“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.” Matthew 28:6 (NASB)
It’s today on Resurrection Day, or Easter that many observe this day. We remember the promise (John 16:16) Jesus gave to his disciples and also to us (John 17:20-21). The Bible records important messages which were delivered on the day Jesus arose from the dead. Of these messages perhaps none are more important than this one in chapter 28:6. It is the message an angel gave to the two women who came looking for the body of Jesus. The angel, sent from heaven that morning, rolled away the stone so the tomb where Jesus had been buried would be open. We believe that the angel didn’t need to roll away the stone to let Jesus out. He was already gone. That was the news the angel told those women looking for Jesus. The stone was rolled away to let any seeking Jesus would see that He was gone, no longer in grave dead. What a wonderful message that is for us too. The one who had died for us, was alive again and He is still living today as a part of our lives. Jesus, the Son of God lives today, that’s a promise He made and keeps.
“And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.” Matthew 27:66 (NIV)
We have been considering how Jesus approached His death on the cross and how He died. Now, let us consider what happened after He died and after He was buried by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus in a new tomb. Because the Sabbath began at sunset His burial needed to be done quickly on the same evening (Friday) that Jesus died. What happened on Saturday? We are told that some of the women who had followed Jesus watched the burial that Friday evening, spent time preparing spices and perfumes to anoint His body (Luke 23:25-26). But because Saturday was the Sabbath, the women decided to wait one more day and rested on Saturday. The interesting thing is that although the friends and disciples of Jesus were inactive on Saturday, some of his enemies were not. Matthew 27:62–65 records how the enemies of Jesus remembered what he had said about rising again. They went on Saturday to request a special guard at the tomb where Jesus was buried. Today’s verse describes what resulted from their request. Jesus had promised to rise again and nothing that his enemies did would stop what God would be doing on Sunday morning.
“This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” – Matthew 24:14 (ESV)
We can rightly consider this a most inspiring missionary promise from Jesus. Not: should be preached. Not: might be preached. But: will be preached. This is not a great commission, it’s a great certainty. How can we be sure the church won’t fail in its missionary task? The grace of missionary service is as irresistible as the grace of regeneration. Christ promised universal proclamation because he is sovereign. He knows the future success of missions because he makes the future and sees it happen. A “nation” as used here is not a modern “country” in the way we use the word. When the Old Testament spoke of nations, we recall groups like Jebusites, Hivites, Amorites, Moabites, Canaanites, and Philistines. “Nations” identified ethnic and tribal groups with their own peculiar language and culture. We call them people groups, these days. As the sovereign Son of God and Lord of the church, Jesus simply applied His divine purpose and stated as an absolute certainty. World missions to proclaim the Gospel is assured of success. It cannot fail. Let us, then pray with great faith, invest with great confidence, go forward with a sense of sure triumph?
John Piper shared these words in a recent devotional:
“Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” – Matthew 26:53-54 (NASB)
Judas gives a kiss so the temple police will know who to arrest. Peter is quick to defend Jesus. He pulls his sword and with one swipe slices off an ear of the high priest’s slave. That was not planned by Jesus and Peter is rebuked while He heals the man’s ear. Claiming that He possessed all the defense He needed and it was His for the asking, Peter was not to interfere with the will of God. A legion equaled 6,000 soldiers, twelve legions would be 72,000 angels. Every detail of the death of Jesus was preordained by God. Dying was Christ’s supreme act of submission to the Father’s will. Jesus Himself was in absolute control. Yet it was not Jesus alone, but everyone around Him—His enemies included—who fulfilled precisely the details of the Old Testament prophecies. Jesus fulfilled the promise of redemption made in Genesis 3 that one day, the world was infected with the consequences of sin – death. When Satan brought rebellion into God’s perfect creation God promised He would vanquish and remove the curse of sin for all who believe in Jesus.
“You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.” – Matthew 26:2 (NASB)
In three weeks this year we’ll approach Passion Week, the week leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus, we’ll remember Christ’s last Passover supper. We, observe and remember Christ’s sacrifice in the holy sacrament of communion, we are observing a part of the Last Supper. This supper was an annual observance. For Jews it recalls the last night in Egypt when they were saved by the blood of a lamb sprinkled on their doorposts and mantle of their house. God spared the firstborn of any house that had shed the blood of a lamb. The first Passover meal was a rushed thing for their exit from Egypt started on the morrow. Each subsequent Passover meal was done to remember God’s deliverance. Jesus observed the Passover each year he was on earth. But on this, his last year was going to be different. For this was God’s chosen time for Christ to die. He was the antitype to which the Passover Lamb had always referred. Christ had always avoided His enemies’ plots to kill Him, but now it was His time. The true Lamb of God’s shed blood would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
“Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” – Matthew 27:3-4 (NASB)
Passion Week which ends with Resurrection Sunday approaches and we might consider the will of God in the tragic events that took place. Especially in regard to the “son of perdition.” (John 17:12). Judas the betrayer was known in the mind of God from ages past. We believe that all whom God has chosen will believe on Jesus as Lord and Savior and be saved. None of those chosen by the Father and given to the Son will be lost. Jesus said that Judas would go just as it is written about him. In our verse today, Judas is said to feel remorse for his act of betrayal. Judas felt the sting of his own guilt, but this was not genuine repentance. His plan had not worked out and he felt betrayed by the chief priests. He had been their tool to accomplish their evil plan. There is a godly sorrow that leads to repentance, but Judas’ remorse was of a different kind, as demonstrated by his suicide. Judas was to perish just as it was determined for him. Not a pleasant promise for Judas but he was a part of the blessed promise of our salvation.
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 (NASB
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High;” – Luke 1:31-32a (NASB)
“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21 (NASB)
The birth of Jesus was known before God created the earth and humans. During this season, we sing about the message which the angels told to the shepherds near Bethlehem the night Jesus was born. But today’s verses tell us that before that, God predicted through His prophet Isaiah the birth of the “Son of God.” God had sent the angel Gabriel with the message about the birth and name of Jesus to Mary who was chosen to be His mother. Gabriel made a visit later to Joseph who was to be Mary’s husband. Gabriel revealed why God had chosen the name Jesus for the child who was to be born. It was because He would save His people from their sins. The prophecy of Isaiah is repeated in Matthew 1:23. These messages, given to the world before the child was born, are important to us. Jesus was coming in order to be our Savior. We should rejoice today that God sent His Son to save us. It was an important message given before He came. It is just as important today. God promised to provide a way for us to be saved and Jesus is that Way.
“And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”” – Luke 18:38-39 (NASB)
Jesus and his disciples were passing through Jericho. Leaving the Jewish Jericho they approached the Roman Jericho*. As was usual, the people mobbed around Jesus. When Jesus healed the sick and the lame and the demon possessed, He did it totally, completely. He did no partial healings. In this story, when we read the account in the Matthew, there were two blind men. Mark gives us the name of one, Bartimaeus (Son of Thomas). Only Bartimaeus called out to Jesus. He had to ask what the commotion was and he was told it was Jesus. He immediately cries out calling Jesus the Son of David. And he asks for mercy. He knew it was only by mercy that Jesus would stop and heal him. Jesus asks, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The men’s faith was evident and they knew who Jesus was and what He could do. “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” Immediately Jesus healed him with the words, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” Matthew records that “Jesus in pity touched their eyes and immediately they recovered their sight and followed Him. What a merciful Savior He is.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)
Today our passage has a rather different promise than we are most used to considering. It is a promise about the effect and outcome of choices we make. This passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount which was the first recorded extensive discourse Jesus gave his disciples and those following Him. If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, it is important to remember that all moral things are difficult. Our lives as Christians are gloriously difficult, by the grace of God the difficulty doesn’t make us faint. Rather the difficulty strengthens us and gives us what is necessary to overcome. The promise we have is that facing the way that is hard takes practice. Our strength comes through the practice of doing what is right, that is righteous. If once we start on the basis of His Redemption to do what He commands, we find that we can do it. When we fail, it is because we have not practiced. Oswald Chambers said about this; “Thank God He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a glad thing, but it is also a heroic, holy thing.”*
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year, (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35 (ESV)
Notice how that statement has been fulfilled. There was no shorthand reporter following Jesus around taking down His words; there were no papers to print His sermons, and they wouldn’t have printed them if there had been any daily papers. The leaders of the people were against Him. We might see one of our modern freethinkers standing near Christ, and he hears Him say: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Words shall not pass away.” We might see a scornful look on his face as he says: “What ignorance!” If you find this difficult to believe, ask yourself this question—has it passed away? Do you know that the sun has shone on more Bibles to-day than ever before in the history of the world? There have been untold numbers of Bibles printed. The complete Bible has been translated into 670 languages according to Wycliffe Global Alliance (2017). They tried to ban it, to burn it, to chain it, and keep it from the nations, but God has preserved it, and sent it to the ends of the earth. Today’s promise has proven true ever since it was made by Jesus, it will never fail it lives forever.
Thanks in part to: A Living Daily Message From The Words of D. L. Moody selected by Emma Moody Fitt, Copyright, 1900, by Fleming H. Revell Company, now in public domain.