140420 Matthew 28:1-10

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Matthew 28:1-10
Theme: Rejoice that the Tomb of Jesus is Open!

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

Maybe you have found yourself in this situation: It is very late at night, you are driving along on the interstate, and your gas tank has read empty for several miles already. Then suddenly you see a sign that tells you the next exit is just one mile farther. You pull off the interstate, anxiously waiting to see if there is a gas station that is still open. As you turn off the exit ramp, you see it: a bright sign declaring that the only gas station at this exit is open. If you have ever been in that situation, you know how happy and relieved you feel as you stand by the side of your car, filling up the gas tank.

I know this example hardly compares, but perhaps in some small way, such an experience in our lives gives us some idea of what it must have been like for the women who came to the tomb of Jesus on that first Easter morning. Just a few days before, the lifeless body of Jesus was placed in the tomb. Now, as they approach the tomb, they saw something they never expected to see when they got up that morning. The large stone had been rolled away! The tomb was empty! As the women hurried away to go tell the disciples everything they had heard and seen, suddenly the risen Savior appeared! Imagine the great joy they had to see Jesus alive! This morning you and I join with the women who had gone to the tomb that first Easter morning and together you and I REJOICE THAT THE TOMB OF JESUS IS OPEN!

In his account of the resurrection, the Gospel writer Mark tells us that as the women were walking to the tomb that first Easter morning, they wondered if anyone would be there to help them roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb. But, Matthew reports, "There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men." Why did the angel roll away the stone? It wasn't to let the Savior out of the grave. Rather, like the bright sign telling you that a gas station is open, so the rock that had been rolled away told the women the tomb was empty. Jesus had risen. And the Good News of the angel that day was this, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay."

Imagine once again that you are on that highway, with the gas tank reading empty. How would you have felt if you would have turned off on that exit, and found that every gas station was closed? Would you have felt hopeless or helpless? If Jesus had remained in the grave, if the tomb were still closed, each of us here this morning would have to live hopeless and helpless lives. Because of our sins, we deserve only God's wrath and punishment. He has every right to say that the gates to heaven are closed. The Bible makes it clear that there is no way you and I can save ourselves. Without Jesus, you and I would be dead in our trespasses and sins. But, rejoice that the tomb of Jesus is open! The Good News is that Jesus lives! He has risen from the dead! The tomb is empty! That empty tomb is God the Father's stamp of approval on the sacrifice Jesus made for us. We are forgiven of all our sins. The guilt is gone! The gates to heaven are open wide for us by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Matthew's account continues, "So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples." The angel at the tomb that morning told the women some incredible news. Did the women leave the tomb completely convinced that what the angel told them was true? Was there still some doubt in their minds? Maybe. So, to do away with any and all doubts we are told, "Suddenly Jesus met them. 'Greetings,' he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.'" Imagine the joy that the women felt as they looked right into the eyes of their loving, living Savior! The Good News of the angel was true! Jesus had risen from the dead, just as he said he would.

Is there doubt in your mind this morning? Do you believe the Good News of the angel that Jesus has risen? If there is any doubt on your part, see your Savior come to you in his Word. Hear the voice of Jesus as he promises you and me, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." Or, as we read from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah chapter 12, "I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." Then there is the comfort our risen Savior offers us in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

A pastor once said to his congregation, "Let us be sure that we are living on the right side of Easter." So, I would ask all of us to think about this: Are you living on the right side of Easter? In your day to day life do you show others that you rejoice that the tomb of Jesus is open? Or, how about this: Why are you here this morning? Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, "It is Easter Sunday. This is the one time during the year that I make sure that I come to church...Besides, aren't we suppose to be in church on Easter?" If this is what you are thinking, I encourage you not to let another year go by before you walk into God's house again.

But, I don't want you to come simply because a preacher stands in the pulpit and tells you to come. Rather, come to hear the Word of our God. In a day and age when it is not the popular thing to do, we will not apologize to anyone for the fact that when you come here to worship, you will hear God's Law. God's Law will tell you and me that because of our sins, we deserve only punishment forever in hell. But, each time we come here to worship, we will also hear the Good News from our God's Word. That Good News is the Gospel message: the message of God's Word that assures you and me that through Jesus Christ alone all of your sins and all of my sins are washed away. The empty tomb is our guarantee that the price for all sins has been paid in full. Just as Jesus conquered death, so those who die believing in him as their only Savior from sin will live forever at his side in the mansions of heaven. On behalf of Pastor Pagels and myself, I pray that all of you have a very blessed Easter. Jesus lives! Rejoice that the tomb of Jesus is open! Amen.

 

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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Oconomowoc, WI 53066
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