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He Is Risen

Tom Pennington • Matthew 28:1-7

  • 2017-04-16 AM
  • Sermons


I think you are more than aware of the fact that nothing is more foundational, nothing is more important to the Christian faith than what we have gathered to celebrate this morning. You remember the Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, begins to lay out the gospel that he preached. And he says this in verse 3 of 1 Corinthians 15: "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received..." Paul identified the gospel he preached as of first importance. It is absolutely primary, central, indispensable. It is the central message of Christianity.

And then the Apostle Paul goes on to spell out the basic components of the gospel he preached. There were four of them. He said Jesus died for our sins, according to the Scripture. Jesus offered Himself as a substitute so that He bore the full justice of God against the sins of those who would believe in Him. He died for our sins, according to the Scripture. Secondly, Paul says he was buried, that is, He was put in a tomb because He was in fact truly dead. Jesus died. Thirdly, Paul says He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. And finally, Paul says, and after that He appeared to many witnesses.

The resurrection, Paul says, is at the heart of the Christian faith. In fact, two of those four basic components or propositions of the gospel he preached, had to do with the resurrection. Understand this. To be a Christian, you must believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And it is this truth that stands front and center in the Christian faith. John Calvin writes, "The resurrection of Christ is the most important article of our faith, the chief point of the gospel, the main article of religion." Great Princeton theologian B.B. Warfield wrote, "Christ Himself deliberately staked his whole claim upon His resurrection. When asked for a sign, He pointed to this sign as His single and sufficient credential." Think about this: Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. And He had the audacity to stake the validity of that claim on one thing - the resurrection. Paul, in light of that, says this, "...if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins." If Jesus Christ is still dead, if His body lies buried in some dusty and forgotten tomb in Israel, then understand that He was a fraud and a deceiver, and Christianity is a joke. Everything depends on the reality of the resurrection. That's why all four gospels record the events of that morning.

And what I wanted to do this morning, as we gather together, is to examine Matthew's account that we just read a few moments ago, Matthew 28. Now the point of Matthew's narrative, and really the point of all four gospels' narrative of the resurrection, is to drive home to us that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a real event that was witnessed by real people. It occurred on a real day, probably April 9th in the year 38 AD. It occurred at real place that you can still visit today. Just outside the walls of Jerusalem, you can still visit the tomb where He was buried. Jesus really lived and He really died on the Friday of the Jewish Passover. And that same Jesus truly came to life on Sunday. And today, as we sit here, He is as alive as you are. That is the message of the Christian faith.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not fiction. It is not fantasy. It happened in human history. And to give us confidence of that, God graciously provided witnesses to the resurrection. Everyone in the history of the world couldn't be there. But God provided abundant witness to its reality. There were no human witnesses of the very moment that Jesus' human soul reunited with that glorified body. But there were many witnesses that that had in fact occurred.

Matthew, here in his account, provides us a series of witnesses of the resurrection. Let's look together at the first witnesses of the reality of the resurrection, the witnesses that saw on that first Easter morning. The first group of witnesses that Matthew brings before us is the women. We meet them in verse 1. "Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave." Who are these women? Well, Matthew only mentions two of them. Mary Magdalene, you remember, was the woman out of whom Jesus had cast seven demons and who became His devoted disciple. She loved our Lord and always remained faithful to Him. And then He mentions the other Mary. Who is this? Well go back to chapter 27:55. It's Friday, the day of the crucifixion and verse 55 says, "Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph..." That woman is probably the other Mary that's mentioned on the morning of the resurrection. And notice there in verse 56, Matthew adds a third woman who was involved in all of this - the mother of the sons of Zebedee. In other words, the mother of James and John, two of Jesus' disciples. Mark 16 tells us that this woman, the mother of James and John, was there on Sunday morning at the tomb and her name was Salome. So, there's a third woman who was there. Luke, in his account, in Luke 24, adds a fourth woman by the name of Joanna. And then he says, "...also the other women..." If you put all of the gospel accounts together, we learn that at least five women were at Jesus' grave that morning. Five women.

Now if you had lived in the 1st century there would be a great deal of irony to this because, in the 1st century and in 1st century Palestine, there was generally a low view of women. Their testimony was not even allowed in court although, wherever Christianity spreads, Jesus' high view of women typically follows.

We don't know why God chose these women to be the first witnesses of the resurrection. But, perhaps, it's because of their consistent faithfulness and loyalty to Christ, even when most of the rest of the disciples had fled. Chapter 26 of Matthew tells us that most of the eleven disciples had fled at His arrest. You remember, Judas was there leading the charge but the other eleven, most of them, left. Only two didn't. Peter followed Jesus for a time. You remember, he shows up at the home of Caiaphas and witnesses part of the trial. But there he denied the Lord and he leaves. And so, only John stayed with Christ throughout that night and through the crucifixion the next day - only John and these faithful women. They were there. Friday morning, they stood near the cross with Mary, Jesus' mother, John tells us. They stayed throughout the entirety of the crucifixion although, as the darkness fell, those three hours of darkness, they seemed to move away from the cross, away from the immediate presence of Jesus' suffering and watched from a distance. But they were there until His death.

They even watched later to see where His body was buried. That means these women, think about this, this means these women could provide testimony as to the exact location of Jesus' grave. Not like it was a grave that was easy to miss; it was the tomb of one of the wealthiest, most influential men in Jerusalem, a member of the Sanhedrin named Joseph of Arimathea. And the tomb was near the site of the crucifixion. It was a new grave that had been carved out of limestone rock, it was surrounded by a garden, and it was marked by a distinctive huge stone that rolled in front to seal it. There was absolutely no chance that these women would show up at the wrong tomb.

Verse 1 says, "Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary [and according to the other records, at least three other women] came to look at the grave." It says, "after the Sabbath". Sabbath was from sunset Friday until sunset on Saturday. After the Sabbath (Sunday morning) they came, Matthew says, to look. But they didn't just come to look. According to Luke Saturday evening, after the Sabbath ended, these women went to the local market and they purchased and prepared spices and perfumes to finish anointing the body of Jesus for burial. You see, the Jews didn't embalm. But they did add to the linen wrappings, that they wrapped around the body, they added spices and perfume, both as an expression of their love as well as, of course, to downplay and to diminish the stench of decay. They had watched Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea hurriedly prepare Jesus' body for burial late Friday afternoon, before the Sabbath began at sunset. But they didn't know these men. They were from Galilee. They didn't know these Judaeans, these two members of the council that had been secret followers of Jesus and had now come out after His death to declare themselves. And these women, because of their love and devotion to Christ, wanted to finish the preparation of His body themselves.

That's what they came to do early Sunday morning. John tells us that they left their homes in the city of Jerusalem, where they were staying, while it was still dark. But Mark tells us that they arrived at the tomb just after sunrise. And Mark adds this: "[they] bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him." Think about this for a moment. These women had come to anoint the dead body of Jesus and yet they would become the first human witnesses of the resurrection.

This passage and the New Testament elevate the place of women. And, ironically, the fact that the testimony of women was not generally accepted in the 1st century, gives this record of the resurrection a ring of genuineness and often authenticity. Because if you, in the 1st century, were composing a fictional account of the resurrection, if it didn't really happen but you wanted people to believe that it had happened, the very last people you would have had to be the first witnesses of Jesus would have been these women. But this was God's plan.

But they were not the only witnesses of the resurrection. Before the women arrived at the grave, there had already been another witness already that morning and that witness was God Himself. We see this in verses 2 and 3. Before the women arrived, God had already provided testimony to the resurrection in two ways.

First of all, through a severe earthquake. Notice verse 2: "And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred..." Israel is a land that is very familiar with earthquakes. And, in fact, just a couple of days before on Friday there had been an earthquake. You remember Friday afternoon at 3:00 o'clock, at the very moment of Jesus' death, there had been a great earthquake. Notice verse 51 of chapter 27: "And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split." Even tombs (graves) were opened. That was Friday. Matthew describes the quake that happened Sunday morning as severe. Why the earthquake? Well, throughout human, history God has frequently used earthquakes as a sign of His presence. Perhaps the most obvious one is that Mount Sinai, when God was on top of the mountain communing with Moses and the whole mountain shook, we're told. The people had no doubt that this was God; this was His presence. This earthquake occurred, notice verse 2, before the women arrive: "a severe earthquake had occurred."

And Matthew even gives us the reason for this earthquake. He connects it to the second way that God testified to the resurrection that morning. And that is, not only through an earthquake, but through an Angel. Notice verse 2: "... a severe earthquake had occurred, for [because] an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it." The earthquake accompanied the arrival of a supernatural being sent from the presence of God Himself.

Now Luke and John tell us that there were actually two angels. Matthew and Mark only mention the one who speaks. Verse 3, they're described - this angel's appearance, really both angels. "And his [their] appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow." Each angel appeared like the blazing flash of light that accompanies our thunderstorms. And they wore robes, and their robes were white as snow.

Notice what these two angels did. We're told, verse 2: "[they] rolled away the [huge] stone [that sealed the tomb] ..." And it's interesting the wording that is used in the Greek language here, because the wording makes it clear that they didn't just roll the stone in its track, away from the entrance to the tomb. Rather, they literally moved the stone into another place nearby. And then we're told that at least one of them sat down on it. They didn't do this to let Jesus out. After they opened the grave, there was no sign of Jesus; He was already gone. In His glorified body, Jesus could pass through walls. He had left the tomb while the stone was still in place. No, the angels opened the grave to let the witnesses in, so that everyone could see that Jesus was no longer there. But the earthquake and the angels from heaven proved that God was involved in the events of that morning.

Now there was a third group of witnesses, that I can promise you, really wished they weren't there that morning. It was the twelve Roman soldiers. You remember the day before, on Saturday (Jesus was crucified on Friday) ... On Saturday, the Jewish leaders became concerned about Jesus' claims that He would rise from the dead on the third day. It's ironic, isn't it, that they remembered those claims, but the disciples didn't. So, they approached Pilate with a solution. They asked Pilate to post a Roman guard to make sure that no one stole Jesus' body. Now, typically, such a guard (such a guard detail) consisted of either four soldiers or, on many occasions, twelve soldiers. With such a high-profile corpse to guard, with so much at stake, with a request from the leaders of the Jewish nation, it is almost certain that not four, but twelve soldiers were assigned to this detail. This was important because it allowed three soldiers always to be awake and on duty during each of the four watches of the night and the other nine to sleep.

Undoubtedly, all twelve of them were awakened by the earthquake and the angels' appearance. And notice when the angels appeared, verse 4: "The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men." Now notice that several, perhaps all of the guards, saw at least one of the angels. They knew that something supernatural was happening. In fact, it's interesting if you go back to verse 2, the Greek noun that's translated earthquake there in verse 2, you'll recognize because it's been transported into English. It's the word seismos, seismos. That same word describes what happened to the soldiers. So, in verse 2, the ground quakes. In verse 4, the soldiers quake. These Roman soldiers had their own personal earthquake, caused by sheer terror. In fact, we're told they became so terrified they went into shock. They became as dead men. Either they were paralyzed and unable to move or, perhaps for a brief time, even became unconscious. But they saw. They knew what had happened. Later, they would report all that it happened to the chief priests with the believability of firsthand witnesses. Notice verse 11: "Now while they [the women] were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened." They were firsthand witnesses.

But what exactly did these twelve Roman soldiers witness? To what could they testify? Well, they could testify, first of all, that on Saturday Jesus had been dead and His body was in the grave. Think about it. If you were one of these twelve soldiers and your job was to make sure that no one stole the body of Jesus and your life could depend on it, I can promise you, you would do exactly what they did on that Saturday. You would have opened that grave, you would've made sure the body was there and secure, and then you would have re-secured it and set the guard. That is absolutely what they did. So, they could testify that, on Saturday, Jesus' body was still there, and it was dead. Sunday morning, they experience the earthquake. They saw the two angels show up. They watch them roll away the stone and, possibly, they even heard the angels' interchange with the women in verses 5 through 7. But they, undoubtedly, had seen the empty tomb after the women had left. So, although they didn't see the risen Christ, they were witnesses of the empty tomb and a miraculous, supernatural event. These men were hardened, profane, irreligious men. But in God's providence, these veteran soldiers became the most unlikely witnesses of the resurrection. Later, down in verses 13 to 15, they became a part of the lie that actually proves the resurrection. But that's a different message for a different time.

So, at least five devoted women were witnesses to the resurrection. God Himself witnessed to the resurrection through an earthquake and the angels. The Roman soldiers were unwilling witnesses. And then there's the witness of the two angels in verses 5 and 6. As the five women were making their way to the grave that morning, as they left where they were staying in the city and made their way toward the tomb, Mark tells us that: "They were saying to one another, 'Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?'" So, five women couldn't move the stone. That's how large a stone it was. But when they arrived, they discovered the large stone had already been rolled away from its groove - was lying separate from the grave, on its side.

Immediately, Luke tells us, they went inside the grave, and they discovered that Jesus' body was gone. While they were standing there, perplexed about what had happened, these two angels appeared to them. Luke tells us the women were terrified, they bowed their faces to the ground, perhaps even to shield their eyes from the braising, blazing brilliance of these two supernatural beings. But Matthew tells us one of the angels spoke. Notice verse 5: "The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.'" I love that. The guards had every reason to be afraid, but not Jesus' followers. The angel's description, here of Jesus, is the one "who has been crucified". That underscores Jesus' death, as he will do again in just a moment. Luke adds, the angels said to the women, "Why do you seek the living One among the dead?" The living One. He says, "Listen, you came to find a dead body and anoint it with spices to keep down the decay. But you won't find his body here."

Notice verse 6: "He is not here, but [for] He has risen." Literally, the Greek text says, "He has been raised." It's a divine passive. The Father raised Him from the dead. Ultimately, Scripture teaches that the resurrection was a work of all three members of the Trinity, each member. [the audio cuts out here]. But notice how the angel states the resurrection in verse 7: "He has risen". Literally, "He has been raised." And instead of from the dead, the Greek text says, "He has been raised from among the dead ones." He was one of the dead ones, but not anymore. He's been raised from among the dead ones.

And the angel added, verse 7, "...just as He said." The disciples were completely surprised by the resurrection. But they shouldn't have been. Jesus had told them again and again. You remember, from the very beginning Jesus predicted His resurrection. At the beginning of His ministry, back in John 2 when He cleansed the temple, they said, "By what authority do you do this?" And Jesus said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up", speaking of the temple of His body. And, again and again, He explained this would happen. Go back to Matthew 16. Matthew 16 and notice verse 21: "From that time [that is from the time of Peter's confession of Jesus as the Messiah], Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day." Look at chapter 17:9: "As they were coming down from the mountain [of Transfiguration], Jesus commanded them, saying, 'Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.'" Go over to verse 22: "And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.' And they were deeply grieved." Go over to chapter 20:19. Start at verse 17: "As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them, 'Behold [this is as He's going for the Feast of Passover], we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death [now, notice how Jesus adds more details here], and [they] will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.'" Go to Matthew 26, Matthew 26:32. This is on the night, Thursday night of the Passion Week. At the Last Supper Jesus says, "But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee." So, the disciples were surprised but they shouldn't have been. I think their minds were clouded by perhaps the work of the Spirit Himself until after the resurrection. They didn't get it. They didn't understand.

But the angels God sent to the tomb that morning add their testimony to the testimony of the others. "He is risen as He said." What was the testimony of the angels? Well, they could testify to three crucial realities. Jesus had been dead. He was among the dead ones. Secondly, He was no longer in the grave; His body is gone. And, thirdly, He has been raised by the Father to life.

The angel then invited the women to consider a fifth witness to the resurrection and that is the empty tomb, the empty tomb. We see this in verses 6 and 7: "Come, see the place where He was lying." "Look in the grave." God invites us to do the same today, to look at the empty tomb.

What did they see in that empty tomb? Well, Matthew doesn't tell us, but John does because John records what would unfold just a few minutes later when Peter and John, the apostles, would get to the tomb. Listen to John 20:6-7: "And so Simon Peter also came, following him [John], and entered the tomb; and [here's what he saw] he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His [Jesus'] head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself." What he saw was those linen wrappings from Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, interwoven with 70 pounds of spices. They're there, just collapsed on the site where Jesus' body had laid before. And there's the separate part that was on Jesus' face and head. In other words, what had happened inside Jesus' grave, was not the work of grave robbers. They would have taken those things. They would have taken the body and dealt with the wrappings later. In addition, the Roman soldiers were outside. No, everything about this confessed to the reality of the resurrection. In fact, the combination of the empty tomb (Jesus' body wasn't there) and the way they found the grave clothes, and the way they found the facecloth in the tomb, caused John the Apostle to believe that Jesus had been raised.

Folks, never underestimate the testimony of the empty tomb. It is a majestic, powerful witness to the reality of the resurrection. On Friday, think about this now. Think about how God had arranged everything. On Friday, two members of the Sanhedrin - Joseph of Arimathea, one of the most influential men in Judaism, and Nicodemus, the teacher in Israel (we're told in John 3) - both of them had become secret followers of Christ. And they come out after His death and request Jesus' body. And remember, on the witness of two or three witnesses a matter is established. But these weren't just two ordinary witnesses. These were the most influential men in the country. They were members of the Sanhedrin. They placed Jesus' dead body in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. The five women watched them place His body in the tomb and seal it with the stone. That was Friday. On Saturday, twelve Roman soldiers had validated that Jesus' body was still in that tomb and then they rolled the stone back across the entrance of the grave, put a wax seal stamped with the Roman Governor's own insignia, and established an around-the-clock guard. That was Saturday. But on Sunday morning, the tomb was empty.

For 400 years after Jesus no one, not even His enemies, denied the reality of the empty tomb. So, where was Jesus' body? What happened to Jesus' body? That's the question that accompanies the empty tomb. And there are only three options. Think about it, study it on your own, do whatever you want, but you will always come back to the three basic options that have always been there.

Number one is that His enemies took Jesus' body. But if they took His body, when Jesus' disciples began to claim that He had been raised from the dead, why didn't they provide it? In addition, what about those twelve Roman soldiers? How do they get past them?

The second option that has been proposed is that the disciples took Jesus' body. Well, that wasn't going to happen. They were clearly too frightened to do so. They were hiding in fear, afraid, apart from John, even to be at the scene. In addition, what about the twelve Roman soldiers? Besides that, ten of the eleven remaining disciples would die as martyrs, claiming that what they had seen was the risen Christ. That's not how frauds respond at the threat of death.

So, the enemies took it. Friends took it. The only other option that exists is that Jesus was, as is claimed, raised from the dead and He's alive. Sixty years later, after this event, when Jesus appeared to the Apostle John on the island of Patmos, this is what he said recorded in Revelation 1:18: "[I am] the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades [the audio cuts out here].

Now in light of Jesus' resurrection, the angel tells the women in verse 7: "Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you." They're in Galilee. Jesus would appear to the apostles and to a crowd of His followers. So, the women left the angel in the tomb, and they went to find the apostles.

Now, when they found the apostles, Matthew doesn't tell us what happened, but Luke does. So, keep your finger here and turn over to Luke 24. Luke 24 and look at verse 9. We read: "[they] returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest [of the disciples who had gathered]. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened."

Now, go back to Matthew 28. Before the women get there, before they get to where the apostles had gathered, two things happen. The first thing that happens, we know from John's gospel, that a few minutes after their interchange with the angel, Jesus appeared for the first time after His resurrection to one of their number who stayed at the tomb - Mary Magdalene. She stayed near the tomb, Jesus appeared to her, and she became in a very real sense the first human witness to the resurrection. After that, Jesus appeared to these women. They had not yet arrived at their destination, where the apostles had gathered. They had left the tomb, were on their way there. Jesus appeared to them. Notice verse 9. Verse 8: "And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.'"

Now, still on that first resurrection Sunday, still on that day, in addition to what we've seen so far, Jesus also encountered the two Emmaus Road disciples. He walked with them. He actually ate with them. He taught them. Then He disappeared from their presence. They returned to tell the disciples, back in Jerusalem, what had happened. They hurried back and found ten of the disciples gathered, with other disciples. And as they're reporting what had happened to them, Jesus appeared there and appeared to ten of the disciples. And He said, "Touch me. Touch me and see that I'm real, that I'm alive, that that I'm who I claim to be. And He ate with them to prove that He was in fact the risen Lord. Witness after witness after witness.

So, let me ask you a question this morning. How many witnesses do you need to believe in the reality of the resurrection? How many witnesses do you need? Maybe you're tempted to say, "Well, you know, more than you've shown me so far, because that's an amazing event. More witnesses than that." Okay. How about 500? Because two weeks later, Jesus appeared to more than 500 of His disciples in Galilee. Can I just say this as graciously as I can, but as directly as it needs to be said? The truth is, if you don't believe in the resurrection, it is not because of a lack of witnesses. According to Jesus Himself earlier in His ministry, it's because you love your sin, and you don't want Him to rule over you. That's the reality. So, just be honest with yourself. Give up on the "Well, there's just not enough evidence." And admit to yourself that it's because you will not have this man to rule over you.

So, how should we respond to the resurrection? Well, these faithful disciples show us how. You and I must respond to the risen Lord as they did because, if the resurrection is true as it is, you simply can't continue to live like you had before. Just as they couldn't. If what we're here to celebrate today actually happened, you must respond to Jesus the way the women did that morning.

How did they respond? Number one: you must confess Jesus as Lord. Look at verse 9: "And they came up and took hold of His feet..." What's that about? That is an acknowledgment of who He is, of His place, His position. He is their Lord, their master. They're recognizing Him as so. It's like what happened eight days later when Jesus appeared again to the ten disciples and Thomas was with them on that occasion. And Thomas saw the risen Christ and he said, "My Lord [my Kurios, my Master] and my God!" That's what's going on here. If the resurrection really happened, you must believe the gospel and you must acknowledge Jesus to be your Lord, your Master, your King. This is what true faith is. In Romans 10:9, Paul says you must "confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead [and if you do that], you will be saved."

Again, please hear me. I don't mean this... I don't mean this ungraciously. I just want to be honest and frank with you this morning. Jesus doesn't care if you believe He is in fact who He claimed to be. Jesus doesn't care, He is unimpressed if you believe He died on the cross for sins and that He was raised from the dead on the third day. There are many people who believe those things who are not followers of Jesus Christ. On that first day there were. There were twelve Roman soldiers who believed in the resurrection but did not become followers of Jesus Christ. The Sanhedrin learns about the resurrection, and believed it to be true, and did not become followers of Jesus Christ. The demons believe. For the fact that you believe in the historicity of these events, doesn't make you a Christian. Jesus will be satisfied with nothing less than your confession of Him as Lord and Master and King. He has the right to decide everything you do. He demands that you yield every right you think you have to Him. And until you're willing to do that, you're not a Christian at all.

Number two: you must worship Jesus as God. You must worship Jesus as God. Look at verse 9: "...and [they] worshiped Him." Human beings in Scripture don't allow themselves to be worshipped. When people attempt to, what do they do? They say, "No! Don't worship me. Worship God!" Jesus, here, expects, receives, and deserves to be the object of their worship and ours. Again, let me apply this very practically. You know most people in our world, and certainly most people in North Texas and who would be at a service like this this morning, believe in "God" in generic terms, that there is a divine being. But Christianity is not the generic worship of God. It is the worship of the one true God in and through the person of His Son. Read the New Testament and you'll discover that biblical Christianity is centered in loving and obeying and following and worshipping Jesus Christ. If you find yourself uncomfortable talking about Jesus, if you find yourself primarily talking about God in generic terms, then it's possible you're not a Christian. A Christian is a follower of, a disciple of, a worshiper of Jesus Christ. So, we must confess Jesus is Lord. We must worship Jesus as God.

And there's one final way we must respond even as they did. We must proclaim Jesus as Savior and Lord. The angel had already commanded these women to spread the news of the resurrected Savior. Look at verse 7: "Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead..." Verse 10, Jesus told them the same thing. Jesus said, "...go and take word to My brethren..." But proclaiming the message of Christ, who died for sin and was raised from the dead, was not simply for the women who saw that morning or for the eleven disciples. No! When Jesus got to Galilee, He spoke not merely to the eleven but to 500 of His disciples and, ultimately, to us as well. And notice what He said. Go down to verse 16: "But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful." By the way, this is almost certainly the occasion that Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 15, when on one occasion, more than 500 had gathered. All of Jesus' Galilean disciples gathered and this is what Jesus said to all of them. Verse 19, or verse 18: "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples [of Me] of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe [to keep, to obey, to do] all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'"

Do you understand what Jesus is saying? If you believe in Jesus Christ, if you believe He is the eternal Son of God who became man, if you believe that He died for our sins according to the Scripture as the perfect sacrifice and substitute, if you believe that He was buried and that He was raised again on the third day according to the Scripture, if you believe that after that He appeared to many witnesses, you are morally obligated to tell others about Jesus, to be a witness to the reality of His death and resurrection. He is risen! May God help us to respond, as those women did on that first resurrection morning, to confess Jesus is Lord, to worship Him as God, and to proclaim Him as Savior and Lord.

Let's pray together.

Our Father we thank You for Your graciousness in providing so much clear testimony and so many witnesses to the reality of the resurrection of our Lord. Father I pray for those of us here this morning, whom You have already brought to confess Jesus as Lord, may we worship Him as God. May we, with all of our lives, fall at His feet and worship Him and live for Him. And Father may we tell others about Him as Savior and Lord. Father I pray for those here this morning who perhaps have heard this story many times before, who maybe even believe it to be true, but have never truly confessed Jesus as Lord, have never fallen at His feet and acknowledged His right to rule them. Lord may this be the day when they come to a true knowledge of Jesus Christ. By Your Spirit and by Your Word, bring this to pass. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen!