April 10, 2020
Dear Rehoboth Church Family,
Oh, how I have missed being with you at Church and especially at Easter. I have been trying to remember if I have ever “not gone to church” on Easter Sunday. If I’ve ever been absent on Easter I can’t remember it. And I don’t intend to miss church on Easter Sunday this year either.
Though we cannot be in fellowship together at church, we can be united in the Spirit of Worship together in the privacy of our hearts and home. For this reason I wanted reach out to you with some simple thoughts regarding the discovery of The Empty Tomb on the first Easter Sunday. I hope you will enjoy considering these thoughts and add some of your own.
If you would take the time to read through these thoughts it would be beneficial to have your Bible available and your hearts prepared through prayer and praise.
Prayer – Heavenly Father as I/we come into Your presence, may the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight Oh God our Strength and Redeemer. Our hearts are overwhelmed by Your goodness and grace and we offer You our sincerest Praise and Thanksgiving. Give us ears to hear, minds to understand and the heart to obey and apply the Truths of Your Words.
Matthew 28:1-9 1 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. 3 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 that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. 9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
1 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.
I’m always touched by the presence of these women. Where are the men? Not even one of the 11 remaining disciples was there. But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were. What made them the last at the Cross and the first at the Tomb… it was the nature of their love.
Generally speaking, I believe God has given women a greater strength and stamina in their expression of faith, hope and love than He has given to men. How happily we see it demonstrated here on Resurrection morning. The darkness and danger associated with the death of Christ did nothing to diminish their expressions of love and devotion to their Lord, but gave it greater illumination.
I’ve seen this kind of strength and stamina of love and devotion over and over in the women in my family and in my church. They are usually first to respond. What a wonderful thing it is have mothers and grandmothers, wives and sisters, daughters and granddaughters at the front of the line when there is a need for care, concern and compassion.
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.
Mark’s account of this event adds that the women were concerned about how they would gain entrance into the tomb… Mark 16:3-4 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
Charles Spurgeon made these helpful observations: “We often trouble ourselves about difficulties that do not exist. Anyone who is seeking to serve the Lord can take comfort from these verses. There surely will be stones in one’s way, and some of them may be large, but they will be rolled away in the Lord’s good time. If the effort needs the strength of an angel, then an angel will be sent from heaven for the purpose. There might have been no angel if there had been no stone… and we might have no revelation of the power of heaven to help us if we had not first had a revelation of our own weakness and inability to roll away the stone.”
3 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.
It is interesting that “the keepers,” referring to the soldiers guarding the tomb to make sure the disciples did not come and steal the body of Christ, were so afraid of the angel that they fainted… and the women were also afraid… but in verse 9: 9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
It is so touching to me that these women who were scared to death of the angel weren’t at all afraid of Jesus, and couldn’t wait to worship Him. Question – does anyone who loves Jesus ever need to fear an angel sent from heaven on His behalf ? I don’t think so.
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 that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
He is not here: for He is Risen… as He said. Come and see… and Go quickly and tell… In these few words the basis and all the hope of Christianity was entrusted to two women who loved the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is not here: for He is Risen, as he said. Jesus had spoken of His resurrection repeatedly… Matthew 16:21 21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Other verses to study: Acts 3:14-15; Acts 4:33; John 11:25-26.
His resurrection marked the turning point in the history of mankind upon the earth. It was proof that Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross was acceptable in God’s sight for the remission of the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
It was the subject of the apostles preaching. The resurrection was the story and subject of every message. The resurrection gave credibility to all Christ’s claims regarding His relationship to God. All the devil would have to do is produce the body of Jesus Christ and Christianity folds up like a house of cards. If he (the devil) could he certainly would, but he can’t because He is Risen, as He said.
8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
Then we have the admonition to Come and see and then Go and tell. The thoughts I have about this are that first we have to see for ourselves before can expect to be used by God to tell anybody else. And I think a healthy dose of reverent “fear” and “great joy” are essential ingredients for all who would seek to tell others about Christ. This is why our behavior must match what we say we believe. And even then we must not become discouraged when those we tell aren’t as interested and excited about it as we are. Mark 16:14 14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
Everything about Christ must be personally understood and received by faith. On this Easter, take time to read the gospel accounts of the resurrection with this thought in mind. How has the empty tomb of Christ affected me? Do I believe He has risen from the dead? If so, has He risen in my heart and life. Am I a “new creation”… have the old things (spiritual death – Eph. 2:1) pasts away and all things become new?
… and did run to bring his disciples word. How about our children, grandchildren, spouse and siblings, co-workers and friends? These are who we can “run to” as we “go and tell.” These are who we can pray for and extend the grace, mercy, patience and love we ourselves have received from Christ. They may not seem to care very much about what we believe, but they will surely notice how we behave.
This was not meant to be an exhaustive expository Bible study, just so simple thoughts to encourage and warm our hearts.
Prayer – Lord help us to rejoice in the resurrection of Christ and its implications for our future which are truly out of this world. Resurrect our love for You Jesus, and like those first at the tomb, allow it to become the most significant and remembered thing about us. Amen.