Online Worship for Trinity Seventeen, Sunday October 4, 2020
Sermon for Trinity Seventeen – Sunday October 4, 2020
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
“Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” (Revelation 1:17-18, NKJV)
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
In the Name of the Living One, Jesus the Christ,
Who died and rose again to deliver us from death,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His most precious blood –
What can we learn from these?
[A picture of empty candy bar wrappers].
“Seriously, Pastor it’s a bunch of empty wrappers…there is no lesson to be learned except maybe get to the candy before it’s all gone.”
It is empty…but the wrapper once had something in it, didn’t it? In fact, we know exactly what was in it because the wrapper reveals what it once contained…a candy bar with chocolate and caramel and a crunchy sugar cookie.”
“Fine, Pastor it once was a tasty candy bar, but now it’s a bunch of NOTHING…what is the point?”
What can we learn from this? [A picture of empty clothes]
“Well, Pastor I guess someone left their clothes lying around…the lesson is put your clothes away, right?”
Well, these clothes have been worn by someone, but are no longer being worn. I suppose that we can learn something about the person who once wore the clothes, whether male or female, whether large or small. Yet we can’t really learn much about the person who once wore them.
So what can we learn from this? [A picture of the empty tomb.]
It is a tomb that appears to be empty. It appears to have had someone in it, but they are gone and have left something behind. There is a message for us in the empty tomb. It’s a message that we need to hear and understand because some day each one of us will be dead and buried.
We need to know who was in the tomb…and why it’s empty. Therefore on this joyful day we will follow the women as they make their way, hands full of aromatic oils, to the empty tomb. They don’t know it’s empty yet…but we do…it’s why we are here today. In fact, it’s why we gather here EVERY SUNDAY. Were it not for the Resurrection of Christ, we would not celebrate His birth, living or dying. It’s why our hearts are lifted up and our joy is on the verge of boiling over.
If the tomb were not empty…but still contained the body and bones of Jesus of Nazareth…
Then…there would be no real, lasting, meaningful joy today.
Then…your faith would be empty and your confidence in Christ foolishness.
Then…your sins would still be yours, and the Day of Judgment a fearful thing.
Then…the Words and Promises of Jesus would be as empty as those of a Nostradamus.
Then…our loved ones who died believing in Christ…would have perished.
But…the Tomb IS EMPTY…the Word of God assures us that HE LIVES.
This is one of those rare cases where EMPTY IS NOT A DISAPPOINTMENT. On the contrary, this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. For Christ is arisen from the dead, the first of those fallen asleep. Jesus’ Glorious Resurrection is proof positive that our sins stand forgiven and that we too will at His Voice rise from death to life. There is no sorrow at the tomb of Christ…or at the grave of those who have died in Him.
May God the Holy Spirit bless us and increase our joy and confidence in believing through these words. Therefore we pray, “Sanctify us by the Truth, O Lord, Your Word is Truth.” Amen.
So exactly where did they bury Jesus?
Well, the Gospel of John tells us that the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid was located near the place of execution (John 19:41). He also reveals that it was a new tomb that had been cut out of the rock, in which no one had yet been laid. The tomb actually belonged to a man named Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:60).
Who was Joseph of Arimathea?
Well, the Gospel of Luke tells us that Joseph was a prominent council member, a member of the Sanhedrin. While Joseph was a council member, He had not agreed with their decision to condemn Jesus and hand Him over to Pilate (cf. Luke 23:51).
Why did they bury Jesus in Joseph’s Tomb?
Well, when Jesus died at 3pm on Good Friday it left just 3 hours to bury Jesus. Saturday – the Sabbath – was one of the biggest festivals of the year. So Friday was considered ‘the preparation day’ for the Sabbath and in fact, they viewed the Sabbath as beginning at 6pm on Friday evening.
When Joseph of Arimathea went to Pontius Pilate to ask permission to bury Jesus’ body…he likely had very little time. They buried Jesus in Joseph’s tomb because it was nearby (John 19:42). Normally they buried their dead just like we do, in a hole in the ground…but in burying Jesus in the tomb of a rich man…the Word of God given to Isaiah was fulfilled (Isaiah 53:9):
“And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.”
Nicodemus, another prominent council member (John 3:1) joined Joseph, bringing about 100 lbs. of a mixture of myrr and aloes…and they hurriedly began the process of burial. They coated strips of linen in the mixture and wrapped Jesus’ body like a mummy, laying it to rest as best they could before 6pm.
Then Joseph rolled a large stone (Matthew 27:60) against the door of the tomb, and they returned to their homes for the Sabbath. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary watched as these preparations were made and they also returned to the places they were staying.
The traditional site of the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea in Jerusalem is today called…the Garden Tomb. It’s located near the place called ‘Gordon’s Calvary’ north northwest of the Temple Mount.
We don’t know that the Garden Tomb was the actual tomb of Joseph of Arimathea…but we do know what took place at the tomb on the first day of the week following the Passover Sabbath. Even though the tomb had been sealed and under guard since the Sabbath (lest Jesus’ disciples turn into grave robbers)…when the women arrived early Sunday morning…the tomb was already…EMPTY.
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
It was very early in the morning…quite possibly before 6am. ‘They’ included, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome and other women (cf. Luke 24:10). They brought with them aromatic oils that they had purchased (Mark 16:1) and prepared (Luke 23:56).
They were concerned about the stone. The Gospel of Mark tells us that they wondered who would roll away the stone from the door of the tomb (cf. Mark 16:3). When they came in sight of the tomb, they saw that the stone had been rolled away.
Then Mary Magdalene turned and ran to tell Peter and John (cf. John 20:2).
While Mary Magdalene left, the other women continued to the tomb and went inside. They found, to their surprise and confusion that the body was gone…the tomb was empty.
Actually…the tomb wasn’t entirely empty. While the body was gone, the Word of God carefully describes exactly what remained in Joseph’s tomb. When Peter and John later arrived at the tomb we are told what they saw (John 20:6-7):
“…he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.”
The grave clothes, the linen strips were laying were the body had been…but no body. They weren’t strewn about, by lying exactly where they had been. The piece of cloth that had been carefully wrapped around His head…was folded together in a place by itself…as if carefully set aside by one who no longer had need of it.
There is one more thing that we may picture as remaining in the tomb…our sins. For Christ took up our sins in His Body on the Cross, they were nailed to the Tree with Him…and buried in His Tomb. They are like so many cancelled checks, stored there forevermore, our debt paid in full. We have been set free of them, and by faith in Christ may daily arise to live God pleasing lives of thanksgiving and praise.
So it is written (Romans 6:4):
“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
We can understand why the women were perplexed, literally ‘at a loss’ and ‘uncertain. They must have wondered where the body of Jesus had gone…I mean corpses don’t just get up and walk away. They must have wondered who and why someone would take away a dead man’s remains. They were about to become down right frightened.
4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.
One moment the women were alone in the tomb…the next…two men were there with them. In fact, the word translated ‘stood by’ could also be rendered ‘appeared.’ These were not ‘grave robbers’ caught red-handed, because they were dressed in ‘dazzling’ that is ‘flashing like lightning’ apparel.
They appeared as young men, but it’s obvious that they were not locals, but angels, ‘otherworldly’ messengers sent from God. The women were not the only ones ‘confused’…so were the angels, but for a different reason.
And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen.
The Holy Angels are beings created by God to serve Him and those who will inherit salvation (cf. Hebrews 1:14). They are not ‘mindless worker bees’ but distinct beings who feel joy and sorrow. The Lord Jesus, who well knows the angels, tells us in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 15:10):
“…there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
But I wonder how often the Angels are confused by our inability to connect the dots. God’s Holy messengers must shake their heads and wonder what we are thinking…if we are thinking at all.
These Angels had a single simple question for the women, “Why are you looking for a living man…in a place of the dead?” The evidence was plain to see…the stone had been rolled away…the guards were gone…the body was missing but the grave clothes were intact. The face cloth was folded up by itself.
Could they not see what the empty tomb meant? They expressed the reason we rejoice today.
He is not here, but has risen.
Do we really understand what the empty tomb means?
It means that what Jesus promises…He delivers. We can therefore count on all of Christ’s Promises, including these that comfort us in the face of death (John 11:25-26; 14:19b):
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”
It means that Jesus’ sacrifice was accepted as full payment for our sins. Jesus, our God appointed substitute, was raised again that we could be justified, declared not guilty. This isn’t my opinion, the Word of God confirms this blessed truth for sinners when it declares that Jesus (Romans 4:25):
“…was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”
In fact, if Jesus had not been raised from the dead, then there would be no pardon for sinners. A dead Jesus would mean a death sentence for us, for it stands written (1 Corinthians 15:17, 20):
“…if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! …20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
This day isn’t about spring or eggs or bunnies…it’s about the empty tomb…it’s about our Lord’s Resurrection. It was something those first disciples needed to remember and that we must never forget.
Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
Jesus had told them beforehand what would happen…but either they had simply forgotten…or did not believe it possible. Were they so shocked and confused by the revelation of His death that the promise of the Resurrection didn’t even register? Was it all just too amazing to accept?
It’s difficult to say…and it’s not really our concern.
It is our concern that we continue to listen carefully to Christ’s Word and pray earnestly that the Spirit of God would keep us in faith. We have been gathered together as a congregation to encourage and comfort one another with God’s Word, not clichés. Let us read and study God’s Word so that we may know the depth and the height of Christ’s Love so that we may share it with others.
Jesus lives! The vict’ry’s won! Death no longer can appal me;
Jesus lives! Death’s reign is done! From the grave Christ will recall me.
Brighter scenes will then commence; This shall be my confidence.
Jesus lives! For me He died, Hence will I, to Jesus living,
Pure in heart and act abide, Praise to Him and glory giving.
Freely God doth aid dispense; This shall be my confidence.
Jesus lives! To Him the throne High o’er heav’n and earth is given.
I shall go where He is gone, Live and reign with Him in heaven.
God is faithful. Doubtings, hence! This shall be my confidence.