We live in a world filled with hypocrites. Such a person portrays a false picture about things, be this personal … but especially religious. A dictionary puts it like this … “a hypocrite is a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.” As you are aware, the word “hypocrite” comes from the Greek which means “actor”. On stage, a one man act would require the actor / actress use hand held masks to hold in front of the face to depict a happy, sad, anger, etc. face. Overtime, as the word was used in English, a hypocrite was seen as an actor. The reason I use this as an illustration is because the religious leaders were hypocrites. Jesus on many occasions identified this! One was:
Mat 15:7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.
1) Desecration of the Sabbath. Religious leaders seem to be able to teach one thing and practice another. Look at this
Mt 27:62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
Remember, this is the Sabbath Day … and more, it is the most important Jewish festival … the Passover! Where should they have been? What ought they to have been doing? Yet they were with the governor … Pilate … doing business not associated with either the Sabbath or the Passover. Remember they wanted Pilate to have the victims on the crosses have their legs broken so they could die quicker because the Sabbath started on the Friday evening … and now they were seeking the tomb of Jesus be secured on the very Sabbath Day they were so concerned about. Here’s a question … did what they wanted work? Did guarding the tomb to prevent the theft of the body or a resurrection taking place work? Here’s a thought … as Paul taught Timothy and Titus what Church Leaders should be like in doctrine and character, we too must make certain our Church Leaders (pastors, elders, deacons and other Church Workers) are not hypocrites otherwise they will lead us into error and maybe into hell.
2) Depositing the guard. Pilate gives permission. The last request was denied … see John19:21-22 … so these Jews are delighted Pilate agreed
Mt 27:65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
The guard was not from the temple guards. Pilate wanted ones that were under his control. Two important security features were
(1) Applying a seal on the stone covering the tomb door.
(2) Stationing a guard. In the First Century this was Roman Military security at its best. This was to prevent stealing and then smuggling the body to another venue as they thought Jesus’ disciples would.
3) Completing the burial process. Luke tells us there were more ladies who joined these two Mary’s with oils and spices to ensure Jesus’ body was interned correctly for burial. (See Luke 24)
Mt 28:1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
They were in for a surprise!
4) God speaks through an earthquake. We must not confuse this one with the one when Jesus died. We are at the tomb:
Mt 28:2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
Before the ladies reach the tomb, God speaks … through an earthquake … a violent one! This is God’s anger displayed against His enemies. Verse 4 tells us the guards … these hardened military warriors were so scared that they shook and then became like dead men. They froze. When the Divine is at work, man becomes like clay. This was dramatic … what an entrance … God’s messenger with wonderful news. The guard froze … the women were afraid. But there was more … this voice of God (the violent earthquake) announced Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
5) Comfort at the empty tomb. Matthew abbreviates what happened. He does not tell what Luke tells. He rather shows the comfort the messenger of God gave the ladies.
Mt 28:5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
They are shown where the body was laid. It was not there … why … because:
Mt 28:6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.
Jesus prophesied He would rise on the third day … and He did! The religious leaders might have been hypocrites … but Jesus was not. What He said come true. We need to grasp this for when we take Him at His Word, we are comforted in the soul.
6) Be witnesses. The messenger of God instructs them to go speedily and inform the eleven disciples with information about what they should do.
Mt 28:7 “Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
7) Meeting the Resurrected Lord. On their way to find the disciples they were confronted with the one they intended to intern for burial … Jesus … alive!
Mt 28:8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
They don’t speak. They worship! He is risen and our duty as believers is to worship Him for He is now Lord of lords and King of kings. He not only provided pardon for sin, he guarantees His followers a resurrection unto eternal life in glory.
Praise God! Amen.