Here are my notes and the recording of my Easter sermon this year. Notes get crazy at the end, but I dump them here for your ease.
Jesus Arrested by an Army
The Jewish leaders were Afraid of Jesus rising from the dead.
The city would have been crowded as ever. Passover filled the city of Jerusalem beyond capacity. People would be camping out all around the outside of the city too! It was tense! Passover was a deeply spiritual holiday AND a deeply patriotic holiday all at the same time.
The city was buzzing with fear and excitement about Passover AND about Jesus. Palm Sunday had just happened. Jesus clearing out all of the the merchants in the temple had just happened. Jerusalem was a lit powder keg and nobody knew how long the fuse would burn.
The Roman guards were sent out to arrest Jesus in the garden.
John 18:4-6 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
When Jesus said “I AM HE” he was quoting God speaking to Moses at the burning bush. This was like Jesus said, “I’m Jesus of Nazareth, but there is something else you should know: I am God!”
Can you imagine dozens, maybe 100 soldiers all falling down and then scrambling to get back up? Imagine their conversation as they marched in the middle of the night to arrest Jesus.
Government Officials were Afraid
When Jesus was taken before Pilate, Pilate did the classic political move and passed the responsibility to somebody else.
Luke 23:6-12 When Pilate heard Jesus was stirring up people in Galilee, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9 So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.
Herod is afraid to do anything, Pilate is afraid to do anything. Pilate finally gets mad at Jesus and says
John 19:10-11 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”
Jesus says it right here. “Pilate, I have authority to judge here, and you will be judged, but the one that gave me over to you will be judged worse.
That is when Pilate really becomes afraid.
They Sealed the Tomb
*Matthew 27:62-66 * 62The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
They probably sealed it with a rope and wax or clay. This was not a super-glue seal. This was a fragile, if you break it you’re busted seal. The seal could only be broken by the authority of the one that made the seal.
The guards took their watch seriously. If a captive was released, they would be killed. If these guys weren’t in the group that fell down when Jesus identified Himself, they surely heard about it. They were there when Jesus was crucified and the sky went dark and the earthquakes happened. These guys are not going to guard this tomb like lazy bums.
Jesus rises from the dead.
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of 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 and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
Sometime between this happening and the women arriving, the guards woke up and ran off. The angel sitting on the rock went away too. John uses a greek word for the stone being rolled away that means “to pick up and discard”
3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 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? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words,
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.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”