If you have your Bibles, let’s open them for just a few moments to the book of Matthew. Matthew chapter 28. I want to read part of the Easter story, and then we’ll get right into the message. And the Bible says,
In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. 2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. (Matthew 28:1–2)
One little child was asked, what did the angel say? “Ta-dah!” I like that. That’s what he probably said in the Hebrew.
His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples… (Matthew 28:3–7)
Heavenly Father, bless now the brief time we have today. Thank you for the reason we’re here. In Jesus’ name. We ask, amen.
Years ago, our daughters were in Mrs. Brown’s Sunday school class. Mrs. Brown taught Sunday school for 45 years. Our girls came home one day, and I said, “So did they give you anything on Easter Sunday?” And our girls said, “Our teacher gave us each empty tomb. “I said, “She gave you an empty tomb? What do you mean?” They pulled it out of their pockets. It was a little Cheerio — like the cereal — a Cheerio. And she said, “This is the tomb.
Look, He’s not there. It’s empty.” And I thought, what a great visual aid for Easter Sunday morning.
Defeat, then victory
Tears, then cheers.
Sadness, now, gladness.
Failure (seemingly), then success.
Hopelessness, then hope.
Midnight, then sunrise.
It’s more than just a new outfit. Easter is more than a bunny and candy and a hunt. It’s more than just a family get-together and a meal.
We visit cemeteries of loved ones because of who is buried there; we visit Jesus’ Tomb because of who was not buried there.
A Sunday school teacher asked the kids in her class, “So does anyone know what Easter is?” One little student raised their hand and said, “I know it’s, it’s when you watch the parades and everyone eats this big turkey.” She said, “No, that’s Thanksgiving.” Another child raised their hand: “I know. It’s when you have this tree, and you decorate it, and there are all these presents under the tree.” “No, that’s Christmas.” One little student raised their hand and said, “Oh, I know what Easter is. It’s when Jesus, God’s Son, died on a cross, was buried, and rose again.” And the teacher is excited, but the student continued… “and they gathered around the tomb to see Him when He came out. And if He saw His shadow, they knew they would have six more weeks of winter.” And the Sunday school teacher said, “Class dismissed.”
We cannot have a resurrection without a crucifixion.
The Bible is filled with many chapters describing in detail how Jesus suffered for us. We will never do much for God until we understand how much he did for us.
Virgin born, sinless, preached miracles, change lives, betrayed, arrested, slapped, beaten beard plucked, a crown, spit, weeping, nails, cross, mocked, sin substitute for us, died, His tomb guarded.
His disciples misunderstood. They were so defeated. They thought Jesus was coming to overthrow Rome and take over as the king. They didn’t realize He first had to be the Savior.
But now here’s the news that the tomb is empty. He’s alive. It’s true. He conquered death. There is a heaven. This isn’t all there is. The best is yet to come.
One country preacher preached a whole sermon, and he said “It’s Friday (and I have a different opinion on the day of the week. But for the sake of time…) it’s Friday. He’s crucified. But Sunday’s coming.” It’s Friday. It’s all dark in the tomb. But Sunday’s coming.
In our nation, it’s Friday. There are murders, but Sunday is coming.
There is chaos, but Sunday is coming.
There’s fentanyl running rampant across our nation that’s killing people. But Sunday’s coming.
There’s confusion, but Sundays coming.
There’s disunity, but Sunday’s coming.
There’re broken hearts and tears, but Sunday’s coming. There is grief for funerals this week — people I knew. But Sunday’s coming. There’s a pastor up in Oregon right now who is not in his pulpit. He went to heaven last week. Passed away suddenly. For that church. it’s Friday. It’s dark. It’s sad. But Sunday’s coming.
There’s addiction, but Sunday’s coming.
At Christmas time, we often see the little kids unwrap all their gifts, and then they look at the last gift. You’ve heard it if you’re a parent. “Is that all?” Our society has tried every thrill there is to do. They purchase every possession there is to own, and now toward the end of their lives, some of them are billionaires. They look at everything they have, and they’re wondering, “Is that all? Is that all?”
I just want to say this: if you’ve tried every thrill and everything there is to do and you’re still empty today, I want you to know this Earth is not all. This is not all there is. There’s a place called Heaven, and it’s real.
The angels told us to do three things. I want to just list them quickly.
Number one, they said, “Fear not.” At the tomb, they looked at the disciples and said “Fear not.”
We do fear When it comes to death. I do not like cemeteries. I’m a pastor. I go there often for funerals — about 500 times I’ve been to a cemetery to do a service. I don’t like funeral directors. I don’t like those guys. They’re creepy. That’s what the Bible calls them — creepy. (and no, that word is not even in the Bible). I don’t like being around them. I don’t mind visiting a cemetery, but I’m not going to live there. I’m not going to picnic there. I’m not going to build a house there. Why? It’s temporary. It’s temporary for a Christian. The angel says, “Fear not .”
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Hopewell Baptist Church is an Independent Baptist Church in Napa, California pastored by Mike Ray. It is Bible-based with a warm, friendly atmosphere. Hopewell is dedicated to bringing the water of life to the Napa Valley and beyond.