Background Scripture: Matthew 28:1-10
Quotes of the Week:
"A dead Christ I must do everything for; a living Christ does everything for me."
Andrew Murray, Jesus Himself
In this brief series of lessons, we've seen that Jesus was like no other person to have ever lived. Some people have gone as far as to question whether Jesus really existed, but there are many proofs from many different sources that attest to the reality of His life on this earth. Some will say that the Bible is biased (so they throw that out as a basis), but there are many different classical and Jewish manuscripts that also point to the historical aspect of Jesus Christ. In this lesson, we take a brief look at the central point of the Christian faith, the resurrection of Christ.
You may hear various stories of people coming back from the dead, although they are certainly few and far between. Many of them come 'back to life' in a hospital or with EMTs working with them. In some cases, people have gotten into a coma like state and have come out of it, appearing to have risen from the dead. However, Jesus truly rose from the dead; not with the help of the medical profession; He had not simply swooned, as some had suggested. Elsewhere, on this site, there is an Apologetics lesson that goes into much more detail in regards to the question of Christ rising from the dead. Click here to view that lesson.
In this lesson, we will take a quick look at the first people to find out that Jesus had actually risen from the dead and then to see Jesus. Along with the story are some other application points that we can find in regards to our day to day living.
In this verse, we see the two Marys (the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene) going to look at the tomb. What do you think they were expecting? Perhaps they were like many people who, days, weeks or months later, will go to a graveside to spend time in remembrance of a loved one who has passed. It is doubtful that they believed that Jesus would rise. In fact, it was the furthest thing from their mind. Even though Jesus had told them and the disciples, neither they nor the disciples expected the resurrection. The religious leaders, on the other hand, were so concerned that 'something might happen' that they had a guard placed outside the tomb.
Some have suggested that the women were going to anoint the body. They had seen where Jesus had been buried and they had seen the large stone covering the tomb, sealed so that nobody could enter. If they wanted to anoint Jesus' body, somebody would have to move the stone, as they wouldn't have been able to do it. We don't really know what they were expecting but they didn't think through all of the issues that may have otherwise kept them away. In our lives, we often find ourselves looking at reasons why not in problems that we 'may' face, allowing them to be more significant, keeping us from doing what God may be calling us to do.
At the tomb, there arose a violent earthquake. Throughout Scripture, there are some references to earthquakes or the ground shaking as being the presence of God. If you take a step back and consider the guards that were placed at the tomb, they likely were well aware of the events of the previous days and the Crucifixion. They had seen the darkness appear on the earth and rocks break; at least they had heard the stories. They knew something supernatural was at work. Now, along with the earthquake, an angel of the Lord appeared and rolled back the stone and sat on it. The angel had the appearance of lightning and his clothes were as white as snow. We read that the guards were so afraid that they shook and became like dead men. The guards were terrified of the presence of the angel, but you would have to wonder how terrified they would be if they truly realized WHO Jesus was and what had been done to Him.
The angel told the women to come and see the place where He laid. Then, go and tell the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead and is going ahead of them into Galilee where they would see Him. The women needed to see the empty tomb, in order to understand that the body of Jesus was no longer there, and then they were to go tell others. While none of us have personally seen the empty tomb, as believers we have experienced the reality of the risen Jesus Christ - and He has changed our lives. However, we have to ask ourselves why we are so eager to accept this, but find ourselves tending to keep this precious gift to ourselves. Certainly, there are some people who freely share their faith, but most believers struggle with sharing something that is so dear to them. Perhaps, people are more concerned about how they would be viewed by others. When God works in your life, why might you be hesitant to tell others how He has worked? Have you ever been concerned about their potential reactions and how they may treat you after that?
On the way to tell the disciples, they ran into Jesus. Jesus said "Greetings", and at some point, they knew it was Him. In the similar account in John 20, we read that they thought it was the gardener and didn't realize it was Jesus until He said "Mary", in the same tone and with the same expression He had said many times before. She recognized His voice. Many people long to hear the voice of a loved one just one more time, and for Mary, she was able to hear Jesus call her name. Jesus then told them to not be afraid, and to go and tell the disciples and they would see Jesus soon.
Although Easter has become commercialized, Easter is not about the Easter Bunny and baskets and people dressing up for church. It is not simply a holiday for many stores to close or for places to serve special brunches. Easter is the time when we should truly consider the impact of the resurrection of Christ and how that impacts our life. It is not just a fact that we need to grasp, but it ultimately forms the basis of our salvation and the basis for the entire Christian faith. If Easter simply isn't just about the resurrection, what does it mean? How does the reality of the death and resurrection impact each of us?
We must have a truthful understanding of who we are. While some may seem to be good (in comparison to others), none of us is good enough to approach God.
We must realize the impact of sin and of the hope God has given us
We realize the gravity of our sin and recognize our need to get right with God.
Then, we realize the basis of our salvation, and how the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ comes into play
We know that God hears us and that we need to rely upon Him
Don't let another Easter come and go, just listening to the stories, but be willing to let Christ impact and change your life! If you have not followed the steps highlighted above, you will find no other means to get right with God. It's not about church attendance or adhering to the laws or doing the right thing, as opposed to the wrong thing. All of those may be good, but if you are missing a personal relationship with Christ, you are missing out on salvation and the forgiveness of your sins. There is no decision that you will ultimately appreciate more and that will bring fulfillment as much as the decision to make Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior