Sunday, April 12, 2020

“Afraid Yet Filled With Joy” [Matt's Messages]

“Afraid Yet Filled With Joy”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
LEFC Message for Worship at Home
Resurrection Sunday :: April 12, 2020
Matthew 28:1-15

We have reached the very last chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.

This is the 79th message in our “Following Jesus” series through the Gospel of Matthew, and we have reached the very last chapter.

And I have good news to share with you from Matthew 28 today:

Jesus Christ has risen from the dead!

Let’s say it together:

Christ is Risen! _____________________
Christ is Risen! ______________________
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

That’s what we learn in Matthew chapter 28.

In chapter 27, Jesus was crucified. He died on Friday. He was buried. They rolled a big stone in front of His tomb. They posted a guard to make sure that His body wasn’t stolen. And for all of Saturday, on the Sabbath, things were silent.

But then on Sunday morning, everything changed.

Everything changed!

Where things had just gone from bad to worse....And it just got worse.

Now, everything begins to be made better. So much better that it was frightening!

This message is entitled, “Afraid Yet Filled With Joy” which is what it says the women were in verse 8 when they heard the news of Jesus’ resurrection.

“Afraid yet filled with joy.”

We’re going to see that both of those reactions were justified.

There was good reason for both the fright and the delight.

“Afraid yet filled with joy.”

Let’s see what happened.

Matthew 28, verse 1. Follow along with me.

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.”

Do you remember these ladies?

We said last week to pay attention to them.

They are often overlooked, but they were very important.

They were faithful disciples of our Lord, and they knew exactly where the tomb was. They had been there and watched on Friday when they buried Jesus.

They went to look at the tomb. The other gospels tell us that they had brought more spices to anoint His body early that Sunday morning. But here’s what happened! V.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. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.”

Another earthquake! This one Matthew says was because there was an angel-landing.

An angel descends from heaven and it shakes the ground.

And this angel rolls the stone back and then sits on it.

And he looks like lightning!

I don’t know what that means?! Bright? Shining? Flashing? Electrical?!

And his clothes were as white as snow. Brilliant.

How would you feel if you encountered that?

Well, we know how the guards felt. Verse 4.

“The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.”

Big tough guys. They’ve seen it all.

But they’ve never seen anything like this.

They faint away and pass out.

They are afraid, and NOT filled with joy.

And when they wake up, they decide to lie about it. We’ll see that in second.

How about these women? How did they feel?

They were afraid, too. I know I would be!

But the angel talks to them. (Not to the guards but to the women.) V.5

“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. 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.’”

What a message!

By the way, this just doesn’t happen.

Every time you and I go by the cemetery, the same people are still in their graves.

I’ve never seen an angel sitting on a tombstone and saying, “O, they are not here any more. They got up and walked out. Check it out.”

That never happens.

So, if it did happen this way, this is big news!

How would you feel if you got that news from a living lightning bolt?

Afraid, right?

And so they were. But more than that. They were filled with joy! V.8

“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.”

Yes, they were afraid, but even more than that, they were filled with joy.

The Greek word there is “Mega.” They had mega-joy.

Great joy.

The same thing the Magi felt back in Matthew chapter 2 when they were overjoyed to see the Christ child.

These eyewitness women had joy welling up inside of them and spilling out!

And they had every reason to rejoice.

I can think of least 3 from right here.

And they are just as true for us to day.



He is no longer dead.

“Death could not hold Him.
The grave could not keep Him from rising again.”

Everything bad that has happened has been reversed.

Christ is risen. He has risen indeed.

Jesus is alive.

And that changes everything.

Doesn’t it? There isn’t a thing that isn’t changed by the reality of the resurrection.

The resurrection brings hope, it brings joy, it brings peace.

It changes the ending of the story that we are living in.

It feels sometimes like we are living in a tragedy.

Right now with global pandemic, it feels like “This is not going to end well.”

And it might get worse.

And it might get even more worse.

But the resurrection says that everything bad is going to be reversed.

Jesus is going to reverse the curse.

And He has proven that He can do it by rising from the dead!

As Christians, we have every reason to rejoice.

Jesus is risen.


Rejoice because Jesus is reliable. I love those four words in verse 6.

“He is not here; he has risen, JUST AS HE SAID.”

How many times has Jesus promised in the Gospel of Matthew that He would come back from the dead? He has said it again and again and again.

The disciples didn’t know what He was talking about, but He’s promised it over and over again.

And now the angel says that He’s done it!

Jesus is faithful. He keeps ALL of His promises.

Even the impossible ones!

You and I often make promises that we could fulfill, but we just don’t.

And sadly we also make promises that we cannot fulfill. We aren’t able.

But when Jesus makes a promise, even if it takes coming back from the dead, Jesus keeps His promise.

He is that reliable.

I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded of that often.

Whatever Jesus has said He will do, He will do. Even if it takes a miracle.

That’s a reason to rejoice!

And here’s a third one:


Jesus is not a myth.

And His resurrection is not just a story.

This really happened.

The angel said, “Come and see the place where he lay.”

Check it out for yourself. He is not here.

This is not just a story. These are eyewitnesses who saw it with their own eyes.

The tomb was empty!

No wonder the women ran away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy!

And look what happened next. V.9

“Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’”

I love that His first words are basically, “Hey there!”

He doesn’t say, “It is I! Bump Bah Bah!”

He just says, “Greetings.”

And the women knew what they were seeing. They were seeing Jesus.

And they were touching Him. V.9 says, “They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.”

I love that they were able to grab His feet.

Those are real feet.

Jesus is not a ghost.
Jesus is not a hallucination.
Jesus is not a vision.

Jesus is a real resurrected man.

They could grab His feet!

And they did. And they worshiped Him.

And notice that Jesus receives their worship.

He doesn’t say, “Stop that. I’m just a man.”

He takes their worship as due Him.

He is really risen. And He is really Son of God worthy of our worship.

Jesus says the same thing to them that the angel did, “Do not be afraid.”

That’s not a rebuke. That’s a comfort.

The natural thing here in the presence of a resurrected man is to be afraid.

It’s natural and justified.

But Jesus reassures them that it’s all good, and He tells them (v.10), “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Because He’s real.

Next week, Lord-willing, we’ll see what happens in Galilee.

But first, we have to see how the guards and the enemies of Jesus respond to what has happened that first Resurrection Sunday.

Verse 11.

“While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money [hush money], telling them, ‘You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him [with more money] and keep you out of trouble.’ So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day” (vv.11-15).

Which story do you believe?

Jesus is real, but these guys are fakes.

They are desperate to try to damage control the situation.

So they concoct a crazy cover story which doesn’t add up.

They were all asleep?

Roman soldiers did not sleep on the job. And if they did, they did it in shifts.

And they would wake a moment’s notice if there was an attack.

Jesus’ disciples stole the body? How do they know that if they were all asleep?

Yeah, right!

What about that stone being rolled away. Did they sleep through that?

These guys could have been executed for failing to do their duty.

They couldn’t even guard a dead guy!

This cockamamy story would be funny if it weren’t so sad and so many people get taken in by it, even today.

Who do you believe?

I believe these women.
I believe the angel.
I believe the gospel of Matthew.
I believe that Jesus risen, reliable, and real.

And, therefore, we have every reason to rejoice!

I know that right now we have reasons to be afraid.

And the fears are real, not just imagined.

We live in a broken world, and things are not as they should be.

Because of a scary virus, we are not even gathering in this building right here and witnessing baptisms and singing together “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”

But Christ the Lord IS Risen Today!

And that means that everything bad is going to be made good.

The curse will be reversed.

Jesus has kept His promises, and He will keep every one of His promises, even those that require a miracle.

This is not just a myth, or a symbol, or a story.

This is real. This is history, and this is the story we are living in today.

So we may have some justification for our fright, but we also have even more reason for our delight.

So let me assure you, as well:

Do not be afraid.

Be filled with great joy!

And go and tell others, “He is not here; he has risen, just as He said.”

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!


Previous Messages in This Series:
01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus
40. It Is I.
41. Worthless Worship
42. Great Faith in a Great God
43. The Pharisees and Sadducees
44. The Question and the Promise
45. Take Up His Cross
46. Like the Sun
47. Seed-Sized Faith
48. These Little Ones
49. If Your Brother Sins Against You
50. The Lord of Marriage
51. Drop Everything
52. First and Last
53. The Suffering Serving Son of Man
54. Shouting for the Son of David
55. Expecting Fruit
56. Come to the Wedding Banquet
57. Whose Image?
58. Acing the Test
59. What Do You Think About the Christ?
60. How Not To be A Leader
61. Malignant Religion
62. Fakes and Snakes
63. Birth Pains
64. The Coming of the Son of Man
65. No One Knows
66. Keep Watch
67. Well Done!
68. When Did We See You?
69. A Beautiful Thing
70. "The Passover With My Disciples"
71. "This Very Night"
72. "It Must Happen in this Way"
73. "He Is Worthy"
74. Disowned and Condemned
75. Jesus Stood Before the Governor
76. A Crown of Thorns
77. "If You Are The Son of God"
78. "Surely He Was the Son of God!"