Matthew 28:1-10 10 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.”
What a strange mix of emotions this day and this service bring. We grieve that we are not able to gather together, that we’re not able to eat lots of Suanne and Kris’s egg bakes and ham, that we’re not able to greet and hug one another in person, and that we’re not able to hear one another’s voices praise our risen King. Never before in our lifetime has anyone at Grace experienced anything like this. There’s real tragedy and sadness in those things.
And yet, swallowing up that grief like a giant, unstoppable tidal wave is the good news of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead! Oh disease or distance or death, where is your sting!? For Jesus Christ is alive! Lift up your hearts, Grace Church. Do not be dismayed. One day, whether in this life or the next, we will be together again to eat and drink and sing and pray and talk with one another because, as Easter Sunday reminds us, Jesus overcame every obstacle to everlasting fellowship with God and one another when he came out of the tomb.
With all of that in mind, I have one aim today in this sermon: to help all of us find unlimited quantities of worship fuel in the good news of the resurrection. Let’s pray that God would make it so.
JESUS’ RESURRECTION WAS PROMISED LONG IN ADVANCE
As I said in the introduction, I have one aim in this sermon: to help all of us find unlimited quantities of worship fuel in the good news of the resurrection. To that end, I mean to share with you five overwhelmingly glorious truths about the resurrection.
- Jesus’ resurrection was promised in advance.
- Jesus’ resurrection came to pass exactly as it was promised.
- Jesus’ resurrection brought about unimaginable glories.
- Those who trust in Jesus will join Him in His resurrection.
- Jesus’ resurrection is the great divide in heaven and earth today.
There’s a lot of worship fuel just in those five sentences. Let’s dive a little deeper into each for even more.
Jesus’ Resurrection Was Promised by the Prophets
Jesus resurrection was predicted long in advance by the OT prophets. We see this in Psalm 16.
Psalm 16:10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
Which is explained by Peter in Acts 2.
Acts 2:30-31 … the patriarch David… 31 foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.
We see this as well in Psalm 110.
Psalm 110:1 The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
In Psalm 110:1 King David wrote that the Father (LORD) called the Son (Lord) to be seated at His right hand. The NT ties this directly to Jesus’ resurrection.
Job speaks of his risen Redeemer.
Job 19:25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
Jesus himself explained to his disciples that his resurrection was foretold by the Law, Prophets, and Psalms.
Luke 24:44-46 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead…
And in Acts 26 Paul mentioned that the OT writers all agreed that the Christ would rise from the dead.
Acts 26:22-23 … I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”
Jesus’ Resurrection Was Promised by Jesus Himself
What’s more, even in his life, Jesus predicted his suffering, death, and resurrection.
Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Mark 9:9-10 And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.
For those who have eyes to see, promises of a resurrected Savior are spread throughout the entire bible. Grace, how much time do you spend trying to figure out what’s going to happen in 15 minutes, much less 1500 years? How impressed are you when your financial advisor rightly predicts a stock or when your uncle accurately guesses the score of the Viking’s game a few days in advance, much less a few millennia?
Had Jesus’ resurrection simply happened without any forewarning, it would be absolutely astounding. That God promised it hundreds and hundreds of years in advance, that he did it through several different men of several different generations, and that Jesus himself promised it in His own lifetime all come together to fill our worship-tanks to overflowing. This is staggering, Grace. Today, as we consider and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, from the dead, poor some of this highest octane jet fuel into your soul: Jesus’ resurrection was promised long in advance!
JESUS’ RESURRECTION HAPPENED JUST AS IT WAS PROMISED
These things are the promises of a treasure and the clues to find it. Now we come to the treasure. Not only did God promise the resurrection of His Son (anyone can do that), He also accomplished it exactly as he said he would. Jesus’ resurrection happened just as it was predicted. That leads to our main passage.
Matthew 28:1-7 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…
Psalm 16:10 promised that Jesus’ body would not see corruption, and the gospels assure us that it didn’t.
In Mark 8:32 we read of Jesus’ own promise to be raised on the third day and in Luke 24:6 we find out that that’s exactly what happened.
Psalm 110 promised that Jesus would rise and be seated at the Father’s right hand—in Matthew 26:64 Jesus promised the same thing—and Mark 16:19 tells us that happened just as it was promised.
Mark 16:19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.
Job 19:25 promised that the Redeemer would live and Hebrews 1:3 tells us that’s what took place.
Hebrews 1:3 says, “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…”
Again, Grace, to grasp even a small portion of this is to be filled with enough awe and wonder to fuel our praise for eternity. Every word of God proved true in the most staggering way imaginable. God’s Son was killed on our behalf and then made to rise from the dead exactly as had been promised. Awesome! But there’s more.
JESUS’ RESURRECTION BROUGHT ABOUT UNIMAGINABLE GLORIES
We know that in His suffering and death, Jesus took upon himself the sins of the world and the wrath of God they’d incited. That is, we know that through Jesus’ death God’s people have forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. But what exactly did Jesus’ resurrection accomplish? Or, why do we call it a treasure?
Jesus’ Resurrection Is Tied to a Living Hope and New Birth
Peter wrote that we are born again to a living hope through Jesus resurrection!
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
Jesus’ Resurrection is Tied to Our Justification
Paul tells us that God declares us to be righteous in Jesus, because of Jesus’ resurrection.
Romans 4:24-25 It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Oh what blessings these are! But there’s more still!
Jesus’ Resurrection is Tied to the Holy Spirit Living in Us
God the Father was pleased to give us the Holy Spirit as a result of the resurrection of Jesus!
Acts 2:32-33 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
Jesus’ Resurrection Proved that He Was the Son of God
Jesus’ resurrection proved that he was the very and only Son of God.
Romans 1:4 [Jesus] was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead…
What blessings, what fuel for worship! Grace, stop, take a breath, consider what you are hearing, and turn it into worship! There is unlimited fuel for worship in the resurrection. But there’s more!
Jesus Was the First to Be Glorified
Christians die our bodies go into the ground and our souls are fully sanctified and immediately brought into the presence of God in heaven. That’s a great blessing, but not the fullness of the blessing God has for us. We were not meant to be disembodied. When Jesus returns, then, he will cause the dead to rise, and for Christians he will fully sanctify our bodies and reunite them with our souls just as they were meant to be. When our sanctified bodies are reunited with our sanctified souls, that is called glorification, and at that point God’s saving work in us will truly be complete.
Though Jesus did not need to be saved, when he rose from the dead he was the first to receive a glorified body, “no longer subject to weakness, aging, or death” (Grudem, ST, 609). 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23 describes this as Jesus receiving the first fruits of glorification. In other words, in the resurrection Jesus secured and displayed the glorification of all who would hope in him! But there’s more!
Jesus Received New Glory from the Father after His Resurrection
As glorious as Jesus was through all eternity, and as staggering and mysterious as it is to contemplate, God’s word tells us that Jesus received new glory (or new old glory) from the Father after his resurrection.
John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore [having been obedient to death and having been risen from the dead] God has highly exalted [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Hebrews 1:3-4 After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Ephesians 1:20-22 [The Father] worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church…
Every one of these are an eternal treasure of unlimited value. I imagine that a different one or two will stand out to each of us, and I encourage you to hold on to them. Again, collectively, they are truly staggering.
Jesus’ resurrection is tied to our new birth, it is tied to our justification, it is tied to the Holy Spirit living in us, it proved that Jesus was the Son of God, because of it Jesus was the first to be glorified and he received new glory from the Father after his resurrection. In any one of these is unimaginable glory, and I imagine that a different one or two will stand out to each of us. But the real power is in them combine; the glory of all of them together is impossible to comprehend. Grace, Easter is the time of year in which we especially take these things and fill our souls with them in order that we might worship God with all our might. Fill up, Grace. Don’t let your souls go dry. And refuse to run on any other fuel than this! But there’s more!
THOSE WHO TRUST IN JESUS WILL JOIN HIM IN HIS RESURRECTION
To have rightly understood everything we’ve already covered—that God promised a Savior who would rise from the dead, that everything happened in Jesus just as God promise, and that in Jesus’ resurrection are unimaginable glories—is, once again, to be amazed beyond belief. To hear now, that in addition to all of this, God has promised that his faithful people will join Jesus in His resurrection and all of its glories, is without God’s help too much glory to bear. But thanks be to God, God will help us bear the staggering weight of this staggering glory!
Subtly, but surely, the OT promises a bodily resurrection for the faithful. In Isaiah we read,
Isaiah 26:19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.
Likewise, through Daniel, God has promised,
Daniel 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
What was subtle in the OT isn’t in the NT. God promised that His people will be united with Jesus in His resurrection.
John 5:28-29 an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear [Jesus’] voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
John 11:25 Jesus said to [Martha], “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…”
1 Corinthians 6:14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power…
2 Corinthians 4:14 he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us … into his presence.
Luke 14:13-14 when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…
1 Corinthians 15:52-55 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed…then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Christ’s resurrection has purchased for us a living hope (1 Peter 1:3-5); a certain hope that we will rise, that we will live, that we will sing for joy, that we will have everlasting life, that we will be repaid for every good deed, that we will hear Jesus, that we will be with Father, Son, and Spirit, that we will be changed into glory, and all of this by the power of God, the same power and God who raised Jesus. This is the great promise for all whose hope is in Jesus: we will rise with him!
Grace, this means that it is not death to die! This means that death has lost its victory and sting! This means that to live is Christ and to die is gain! This means that God is worthy of all our praise. And this is the fuel for our praise. We do not worship some unnamed god for some unnamed, unknown, uncertain, mystical experience. We worship the One True God because He brings the dead to life through the resurrection of his Son, Jesus! This news is our fuel and it will burn forever!
THE RESURRECTION IS THE GREAT DIVIDING LINE AMONG MANKIND
With all of this freshly in our minds—Jesus’ resurrection was predicted in advance, Jesus’ resurrection came to pass exactly as it was predicted, Jesus’ resurrection brought about unimaginable glories, and those who trust in Jesus will join Him in His resurrection—I want to conclude this Easter sermon with a call to respond.
The resurrection is and has always been the great dividing line among heaven and earth. People are generally fine with (or at least tolerant of) the idea of God. Most don’t bristle too much at the idea of Jesus as a good moral teacher or sect leader. Many don’t even struggle with the idea of Jesus providing some sort of help for those in need. The great dividing line, however, is the claim that Jesus rose from the dead as the Son of God. This is clear almost every time it comes up in the NT.
Acts 4:1-4 And as [the disciples] were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
At the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead the religious leaders were “greatly annoyed,” but those who had ears to hear “believed”! The great divide.
Acts 17:18, 30-34 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”- because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection… [Paul went on,] “the times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” 32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed…
The resurrection sounded like babble and nonsense to some and so they mocked Paul for preaching it. But others listened and believed.
Paul himself acknowledged that the resurrection of Jesus divided everything.
1 Corinthians 15:12-14, 19 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
If Jesus did rise from the dead then following Him and hoping in Him makes sense; but if Jesus did not rise from the dead than everything Christian is vain (useless) and to be pitied (at best). Today, Easter, therefore, is the day in which we must decide ourselves. This is our call to respond: Did Jesus rise from the dead as the prophets and apostles claimed or was it a hoax? Is Jesus seated, right now, at the right hand of the Father in power or is he dust in the ground like everyone else who has died? Did he defeat death and accomplish salvation for all who would believe or was he a lunatic or a liar? Did his resurrection secure a living hope for the people of God or should we eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die? Today is the day to decide.
If he did not rise from the dead, run from everything Christian. Have nothing to do with it. Get away from Easter in every form—even the pathetic secular version that is so popular today. It is vain and foolish and everyone who has anything to do with it is to be pitied if it is not true.
But if Jesus did raise from the dead, and if his resurrection did accomplish all that the Scriptures say it did, then we must believe on him, repent, fill our souls with this fuel of Holy Spirit fire and worship God in the highest!
Acts 2:23-24 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
Christ is risen, Grace Church. He is risen indeed!