Deliver Us From Evil – Part Three
Matthew 28:1-10

He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed! It is wonderful to be here with you this morning to celebrate again the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour from the dead.  This journey for us began last week on Palm Sunday as Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem as he rode on the back of a donkey to the chorus of “Hosanna in the highest heaven, blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”  This was followed on Thursday with his washing he disciple’s feet and sharing supper with them before he was betrayed, tried, sentenced and crucified, died, was taken down from the cross and laid in a tomb with a rock firmly rolled in front of it.

Today is the culmination of that journey; this is the great Amen at the end of the week, well actually at the beginning of this week!  This is the highpoint of the year for the church and for all of us.  This is Christ’s ultimate victory over death for all of us, this is something to celebrate!

It was the first day of a new week for the two Marys who went to look at the tomb, they experienced a violent earthquake, something all too familiar to many thousands of people around the world in the last twelve months.  A horrific and frightening event on its own, but wait there’s more.  The stone that had been placed in front of the tomb on Friday evening had been rolled back, and there was an angel sitting on it.  He appeared like lightning and his clothes were white as snow, this would have been some experience, mind-blowing even.  But the angel was quick to tell them not to be afraid, and the one they were looking for, Jesus is risen from the dead. 

The emptiness that they had been feeling over these last days was replaced by the emptiness of a tomb, and surprise and elation.  They were told to go and tell the others what they had discovered and to meet Jesus in Galilee.  The women were afraid and yet filled with joy, how could they not be!  Then completely by surprise Jesus met them on their way, and said “Greetings”.  Simple not spectacular, yet they fell to the ground and worshipped him.  Once again they are told not to be afraid, but to go and tell the disciples to go to Galilee and Jesus will meet them there.

The emphasis in Matthew’s account of the resurrection focuses on going, going to tell the others and the need for them to meet Jesus.  There is little surprise that this is the case, this falls shortly before Jesus tells his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations; he has already begun the sending and the telling that will take place from now until eternity.  It began on that first Easter Sunday, go and tell the others so that they might come and see me.  This event is important for all people to see and hear about.  It is important for you and for me, this is about a victory, this is the culmination of God’s deliverance from evil for all of us.

We seem to spend a fair bit of our lives caught up in things that are not a part of God’s kingdom, we get distracted by things of little importance, and we look for ways to be happy and content in this world without realising that life without Jesus is empty and unfulfilling.  When we drift away from God into the wilderness that is life without him we focus on ourselves and our own needs and desires.  The devil finds it easier and easier to influence us and tempt us over to evil desires.  Jesus is calling us all to come and see, to experience the fulfilment of his life, death and resurrection.  To call others to see and hear and to learn and to grow, to hear the forgiveness that he gives to us when we respond to his call to us to turn away from ourselves and seek him and his kingdom.

Sometimes the journey as a Christian is difficult, we are labelled by those who don’t know Jesus as hypocrites, they look to the sinful actions of others in the past and blame us for their failings, the truth is we all sin and fall short of God’s glory.  I still love the old bumper sticker, Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.  That is the story of my life, and maybe yours too.  We make mistakes over and over again, we regret them, that’s our conscience at work and God calling us back to him to ask his forgiveness.  The message of the cross is foolishness to those who don’t believe, but to those of us who have heard and seen the resurrection from the dead of Jesus, it is a message of great joy and the promise of eternal life.

As the angel and Jesus both said to the Marys, “Do not be afraid”, go and tell the others that he is risen, tell them to come and see, so that they too may come to know the joy of forgiveness and the hope of eternal life.  What wonderful news it is, it is the great Amen to Jesus delivering us from evil – Yes it shall be so!

He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!