If Only We Were There

Matthew 28:1-7

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. (Matthew 28:1)


These women left when it was dark.

They arrived at the tomb just at the breaking of dawn.

They loved the Lord.

They came out of sympathy.

They didn’t come to see the resurrection.

They came to see the grave.

It was an act of compassion.

It was an act of sympathy.


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. (Matthew 28:2)


This was the second earthquake.

There was an earthquake when Christ died.


It was a great earthquake caused by an angel of the Lord descended from heaven.

It was caused by the arrival of an angel to open the tomb.

The angel came and moved the stone to let the women in so that they could see that the Lord Jesus Christ was already gone.

He was risen!


His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. (Matthew 28:3-4)


It was the holy angel.

His face was glowing.

His garment was white as snow.

And the guards experienced a personal shock.

They went into temporary coma.

They were knocked literally unconscious out of terror.


But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 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." (Matthew 28:5-7)


The soldiers had reason to fear when the Lord Jesus Christ arose.

But not the women.


They came out of devotion.

Their faith was weak.

Their understanding was feeble.

But the Lord God was gracious.

He recognized their love and He responded in grace.

And he said, "I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said."


The Lord Jesus Christ was risen.

He’s alive.

This was exactly what He said He would do on the third day.


Then the angel said, "Come, see the place where the Lord lay."

The angel then concluded with a command, "And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead."


Why were those women the first to see the angel and the living Christ?

Because they were there.

They were there and so they saw it.

If anybody else would have been there, they would have seen it.


If only we are like those women.

What we lack in faith, we make up for in devotion.

What we lack in understanding, we make up for in loyalty.

And God will turn our weakness into strength because we were there.

We are faithful enough and loyal enough to be where God is...

And where He is moving...

And where He is working...


If only we were there.

Come Down From The Cross

Matthew 27:38-44

Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left. (Matthew 27:38)


Pilate dishonored the Lord Jesus Christ by crucifying Him between robbers.


Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing. (Matthew 27:44)


The two robbers heaped insults on Him.


The two robbers were wicked.

Their lives revolved around the loot they could steal.


There are people like the robbers among us today.

They know about the Lord Jesus Christ.

But their lives revolve around material things.

They have little regard for righteousness or truth.

They live to indulge themselves, and pay a great price for it.


And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, "You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross." (Matthew 27:39-40)


The same crowd that cried "Crucify Him!" had hailed Him a few days earlier with their hosannas (Matthew 21:9).

But now He was a victim of the Romans, they rejected Him.


They kept on reviling Him with continual defamation and blasphemy.

They wagged their heads in taunting fashion and saying, "You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross."


Those were the two accusations that came out against the Lord Jesus Christ in the trial before Annas and Caiaphas.


Those were the two accusations that the Jewish leaders used to incite the mindless passers-by to mock the Lord Jesus Christ as He suffered on the cross.


There are people like the mindless crowd among us today.

They’re interested in the Lord Jesus Christ only if He can bring immediate satisfaction.

If He doesn’t deliver what they want when they want it, they forget Him.


Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'" (Matthew 27:41-43)


The religious leaders were insincere and hypocritical.

They were the lowest level of blasphemers.

They appeared to represent God, to know the truth, and to be pure, godly, and virtuous.

But they hated the Lord Jesus Christ.


The religious people who supposedly knew everything there was to know about God, mocked the Lord Jesus Christ.

They didn’t talk to the Lord Jesus Christ like the crowd did.

They despised Him so much that they wouldn’t talk to Him.

Instead, they talked to each other about Him.


The Lord Jesus Christ would not come down from the cross.

He had to die for the ignorant soldiers.

He had to die for the materialistic thieves.

He had to die for the mindless crowd.

And he had to die for the vile religious leaders.


So great is the compassion of God that the Lord Jesus Christ died for all who would crucify Him.


The Lord Jesus Christ stayed on the cross not because He couldn’t come down, but because He wouldn’t come down.

Our Savior shed His tears for those who shed His blood.

Such is the compassion of God.

And such is the gift of salvation.

Peter's Denial of Christ

Matthew 26:58, 69-75

But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end. (Matthew 26:58)


All the disciples fled when the Lord Jesus Christ was taken prisoner.

But Peter couldn’t stay away.

He was pulled along by his love for the Lord Jesus Christ.

So he followed the Lord Jesus Christ at a distance.


Peter wanted to see the outcome of the trial.

It was 1 a.m. in the morning.

The trial would last about two hours.

Peter sat with the soldiers warming himself.


Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, "You also were with Jesus of Galilee." But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are saying." (Matthew 26:69-70)


Peter was exposed by a servant girl!

He was caught off guard.

His involuntary reaction revealed his character to be weak and sinful.

He was not prepared for the situation!


And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth." But again he denied with an oath, "I do not know the Man!" (Matthew 26:71-72)


After denying the Lord by the fire, Peter couldn’t leave immediately or it would look like he was lying.

So he hung around for a little while.

Then he moved away from the fire inconspicuously.


But again he was exposed.

This time by another girl!


Peter was angry, embarrassed, frustrated, afraid, and confused.

His denial became more vehement.

This time he told two lies.

He lied by claiming he didn’t know the Lord Jesus Christ.

And he lied by taking an oath to his truthfulness.

Peter’s second denial demonstrates his lack of trust in God.

He could have spoken the truth and committed himself to the care of the Lord.


And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, "Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you." Then he began to curse and swear, saying, "I do not know the Man!" Immediately a rooster crowed.


After his second denial, Peter still hung around for a while.

The first two denials took place in the first hour.

Another hour had gone by.

Peter couldn’t quite bring himself to leave.


Peter’s Galilean accent was distinguishable.

Those who heard Peter speak confronted him about it.

This time Peter began to curse and swear.

He began with a single lie.

Then to cover that up he lied twice.

And then to cover that up he let loose with a flurry of curses and swears.

The Lord Jesus Christ’s prediction came to pass!


And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." So he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:75)


Peter repented.

He wept bitterly.

Peter saw the face of the Lord Jesus Christ and he remembered His words.

He saw how he had offended the Lord Jesus Christ.


John 21 describes how the Lord Jesus Christ put Peter back on his feet and back in ministry.

After that, Peter became the great proclaimer of the gospel in the early church.


God gives grace to sinners and restores the fallen.

He picks up even the person who has denied Him and shown himself to be weak, and puts him in a place of strength.

Peter denied the Lord Jesus Christ 3 times.

But the Lord Jesus Christ restored Peter.

When Facing Temptation...

Matthew 26:40-46

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?"

"Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done."

And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

Then He came to His disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners."

"Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand."


The Lord Jesus Christ was tempted in the garden of Gethsemane.

Satan was behind the scenes.

Satan’s goal was to prevent Him from going to the cross, and preventing the resurrection.


The Lord Jesus Christ was clear about His commitment to follow God’s will.

But because the prospect of bearing sin, dying on the cross, and being separated from God was so much to bear, He asked God if there were another way to accomplish redemption.

Still, the Lord Jesus Christ held fast to His willingness to follow God’s plan.


The three disciples were sleeping.

They should have been praying.


The Lord Jesus Christ said to Peter, "What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?"

That Peter couldn’t stay awake for one hour indicated that the Lord Jesus Christ was in prayer with the Father for that period of time.


The Lord Jesus Christ found them asleep a second time.

Their eyes were heavy.

They were overpowered by their physical impulses.


The Lord Jesus Christ came to His disciples a third time.

They were still sleeping.


"Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners."

The Lord Jesus Christ saw the Roman soldiers and Jewish leaders carrying their torches and swords, accompanied by Judas, moving up the Mount of Olives.

The sinless Son of God was about to be arrested by sinners.

But the disciples were still sleeping.


"Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand."

Judas was about to deliver the Lord Jesus Christ into the hands of those executioners.

But the Lord Jesus Christ went on to meet them victoriously.


When the Lord Jesus Christ confronted Peter,

"What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?"

He was telling the three of them to stay alert and stay in prayer.


"The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Peter, James, and John loved the Lord Jesus Christ and wanted to do what was right.

But they were weak.


The Lord Jesus Christ recognized the weakness of His humanness, even though He was sinless.


The disciples claimed confidently that they would never fail The Lord Jesus Christ.

But the Lord Jesus Christ turned to God for strength.


The disciples’ confidence led them to sleep.

But the Lord Jesus Christ’s humility led Him to prayer.


Then came the temptation.

The Lord Jesus Christ’s obedience to the will of God led Him to victory.

But all the disciples failed Him miserably.


We have a choice.

We can either be self-confident and end up in disaster,

Or we can be humble, fall on our knees before God in prayer, and commit ourselves to God’s will in the midst of temptation.

The latter is the only way to victory.

The Passover Lamb

Matthew 26:17-19

Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?"

And He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, "My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples."'"

So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.


It was the Last Supper.

The location had been prearranged.

Two disciples were to find a certain man who had set aside a large upper room for the purpose.

Jesus told them how they would recognize the man: "Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him." (Mark 14:13)

Generally, women carried water jars, so a man with a water jar would stand out.

It was no doubt a man whom Jesus knew and whom the disciples would recognize.

He would let them into the room so they could make preparations for the feast.


The Lord Jesus Christ was committed to keeping the Passover.

He came to fulfill all righteousness, which is the law of God.

One element of the law of God was keeping the Passover.

The Lord Jesus Christ had an intense desire to keep the Passover with His disciples.


The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasted one week, from the 15th to 21st of Nisan as prescribed in the OT.

Passover was celebrated on the 14th.

Those two celebrations were so connected in the minds of the people that they often referred to the entire 8 day period as the Feast of Unleavened Bread or Passover.


The Passover celebrated God’s deliverance of Israel out of 400 years of bondage in Egypt.

God told the people of Israel to kill a spotless lamb and put its blood on the doorposts and the crosspiece of their homes.

When the angel of death came to kill all the firstborn in Egypt, he would see the blood and pass over that house.

When the firstborn were killed, the Pharaoh sent Israel out of Egypt, and God ultimately delivered them.

So the celebration of the Passover commemorated the sacrificial lamb whose blood enabled Israel to escape the judgment of God.

It became a symbol of Jesus, God’s Passover Lamb, whose blood enables one to escape the eternal judgment of God.


The Passover was a very dramatic time of year for the nation of Israel.

They were brought face to face with their sin and reminded that an innocent lamb had to die to atone for their sins.

Thousands upon thousands of lambs were slaughtered for millions of people, yet all combined couldn’t take away one sin.

Yet in one sacrifice, the Lord Jesus Christ did what all the lambs, goats, and bulls could never do: He took away sin forever.


Unleavened bread doesn’t rise because it contains no yeast.

When Israel came out of Egypt, God told the people not to take leavened bread because leaven represented influence.

God was telling them that He didn’t want them to take any part of their Egyptian life and implant it into their new life.

He was delivering them from their past and starting a new people in a new land.

The symbol of that was the unleavened bread.


Passover always took place on the 14th of Nisan.

So from one year to the next it would fall on a different day of the week.

In the year our Lord was crucified, the Passover fell on a Friday.

We can be sure it was Friday because Mark 15:42 says, "It was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath."

The Sabbath is Saturday.

The Jewish people referred to Friday as the day of preparation because that was the day they prepared for the Sabbath.

Since the people couldn’t work or prepare meals on the Sabbath, the day before was important.


The Lord Jesus Christ was being tried before Pilate on "the Preparation Day of the Passover." (John 19:14)

Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. (John 19:31)

The Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on Friday, the day before the Sabbath.

So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby. (John 19:42)


The Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples killed their lamb on Thursday and eat the Passover meal on Thursday evening.

The Judeans and Sadducees didn't begin their Passover day festivities until late on Thursday and wouldn't kill their lambs until the prescribed time of day on Friday.

Jesus had to die on Friday afternoon between three and five o’clock because that was when the Judean Passover lambs would be killed.


God rules history and all tradition and customs to bring about the minute fulfillment of His perfect plan.

Jesus had to keep the Passover to fulfill all righteousness, instruct His disciples, and give them a new memorial feast.

Yet He had to die as the Passover Lamb.

He did both because God controls history.