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Jul 23, 2017 | James Casson

Matthew 28:1-10 ~ "The Risen King"

The resurrection

1 “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you." 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me."

The power of the resurrection

The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the two most important events in the history of the world. In His death and resurrection Jesus crushed the head of the serpent, defeated the power of sin and removed the sting of death. It marks the upheaval of Satan’s realm and the establishment of Christs Kingdom. His crucifixion secures our justification and His resurrection grants our regeneration. John “11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

The faith of Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Paul says 1 Cor 15:14 “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

This morning we are looking at the resurrected King.

I will be working through the following four points:

1. The problem of a dead messiah

2. The witness of the women

3. The message of the angel

4. The worship of the King


1) The problem of a dead messiah can’t be overstated. There was no idea amongst the Jews of this day of a messiah that would die for the people. Let alone be crucified by the Romans. Crucifixion was the most shameful death possible. If you were part of a movement whose leader was killed in this fashion, the movement was officially over. This is the end of the line. Time to go back to fishing. Cults of personality tend to die unceremoniously when their charismatic leaders are tortured to death.

We have other messiah figures from around the same time period of Christ. The most well know would be Simon bar Kokhba who led the Bar Kokhba revolt against Rome in 132 AD and setup an independent Jewish state which he ruled for 3 years. After he was killed the movement ended. Prior to him you have Judas the Galilean 6 AD (mentioned in Acts 5:33-38) who was the first in a line of (loosely termed) Messiah figures involved in failed uprisings right up to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70

N.T. Wright said it well. “If the messiah you had been following was killed by the pagans, you were faced with a choice between two courses of action.  You could give up on the whole idea of revolution and abandon the dream of liberation.  Some went that route, notably, of course, the rabbinic movement as a whole after 135 AD.  Or you could find yourself a new messiah, if possible from the same family as the late lamented one.” (Sewanee Theological Review41.2, 1998.)

To summarize “If the messiah you had been following was killed by the pagans…You could give up…or find yourself a new messiah”

Add to this the fact that from the Jewish perspective if you were hung on a tree you were cursed. Dut 21:23 “his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.”

This was not some ambiguous proverb, Jews believed if someone was hung on a tree it was a sign of God’s curse upon them. In other words, your leader is not the messiah he is an enemy of God. Rather than “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” it was “This is a false messiah and I curse him” The two are mutually exclusive. Crucifixion should have spelled the end of Jesus and His teaching.

Yet we are here today. Why? It is an indisputable fact of history that the death and burial of Christ was not the end of His influence. An audio book I listened to recently “A history of the Middle Ages” ~ Crane Brinton, Robert Wolff, John Christopher. (Audible) made this interesting statement about the spread of early Christianity. “This triumph of a once obscure despised sect of simple religious enthusiasts in a major well organized rich and intellectually sophisticated society is one of the dramatic facts and unsolved problems of history. No one has written of the period without attempting to explain the reasons why Christianity won out over its many rival creeds.”

We are looking at THE reason. Resurrection. Jesus rose from the dead! He is alive! He is God, and He is building His church! With His death, burial and now resurrection, Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth.

2)The witness of the women

In our passage this morning, we have Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (the mother of James) coming to the tomb. There are other women besides Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, as we see in the other gospel accounts, but Matthew only mentions these two. We see them at the cross in 27:55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee., at the burial in 27:59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb”, and now coming to the tomb after the Sabbath. With their eyes, they have seen Jesus Crucified and confirmed dead, taken down from the cross, and buried. These women had tended to His needs and traveled with Him for the Passover celebration.

This is pure love and devotion. What a witness to us these women are! These women, more than the apostles, give us a wonderful example of dedication to and sympathy for Jesus. They did not understand what was going on. They were not expecting Jesus to rise from the dead. They loved Jesus, but they had not believed, not understood or not remembered that He foretold His resurrection. Because of this they were not waiting in eager anticipation but were in mourning. The master who had changed their lives was taking from them. They had watch Him die slowly and painfully. Jesus was not only a man they loved and respected, but they also had hoped He was their messiah. The one who was going to save them from the bondage of the Roman rule and usher in the kingdom of God. With all their hopes crushed they were coming to pay their last respects. They loved Jesus and Jesus loved them. They were wrong not to believe that He would rise, but Jesus loved them all the same. Oh, that we all would love Jesus like these women. That if we were to lose everything, we would still come to Jesus in simple faith and love. Our love for Jesus must be as unshakable as these women. We might not understand things that the Bibles says, we may not know why things in life happen but so long as we love and follow after Christ He will teach us and care for us.

Now there is a problem that will face these women. At the end of chapter 27 we see the Jewish leaders have secured the tomb with a guard and we know also that there is a heavy stone covering the entrance. This is one of the reasons for the coming of the angel.

3) The message of the angel

In verse 2 we read “And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.”

Why did the angel move the stone? Jesus was already alive. Jesus who had authority to lay down His life and take it back up again wasn’t sitting on the inside of the tomb waiting to be let out. The angel moved the stone, not to let Christ out, but to let the women, and by extension the world, in.

At the appearance of the angel there is a great earthquake. It says the angel descended. When I think of angels I don’t usually think of someone that crashes into the earth and causes and earthquake. Most of the time I think of a slow reveal or someone gently dropping down from the sky. But here it says the earthquake was a result of the angel descending. He lands, rolls the stone away and sits on it, and I kind of picture the angel looking at the guards like “And what are you going to do about it?” Keel over and become like dead men. The power of the messenger of Christ alone is enough to incapacitate His enemies. The root word for earthquake is used of the guards shaking. As Macarthur says “The earth shook, then it stopped but the guards didn’t”. This was not a voluntary reaction on their part. They did not decide to play dead they became like dead men from sheer terror. We know that this was involuntary because they were very likely to become actual dead men as soon as the fact that they lost the body became known. The tomb sealed by the authority of Rome was to be guarded with their lives and their lives would be forfeit if they failed. Think about this from the perspective of these soldiers. They were probably told “OK the execution from the other day was this guy who claimed to be the son of god and apparently, he said he was going to rise from the dead so go keep an eye on the body” Now an angelic being descends from the sky, shaking the earth, what do you really expect the average Roman guard to do?

There are two kingdoms in view here. Two powers. Two authorities. You have the tomb sealed and guarded by Rome and you have the messenger from God. Rome wasn’t expecting an angel, but it wouldn’t have mattered if every active Roman legion had been there the result would have been the same. One angel, the messenger for the women, shows up, and the guards go catatonic. This is not the King in His glory, but His messenger. The herald that announces His coming. My friends you do not want to be an enemy of Christ when He comes again in glory with a host of angels to judge the earth.

When you consider Jesus has the sovereign Lord of the universe, one thing that is amazing about His life on earth is His restraint! Remember what He said to Peter one the night of His betrayal? Mat 26:52 “Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” Here we see what would have happened if Jesus had called on the angels for help. Leaving aside the unity of the trinity, and Christ perfect obedience to the Father, Jesus would have been perfectly within His rights as God to call on to His father and wipe out the entire Roman empire. But that was not why the angel had come. The angel here is sent with a message for the women.

We read in 28:5 But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you."

The women have come seeking Jesus. They are justifiably afraid of the angel. But the angel is sent, not as an enemy of these women, but as a ministering spirit and a messenger.

There are five things that the angel says to the women.

1. 1st the angel confirms the Jesus was crucified. Jesus had been killed. Jesus’ death was not without purpose. Jesus gave His life for sinners. The just for the unjust. Christ death shows us our desperate need for forgiveness. It shows us the depths of our depravity. It took the death of God to cover our sin!

2. 2nd the angel tells them “He is not here, for He has risen, as He said” Death is the penalty for sin. Adam was told in the garden that in the day that you eat of the tree you will surly die. Paul tells us in Romans 5 “as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Jesus died because our sins were transferred to Him. He became sin for us. Now if we die in our sins we are eternally condemned, and if Christ had died for sin and not been raised then it would have been evidence that He could not pay for sin. When we die in our sins we do not fully pay for them. The death of a finite creature cannot satisfy the justice of an infinite God. But Jesus’s death does. Jesus drank the full cup of Gods wrath for us and satisfied the demands of justice. The sins that Christ bore in His body on the cross were paid for in full. They have been put away as far as the east is from the west. Death could not keep Him, because death is the penalty for sin, and Christ had paid that penalty completely. The power of death was broken. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It is finished! And because there is no more guilt for the sin that was imputed to Christ He was raised. Resurrection is the proof that our sins have been forgiven. It is the evidence of Christ victory! Our sins didn’t keep Jesus in the grave and they won’t keep us in the grave either.

3. 3rd the angel points out the empty tomb. See where He lay. Where is the body?

4. 4th He instructs them to “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead.” They have witnessed the empty tomb, now go quickly and spread the news. Don’t let the disciples grieve any longer.

  1. 5th He tells them that they will see Jesus in Galilee. Jesus was going to appear to all the disciples and commission them to go and preach the gospel making disciple of all nations. The good news was not to be only for a select few but is to be proclaimed to the whole world.

After the angel had finished we see that the women run to do has he had instructed them. 8 "So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” Fearful but with great joy they are eager to relay the message. But as they are going Jesus meets them.

4)The worship of the King

9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.

There are only two post resurrection appearances of Jesus in Matthew. There are others of course but Matthew only gives us two. They are as follows, in vs 9 “And behold, Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.”

And to the disciples in vs 17 “And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.”

Matthew’s point is clear. The only response to the risen King is to worship Him. True believers believe in and worship Jesus Christ because He is not only and man but also God. He is our creator. We are to know Him, we are to believe in Him, and do what He says. We are to worship Him. Worship Him with our words, worship Him in our actions, worship Him with our bodies, worship Him with our obedience, worship Him with our time, with our days, with our whole lives. We are to love and worship the risen King with our whole heart soul mind and strength. There must be no area of our lives over which Jesus doesn’t not have absolute authority.

The word here translated worship “προσεκύνησαν” is from the root word 4352 proskynéō (from 4314 /prós, "towards" and kyneo, "to kiss"– properly, to kiss the ground when prostrating before a superior; to worship, ready "to fall down/prostrate oneself to adore on one's knees" (DNTT);It is the same root used by the devil when he was tempting Jesus in Mat 4.

Mat 4:8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve. '"

We are to worship God alone! By accepting their worship in 28:9 Jesus clearly shows us that He is God.

They fell down and worshiped Him. Following Christ may begin with fear but it must end in worship. The only holy response that sinful man must have towards the risen King is worship! Tue worship is to lose one’s self in the glory of Christ. The first epistle of John, which tells us how we can know that we have eternal life ends with this simple statement and exhortation. 1st John 5:20 “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

Jesus is the true God and eternal life. The issue the mankind has is that we are always putting up idols in the place of the true God. And the first and foremost idol in every human heart is self. Is Jesus the end or only a means? Do we desire Jesus or do we desire some perceived blessing that will come from having Him? To worship Jesus means that He is THE Lord of our lives. He is our supreme treasure! He brings us the deepest joy. He is the one we seek to please! Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength. We are made for Jesus Christ. Psalm 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. He is to be our all-consuming desire!

Jesus wants disciples who worship Him. Is there any area of your life that you are withholding from Jesus? Our mind, and will, and emotions should find their highest pleasure in the praise, worship and study of Jesus in fellowship with His people. The women fall down and worship. Worship is not just about emotions or intellect it includes our bodies. Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Worship is about the whole of who we are. At the end of the chapter Jesus says “All authority has been given to me” All the world belongs to Him and that include us! Everything in the universe exists for the glory of God and He is to be worshiped for all of it! Idolatry is to love the creation more than the Creator.

If someone was to look at how you spend your time and money would they conclude that Jesus was the most important reality of your life?

Where does the impetus of worship come from? Where does the motivation and desire to worship Jesus come from?

It comes from knowing Him and His works. Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice.” God’s mercy towards us spurs us on to worship. His sacrificial death on our behalf, the power of His resurrection and the knowledge of His attributes all inspire our praise and admiration.

See His mercy in vs 10. “go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me."

Those whom the angel called disciples Jesus here calls His brothers. The disciples performed miserably throughout. They denied Him, they could not watch and pray with Him for even one hour, they all abandoned Him, and they didn’t have the guts to come to the tomb with the women. Yet the merciful savior calls them brothers.  He is truly worthy of our worship!

In conclusion

What is your reaction to the risen King? Will you worship Him? Jesus took His little band of followers and turned the world upside down. The resurrection of Christ was the catalyst for the rapid Christian expansion of the first and second centuries. Jesus’ disciples and their disciples after them believed the promise of John “11:25 "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,” and the gospel was spread all across the known world.

The last couple of weeks I have been working through (KL “a history of the nazi concentration camps”) by Nikolaus Wachsmann. In it he mentions a protestant pastor, and father of six, as one of the few prisoners willing to stand up to the abuse of the guards in the Buchenwald concentration camp. The brief mention sparked my interest and I looked him up and ordered a biography of his life. I wanted to end this morning with the last recounted message he preached that I could find.

His name was Paul Schneider. In spring 1937, he began the process of excommunication for a number of members in his church who were engaged in conduct that violated congregational discipline. They also happened to be members of the Nazi party. Schneider had already been arrested and interrogated numerous times for preaching against the Christianizing of the Nazi movement and goals. He was arrested and sent to Buchenwald Concentration Camp in November 1937 just two years before the Nazi invasion of Poland. It was the last time he would see his wife and their six children. Here he became known as the pastor of Buchenwald faithfully preaching the gospel to his fellow prisoners as well as fearlessly calling out the brutality of the guards. He was beaten and tortured on numerous occasions. On April 20th 1938 he was lashed 25 times with a oxhide wip and thrown into solitary confinement for refusing to venerate the Nazi swastika, a practice he believes was idolatry. Here he stayed for the next fifteen months until his murder on July 18, 1939. During this time, he continued to preach the gospel to his fellow inmates from the window of his prison cell. He would be able to speak for a few minutes each time before the guards would drag him away and beat him.

On the morning of Sunday, 28 August 1938, Paul Schneider preached to men lined up for the 06.30 roll call. Survivors recorded what he said: ‘Comrades, hear me. Here speaks Pastor Schneider. They torture and kill people here. But thus, says the Lord “I am the resurrection and the life! He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live”

Series Information

The Gospel of Matthew is a story about a once and coming King. Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of David, the long awaited for Messiah. He has come once, and Matthew tells the story of His arrival, ministry, sacrificial atoning work on the cross, and His promise to return soon.

Other sermons in the series