April 4, 2021

“Just as He said”

Passage: Matthew 28:1-8

Easter Sunday tells us of One Who never breaks His word; One Who always does as He says.  He told His disciples before He went to the cross – “I am the Truth.”  In Matthew 28: 6 we find something that places Jesus so far above any other human being, He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.”  No other person ever returned from the dead when his spirit left him.  There were some who claimed that their grave or mausoleum will be unlocked and they will come out.  Well it never happened and it will never happen.  When Lazarus came from his tomb it was only because the Lord over death called him back to life.  There was only One Who could conquer death – Jesus Christ.  It is to Him that we bring our reverence, our adoration and our praises.  To Him we sing:                                                                       Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son,
Endless is the victory Thou o'er death
hast won;
Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone
away, kept the folded grave-clothes, where
Thy body lay.”

Matthew 28: 2 tells us that 1 Jesus' Words Broke The Chains Of DeceptionIt says “There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.”  Why the earthquake?  We have to remember what happened when the Pharisees went to Pilate with a scheme.  They wanted to make sure that Jesus’ words of accomplishing the impossible never realized.  They requested that the tomb be sealed and guards be placed at the entrance.  And Pilate granted that request.  They wanted to lock Jesus forever away and everything He stood for was just going to be lies.  Then all those miracles and the love and compassion He demonstrated meant nothing   But what happened?  There was an earthquake.  It was more than just to break open the tomb for Jesus to come out.  The truth my friends was that lies and deception couldn’t hold our Lord back.  Wasn’t it lies and deception that put Him in the tomb in the first place?  The injustice of His trial with false accusations sent Him to the cross.  But before that day on the cross, long before that day, lies and deception in The Garden of Eden led to curse of falsehood that would plague this world.  And to this day the open tomb rises above any false message about Jesus and His passion and resurrection.  Today we can stand at the empty tomb and affirm, “Our Lord is alive forever; the cords of death and sin and deception have been broken.”

Because of Jesus’ resurrection 2 There Is No Fear.  Let’s listen again to verse 5, “The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, Who was crucified…”  What did the angel mean when he said, “Do not be afraid…”?  Was it that he wanted to put them at ease? – “I’m not a ghost.  I’m a messenger from God.”  No, there was more than that!  Fear for sin and death; fear for separation from God; fear for oppression; fear for the future; any kind of fear we can think of was going to cease, because the Lord of lords couldn’t be held back.  In the other Gospels we read that the angel asked the women, Why are you looking for Jesus among the dead?”  What is the message of our Lord Jesus on Easter Sunday more than 2000 years after He resurrected?  Don’t hide in fear like my first disciples after I have been taken off the cross and placed in a tomb.  Don’t live in dark places of the world where depression and destruction keep people captive.  Break free from bondage!   See the everlasting light has gone up and this light will never go out!  My friends, it's dark for many people in our world presently.  A world pandemic that just doesn't want to go away makes it even darker.  How disappointing it was when I heard the news that in the end we wouldn't worship together today!  Some people are filled with anger because their plans don't come together.  But friends, let's think about it – the light of Jesus shines just as bright as ever before.  No, in fact when it's dark, His light shines brighter.  And that because Matthew 28: 6 stands above all fears and doubts, “He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.”

As we stand at the empty tomb this morning and we hear the angel speak those words – “Just as He said”, what comfort does it bring into your heart?  The Bible gives us the answer.  There were other things Jesus said as well.  That He would return and take us back with Him; that we will have a place in His heavenly realms.  But before our time comes to depart from this world He gives us words of comfort – And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28: 20.  We have the assurance that 3 Jesus Is Always With Us. As we continue our journey here on earth and we face hardships and obstacles we are encouraged in the fact that we are never alone.  Our God will deliver us from any situation.  Let's think of all the apostles who spoke about the presence of Jesus Christ that brought them through desperate situations.  In Acts Peter was several times in situations where pagan people wanted to pour out his blood, but then it was Jesus' presence that saved him.  Paul and Silas were in prison in Philippi singing their praises to God without fear.  Why did they have peace in their hearts in that moment?  Because they felt the presence of Jesus.  They remembered the words of the Lord, “And surely I am with you always...”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived with that reality in life and death.  He was a German pastor who opposed the Nazis and he was thrown into prison for conspiracy.  In prison he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the message that when you're in Christ, prison bars can't keep you away from freedom.  In the end Bonhoeffer was executed, but the thought he had in his heart, was that Jesus was with him, even in the face of death.  Friends, because we have Jesus with us, He will guide us and bring us safely home to His heavenly realms.  Jesus conquered death and we will conquer with Him.  He is Lord of our lives and we sing with joy and affirmation, “He is Lord; He is risen from the dead and He is Lord.”  He is the rock solid foundation we can built on.  We acknowledge Him and worship Him as our Living Lord.

Amen.