Resurrection Reactions

An exposition of Matthew 27:57-28:15. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Resurrection Sunday morning, April 4, 2010.

It is incredible.  It defies logic.  It is contrary to our experience.  I understand that it is hard to believe.  Yet it is the basis of our celebration today.  It is the reason for our hope.  It is why we sing.  “Dead people don’t walk out of graves!” Our experience is that life is hard and then you die.  Yet for the Christian, that is not the whole story.  Central to our thinking and our faith is that death has been conquered!  The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave is not an optional belief for the Christian.  If Christ did not come out of the grave, what assurance do we have that our ransom has been paid?  If Christ was not raised what confidence do we have that death has been overcome?  In fact, the apostle Paul tells us if Christ is not raised than we are the most miserable people on earth!

That is why the apostle assures us, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that “Christ was raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25).  Peter says we have been given, “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).  Today is Resurrection Day!  Today we gather in joyous celebration of the fact that we serve a risen Savior!  This morning I want us to look at Matthew’s account of this momentous event.

Text: Matthew 28:1-15

It has been a long couple of days. Their world was rocked and the light was turned off! Just a week ago – He entered the city to joyous shouts of praise. But by Friday morning He had been betrayed, tried, convicted, beaten and nailed to a cross. His followers scattered in all directions. His lifeless body was taken from the cross and placed in a borrowed grave. It was over. There had been such promise. But now there was only hopelessness.

Their sorrow and their confusion conspired to drown out His words of resurrection and hope. But that was before dawn on the first day of the week… Every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection for the church. This is not a once a year occasion – it’s weekly! Why is that? What is the big deal about the resurrection?

Of course to answer that properly we must first understand the significance of the cross.

  • Creation
  • The Garden
  • The Fall
  • The Promise
  • The Passover/Exodus
  • The Tabernacle
  • The Sacrifices
  • The Prophets
  • The Christ – perfect sinless life – gave himself – lamb w/out spot or blemish – to ransom

“I came to seek and to save the lost…I came not to be served but to serve and to give my life a ransom for many…this is my body given for you…this is my blood poured out for you…”

Paul said, “If Christ is not raised we are still in our sin.” “If Christ is not raised – our preaching is a vain thing (it is worthless).” “If Christ is not raised we are without hope.” If he is not the “first fruit” what assurance do we have of being raised? If it is merely His “influence” that lives on – is that the best we can hope for?

Let’s consider the record

  • Matthew 27:50
  • Mark 15:37
  • Luke 23:46
  • John 19:30, 32-34

I emphasize this because the doctrine of the resurrection starts with the fact that Jesus died.  Resurrection follows death.  There are those who deny that he died.

  • Some believe that he was merely in a comma and after being placed in the tomb he came out of it.
  • Others have suggested that the women and later His disciples, went to the wrong tomb!
  • This of course is ludicrous given Matthew 27:61.
  • Others suggest, as our text indicates, that Jesus’ followers stole his body.

But, having said that, it is imperative that you note:

Thesis: Overwhelming evidence for the fact of the resurrection does not ensure saving faith.

  1. The resurrection inspires reverential fear and great joy in the hearts of believing saints.  (28:1-8)
  2. The resurrection inspires obstinance and denial in the hearts of those who refuse to believe.  (28:11-15)

The empty tomb.  The various resurrection appearances.  Two thousand years of church history all declare the reality of the resurrection – my question to you is, “what is your response?”  Is it one of reverential fear and great joy or one of obstinate refusal?

The difference is the difference between life and death.

It is possible to attend church faithfully in celebration of the resurrection and still die in your sin.  It is possible to acknowledge belief in the resurrection without surrendering your life, dying to self or trusting in Christ for life eternal and life abundant.  Religious ceremony and adherence to traditions is of no value apart from a heart of loving obedience and simple trust.  What is your response to the news that – “He is alive?”

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