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Friday, April 3, 2015

The Greatest Sunday -- Ever!

THE GREATEST SUNDAY – EVER!
Matthew 28:1-10, 16-20


The Bible is the Word of God. It didn't originate with men, but men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Peter tells us in...

2Pe 1:20-21

When it speaks of prophecy... or scripture... not being of “any private interpretation”... it's not speaking of how the Word is interpreted... that your interpretation is any better than mine... or mine is any better than yours...

What it's speaking of is the Word's “source”... how and where it “originated”... which is made clear in the very next verse where it says that it “came not...by the will of man”... and that “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

Paul also confirms this same truth, that the Word of God which we have is inspired by God in...

2Ti 3:16

The Bible is the Word of God and is inspired by God... but it is also literature. It's “scripture”... it's in written form... it deals with ideas that are eternal and permanent.

Matthew's Gospel, like the rest of the Bible... isn't just a random collection of facts, ideas, or stories... but it has a specific purpose and plan.

The 28th Chapter of Matthew isn't just a group of anti-climatic, closing anecdotes... but it is the powerful climax to everything else he's written.

All that has gone before... everything that Matthew has written before has led to this point... The Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This is the central message and event of Matthew's Gospel. In fact, the Cross and the Resurrection are the central message of the Bible... Old and New Testaments!

Everything leads up to this point. This is the central event of God's redemptive history.

And... the resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith...

Everything we are... everything we have... and everything we hope to be... is based on it's reality and truthfulness.

For without the resurrection... there would be no Christianity!

1Co 15:14 & 17

The message of the Scripture has always been the message of the resurrection... The message that death isn't the end for those who belong to God.

For the believer, death has never been an end... but a doorway that leads to eternity with God.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single greatest event in the history of the world.

It is so foundational to Christianity that no one who denies it can be a true Christian. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead on the 3rd day is one of those “hills to die on”. That's just how important it is!

So, it's no suprise then, that the very first sermon preached by Peter on the day the Church was born... focused on the resurrection of Christ!

(Act 2:23-24)

Paul preached the resurrection constantly and to everyone who'd listen. He proclaimed it before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem... he declared it to Governor Felix and King Agrippa...

He declared that Christ, “... was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” 1Co 15:4

And that, “... he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.” 2Co 4:14

Peter spoke of our, “... lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1Pe 1:3-4)

I could go on and on, but let me point out one last time that the foundation of all our hope is expressed in Jesus' own words, when He said...

Joh 11:25-26

So, as we open up the 28th chapter of Matthew... we are immediately confronted with...

I. THE MIRACLE – Mat 28:1-4

At the end of the sabbath”... opse de sabbaton... which means, “well after the Sabbath”...

Technically, we calculate a day as being a 24 hr period of time which begins at 12:00am and runs through 11:59pm. (That'd be 12:00-23:59 for those who like the 24hr clock.)

The Hebrews, however, calculated their day as running from sunset to sunset... and our passage says that the sabbath was well over... and though John tells us that it was still dark... Matthew says that it was beginning to dawn...

Now, if sunset the previous evening occurred let's say, around 7pm...

And dawn began to break somewhere around 6am... Then this first Lord's Day was already 10-11 hours old by the time the ladies went to the sepulcher...

And the phrase, “the first day of the week” is an interesting translation of a Greek phrase which literally means... “day one with reference to the sabbath”...

You see, the Jews didn't have names for each day of the week like we do. They didn't have a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc...

What they did was number each day in reference to the sabbath. Since sabbath means “seventh”... all other days were reckoned by it... first, second, third, and so on up to seventh (sabbath).

So... very early in the morning of the first day of the week... Sunday to us... Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary gathered up some spices and went to the sepulcher where Jesus had been laid.

Now, “the other Mary” was the mother of James and Joses and the wife of Clopas... and though we know that Salome (Mk 16:1)... and Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod's steward were there also (Lk 24:10)... Matthew only focuses on the two Mary's.

The women intended to re-anoint Jesus's body, and in spite of the fact that Jesus had repeatedly told them and the disciples that he would rise from the dead...

They thought that His body would still be there.

And according to Mark 16:3, they also wondered how they'd even be able to get to His body because they knew that the stone would be too much for them to roll away by themselves.

So, when they reached the sepulcher... they discovered that the stone had been rolled away by an angel of the Lord... who either announced his arrival at the tomb with an earthquake... or used the earthquake to roll the stone away.

Whichever it was... this was the second supernaturally caused earthquake in connection with Jesus' death and burial...

The first one occurred at the moment of His death... now this one to announce His resurrection from the dead!

And... that stone wasn't moved in order to let Jesus out... because we know that the resurrected Christ who was able to rise through his burial clothes... as water would pass through a screen...

And just as the resurrected Christ was able to simply appear among the disciples... even with the doors shut and locked...

The same resurrected Christ wouldn't need to have the stone removed in order to exit the sepulcher!

No. The stone was moved in order to let the world in! God wanted these women and then the disciples to know that Jesus was gone...

That He had risen from the dead!

And the angel of the Lord... shining as brightly as lightning (probably radiating the Shekinah glory of God) and wearing pure white robes... was sitting on the stone.
When these events happened... the soldiers who had been left to guard the tomb were so traumatized at seeing the arrival of the angel of the Lord... that they were completely paralyzed with fear and shook violently... as an earthquake... which is what the original language here implies.

And they became as dead men... literally... they became as if they were unconscious...

I get this picture in my head of a violent Grand Mal Seizure and of someone being thrown to the ground in uncontrollable shaking and unconsciousness...

And isn't it remarkable that the unbelievers react so violently when seeing the angel of the Lord...

But the reaction of the women is so very different! That though they may have been fearful...

That when the angel turns his attention to the women, he offers them comfort by saying, “Fear not...” , and then he delivers to them...


II. THE MESSAGE – Mat 28:5-10

The message that's given is two-fold... First, they're told...

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.” (Mat 28:6)

And then they're told to tell the disciples and have them meet Jesus in Galilee. Then, in verse 10, Jesus Himself meets the women and tells them the same thing...

First... many preachers and commentators talk about how unusual it was that the first witnesses to Christ's resurrection were women.

They tell us how that the testimony of women wasn't considered “trustworthy” in ancient Jewish culture... So it's unusual that God would use women as His first heralds of the resurrection.

One may say that “God uses the weak to confound the strong.” Another might suggest that the women were rewarded for their faithfulness and support throughout Christ's earthly ministry.

Another has even suggested that since death came by woman in the garden... new life has now been announced by woman in another garden.

But you know, the scripture gives us no explanation other than the simple fact that they were the first ones there.

If the disciples had been there... then... they too would have heard the news of Jesus' resurrection from the angel of the Lord.

And secondly... this whole thing with the women being there first and hearing the message first is a message to us today...

It demonstrates to us the reality that the closer a believer stays to the Lord and His work... the more that believer is going to witness and experience His power!

Those who are there when the Word is taught... those who are there when the lost are won... those who are there when others are being served in His name...

Those who are regular in their prayer time, study of the Word, and Church attendance...

Will be those who most often will experience first-hand the mighty work of God.

Now...the final point I want to bring out is that now... we are under...

III. THE MANDATE – Mat 28:16-20

Simply put... we are under the mandate individually and corporately... to evangelize the world.

We as individual believers... and we as the Church... are to make disciples throughout the world... baptize them... and teach them to obey the Lord.

It really makes sense, doesn't it? I mean, if the Lord truly “so loved the world”... (Joh 3:16)

If the Father really is, “... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Pe 3:9)

And He desires that, “... all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1Ti 2:4)

Then it really makes perfect sense that He would want all those who are His... to spread the Word and make disciples!

It would also follow that those claim to be His... who don't do this are being disobedient.

Jesus tell us... And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?(Luk 6:46)

And... If ye love me, keep my commandments. (Joh 14:15)

Submission to the absolute sovereignty of Jesus Christ is not an option... but an obligation.

If we truly love Jesus... we will obey...

The Great Commission is a command to bring unbelievers throughout the world to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

His command is that those who are His disciples to become His instruments for making disciples...

This is why I must now ask you... Are you a disciple of Christ? Do you know my Jesus?


Invitation