Easter Devotion - Day 721-04-2019 | Matthew Campbell | YOUTH
Jesus Is Alive!
Read Matthew 28:1-10
I wonder have you ever had the opportunity to meet your favourite celebrity? It can be quite a surreal experience to meet someone in the flesh who you normally only see on your TV screen or in the newspaper. Quite a few years ago, I recall seeing a kid on TV meet his hero, David Beckham, for the very first time. The kid was completely shell shocked. He was barely able to speak as he stood in awe of his boyhood hero! For some, seeing certain people in the flesh can be a little too much!
I would imagine that the picture of shock on that young lads face could barely compare to that of the disciples upon seeing Jesus in the flesh after his resurrection. Remember, Jesus was viciously murdered. People don't survive crucifixions. There is no doubting that Jesus was medically dead with his body buried. However, this is where we see the Easter story come to a climax - Quite astonishingly, Jesus is Alive! As you read through Matthew's account of the resurrection story, notice 3 things:
- The Historical Reality of the Resurrection (v1-3)
The thought that Jesus rose from the dead seems absolutely crazy to the average person, doesn't it? The idea that someone could conquer death seems like an absurd concept. Of course, the author's of these Gospel accounts are well aware that their readers may be skeptical. That is why they include such helpful historical evidence to back up their claims. Notice the detail given in verse 1 - Matthew tells you the time, date, location AND the people involved when the news broke about Jesus' resurrection. He isn't vague about what happened. He gives specific detail so that you, the reader, might have confidence that it really did occur! Remember, these Gospel accounts were released very early after the events. In other words, the people mentioned here in this passage were still alive at the time Matthew released his Gospel account - He can't make it up or he'll get exposed!
Something else in these first 3 verses is worth noticing. Who are the first people to discover that Jesus' body is gone? We are told here that both Mary's came to the tomb. We also know from Mark's Gospel that Salome joined them. In other words, who does God choose to reveal the glorious truth of his Son's resurrection to? A group of women! Granted, that doesn't mean a whole lot to us today. However, in that culture, this was scandalous. Women were valued as second class citizens - they weren't even allowed to testify in court.
This tells you two things:
- Firstly, if the disciples had fabricated the whole story about Jesus' resurrection, it is unlikely that they would write the story this way. The reality that it was women who had the privileged position of discovering the empty tomb wouldn’t have done the disciples a whole lot of favours in convincing the people of their day that this was true.
- Secondly, this shows that there is no sexism in the Kingdom of God. Although God has assigned men and women different roles in certain aspects of life and worship; this is yet another instance where we are reminded that, in terms of value, women are every bit as significant as men!
Matthew, as he writes his Gospel account, wants you to be absolutely sure that the resurrection of Jesus isn't some sort of myth. Rather, it is grounded in historical reality!
- The Instant Reaction to the Resurrection (v4-7)
What is the instant reaction to the reality of Jesus' resurrection? We actually see 2 differing reactions in this passage. Reaction number 1 comes from the guards in verse 4 - they tremble with fear. The second reaction, however, was one which the angel encourages the women to have. This reaction isn't one of fear, rather, it is one of comfort!
These 2 reactions, as you will notice, are the complete opposite to one another. Yet they are the 2 polarising emotions that the truth of Jesus' resurrection should have for each of us. The reality that Jesus is alive ought to fill us either with total fear and trembling, or is should fill us with comfort - there is no middle ground. So the question that you are perhaps asking at this point is, 'which of these 2 conflicting emotions should I be feeling?' The answer is found by noticing the reason given by the angel to the women as to why they should feel comfort as opposed to fear!
Look at verse 5 - the angel says 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified'. On what basis should the truth of the resurrection cause us comfort and not fear? If we are among those who, like these women, seek Jesus who was crucified! You see, for those who know and trust Christ, the truth of the resurrection ought to be the most comforting reality in the world. We have the security of knowing that our God is alive and that all of his claims were 100% validated. Jesus really is who he says he is. Yet, for those who do not know and trust Christ, the truth of the resurrection should fill you with fear. Why? Since Jesus is alive, we all have a responsibility to bow our knee to him and honour the reality that he is who he says he is - God himself! To reject Jesus is to invite judgement!
- The Necessary Response to the Resurrection (v8-10)
As the women discover the reality that Jesus is alive, they run and tell the disciples. Not just that, Jesus actually meets with them all in verse 9. And notice how these disciples respond upon encountering the risen Lord Jesus. Verse 9 says they fall on their knees and worship him. This is the only appropriate response to the resurrection of Jesus Christ! One of ultimate worship! The same thing happens when Jesus reveals himself to Thomas for the first time. What does Thomas immediately do? He falls down to his knees and cries out 'My Lord and My God.' Why? Because the truth of the resurrected King demands an immediate response - a response of worship.
Is that your response to the risen Lord Jesus this Easter? If the answer is yes, then notice that Jesus doesn't just say 'come and worship,' as he does in verse 9, but he also says 'Go and tell' in verse 10. Jesus' last words in this section are "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” Who can you tell, this Easter, about the glorious reality of the resurrected Jesus? It's the best news in the history of the world. The disciples knew that, what about you?
Questions For Reflection
How does Matthew's depiction of events surrounding the resurrection give you confidence in it's historical validity?
How should the truth of the resurrection bring you comfort as a believer?
Who can you tell about the wonderful reality that Jesus is Alive this week?