The Greatest Comeback of All Matthew 28: 1-10 (NKJV)

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1 Message for THE LORD S DAY EVENING, April 8, 2012 Christian Hope Church of Christ, Plymouth, North Carolina by Reggie A. Braziel, Minister AN EASTER MESSAGE The Greatest Comeback of All Matthew 28: 1-10 (NKJV) Please turn with me in your Bibles to the Gospel of Matthew chapter twenty eight. Matthew 28:1-10 (NKJV) 1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. 5 But the angel answered and 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 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 indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you. 8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. 9 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, Rejoice! So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.

2 ILLUSTRATION: Eighty three days into his 4th term as President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in office. Vice-President, Harry S. Truman completed his term. In November of 1948 Truman ran for re-election as the 33rd President. Truman was running against Thomas Dewey and every public opinion poll predicted Dewey would win the election by a landslide. Before the November Election, LIFE MAGAZINE even featured a full-page picture of Thomas Dewey with the caption: The new president travels by ferryboat over the broad waters of the San Francisco Bay. The Kiplinger Letter, a publication for the leading businessmen in the United States did a full-length story describing the New Economic Policies that would be put in place once Thomas Dewey was elected. But without a doubt, the most shocking and certainly the most memorable declaration was that of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, which had already printed their front page headline: DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN. On the election night, while THOMAS DEWEY was in New York working out the final details of his acceptance speech...harry Truman was in Excelsior, Missouri eating a ham sandwich and drinking a glass of milk while listening to the election results on the radio. Truman said, At 6:00 o clock I was defeated. At 10:00 o clock I was still defeated. At midnight they reported I was 1,200,000 votes ahead but was still un-doubtedly defeated. Believing his defeat was certain, Truman went to bed. At 4:00 a.m. Truman was awakened by a Secret Service man who told him he was ahead by 2 MILLION votes. Despite all the commentators...all the Newspapers...and all the Public Opinion Polls saying TRUMAN DIDN T HAVE THE REMOTEST CHANCE OF WINNING THE ELECTION...by the morning after the election, HARRY S. TRUMAN had made the most un-believable comeback in political history! What had appeared to be certain defeat, was turned into a GREAT VICTORY!

3 The angel said to the women, Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here: he has risen just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. If a PUBLIC OPINION POLL had been taken at Calvary on the day of Jesus Crucifixion, not one solitary person would have given Jesus even the remotest chance of COMING BACK! Even to his most ardent, faithful supporters that day, JESUS DEFEAT seemed certain and final! As the demons celebrated, SATAN was putting the final touches on his acceptance speech as the new King of the Universe. But by early Sunday morning, the world would learn that NOT EVEN DEATH AND THE GRAVE could defeat Jesus! I want you notice the emphasis on FEAR in verses VERSE 4 VERSE 5 And the guards shook for fear of Him, and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, Do not be AFRAID, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. VERSE 8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. VERSE 10 Then Jesus said to them, Do not be AFRAID. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee; and there they will see Me. Why would these people be AFRAID? Well keep in mind, all of these people had witnessed the brutal crucifixion of Jesus on Friday. Not a single one of them ever expected to see JESUS alive again! Now all the sudden, they not only HEAR he s alive......mary Magdalene and the other Mary actually see him ALIVE with their very own eyes. While these two women were overjoyed that Jesus had made the

4 most incredible comeback ever...at the same time they were AFRAID. I believe people were afraid for quite awhile after JESUS came back from the grave. You see even His closest followers didn t understand the mystery of the resurrection, and it is our human nature to fear what we don t understand. For the remainder of the message, I want to show you what a difference the resurrection of Christ makes in the way you and I live and the way we die I. The Resurrection of Jesus Should Make A Difference in How We View Life 1. On the day of Jesus crucifixion, all of Jesus disciples except John, ran away like cowards and hid for fear of their own lives. John 20: 19 (NKJV) Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, Peace be with you. 2. Some people, including some Christians say the resurrection of Jesus is no big deal. It really doesn t make any difference whether Jesus did or didn t resurrect from the dead. Brothers and sisters, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact that Jesus Christ did resurrect from the dead made all the difference in the world to the apostles and how they lived the remainder of their earthly lives. Consider this: If Jesus didn t truly resurrect from the dead then. (A) Why were the disciples willing to be tortured and killed for a known lie? You don t need a degree in human psychology to know that people do not die for a cause they know to be false. People do certainly die for false beliefs all the time, but they think they are dying for the truth. If the disciples faked the resurrection, they would know Christianity is a lie. History records they were tortured and killed for their faith, and not one of them said, under torture okay, okay, we made the whole thing up? Why is that? Answer: They actually saw the risen Savior. And consider this: If Jesus didn t truly resurrect from the dead.

5 (B) Why would the disciples make up the resurrection story if Jesus turned out to be a fraud? Remember, Jesus told them he would rise after 3 days. If he was still dead on day four, that means He wasn t who He claimed He was, He wasn t the Messiah and certainly wasn t God after all, so why would the disciples worship a dead man who lied to them and was exposed as a fraud? Answer: They actually saw the risen Savior! (C) And what was their motive? Lies or deceptions are typically done for some selfish motive. Preaching the resurrection of Jesus would not bring them wealth, fame, status or popularity. It would only cause them to be hated, scorned, persecuted, excommunicate, imprisoned, exiled, beheaded, tortured and crucified, as history records, so again, what could possibly be their motive? Was it just to save face? That doesn t make one bit of sense. No one is going to go through what the disciples went through just because they re too embarrassed to say I guess we were wrong, so what was their motive? Answer: They actually saw the risen Savior! You see the fact that the Apostles saw Jesus with their own eyes, and heard Him with their own ears, made all the difference in the world in how they lived out their remaining days on earth. The truth of the resurrection transformed those men from lowly cowards into some of the bravest and most courageous men this world has ever known! 3. And brothers and sisters, the fact that Jesus arose from the dead on the third day should make all the difference in the world in how you and I view life. You see, if you truly believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God and that He died and was buried and rose again, then you must also believe that through resurrection power of Christ you can come back from anything life throws at you. -Because He Lives...you can COMEBACK from MORAL FAILURE! -Because He Lives...you can COMEBACK from MARITAL FAILURE! -Because He Lives...you can COMEBACK from

6 ALCOHOL or DRUG ADDICTION! -Because He Lives...you can COMEBACK from the LOSS OF YOUR JOB or the LOSS OF ALL YOUR MATERIAL POSSESSIONS! Oh brothers and sisters we sing our great hymns like He lives! He lives I Know He Lives! And Victory in Jesus! and yet how many of us are living our lives in defeat and discouragement as though Jesus is still sealed up inside that tomb? My friend because JESUS lives there is nothing in this world that can DEFEAT you, not even death itself! There may be times when you and I are down, but through our living Savior we are never, ever OUT! II Corinthians 4:8, 9 (NKJV) We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed ROMANS 8:35-39 (NKJV) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 4. You may have come here today and something has really got you down. Perhaps you are wrestling with a serious health problem or maybe there is a problem in your marriage or a problem in your relationship with one of your children, or perhaps you are dealing with a problem at work. Just remember this! Whatever may have you down can t keep you down. You serve a risen Savior and through Jesus Christ you are more than a conqueror! But not only does the resurrection of Christ make a difference in how we live our lives.

7 II. The Resurrection of Jesus Should Make A Difference In How We View Death 1. In John 11: 25, 26, Jesus gave us one of the most wonderful promises in all the Bible. JOHN 11: 25, 26 (NKJV) Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? 2. Not only did Jesus resurrect...he is the RESURRECTION and the LIFE. He is OUR resurrection and OUR life! 3. Jesus doesn t promise us that we won t die. Hebrews 9:27 says, And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 4. We all have an appointment with death. We don t know when. We don t know how. We don t know where. But we have an appointment, and we will keep that appointment, unless the LORD returns before our appointment with death comes. 5.. Over the last 35 years, I have been around a lot of dying people, many of whom were Christians, others who were not. And there was one noticeable difference between the two and that was the way the Christian viewed death compared to how the non- Christian viewed death. The Christian faced death with HOPE while the non-christian faced death with HOPELESSNESS. The Christian faced death with COURAGE while the non-christian faced death with FEAR. The Christian viewed death as a GRADUATION TO GLORY while the non- Christian viewed death as THE END OF THE ROAD. 5. Brothers and sisters, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you and I can face death with confidence and assurance saying, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?

8 6. In his book Six Hours One Friday Max Lucado tells the story of a missionary in Brazil who discovered a tribe of Indians in a remote part of the jungle. These Indians lived near a large river. The tribe was badly in need of medical attention because a terrible disease was ravaging their group. People were dying everyday. A hospital was not too far away, across the river, but the Indians refused to cross it because they believed the river was inhabited by evil spirits. They believed if they entered the water it would mean certain death. The missionary explained how he had crossed the river and was unharmed. But the Indians were not convinced. He then took them to the river bank and placed his hand in the water. They still refused to go in. He then walked into the water up to his waist and splashed water all over his face. But it didn t matter, they were still afraid. Finally the missionary dove under the water and swam beneath the surface to the other side of the river. When he emerged on the other side he pumped his fist into the air. The Indians let out a loud cheer to celebrate the missionary s victorious emergence on the other side......then one by one they swam across the river. 7. You know that is exactly what JESUS did! He told the people of his day they didn t need to fear death, but they wouldn t believe him. He touched the dead boy in Nain and called him back to life, but they still didn t believe. He whispered life into Jairus daughter and yet they still didn t believe. He even allowed LAZARUS to stay dead four days then called him back to life and the people still didn t believe. Finally Jesus entered the River of Death and emerged alive on the other side. No wonder we celebrate the Resurrection!!! CONCLUSION Does it really matter whether or not Jesus truly arose from the dead on the third day? Does it really make any difference? ABSOLUTELY!

9 The Resurrection of Jesus Should Make A Difference In How You and I View Life. -We should live in VICTORY not DEFEAT! -We should live in CONFIDENCE not in FEAR! -We should live in HOPE not in DESPAIR! The Resurrection of Jesus Should Make A Difference In How You and I View Death. Even though we all have an appointment with death we should not face death with fear. Because Jesus lives, we too shall live. Because Jesus conquered the grave, we too shall conquer the grave. Just as the grave of Jesus was found empty, one day our grave will be found empty. It was the late Dwight L. Moody who perhaps said it best. "Someday you will read in the papers that Moody is dead. Don't you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I was born of the flesh in 1837, I was born of the spirit in That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit shall live forever." Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living, just because HE LIVES! And all God s people said..amen!

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