. Jesus is Alive!
What is your response to the resurrection of Jesus? You’ve heard the news of Jesus risen, you know the tomb is empty. There is the temptation to follow the example of the guards who know about the events of the resurrection but do not worship the risen Jesus, who even with a dramatic encounter or experience with the truth of the Gospel and return to what you know, what you think is safe and secure. The chief priest simply opposed and denied the resurrection of Jesus their hope was in themselves. Both walk in a willing denial of reality. Christians are those who trust the truth of the resurrection of Jesus and have great hope in this life and the one to come. As Christians we know this is where all our hope lays. No resurrected Jesus, no hope.
1 Cor 15:14 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
1 Cor 15:19-20 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead,
The best stories are great because they also have the benefit of being true. At Mercy Fellowship our faith is we have been saved by Jesus’ work, we are being changed by Jesus Grace’, and hope to live on Jesus’ Mission. Our greatest hope and sincere prayer for you, this city, this world and everyone is to simply Trust Jesus.
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