Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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He is Risen and He Lives Forevermore! 4/24/2011
Sermon Text: Matthew 28:1-10

The morning was quiet in its darkness, the city lay sleeping, many having been shaken by the events of the last week, which began with the riding into Jerusalem on a donkey by the One who many cried out to with joyous voices, Hosanna, Hosanna! They had recognized Him as their Deliverer as it had been prophesied. But the deliverance did not come in the way that thy expected, for this Deliverer ended up being delivered to His death on a cross. They had looked for deliverance from the oppressive Roman government, but it did not happen in that way. Instead the Roman governor Pilate had handed their Messiah over to the religious leaders and to the people to be crucified on a cross between two criminals high up on the Mountain outside Jerusalem.

Now on this early morning after the Sabbath, it was quiet and it was now going on the third day since the one who called Himself the Son of God had been put into a tomb. Those who knew of the teachings of this man they called Jesus knew that He had predicted on numerous occasions that on the third day after His death, He was going to rise again. They who were in Jerusalem or near it had felt the earthquake when Jesus had breathed His last on the cross. Those in Jerusalem in the temple had not only felt the earthquake, but had seen the curtain tore from top to bottom which separated the Holy of Holies from all but the High Priest once a year. The Holy of Holies was the place that sacrifice was offered on behalf of the sins of the people and was a foreshadowing of the coming Christ to shed His blood for the atonement of our sins.

On Saturday, the Jewish religious leaders had come to Pilate and told him that Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. They requested that Pilate
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." Pilate told them: "You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can." So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. (Matthew 27:62:66)

As the first streaks of dawn begin to peak over the horizon on the first day of the week, (Sunday as we know it today), we find Mary Magdalene, out of whom had been cast seven devils by Jesus (Luke 8:2) and the other Mary coming to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus with spices. As they were on their way, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: Those who were there guarding the tomb were so fearful of the angel that they became like dead men.

The angel spoke these words to the women: Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Then the angel invited them to see for themselves: Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. (Matthew 28: 5-7)

At hearing this from the angel, they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. (Matthew 28:8-10)

What did those who first came there think when they felt the earthquake, saw and heard the angel speak at the tomb? Who was the first to see Jesus alive? What effect did it have upon them? Did they recognize Jesus immediately? What effect does hearing this historical happening have on us today? Let us look at the other accounts to put this together more completely.

1. Who was the first to see Jesus alive?
From Mark's account, chapter 16, verse 9, we see that Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Jesus risen from the dead. 9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. From the Gospels were are given to see that out of her Jesus had cast seven devils, she had shown her gratitude by ministering to Jesus in Galilee, she had been at the crucifixion with the other women, beholding it from afar off, and she had been there at the tomb on Friday as they lay Jesus to rest.

2. What effect did it have upon them? Did they recognize Jesus immediately?
John's Gospel, chapter 20 gives us a lot of insight into how Mary Magdalene responded and reacted to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Let us turn to there and take a look at what John records.
She came to the tomb while it was yet dark, saw the stone rolled away, ran away from there, only to meet Peter and John, telling them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

Moving down to verse 11, we see that Mary remained at the tomb, weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 The angels spoke to her: Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

Mary, apparently did not yet understand that Jesus had arose as He had said He would, did not see past her grief. For she did not seem to be affected by the angels in the tomb, one at the head of where Jesus had lain and the other at His foot. All Mary seemed to see is that the One who had brought her deliverance from sin and to freedom to live was dead and she did not know where He was. She was broken hearted, she wept. She turned away from the tomb and looking the other way, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

Jesus spoke to her: Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?

She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Mary was despondent on the first Easter morning, even though all of creation had rejoiced in its Creator being raised from the dead. As the earth had quaked at His giving up of His life, now again the earth shook and quaked at His resurrection., the trees, rocks, plants and all of nature praised their Creator on Easter morning. It was as if the creation could not keep still at the great work that its Creator had accomplished for the redemption and life of fallen mankind! The creation was praising its Creator! It is as Jesus said earlier: Luke 19:38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

But Mary was not there yet. As she turned away from the bright and shining angels in the tomb, she saw the gardener standing there and through her weeping and grief heard him ask two questions:

Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?

Her Saviour was speaking to her, but she did not recognize His voice yet as all she saw was a gardener of the earth, an ordinary man. She responded by telling him that Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away, thinking that he knows that I am referring to the one who had lain in the tomb.

Jesus chose the moment to speak the words into her heart that would open her eyes so that she would see things as they really are. He waited, first asking her to reveal the state of her heart to Him, even though He knew it.

At this point, Jesus opened up her heart by speaking into her innermost being, by calling her by her name: "Mary" To which she responded, "Rabboni," " Master" Mary went from weeping and a sense of lostness to utter rapture and joy at the revelation that He is not dead, but that He lives! All that He had said is true, all that she had experienced from His grace was true, and as a result of believing it for herself she worshipped Him. She now saw Him as the Gardener of her soul. She rejoiced at His word that His Father is her Father and that His God is her God, at His bidding going away to tell others of what she now knew to be true.

3. What effect does hearing this historical happening have on us today?
This come closer to home, now does it not? Do we believe what God has written? How would we answer the two questions that Jesus asked Mary:

Why are we weeping? Who are we looking for?

Let us look into the empty tomb and see Life.

Let us hear the words of the angels who testified that He lives.

Let us see the true Gardener and hear His voice that speaks Life into our soul.

Let us rejoice in His saving grace and share the good news with others, for heaven is big enough to hold all those that God has created. He has not created anyone for death, but He has created all for Life.

May the joy of Easter fill our hearts to fullness today, for He lives and He lives forevermore. Because He lives, we live!!!!

In the power of His Resurrection I leave you,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 24 Apr 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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