Theme: The defeat of death.
This week’s lessons show us the joy of Jesus’ resurrection.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”
We concluded yesterday by looking at what we should see when we look into Christ’s empty grave. We’ll continue that in today’s lesson with the fourth point, the most important one. We must look into the tomb to see that Jesus is not in it. He is risen, as he said. He has conquered death. The empty tomb is one great evidence of the resurrection. Most people who have written seriously about the events of this momentous week have noticed, if they have been honest, that in all the reports we have, whether in the New Testament or in secular sources of the time, there is not one instance of any attempt to deny the grave was empty. There are alternative explanations. One of them is in the verses that follow these in Matthew: that the disciples stole the body. But there is not one writer anywhere who has denied that the tomb was empty and the body gone. What can account for it? Not theft by Christ’s enemies; if they had had the body, they would have produced it later when the resurrection was proclaimed by Jesus’ followers. Not the disciples either; for if they had stolen the body, they would not have been willing to die, as many of them did later, for what they knew was a fabrication. The only adequate explanation of the empty tomb is that Jesus had been raised from the dead as the Bible teaches.
The fifth reason we should look into the tomb is to learn that we shall also rise, as Jesus did, if we are joined to him. Jesus did not come to earth merely to teach, die, and rise again, so that in the end he might lose those for whom he died. He came to save his own “completely” (Hebrews 7:25), to take them to heaven to be with him. When we look at the tomb we are assured that one day we will be with him and will be as he is (1 John 3:2).
3. Go. This is the third of the angel’s imperatives. It is a strong reminder that however tempting it may be to remain near the tomb to learn its lessons, there is nevertheless work that remains to be done and we must get on with it. This is the way the gospel ends, of course. For the last words of Jesus to his disciples, reported just three paragraphs after this, are “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”(vv. 19-20). This is the greatest work any person can ever have, and it is for all Christians. It is for you if you are one.
4. Tell. The last of the angel’s imperatives is “tell.” It is put last rightly, for if we have come to the tomb, seen that it is empty, know that Jesus had been raised, and then obeyed Jesus by going into the world knowing about the resurrection, clearly we must speak of it. We must say to people, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” This is powerful, even astonishing “good news.” But good news must be told. If we do not tell it, it can only be because we do not believe it or do not understand it for the great, powerful, and astonishing gospel it is.
Let me give an illustration. It is one you will recognize immediately if you have ever had children hunt for Easter eggs in your home. I have had three children in my home, and I have noticed that children never find an egg on Easter without telling you about it. Since there were three children in my home, there were usually three reports of each discovery. The youngest would find an egg and cry, “I found an egg.” The oldest one would confirm it. “She’s right, Daddy, Jennifer found an egg.” The middle one would join it, “Jennifer really found an egg.” Three tellings. And so on for probably a couple dozen eggs.
Shouldn’t you likewise report the good news? The greatest news the world has ever heard is that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead. It is great because it is true and because of what it proves. It proves that the God of the Old Testament is the true God, that Jesus is God’s Son and our Savior, that his death has been accepted by his Father as a true atonement for our sins, that those who believe in Jesus are in a justified state before God, that there is power for victory over sin for all who belong to Jesus, and that those who are joined to Jesus by faith will themselves be raised from death to life in heaven. That is a tremendous message. How can we not tell it boldly to those who are perishing apart from Jesus Christ?
What alternative explanations were given for the fact that the tomb was empty?
Why is Jesus’ resurrection the only adequate explanation for the empty tomb?
What is significant about the angel’s command to go?
Tell the good news of Jesus’ resurrection to an unbeliever this week. Pray that God would open an opportunity, and then keep watch for it.
The greatest news the world has ever heard is that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead.