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Here we are on the first day of the week. Do you get how powerful that sentence is? “At dawn on the first day of the week”. Today is the first day of the week. The first day of the week is Resurrection day. The first day of the week is the day we celebrate the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets, and that included the 4th commandment, which is to “keep the sabbath” and this would be the last “required” sabbath. Jesus’ resurrection ushered in a new covenant and a new celebration.
Jesus rose from death on the first day of the week and its only right that we also honor him on the first day of the week. Setting our hearts and minds on Christ right off the bat gives us the rest of the week to “rest” in him. We no longer must toil and work at earning our salvation and trying, hoping that God will honor our sacrifices. Because of Jesus we get to rest and abide in him daily. Don’t go all week struggling in your own hardships, start celebrating Christ first.
Jesus died and rose from the grave so that you can abide in him and so that he can abide in you and the way we do that is by offering the first day of our week to Him by worshipping and serving and praising Him. We start off our week doing this, and we would be wise to continue to this daily all through the week.
Each of the gospels tell the story of Jesus’ resurrection from different perspectives and as you study you can pull all the details together from each one to get the bigger picture. Matthew seems to be the most “to the point disciple” with his writings and as we read here, Matthew chose to really focus in on the viewpoint of Jesus’ female followers. He focuses on the emotions of women. And my hope is that you also share their emotions as we talk about the details of Jesus’ resurrection.
In the timeline it is three days after Passover, it is resurrection Sunday and I’m sure you remember all through the crucifixion there were several women present. This group of women watched Jesus being beaten and watched as their Lord hung on the cross and they even followed Jesus to his grave where they sat across from the tomb watching as Jesus received a royal burial.
Matthew only mentions the two Mary’s. Looking at the other gospels we know that other women were present. There was Mary of Magdalene, the other Mary (Mary wife of Cleophas), Salome (James and Johns mom), and Joanna whose husband was a steward of Herod.
This group of women got up early on this Resurrection Sunday and headed out to the garden where Jesus tomb was located. Understand that these women absolutely loved our Lord. They followed with him on his ministry through out Galilee, they followed with him to Jerusalem. The cared for him, they made sure all his needs were met. These women would feed him, they gave him various resources including money. They were loyal and devoted and were there for him during his darkest moments.
Now here they are going to see Jesus, not because they expect to see him alive, but because they wanted to anoint his dead body with spices (Mark 16:1). Yes, he was well anointed from his royal burial, but they went home and prepared more spices and perfumes not because what was already done wasn’t good enough, but because this was a way of showing their own love and devotion. They wanted to personally honor Jesus, and this was one way doing that.
(Mark 16) As the women head toward the tomb at the crack of dawn, they have a discussion of how they are going to move the stone, they knew it was big and it was heavy, but they didn’t let that deter them and it’s a good thing they didn’t because as they near the tomb they saw that the stone had already been rolled away.
Let’s back up a little, the women are walking to the garden and suddenly the ground beneath their feet begins to shake and stones begin to roll, what they feel is the second earthquake in three days. The first was at Jesus’ death and it brought dead holy people back to life and now a second earthquake takes place, what could this mean. These women had no idea that the center of the earthquake started at the very place they were headed. They felt the earthquake, but they didn’t know why it happened, they didn’t know what was going on. Matthew is the only one to mention either of the two earthquakes.
The earthquake didn’t take place because Jesus was resurrected, the earthquake took place because an angel came down from heaven (vs. 2). When that angel came down from heaven is created seismic waves across the earth. The angel hitting the ground caused this earthquake. The angel came to move the stone from the entrance. The angel who was dressed is clothes as white as snow and an appearance like lightening rolled the stone away and then sat on it.
Notice the angel DID NOT let Jesus out of the tomb. Jesus didn’t sit in the tomb for three days waiting for someone to come and let him out. There were no witness’ to Jesus’ actual resurrection. But we know that the angel didn’t come to let Jesus out, he came to let the women in so that they could see that Jesus was not there.
As the women approach the garden, they see the remnants of the earthquake, they see grown Roman soldiers lying on the ground as though they are dead, they weren’t dead they were in shock from the angel entering the atmosphere. Then they notice the stone is rolled away and an angel is sitting on top of it. Can you even begin to imagine this happening? Can you fathom this?
Clearly once seeing this scene the women were also afraid. We know this because the angel told them to not be afraid. He tells them, “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”.
The women peak their heads in slowly, then cautiously enter the tomb and what they see are Jesus’ grave clothes, lying in the exact way they would have been if they were wrapped around his body. They weren’t balled up and tossed in the corner as though someone was in a hurry to get the body out of there. They were perfectly placed in the exact outline of his body.
I do want to take a minute and point out a few details here from John 20. In this scene, when the women talk reach the tomb, Mary Magdalene didn’t make it to this point. The second she saw the tomb opened she ran back to John and Peter. She didn’t notice the angel and she didn’t wait for confirmation of what may have happened, she just bolted. She ran back to Peter and John and told them that someone robbed the tomb and took Jesus’ body. That is when Peter and John run for the garden, John arrives their first and witness’ the clothes and the empty tomb, Peter followed behind and went directly into the tomb. Then the men left, went back to where they were staying, and Mary Magdalene stayed behind.
At this point the other women had left, following the instructions of the angel. Verse 8 tells us the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy and ran to tell the disciples. They were filled with joy because their Lord has been risen from the grave, they were filled with joy because what Jesus said to them was the truth and came to pass. They were filled with joy because He has risen, just as he said.
The women hurried away, the angel told them to go quickly and they did. There was no time to waste, go and tell them that Christ is alive, he is risen from the dead, go quickly and tell them. Afraid, yet filled with joy, they ran to tell the truth of the Lord, and that is when Jesus met them. He met them as they were filled with faith and they were doing what God has directed them to do and Jesus showed up.
Jesus greeted them and told them to not be afraid and to tell his “brothers” to meet him in Galilee.