April 16, 2017   Matthew 28: 1 -10Resurrection 


   Jesus is dead in chapter 27 and it is time to get his body.  The Roman soldiers knew he was dead.  The Romans came to break the legs of those on the cross so that they could not breathe because the next day was the sabbath.  Jesus was already dead.  The Romans could tell when a person died.   His enemies knew he was dead and that was the end of him they thought.   Just before chapter 28 we see where Joseph a rich man from Arimathea comes to Pilate and asks for the body of Jesus.  Pilate gives him the body of Jesus and Joseph takes Jesus body and wraps him in clean linen cloth and places it in his new tomb that had been cut out of rock.  Normally those crucified were left outside of the city to witness that to break the Roman law was dealt with tough punishment. 

    A person commenting on this proposed that someone said Joseph why did you take the body of that man and put him in your lovely tomb.  It is such a beautiful tomb and it is worth so much money and Joseph answered well it is a short term use.    I don’t need it this week end.  Most likely Joseph did not believe that Jesus would raise from the dead and even the disciples had their doubts about Jesus rising from the dead.   It is believed that often they would put the name of person and what they did on the outside of the tomb.  I could believe the rich would do that. 

  If you were going to write something on the outside of Jesus tomb what would you write?  The Man from heaven; The Mighty God the Healer of mankind; The Messiah. The Healer of all nations The Mighty One. The Living, Breathing Word of God; The Great I Am; The Door, the bread of life.   The Holy One of God; The Deliver Emmanuel, God with us; The First and the Last.  The Fullness of the Godhead; The Fore Runner The Alpha and the Omega.  The Son of Man; The Heir of all things.   The way the truth and the life.  Would you write here lies the great I Am?  The everlasting Father.  The savior of mankind.  Even though Jesus is all of those things and a lot more none of them make any sense on Jesus tomb.  Brothers and sisters Jesus did not stay very long in that tomb.  That tomb cannot hold God.      

    David wrote about 1000 years before this that because you will not abandon me to the grave nor will you let your holy one see decay. Jesus was certainly the only holy one.    Jesus is the only one who has died and not returned to the dust of the ground.  Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection.  Nicodemus also comes with 75 pounds of spices to wrap the body in.  It is obvious that Nicodemus did not believe that Jesus would rise from the grave.  It would seem that no one expected Jesus to rise from the dead. 

    Then we see in the last part of chapter 27 where the Pharisees are concerned that Jesus disciples will steal his body and then claim falsely that Jesus rose from the dead.  They want Jesus to stay in the tomb.  Many people want Jesus and believe that Jesus is in the tomb.   The leaders go to Pilate and Pilate tells them to go and make the grave site as secure as they can.   So if you were going to make the tomb secure what would you do?    I suppose one thing you would think of is to get the best soldiers you can find.   I would want several soldiers and would post something with legal authority on it.  So they put a Roman seal on it and post a guard.   Go and make it as secure as you can.  Good luck with that.  A stone, a seal, and some soldiers are no hindrance for God. 

     In chapter 28 the women go to the tomb Matthew says to look at the tomb.  The women come to the tomb with questions.   Who is going to roll the stone away for us.  What is going to happen?  The disciples and the women are in shock that Jesus was crucified.   The women come with great sadness.  John records that Mary talks to the angels in the tomb and tells them that they have taken her Lord away and she did not know where his body was taken.   The women come to the tomb with fear.  The soldiers are stationed there.  The women come at dawn early in the morning.  God goes before the women.  God’s angel comes.  The guards shake like dead men and the angle rolls the stone away. 

   The women probably did not sleep very well.  Perhaps they thought might as well go and visit the tomb.   Mark tells us that they bring spices to anoint the body of Jesus.  The day before was the sabbath and to carry spices to a tomb on the sabbath would be considered work so they go on Sunday.  They go to see a dead friend.   They go to see a man who did miracles and touched people.  They are going with an expectation to anoint the dead body of Jesus.  Matthew just said they went to look at the tomb.  For most folks this is a normal work day.  It is time to work in the fields or the business and for the ladies to cook, clean, take care of the kids, and do the laundry the never ending wash.  I can assure you that it was anything but normal in the spirit world. Jesus defeats Satan again and Jesus takes the keys to death and hades.   The price has been paid for man’s sin.  We can accept that forgiveness and life. 

   What did that stone represent?  Well for the tomb it was a seal.  Inside of the tomb it was dark.  I suppose it would somewhat keep the smell of the decaying body in the tomb.  It would keep the rain and the wind out.  The fresh air and the sun light would be outside.  It would keep the animals out.  That stone would mean that there was a dead body inside.  It was a wall, a barrier from the living. 

   Sometimes in our lives we have a barrier or a stone that seems immoveable.   Mark writes that the women wondered how they would move the stone.  Matthew tells us that Joseph rolled the stone in front of the grave.  I suspect that Joseph did not carry the body of Jesus but because he was rich that he had servants to carry Jesus body and wrap his body and the servants rolled the stone in front of the tomb.  Many believe that the stone weighed several hundred pounds.

    I suppose we could consider that stone could represent something in our life today.   It could; symbolize any kind of obstruction or barrier to what we want.  It could mean or symbolize bondage, restriction, addictions, and lack of freedom.  It could represent darkness and certainly loneliness.  There are things in our life that only God can deal with and move.  These women knew that they did not have the resources to move that stone but they move ahead anyway.  They want to be a blessing.  They want to anoint Jesus body.  They want to do the right thing.  Who is going to move the stone?   Stones are not a barrier for God.  Nothing in your life is a barrier for God. 

    Certainly, the stone that represents death has been rolled away by Jesus.  That which kept us from God has been removed.  I just read recently where one person said that 2 horses attached to the veil in the temple that separated man from God in the holies of holy could not pull that veil apart.  At the point of Jesus death that veil was ripped in 2 from the top to the bottom. One author said that the Jews recorded all kinds of strange things happening in the temple after Jesus was crucified.   Hebrews tells us that we have access to God the father.  God’s desire to is to be with his people.  God has made a way where there seemed to be no way. 

    I suspect most of us have from one time or another felt like we were in unknown territory.   We have wondered what the answer was for us.  We have struggled and questioned.  Perhaps some of us are facing some dark thing right now. There is a stone or obstacle in front of us a hindrance of some kind.  The bible tells us to cast all our care upon God because God cares for us.  I know God can remove problems and barriers as we walk with him.   I would say look up and rejoice in the Lord. 

  Joyce Hollyday tells the story of a school teacher who was assigned to visit children in a large city hospital who received a routine call requesting that she visit a particular child. The teacher took the boy’s name and room number, and was told by the teacher on the other end of the line, "We’re studying nouns and adverbs in this class now. I’d be grateful if you could help him with his homework, so he doesn’t fall behind the others."  It wasn’t until the visiting teacher got outside the boy’s room that she realized that it was located in the hospital’s burn unit.   No one had prepared her to find a young boy horribly burned and in great pain.    The teacher felt that she couldn’t just turn around and walk out. And so she stammered awkwardly, "I’m the hospital teacher, and your teacher sent me to help you with nouns and adverbs." This boy was in so much in pain that he barely responded.

   The young teacher stumbled through his English lesson, ashamed at putting him through such a senseless exercise.  The next morning a nurse on the burn unit asked her, "What did you do to that boy?"   Before the teacher could finish her outburst of apologies, the nurse interrupted her.   “You don’t understand.  We’ve been very worried about him.   But ever since you were here yesterday, his whole attitude has changed.  He’s fighting back; he’s responding to treatment.   It’s as if he has decided to live."    The boy later explained that he had completely given up hope until he saw the teacher.  It all changed when he came to a simple realization. With joyful tears, the boy said: "They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a boy, who was dying, would they?" 

     God can use the difficult things in our life for His glory.  Heaven notices a cup of water given in the name of Jesus.  How is God using your life today?  How can God use your needs for his glory?  What is God saying to you through the difficult things that you face?  Have we ask the Lord tot remove the stone or barrier that is in our way?     

    Around the year 1930, a Communist leader named Nikolai Bukharin journeyed from Moscow to Kiev, Ukraine. His mission was to address a huge assembly with the aim of advancing communism.   His subject for the evening was atheism.   For a solid hour he aimed his heavy artillery at Christianity, hurling arguments and ridiculing the Christian faith.    At last he was finished and viewed what seemed to be the smoldering ashes of men’s faith. “Are there any questions?” Bukharin demanded.   A solitary man arose and asked permission to speak.   He mounted the platform and moved close to the Communist leader.  The audience was breathlessly silent as the man surveyed them first to the right, then to the left.   At last he shouted the ancient Orthodox greeting, “CHRIST IS RISEN!”    The vast assembly arose as one man and the response came crashing like the sound of an avalanche, “HE IS RISEN INDEED!”  It is awesome when men stand up and speak the truth.