Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller


Containing the Resurrection

Matthew 27:55-28:20

Fitting with how Matthew has told us the account of Jesus\' life on earth, his account of the resurrection and ascension is also very brief. It seems to center around one theme: efforts to contain the person of Jesus, even after His death, and how fruitless those efforts were.

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55 - 56

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If you take all the gospel accounts together, the women who gathered near the cross were Mary, Jesus\' mother, whom Jesus told John to take care of; Mary\'s sister, and Salome, who in Luke 20:20-21 is identified as the mother of James and John, and Mary Magdalene (released from a demon in Luke 2).

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I think it is cool that Matthew mentions that these women had ministered to Jesus since His days in Galilee. The word is akin to \"deacon\". They had no power and no voice, but what they did have-their substance and their time-they gave to the Master. We may not think we have anything to offer Jesus, but it is often those who think they have little to give who have the most devotion and stick closest to Jesus because it is really what He gives us that matters, not what we offer Him.

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57 - 61

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Joseph, John 19:38 tells us, was a secret disciple of Jesus because he was afraid of the Jews. Joseph was rich, and no doubt knew that to follow Jesus could mean the source of his riches, his fellow Jews, would dry up faster than a rain drop on hot sand. He would have lost his family, his business associations, his place of prominence, and his means of making a living.

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But there came a time when Joseph knew he must fish or cut bait. He had the means to help Jesus and so takes a huge risk and gives a huge personal gift to the Savior. He went to Pilate and asked for the body-he could have easily been roped into the conspiracy foisted by the religious leaders and executed himself.? Joseph came from Arimathea, which of old was called Ramathaim and was the birthplace of Samuel.

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It\'s likely that Joseph, himself an honored member of the Sanhedrin, had not participated in the plot (Mark 15:43).

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I tend to think Joseph did it quickly-knowing the way things work-and got to Pilate before anyone else could. He had cut a tomb out of rock-I\'m sure not knowing the real purpose for which God would use it. Jesus had to buried before sundown because of the coming Sabbath where they could do no work and the fact that a body could not be left on a tree overnight. (Deut 21:23).

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John 19:38-42 tells us that Nicodemus, who had come to Jesus at night in John 3, bought spices so they could both prepare the body for burial. They would wash the body, then wrap it in layers of cloth with spices between the layers-it was a burial fit for a king.

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The tomb had not been used, but was big enough to walk into. A stone about a yard in diameter could be fairly easily rolled downhill in a groove over the entrance, but would take several men to roll back open.

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62 - 66

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Matthew makes it clear that the chief priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate after the Day of Preparation-meaning then went on the Sabbath, a clear violation of the Law. They also went to a Gentile, which if they were in the palace, also made them ceremonially unclean and unable to celebrate the Passover.

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Interesting that Jesus was tried in part for saying \"in three days I will rise\". They knew, I think, that Jesus was not talking about the temple but Himself. But it served their evil purposes then. Now they want to hedge their bets and make sure that the disciples don\'t try to make good on the promise.

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The guard was made up of either Roman soldiers or temple police. They \"sealed\" the tomb by stringing a cord across the entrance and sealing it with clay on either end. But of course, they didn\'t understand that no man-made cord or rule, in fact, no power on earth could keep Jesus in that tomb.

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28:1 - 10

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The resurrection of Jesus Christ is what makes Christianity different from every other religion. Most religions have their prophets, but all have died. Christianity is the only one that claims its prophet (our Savior) died and came back.

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The resurrection was proof that when Jesus said \"it is finished\" that God honored the sacrifice. Jesus bore our sins and He coming back to life showed that the sins had been paid for.

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Jesus became what 1 Corinthians 15 calls the \"firstfruits.\"

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1 Corinthians 15:20-24 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. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. ESV

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So actually Mary, Salome, and Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, after observing the Sabbath. They had come to add their own spices to Jesus\' body. They talked about who would roll the stone away. Notice that didn\'t stop them from coming anyway.

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An earthquake had either happened when the angel (Luke says 2 angels) descended or was the means by which the stone was moved out of the way. It was needed not to let Jesus out but to let others in. The appearance of the angel put those opposed to Jesus in fear, but the women were told not to be afraid \"for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.\"

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There\'s a great lesson for us here. Those opposed to Jesus should indeed fear Him, for Jesus will return not to be nailed to a cross but to rule with a rod of iron and blot out anyone that opposes Him. But to anyone who seeks Him, there is no fear-no matter what!

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Hearing the news that Jesus had risen was overwhelming to say the least so it\'s no wonder that their joy was mixed with fear-what did this mean? Then seeing Jesus Himself caused the women to fall down at His feet and worship Him like a king.

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Jesus tells them not to fear (notice He doesn\'t say not to be joyful!) but to tell the disciples who were still behind locked doors.

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We know that John and Peter race to the tomb but don\'t see Jesus until He appears to them later. There are, in fact, several appearances of Jesus that Matthew doesn\'t record.

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What he does record are further efforts to contain the story by those who oppose the new King.

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11 - 15

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If these were Roman soldiers, they would have given their lives for falling asleep on the job. They needed a cover story badly and figured they\'d have a better chance at that by going to those who had given their orders.

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What do you suppose the religious leaders thought when they first heard the news? A creeping feeling that perhaps, just perhaps, what Jesus said was true?

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It is interesting that they paid the soldiers to spread the very rumor they had feared would take place. Such are the lengths one must go to in order to cancel out the truth of the gospel. Even to this day people to will swallow almost anything in order not to believe in the resurrection.

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16 - 20

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The group returned to Galilee, but not all of them were convinced of the resurrection. Thomas doubted, but after Jesus told him to put his hands into the wounds of Christ, Thomas declared \"my Lord and my God\" (John 20:24-31).

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We don\'t know what mountain he met them on, and eventually they made their way back to Jerusalem for Jesus to ascend from the Mount of Olives.

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As Matthew declares to us the kingship of Jesus, He makes the declaration \"all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.\"

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Then Jesus makes what we call the Great Commission. It is at the heart of what every disciple should be about.

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1.????? Jesus is King

2.????? Our job is to spread that news and that everyone can be a part of His kingdom

3.????? We do that by bringing others into faith in Christ

4.????? We follow that by teaching those followers the Word of God and assist them in also becoming a part of sharing God\'s story of salvation.

5.????? In all of this, Jesus has not left us, but is with us through the Holy Spirit every step of the way!

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Conclusions

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Are you a Pharisee-trying to keep from dealing with the gospel by trying to contain it-hide it away inside the church or explain it away or even by lying about it? You cannot contain it. Resistance is futile, so just give in to life!

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Are you a Joseph? A follower of Christ but reluctant to let anyone know for fear of what they may think/say/do to you? Joseph made his discipleship known when it counted but how much more could he have done had he had the courage earlier?

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Rather, be a Mary-who may not have rushed in to save Jesus, but was there every step of the way-watching Him die, be buried, and then got to be among the first to see Him alive.

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