Come and See (Easter 2019)

Matthew 28:5-6 – 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.

Let’s go on a journey this morning. Many people travel for many reasons.(Jobs, Sports, Entertainment, Family, Vacation.) But many people also travel for religious reasons. Millions of Muslims travel to Mecca (the birthplace of Muhammad) every year, and must make the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. Many Jews travel to the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem, the most religious sight in the world for Judaism, to pray and write down prayers to place in the cracks of the wall where the temple once stood. But where do Christians pilgrimage to? What is the relic all Christians long to see in their lifetime? There really isn’t one. Some Christians make it to Israel in their lifetime to see where Jesus walked and ministered. Some make their way to see the place where they think His tomb might have been, where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is. But that’s not even necessary and most Christians never make that trip in their lifetime. Why? Because it doesn’t symbolize something that was. It symbolizes something that is.

I just officiated my grandmother’s funeral and graveside service. She had her plot right next to her husband who passed ever since the day he passed. While I was at the cemetery, I went and visited my other grandfather’s grave. Right next to it is my grandmother’s name. My grandmother who is still alive. You know what I’m about to do in a little bit? I’m about to go see my grandmother. You know what I’m not going to do? I’m not going to visit her grave. Why? Because she is alive! Pilgrimages are to commemorate what was. Muhammad was. The temple was. Jesus is. Jesus is alive!

But let us still take a journey, a holy pilgrimage, this morning, to see what was. Let’s journey to that musty tomb, and let us see why we no longer have to.

Matthew 28:1-6.

Let it first be noted who our travel guide is. An angel. What is significant about this? Angel and man are gathering together to see the place where His body lay. Think about the angels for a second. They arrived there before the women. What must they have been thinking? One version says one was sitting most likely on the slab where He laid.[1] Probably in contemplative silence. Pondering the magnitude of what just happened. The co-eternal, all-powerful, Creator and Sustainer of the cosmos, was just lying here. Dead. The breather of life was lying breathless. They had known Him in His glory. They saw His divine nature in constant radiance as His transfiguration briefly burst forth. They, more so than anybody, could fathom what incredible condescension. The all-powerful, powerless. The Author of life, dead. This is our tour guide, and he is saying, “Come and see. He was right here.”

So, now, what is the angel showing us? He’s showing us a tomb. Not just any tomb. A rich man’s tomb.[2] Think about this. Jesus, who didn’t have a place to lay His head.[3] Jesus, who was a humble carpenter’s son.[4] Jesus, who had no form or majesty that we should look at Him.[5] This Jesus was placed in a rich man’s tomb. A costly tomb. I love what Spurgeon says of this.

            Stand here, believer, and ask why Jesus had such a costly sepulcher. He had no elegant garments; he wore a coat           without seam, woven from the top throughout, without an atom of embroidery. He owned no sumptuous palace, for he had nowhere to lay his head. His sandals were not rich with gold, or studded with brilliants. He        was poor. Why, then does he lie in a noble grave? We answer, for this reason: Christ was unhonored till he had             finished his sufferings; Christ’s body suffered [abuse], shame, spitting, buffeting, and reproach, until he had       completed his great work.[6]

He came, humble and lowly, for the humble and lowly. He came not to ride in as a rich King, but to suffer and die.

            Philippians 2:5-11Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was        in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the     form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself         by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and             bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of          God the Father.

What else do we see of this tomb? Roman guards were guarding it.[7] They have passed out in fright at the sight of the angels, but they are here. Why? Why would Roman guards be guarding a dead rabbi’s tomb? The Jewish authorities didn’t want anyone to take it and were trying to squash an uprising. One thing this shows me is that Jesus has power, even in His death, to make governments tremble before Him and bow at His feet. Remember the prophecy, “The government shall be on His shoulders.”[8] They mocked Him by putting “King of the Jews” above His head[9], yet in their mockery they feared it to be true, which is why Pilate ordered guards to be set up. Yet, even the phrase “King of the Jews” falls woefully short of His reign of government. He is not only King of the Jews, He is King of the cosmos and King of your heart. [He is King of…may the Spirit move here] Our hope is not in America, no matter how great again. Our hope is not in the strongest of empires to have ever existed, yet no longer exists – the Romans. Our hope is in King Jesus, whom no guards and no grave could ever hold! So, the guards were there.

What else of this tomb? It was once sealed.[10] A two-ton stone was rolled in front. The Romans didn’t want anyone getting in, and more importantly, Jesus to get out. This is much like many people’s hearts. Jesus is there knocking, yet their heart is too calloused and heavy and hard to let Him in. They have a heart of stone when Jesus is wanting to give them a heart of flesh.[11] This also makes us highly question natural explanations to Jesus’ tomb being empty. A large part of Apologetics, of which I study, is offering proofs of the resurrection. There are many skeptical theories, some that have existed since Jesus’ time, like the stolen body theory.[12] If the Roman authorities went through that much trouble to secure this tomb, how could disciples have ever stolen His body? How could fishermen overpower trained Romans guards who were literally guarding the tomb with their life? Why would these same disciples willingly suffer and die for what they know to be a lie? Another theory is called the swoon theory – that Jesus only came near to the point of death on the cross but didn’t actually die. How could He, then, survive days without food and water, so bloodied people thought he was dead, and roll a two-ton stone away? These are just a few of the naturalistic theories that circulate about Jesus. None of them really explain this tomb. The stone has been rolled away. I pray, this morning, the stone of your heart would do the same and you would see Jesus alive for the first time.

Since the stone is rolled away, we can look inside the tomb. What do we see? We see laundry.[13] Not thrown on the floor. Not placed beside the laundry basket. Not thrashed off and left in a hurry. We see burial garments nice and neatly folded. He was in no hurry to leave. He wasn’t rushing to escape. He was calm and collected. He was exactly where He was supposed to be, completely under control. Jesus had just defeated sin and death, conquered our greatest enemy, of which was prophesied all the way from Genesis 3 when sin first entered this world, and He took time to fold His clothes. This shows purpose. This shows calm. This shows real life. His body wasn’t quickly stolen and people rushed out in fear. Jesus didn’t come crawling out of the grave barely clinging to life. It was a new morning, just like any other morning. But instead of putting on His clothes for the day, He took off His burial garments. For He was dead, and now He was alive.

And this leads us to the most brilliant and beautiful and important part of this tomb that we see as we observe it. It’s empty. There is no body. There are no bones. And this is when the angel turns and looks at us, as we are realizing for ourselves, he says to drive the reality of it home for us in our hearts and minds, “He is not here, for He has risen, as He said.”

Let that sink in. Put yourself in that place at that time. “He is not here.” “He has risen.” “Just as He said.” How many times do we question God? Do we doubt His plan? Do we fail to trust Him? Amidst our fears and our chaos and our questioning. “He has risen.” Three of the greatest words ever uttered. “He has risen.” He is no longer dead. He defeated death. It doesn’t matter if you’re fearful or sad, “Come and see, He has risen!” It doesn’t matter if you have doubts or fears, “Come and see, He has risen!” It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your past, “Come and see, He has risen!” It doesn’t matter how long you’ve wandered or how long you’ve strayed, “Come and see, He has risen!” It doesn’t matter how deep your sorrow and how searing your loss, “Come and see, He has risen!” It doesn’t matter if your body is wasting away, “Come and see, He has risen!” It doesn’t matter if you’ve been hurt, “Come and see, He has risen!” It doesn’t matter if you’re dead inside, “Come and see, He has risen!”

He has risen. He is alive. He promised it and it happened. And He promises life to anyone who would put their faith in this fact. HE. IS. ALIVE. Believe in Him and you have life.

            1 Corinthians 15:17-22

            17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have    fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be        pitied.

                  20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a     man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ          shall all be made alive.

Will you choose life this Easter Sunday morning? It’s only found in Jesus. The tomb is empty. HE. IS. ALIVE.

[1] Mark 16:5

[2] Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60

[3] Matthew 8:20

[4] Matthew 13:55

[5] Isaiah 53:2

[6] C.H. Spurgeon, The Tomb of Jesus (Sermon no. 18); New Park Street Pulpit Volume 1

[7] Matthew 27:62-66

[8] Isaiah 9:6

[9] Matthew 27:37

[10] Matthew 27:66

[11] Ezekiel 36:26

[12] Matthew 28:13-15

[13] John 20:7

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