Holy Week: What Happened on Easter Sunday? (via) Justin Taylor

from the Gospel Coalition –Holy Week: What Happened on Easter Sunday?.

With help from Craig Blomberg’s excellent Jesus and the Gospels, here’s a reconstruction of events on Easter Sunday. This is my final installment in the Holy Week series.

Some women arrive at Jesus’ tomb near dawn, probably with Mary Magdalene arriving first.Matthew 28:1

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

Mark 16:1-3

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another,

“Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”

Luke 24:1

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.

John 20:1

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

Mary and the other women, instead of finding Jesus’ body, are met by two young men who are angels; one of them announces Jesus’ resurrection.Matthew 28:2-7

And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled 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. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

Mark 16:4-7

And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them,

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

Luke 24:2-7

And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them,

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

The women, fearful and joyful, leave the garden—at first unwilling to say anything to anyone about this but then changing their mind and going to tell the Eleven.Mark 16:18

And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Matthew 28:8

So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Mary Magdalene likely rushes ahead and tells Peter and John before the other women arrive.John 20:2

So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them,

“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

The other women, still en route to tell the disciples, are met by Jesus, who confirms their decision to tell the Eleven and promises to meet them in Galilee.Matthew 28:9-10

And behold, Jesus met them and said,


And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.

Then Jesus said to them,

“Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

The women arrive and tell the disciples that Jesus is risen.Luke 24:8-11

And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

Peter and John rush to the tomb (based on Mary Magdalene’s report) and discover it empty.John 20:3-10

So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Luke 24:12

But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

That afternoon Jesus appears to Cleopas and a friend on the road to Emmaus; later Jesus appears to Peter

Luke 24:13-35

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them,

“What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?”

And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him,

“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

And he said to them,

“What things?”

And they said to him,

“Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

And he said to them,

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying,

“Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.”

So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other,

“Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying,

“The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

That evening Jesus appears to the Ten (minus Thomas) in a house (with locked doors) in Jerusalem

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them,

“Peace to you!”

But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.

And he said to them,

“Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them,

“Have you anything here to eat?”

They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

John 20:19-23

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them,

“Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again,

“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

772 Water Baptisms at Seattle’s Qwest Field on Easter Sunday

According to Scott Thomas of ACTS29 Organization the unofficial number for the Easter Sunday service at Qwest field and home of the Seattle Seahawks Football Team,

Mars Hill Church Easter totals (unofficial): 18,696 in attendance and 772 baptisms.

To watch a 38 minute video of Pastor Mark Driscoll’s sermon from the service click here.

To download the MP4 video click here.

A short clip of baptism here.

A longer video of the service, including the baptism will be available sometime this week.

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Worship the Risen Christ by John Piper

click here for the audio for this sermon.

Matthew 28:1-10, 16-20

Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled 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. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. Lo, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell the disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, „Hail!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, „Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, „All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

The Universal Longing for Beauty

Why are millions of mood posters with magnificent landscapes and little philosophic sayings sold each year in America? Why did I feel happy when I looked at purple snapdragons and distant mountains on an Easter card this week? Why did Ayn Rand, who died last year, apparently as a convinced atheist, say that admiration is one of the greatest and rarest pleasures? And she meant the pleasure of admiring greatness, not being admired. Why is there such a thing as stardom in the world of popular music and theater and sports? Why are scenic cruises and scenic tours and $45 coffee-table scenic books a multi-million dollar business? I believe the answer is that the essence of humanness is the appetite for great beauty. Or, to put it in a more God-centered way, God has made us with a hunger to worship him.

The great tragedy of the human race is that we were made to find infinite joy by admiring God, but have become so blind and so foolish that we spend energy and time and money seeking out things in the world to satisfy our insatiable craving to admire greatness and beauty. The irony of our human condition (and nobody here is an exception) is that God put us within sight of the Himalayas, and we have chosen to pull down the blinds of our chalet and show slides of Buck Hill. But every single person here knows that it hasn’t worked. Our posters and post cards and rock stars and scenic tours and glossy books have never satisfied the deepest longings of our heart. They give some pleasure, and make the drudgery of life a little more livable. But they can never compare to the times when you walk to the window, raise the blinds, throw open the shutters, and see the Himalayan glory of the risen Christ.

If your life is flat, empty, without exhilaration, without significance, without a single and fulfilling orientation, it is because you do not see the risen Christ for who he really is. Some of you see him scarcely at all, perhaps. Others have such a pitifully small and sentimental picture of him on the wall of your mind that you are starving for the real thing. So what I want to do today is take you to the window of God’s Word and point to Christ. For if we could keep in view the risen Christ as he really is, our bottomless appetite for beauty and greatness and wonder would find satisfaction, and our lives would be unending worship and joyful obedience.

The last chapter of Matthew is a window that opens onto the sunrise glory of the risen Christ. Through it you can see at least three massive peaks in the mountain range of Christ’s character: the peak of his power; the peak of his kindness; and the peak of his purposefulness. And we all know in our hearts that if the risen Christ is going to satisfy our desire to admire greatness, that is the way he has to be. People who are too weak to accomplish their purposes can’t satisfy our desire to admire greatness. We admire people even less who have no purpose in life. And still less those whose purposes are merely selfish and unkind. What we long to see and know is a Person whose power is unlimited, whose kindness is tender, and whose purpose is single and unflinching. Novelists and poets and movie-makers and TV writers now and then create a shadow of this Person. But they can no more fill our longing to worship than this month’s National Geographic can satisfy my longing for the Chattooga River. We must have the real thing. We must see the Original of all power and kindness and purposefulness. We must see and worship the risen Christ.
A Window onto Glory and of Worship

Let me show you why I think Matthew 28 aims to help us do this. In Matthew Jesus makes two appearances after his resurrection. First, to the women in verse 9, „And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Hail!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.” The second appearance was to the eleven disciples in Galilee. Verse 17: „And when they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” It seems clear that what Matthew wants to say is that the proper response to the risen Christ is worship. Matthew has opened a window onto the glory of the risen Christ, and he means for it to be a window of worship.

Don’t miss how astonishing this is! Recall how Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness three years earlier. In Matthew 4:9 he said, „‘All [the kingdoms of the world] I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Begone, Satan! for it is written, „You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”‘” Do you see what it implies that Jesus receives the worship of his people in Matthew 28? The resurrection of Christ should certify once for all that Jesus is the Son of God, not in the sense that Israel was the son of God or in the sense that you and I are children of God, but in the sense that he himself is God. Jesus said, „You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” And when he rises from the dead, men and women bow at his feet and worship him, and he receives it without rebuke. Easter is a great day for reaffirming our conviction that Jesus Christ is no mere man, no mere angel, no mere creature, but from everlasting to everlasting he is God through whom and for whom all things exist.

Therefore, when Matthew calls us to worship the risen Christ, do not shrink back saying, „God only should be worshipped.” For Christ is God, one in essence with the Father and the Spirit. That’s why Matthew brings his book to a close in verse 19 by saying that disciples should be baptized „in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” These three persons are one God, and when we worship the one, we worship them all.

So Matthew means for chapter 28 to be a window onto the glory of the risen Christ; and he aims for it to be a window of worship. Now what do we see in the mountain range of Christ’s character that should fill us with admiration and worship?
The Power of the Risen Christ

The first thing we see is the peak of power. Notice verse 18. Jesus says, „All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” I wish that there was a way with words to make you feel that the risen Christ has more authority than President Reagan, more authority than all the powers of Moscow and Peking, that if you gathered all the authority of all the governments and armies of the world and put them in the scales with the authority of the risen Christ, they would go up in the balance like air. All authority on earth has been given to the risen Christ. All of it! The risen Christ has the right to tell every man, woman, and child on this planet today what they should do and think and feel. He has absolute and total authority over your life and over cities and states and nations. The risen Christ is great—greater than you have ever imagined.

Here is our Easter witness to the world: The risen Christ is your king and has absolute, unlimited authority over your life. If you do not bow and worship him and trust him and obey him, you commit high treason against Christ the King, who is God over all. Easter is God’s open declaration that he lays claim on every person and tribe and tongue and nation. Easter has to do with power and authority. Easter is the claim of the risen Christ on every life that breathes. „All authority on earth is mine.” Your sex life is his to rule; your business is his to rule; your career is his to rule; your home is his; your children are his; your vacation is his; your body is his; He is God! So if you resist his claim, feel no admiration for his infinite power and authority, and turn finally to seek satisfaction from thrills that allow you to be your own master, then you will be executed for treason in the last day. And it will appear so reasonable and so right that you should be executed for your disloyalty to your Maker and Redeemer that there will be no appeals and no objections. Your life of indifference to the risen Christ and of half-hearted attention now and then (perhaps on Easter) to a few of his commandments will appear on that day as supremely blameworthy and infinitely foolish, and you will remember this sermon and weep that you did not change.

The risen Christ has all authority not only on earth but also in heaven. „All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” I think Matthew wants us to see a glimpse of this in verses 2–4. „And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.” What is the meaning of this? It means at least that angels stand in the service of the risen Christ. I don’t know what you see when you picture angels in your mind. Perhaps flying creatures with long golden hair and delicate feathery wings, or cherubim-like little fat babies. If so, it isn’t going to impress you that the risen Christ has all authority in heaven so that all the angels offer him unquestioned obedience. But, if you could imagine how powerful an angel is, and how many angels there are, and what it is going to be like when the Son of man rides his great white stallion at the head of countless armies of heaven against the mutiny of this world, then you would be impressed. O, how we need to pray for the gift of imagination, so that we could feel what it means that the risen Christ is the Commander-in-Chief of countless angels, who are mightier than men and indestructible because of their immortality. When they gather for salvation and destruction, no laser beams and no space-age nuclear technology will have any effect on them at all.

Consider some biblical images of the risen Christ and his angels and let them shape your mental pictures. „Then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:30, 31). „When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations” (Matthew 25:31). „Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:52–53). „The Lord Jesus [will be] revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8). „Jesus Christ has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him” (1 Peter 3:22).

When the angel in Matthew 28 descends with the power of an earthquake and the appearance of lightning to announce the resurrection of the Son of God, the meaning is this: all authority in heaven has been given to the risen Christ, and thousands upon thousands upon thousands of indestructible angels obey his every word. O, that Ayn Rand would have opened her eyes to see the risen Christ! Then the great pleasure of admiration would not have been so rare. And the great John Galt would look like Tweety Bird in comparison to Jesus.
The Kindness of the Risen Christ

The second peak in the mountain range of Christ’s glory that we see through the window of Matthew 28 is the peak of his kindness. I see it first in verses 5–10. The angel first tells the women not to fear (v. 5), and then in verse 7 commands them to go and tell the disciples that he is risen and will meet them in Galilee. Verse 8 says they ran to do just that „with fear and great joy.” And then the wonderful thing happens: Jesus intercepts them. Why? They were on their way to obey the angel’s word. And Jesus seems to just repeat the angel’s command in verse 10: „Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” Why did he stop them? I think the answer is kindness—pure, pressed-down, shaken-together, overflowing kindness. An unnecessary bonus from the big heart of the risen Christ. Those kinds of things happen when you follow the Word of God. Some of you may have asked, „Where is the kindness of the risen Christ?” I think Mary Magdalene would answer: „He will meet you seven steps down the road of obedience.”

But the kindness of Christ is also for his other disciples. The angel had said in verse 5: „Don’t be afraid.” But verse 8 says, „They departed quickly from the tomb with fear.” When Jesus meets them he says, „Hail!” which literally means, „Rejoice!” And he repeats the angel’s command: „Do not be afraid.” You know what I think the women were apprehensive about? If Jesus is really risen with all authority on earth and is ready now (as they probably thought) to establish the world-wide reign of the Messiah, what might he do to those turncoat disciples who denied and deserted him in his hour of greatest trial? Might there not be judgment in Galilee?

But the risen Christ is not only powerful; he is kind beyond human measure. With one word he stilled their fears. The angel had said in verse 7, „Go tell his disciples.” But Jesus said in verse 10, „Go tell my brothers.” Has anybody today ever deserted the Savior in an hour of testing? Do not despair. If you will meet him in Galilee, he will call you a brother or a sister. If you will go in your heart to the place of repentance, he will meet you with the words, „Rejoice! Do not be afraid!” And, as if that were not evidence enough of his kindness, Matthew leaves it ringing in our ears by closing his gospel with these words, „Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
The Purposefulness of the Risen Christ

The risen Christ is infinitely powerful, and the risen Christ is immeasurably kind. And now finally we see through the window of Matthew 28 the peak of his purposefulness. In order to admire and worship the risen Christ, we have to see that his power and kindness have purpose and goal. You can’t admire someone who doesn’t know where he is going. One of the reasons there are so few admirable people in the world today is that so few people stick to anything for very long. How many people can you point to and say, „There is a life that is unwaveringly devoted to one great goal”?

Verse 19 shows that the risen Christ has a purpose. He knows why he reigns. „All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” The purpose of the risen Christ is to empower his church to make his authority known in every culture on earth. He wouldn’t have said, „Lo, I am with you always,” unless our mission were his business. Wherever people bow the knee to Christ through our witness, it is because he is with us. He aims to fill his kingdom with worshipers from Argentina and Liberia and Uganda and Ecuador and Cameroon and Mexico and the Philippines and Japan and Egypt and Brazil and the Coffman Union. The risen Christ is not going in circles; he is not fumbling through the manual of operation. He wrote the book. And he is unswerving in his great purpose.

Do you not hunger to admire such a Person? Infinite power! Immeasurable kindness! Unswerving purpose! Perhaps your appetite for his beauty is just beginning. If so, confess the blindness and dullness of your former days. Set yourself on the road of faith and obedience and expect him to meet you on the way. Perhaps before this hymn is over, you will have seen and worshiped the risen Christ.


Crown him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon his throne;
Hark, how the heavenly anthem drowns
All music but its own!
Awake, my soul, and sing
Of him who died for thee,
And hail him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity.

Crown him the Son of God,
Before the worlds began,
And ye who tread where he hath trod,
Crown him the Son of man;
Who ev’ry grief hath known
That wrings the human breast,
And takes and bears them for his own,
That all in him may rest.

Crown him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed o’er the grave
And rose victorious in the strife
For those he came to save;
His glories now we sing,
Who died and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.

Crown him the Lord of Heav’n
Enthroned in worlds above,
Crown him the King to whom is giv’n
The wondrous name of love.
Crown him with many crowns,
As thrones before him fall;
Crown him, ye kings, with many crowns,
For he is King of all.


© Desiring God

The Gladness of the Risen God on Desiring God

click here for audio of this message.

Acts 2:28

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life;
thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.

Three Easter Morning Questions

I begin this morning with three questions for you to answer silently in your own mind.

  • First, do you want to be happy?
  • Second, do you want your happiness to be partial or full?
  • Third, do you want your happiness to stop or to last as long as you last?

The reason I count these questions worthy of Easter Sunday morning is not just because I think every person in this room cares about them, but also because these questions are the rock bottom concerns of the Bible.

Wherever the Bible has had its profoundest effect in people’s lives, it hasn’t been because of the demands of a new duty but because of the power of a new pleasure. Let me illustrate what I mean.

The Effect of the Bible on John and Mary Paton

John G. Paton was born on May 24, 1824, in Dumfries County, Scotland. His father was a weaver and had his stocking frames in a room of the house. And his father was godly. Paton’s biographer says that the churchgoing and Bible stories and Shorter Catechism were „not tasks but pleasures” in the Paton home.

The boy had to quit school when he was 12 to help his father support the family of eleven children, and when he was 17, he had a deep experience of conversion that brought all his parents love for Christ home to his own heart.

The call to Christian service became irresistible and Paton worked for ten years as a city missionary in Glasgow among the poor children of the slums.

At 32 he accepted the call to missionary service in the New Hebrides in the South Pacific. In March 1858 he married Mary Ann Robson, and on April 16 they sailed together for the cannibal island of Tanna.

In less than a year they had built a little home and Mary had given birth to a son. But on March 3, 1859, one year after their marriage, Mary died of the fever, and in three weeks the infant son died. John Paton buried them alone, and wrote, „But for Jesus . . . I must have gone mad and died beside that lonely grave.”

One of the gifts that Jesus had given him to sustain him in those days were the words his wife spoke shortly before here death. And right here is where we see the profoundest effect of biblical Christianity. She did not murmur against God, or resent her husband bringing her there. Rather she spoke these incredible words—and you find them again and again where the Bible has sunk into the heart—”I do not regret leaving home and friends. If I had it to do over, I would do it with more pleasure, yes, with all my heart” (Fifty Missionary Heroes, by Julia Johnston, 1913, p. 153).

The Bible Produces a Serious Pursuit of Happiness

Among those who know the Bible best and who have experienced it most deeply, it has never diverted people from the quest for happiness and pleasure. Instead, it has caused people to get really serious about the quest. It has caused them to ask, „Do I really want to be happy? Do I want the fullest happiness possible? Do I want my happiness to last forever?” In other words, the Bible makes us stop playing games with our happiness. It makes us serious, even desperate, in our pursuit.

It makes a harried and overworked businessman go away for a few days and sit by the lake, and look at the sunset and the stars, and ask: „Have I found it? Is this what I am really after? Does it satisfy? Will it last?”

Jesus Christ never once condemned the quest for happiness. But often he has rebuked us for taking it so lightly.

Now what does all this have to do with Easter Sunday? Back in January when I first conceived of this message, I saw the connection in a new way, and I want to try to show it to you.

The Earliest Days of the Church

In Acts 1:3 Luke tells us that „Jesus presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to his apostles during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.” For forty days he sought to prove to his followers that he really was alive,

  • that his body was new and indestructible,
  • that his death for sinners was validated,
  • that his teaching was true,
  • that his fellowship would be permanent,
  • and that his cause would triumph in the world.

Then Jesus ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God the Father. And there he will reign until his ransomed people are gathered in from every people and tongue and tribe and nation. Then the Lord will come a second time in power and great glory and the dead in Christ will be raised to reign with him forever and ever.

The Apostles Pondering the Old Testament

Then the book of Acts goes on to show us that for ten days after Jesus had ascended to heaven the apostles and Jesus’ mother and his brothers devoted themselves to prayer in Jerusalem. During these ten days Peter and the others must have combed the Old Testament for predictions and explanations of what was happening in these incredible days, because when the Holy Spirit finally comes upon them with power at the end of those ten days, the apostles are full of Scripture. They explain everything in terms of the fulfillment of Scripture.

One of the psalms that Peter evidently pondered deeply goes like this:

Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, „Thou art my Lord;
I have no good apart from thee.”
As for the saints in the land,
they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their libations of blood I will not pour out,
or take their names upon my lips.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
thou holdest my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also dwells secure.
For thou dost not give me up to Sheol,
or let thy godly one see the Pit.

Thou dost show me the path of life;
in thy presence there is fullness of joy,
in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 16

The reason we know that Peter had given thought to this psalm is that he quotes from it in Acts 2:25–28. It was a psalm of David and Peter’s mind seemed to go something like this when he pondered this psalm.

What Peter Saw in Psalm 16

We know that God gave David a promise (in 2 Samuel 7:12–16) that one of his own posterity would be the everlasting king of Israel—the Son of David, the Messiah (Isaiah 9:6–7). David must have often thought of this wonderful thing—that in his own body, as it were, there was a king whose reign would never end.

And Peter noticed in reading the psalms of David that sometimes, as David expressed his own hope in God, he would be caught up by the Holy Spirit to say things about himself that went far beyond what his own experience would be. It was as though David were sometimes transported into the future of his son the Messiah and would say things that only the Son of David would experience sometime in the future.

How Will David Not Be Shaken?

This is what Peter saw as he meditated on Psalm 16. He read, „The LORD is at my right hand that I might not be shaken.” (You can see this in Acts 2:25.) And he asked perhaps, „In what sense will David not be shaken?”

So he reads on for the answer. Acts 2:26—”Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope.” And Peter ponders and answers his question: „The sense in which David will not be shaken is that his heart and his flesh are secure in God. He will be protected—soul and body.”

Will David’s Flesh Really Never See Corruption?

Then Peter asks, „How will they be protected? How safe is David really? Will he not die? Did he not die?” Peter reads on (Acts 2:27), „For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption.” Peter looks at this for a long time. He ponders, „Will David’s flesh really never see corruption? Will David really never see the decaying effects of the Pit? Does he really expect this much protection for himself?”

And suddenly (or gradually?) it dawns on Peter that these words go beyond anything that David experienced. David did die! David was buried! David’s flesh did see corruption. So Peter recognizes that David is no longer speaking merely for himself. The Spirit has lifted him up to see the destiny of the second David. And the voice of the Messiah is heard prophetically in the voice of his father David.

This Is What Happened to Jesus!

And then the connection with Jesus hits home. This is what happened to Jesus! Peter makes the connection for us in Acts 2:31—”David foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.”

God’s Goal for Jesus’ Gladness

Now right here we begin to make the connection with that longing for happiness that I referred to back at the beginning. In Acts 2:28 Peter goes on to quote from the last verse of Psalm 16. But now we know that it is really Jesus, the Son of David, speaking through the voice of the prophet David:

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life;
thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.

And the psalm ends (though Peter doesn’t finish it), „In thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.”

In other words, what we see from this text is that God’s goal for Jesus Christ beyond the grave was that he might fill him with gladness. So he didn’t abandon his soul to Hades or let his flesh see corruption. He raised him from the dead to make him full of happiness forever and ever.

And what is the essence of this happiness?

Verse 28 says, „Thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.” Which means that we end this 13-week series on the pleasures of God where we began—with God the Son and God the Father delighting in each other’s presence. „Thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.”

But what does Jesus experience in the presence of God? What are the pleasures in God’s right hand?

The first thing that comes to mind is glory. Jesus had prayed in John 17:5, „Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made.” Jesus had laid down his glory in order to suffer for us. Now he is eager to take it up again.

And the Father was eager to give it. That’s what Paul means when he says (in Philippians 2:8–11), „God has highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Our Gladness and the Gladness of the Risen God

Now what does the gladness of the risen God have to do with us?

Sanctioning the Pursuit of Gladness

Jesus didn’t just happen upon this gladness beyond the grave; he pursued it with all his might. Hebrews 12:2 says, „For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.”

In other words, Jesus was able to endure the cross because he knew it was leading to the Father’s presence where there is „fullness of joy” and to the Father’s right hand where there are „pleasures for evermore.”

This means that, if you are here this morning with a deep longing for happiness, you will not be told by Jesus Christ that this longing is bad, or that it must be denied or that you should have nobler goals on Easter than happiness. Jesus lived for the joy that was set before him. He is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. And therefore he sanctioned the thirst of our souls by the thirst of his own.

Is Jesus for Us or for Himself?

But there’s more that has to do with us. If all Jesus wanted was the glory and gladness that he had with his Father before the world was, why did he come into the world in the first place? The Bible says, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners like you and me (1 Timothy 1:15).

But someone might say, I thought you said he was pursuing his own joy. You said he wanted to be glorified by the Father. Which is it? Does he want his own glory and his own gladness or does he want ours? This has been the key question of this whole series on the pleasures of God. Is he for us or for himself?

Listen to his own answer one last time from John 17:24, „Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me . . . before the foundation of the world.”

Yes he is for himself because he longs for the glory and the gladness of his Father’s presence. And yes he is for us, because he wants us with him there.

The Doubly Wonderful Message of Easter

The message of Easter is doubly wonderful.

It is wonderful to see the suffering Son coming home to the Father. What a reunion that must have been when Creator embraced Creator and said, „Well done Son. Welcome home.” What a wonderful thing to see the bloody Passover Lamb of Good Friday crowned with glory and honor, and handed the scepter of the universe!

But it is also wonderful to hear Jesus say, „I want others to be with me, Father. I want others to share my glory. I want my gladness in your glory to overflow like a mountain spring and become the gladness of others. I want my joy in you to be in them and their joy to be full forever and ever.”

On Easter Sunday morning Jesus blew the lock off the prison of death and gloom and returned to the gladness of God. With that he put his sanction on the pursuit of happiness. And he opened the way for sinners to find never-ending satisfaction at the fountain of the glory of his grace.

From the right hand of God he speaks to everyone of us today and invites us to the never-ending banquet: „I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst (John 6:35) . . . I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26).
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Christ has risen! The significance of the Resurrection

Matthew 28:1-10

1. According to the four gospels, Jesus rose from the dead following
   His crucifixion...
   a. Matthew records how the women found the tomb empty and were
      instructed by an angel to tell the disciples - Mt 28:1-8
   b. Also how Jesus appeared to them while on their way - Mt 28:9-10
   -- In all, the New Testament records ten distinct resurrection
      appearances of Christ prior to His ascension to heaven

2. The significance of the resurrection of Jesus to the Christian faith
   cannot be overestimated...
   a. It has great significance for one who has yet to believe in Jesus
   b. It also has great significance for those who are Christians

[In this study we shall consider "The Significance Of The Resurrection"
for both unbelievers and believers...]


      1. The resurrection proves that Jesus truly is the Son of God
         - Ro 1:4
      2. It also demonstrates that He truly has all authority in heaven
         and on earth - Mt 28:18; Ac 2:36

      1. Jesus foretold His resurrection on three occasions - Mt 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19
         a. If Jesus was telling the truth in describing His suffering
            and resurrection...
         b. ...then He was telling the truth in everything else He said
         -- Would God raise a liar?
      2. Therefore the following teachings of Jesus are true:
         a. He was from the Father above, and spoke the words of the
            Father - Jn 8:28-29
         b. No one can come to the Father but through Him - Jn 14:6
         c. His blood was shed for the remission of sins - Mt 26:28
         d. He came to offer abundant life - Jn 10:10
         e. He went to prepare a place for us - Jn 14:2
         f. He shall come again - Jn 14:3
         g. There will be a resurrection of the dead and ensuing
            judgment - Jn 5:28-29; 12:48; Ac 17:30-31

[If Jesus was in fact raised from the dead, "The Significance Of The Resurrection" for the unbeliever is enormous!  It compels unbelievers
to come face to face with reality, and the need to accept the Lordship
of Jesus.  The resurrection of Jesus has even more significance...]


      1. Gospel preaching is vain - 1Co 15:14
         a. The preaching of the apostles is empty, meaningless
         b. There would be no purpose in preaching about a liar, or
      2. Our faith is vain - 1Co 15:14
         a. Our belief in Christ would also be empty, meaningless
         b. For our faith would be in a liar, or lunatic
      3. The apostles were false witnesses - 1Co 15:15
         a. They swore that God raised Jesus from the dead - Ac 2:32
         b. They claimed to spend 40 days with Him after the
            resurrection, eating and drinking with Him - Ac 10:39-41
         c. There is no way they could have been deceived or mistaken;
            either they told the truth or they were deliberate liars,
            deceivers, and frauds!
      4. We are still in our sins - 1Co 15:17
         a. It would have been a liar or lunatic that died on the cross
         b. No such person could have provided a sacrifice that was
            holy and without blemish
      5. Believers have perished at death - 1Co 15:18
         a. Their faith would have been in a false Messiah
         b. They would have had no atonement for their sins
         c. Dying in their sins, there would be no hope
      6. Christians are to be pitied - 1Co 15:19
         a. Because we believe in a false Messiah
         b. Because our faith in Him leads us to refrain from much
            worldly pleasure
         c. Because we are often ridiculed or persecuted for our faith

      1. It verifies our justification - Ro 4:24-25
         a. Jesus claimed His blood would be adequate - Mt 26:28
         b. By raising Jesus from the dead, God demonstrated His
            acceptance of Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins! - Ro 8: 33-34
      2. It demonstrates the power available to the Christian - Ep 1: 18-20
         a. Power available at our conversion - Col 2:11-12; 1Pe 3:21
         b. Power available to live the Christian life - Ro 8:11-13; Php 2:12-13; 4:13; Ep 3:20; 6:10
      3. It gives us hope concerning our own resurrection - 1Pe 1:3
         a. His resurrection gives us a living hope! - 1Pe 1:21
         b. Especially concerning the resurrection of believers! - 1 Th 4:13-14
      4. It demands our complete loyalty to Him - Ro 14:9
         a. He was raised and then exalted to become our Lord - Ac 2: 32-36; Ep 1:20-23
         b. Thus our lives and service belong to Him - Ro 14:7-8; 2 Co 5:15

1. The impact of the resurrection of Jesus should not go unfelt in our
   a. As a historical event it has everlasting implications
   b. For both the unbeliever and believer

2. The unbeliever needs to examine the evidence for the resurrection
   a. The nature of the testimony provided by the witnesses
   b. The unfeasibility of alternative explanations for the empty tomb
   -- For if Jesus rose from the dead, one must believe in Him! - Jn 8: 24

3. The believer must never lose sight of the significance of the
   a. Do our lives demonstrate that we serve a risen Lord and Savior?
   b. Do we possess the hope, peace, and strength that the reality and
      power of His resurrection gives to the Christian?

May we never forget "The Significance Of The Resurrection" of Jesus
Christ in our lives!

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