Welcome to our OneChurch Easter Livestream
It is a privilege to have you join us on this exciting and celebratory day.
If you have been blessed by the livestream, please drop us a note in the comment section, private message, or email us and let us know how this ministry has blessed you. We love to hear about the good things God is doing in each and every one of your lives.
2. Easter Sunday
This morning is a continuation of Good Friday. Friday we looked at the story of Jesus death and crucifixion. We walked through the experiences that Jesus would have had and the pain he would have experienced. We saw the struggle of Pilate and the followers as they had to deal with the aggressiveness of the religious leaders and their determination that Jesus must die. We saw the disappointment as everyone had an idea of what the Messiah was going to accomplish, and having to watch Jesus die on a cross.
If you missed it, I really encourage to go back and watch it.
We pick up the story kind of where we left off, and we are going to switch perspectives. We are going to look at things through Matthew’s eyes today. There’s really no good reason behind it other then I really like the way Matthew tells the story. Like last time, I encourage you to look into the other 3 accounts later on and see all the different nuances and details that each author picks out.
3. The Setup
Jesus has died on the cross. Last week we saw how painful the whole experience would have been. It is actually remarkable how much pain Jesus endured and yet was able to push through and accomplish all that he did.
He was taken off the cross at the religious leaders request on account of the holy festival that the Jews were about to take part in. Jesus body has been given a very prominent man who has him wrapped and placed in a brand new tomb.
A huge stone is rolled in front of the entrance to keep wild animals out of the tomb. It would have been the common practice to bury someone with their personal belongings. The body was wrapped and anointed because of the belief of the resurrection.
Let’s start reading
The next day, which followed the preparation day, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that while this deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give orders that the tomb be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come, steal him, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” “You have a guard of soldiers,” Pilate told them. “Go and make it as secure as you know how.” They went and secured the tomb by setting a seal on the stone and placing the guard.
4. The Guards
The religious leaders are so concerned that the disciples are going to steal the body and declare that Jesus has risen from the dead.
So it’s not enough to have this large stone in front of the entrance, but a fastening would have placed on the stone, and it would’ve been sealed by either Pilate’s or the Sanhedrin’s signet, signifying that in fact the tomb is sealed by an authority figure.On top of the seal, a guard of soldiers is given to the religious leaders. A guard of soldiers would have been 16 soldiers sent to guard the tomb.
5. The Impossible Made Possible
The stage is now set. The tomb was carved out of stone. It was a new tomb, so no other bodies were placed in it. A large rock had been placed, fastened, and sealed in place, and 9 trained soldiers stood guard. It was overkill in order to ensure that Jesus’ body stayed in the tomb, and he was raised, it was going to take an act of God to make it happen.
Cue the act of God
After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards were so shaken by fear of him that they became like dead men. The angel told the women, “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see him there.’ Listen, I have told you.” So, departing quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, they ran to tell his disciples the news. Just then Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” They came up, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus told them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”
6. What a scene!
I want us to really grasp what has happened. An angel of the Lord descends from heaven. He arrives with such power that the earth begins to shake violently. He single-handed grabs the fastened and sealed stone, and rolls it away from the entrance of the tomb.
The response of the soldiers should be the tell all of how impressive this sight would have been. The wording, “They became like dead men.” has two possible interpretations
They fell on their face out respect and fear of the sight they beheld. The Apostle John uses the same language when we describes his encounter with Jesus in the first chapter of Revelation. This is probably the more likely case given what the angel says to the women. They were probably face down before the angel as well.
The other explanation is that the men fainted. Now humorous as that would be if it were the fact, it has less grounds. It would be hard to imagine a scenario where these battled hardened warriors would pass out and the two ladies who were coming to visit the tomb didn’t pass out. I know you ladies are just as capable of handling an intense situation as us guys, but the story says all 9 guys had the same reaction. Not some, all.
“Do not be afraid”
Twice we see this phrase said. First the angel tells the women to not be afraid, and then Jesus says it to them as well.
This or some version of this phrase is repeated 365 times in scripture. I think God is trying to tell us to not be afraid. I’m not saying don’t be wise or discerning, but you don’t have to be afraid either. God is bigger, and God loves you. Put your faith in the fact that God has good things planned for you. The women didn’t have to fear because they were seeking to honor Jesus and his sacrifice. If we are walking in alignment with God’s plan, not only for our lives but for the world, we don’t have to be afraid. We can walk in the confidence that God is going to look out for us. Do not be afraid.
The women still ran away with fear. Just because the angel told them not to be afraid didn’t mean the fear just melted away. Being afraid doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your faith or with you. Overcoming fear is a process, but you need to commit to the process and allow God’s love to be greater then your fear. We have to be willing to let faith guide us into the thing we fear most and help us conquer it. The first time may be difficult, but it gets easier each time to let faith win.
This big thing in this passage is that Jesus is alive. He has accomplished the one thing no one else had ever done in all of human history; defeated death. This is good news because if Jesus conquered death, it means that death isn’t the end of our story either. There is life after death. We can’t get caught living for the moment and pursuing earthly passions because one day they will all fade away. Jesus taught
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.
e. There’s more to life then the here and now. There is eternity to consider. Not just your eternity either, but your friends’, your family’s, your co-workers, everyone’s.
f. Friday I said that if you surrender your life to Jesus and declare him as your Lord and Savior, that would find new purpose in life. This is part of it; living your life with one eye on eternity, realizing that every moment could effect yours or someone else’s eternity. I want to spend eternity with each and every one of you. Today is the day to make that decision that seals it. I invite to start that journey with us today.
As they were on their way, some of the guards came into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders and agreed on a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money and told them, “Say this, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him while we were sleeping.’ If this reaches the governor’s ears, we will deal with him and keep you out of trouble.” They took the money and did as they were instructed, and this story has been spread among Jewish people to this day.
7. Desperation move
This is how desperate the chief priests are to make sure the world knows that Jesus stayed dead. They bribed the soldiers that were guarding Jesus’ tomb a large sum of money to say what? The disciples came and stole Jesus away while they were sleeping.
A few problems with this story:
There was always at least 4 soldiers awake at all times, depending on which source you check. That means at least 4 guys would’ve taken the fall for falling asleep in the chief priests’ version of what happened.
Another problem is the Roman rule for falling asleep. If even one guy fell asleep when he wasn’t supposed to, the entire guard was executed for failing to fulfill the responsibility they were given. That’s why the chief priests would have had to assure the soldier they would cover their butts if Pilate were to find out
The final problem would have been the disciples. Judas was already dead, which meant a group of 11 common men, fishermen, tax collector, a Zealot, overpowered 16 well-trained soldiers! Really? Now maybe they could’ve argued for more disciples then that. At one point, Jesus sends out 72 people to evangelize. Still even 72 disciples against 16 professional soldiers would’ve left some kind of evidence of a struggle.
The final problem is the fact that the story would’ve been completely contrary to the disciples’ nature. We’re talking about a group of men and women that heard a message of love, forgiveness, mercy, and non-violence for the last 3 years. The idea of fighting Roman soldiers, and stealing a body would not have fit with the group the soldiers would have been describing, and the people would have known it. Jesus said,
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Ya that sounds like a bunch of super aggressive people who are going to go steal a body.
The eleven disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but some doubted. Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
8. Jesus’ last words
Now depending on the account you read, there are a lot of accounts of Jesus meeting people after he rose from the dead. There is actually quite a bit of time from the time he rose to the time he ascends.
and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, he also appeared to me.
b. The Apostle Paul tells us Jesus appeared to over 500 people after his resurrection.
c. He establishes this because later in the chapter he says that unless Jesus came back from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, then our faith is in vain. Jesus’ resurrection is the core hope, the most important thing we place our faith in. It means that no matter what happens in this life, no matter what hand we get dealt or how poorly we get treated, this is only a glimmer compared to the eternity that awaits us. Our hope and our joy is that because Jesus defeated death, came back to life, and ascended into heaven, we will one day join him. And not join him just to have more of life we have now, but live the way God intended from the beginning. No sin, no pain, no sickness, no death, no hatred; just pure, uninhibited relationship with God our Father, the one who loves us unconditionally.
d. So what does Jesus say? He has that he has been given all authority, and so we must go do what he did. Proclaim the good news of the kingdom of heaven, leading others into relationship with God the same way someone did for us. To walk in the confidence that Jesus is with us where ever we go because the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now resides in each of us. Jesus said that his followers would do greater things then he did because of the Spirit that dwells within everyone who declares him to be Lord and Savior.
9. What does this mean for us?
If you have declared yourself to be a disciple of Jesus and have been baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit but feeling a bit lost, then get back to the basics. Find creative ways to share the good news with your friends and family online or however you are communicating with them. And get involved with your church. Even if OneChurch isn’t your home church, get a hold of your regular pastor and ask how you can help. Come with a few ideas and let them release you. This is a time to be creative and bold. Don’t hide away from the world, but step into your purpose of sharing Jesus’ love with the world.
If you haven’t made that decision to follow Christ, I want to ask you this. If you died today, where would you spend eternity. I know some people think they can live however they want, and when they’re done living their life they’ll come back to God and make amends. Let me tell you, tomorrow is not a guarantee. You have today, you have right now, and eternity is before you, waiting. God offers you the gift of life now, and you don’t have to clean up your life before you make the decision. You can make the decision and let Jesus help you with the rest. Does it mean making some changes? Maybe, but I guarantee that everything you put into you walk with Jesus will pay dividends. A new life awaits you, both now and in eternity. What are you waiting for?