Our Resurrected Savior

Aaron Birk March 31, 2024 Matthew 28:1-20

We have such tremendous joy celebrating the resurrection of Jesus because we know the terror and horror of death.

Many of us have vivid experiences of death in our lives.

Joseph Bayly was a Christian American author. He and His wife together gave life to seven children. One of their son’s, Tim, became a pastor of a church in Indiana, that my wife attended during her college years.

Over the course of Joe Bayly’s life, he experienced the death of not one, and not two, but three of his seven children.

Joseph Bayly looked on the corpses of three of his beautiful children.

In his book The View from Hearse he describes the horrible terror of death – “Death destroys beauty. Violent death creates obscenity—tasteless, horrid, raw. We cannot beautify death. A corpse is never beautiful…no embalmer’s art can possibly restore it. – Joe Bayly, The View from a Hearse

You cannot pretty-up death. When you see the corpse of a loved one in the casket, no matter what work the funeral home did. They cannot bring life back.

The horrid sight and smell of death seems impossible to forget, and it is constantly around us in this world that it feels overwhelming at times.

Job 18:14 describes death as the “King of Terrors”

In Psalm 55:4-4, David facing death says,

4 My heart is in anguish within me,

And the terrors of death have fallen upon me.

5 Fear and trembling come upon me,

And horror has overwhelmed me.

Its terror is so great 17th century French author Francois de la Rochefoucauld’s (Franswah de la Roshe-fou-cauld) said, “Death, like the sun cannot be looked at steadily.

Why can’t we look at it steadily without flinching, recoiling?

The Bible says in Hebrews 2:15 that we all have a fear of death that subjects us to slavery all of our lives.

Even Ernest Becker, American cultural anthropologist wrote the Pulitzer prize winning book, The Denial of Death…and confirms this biblical claim when he observes….

The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else; it is a mainspring of human activity — activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying in some way that it is the final destiny for man.

When we are anxious or fearful there is the tendency not to face reality and deal with its problems appropriately, but to recoil.

On this Easter Sunday let’s together deal with the spiritual anxiety of death…facing it head on with confidence because of:

Jesus Our Resurrect Savior

He is risen! And all God’s people said…He is risen indeed

Turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 28.

Matthew is the first book of the NT in the back section of your bible.

For those using the chair Bibles, that is on page ____ in that back section.

  • As we read, notice where fear is mentioned.
  • Consider what presentation of the facts about Jesus help us face the reality of death.

This is the Word of God on Easter Morning….

1Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.

2And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.

3And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.

4The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.

5The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.

6“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.

7“Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

8And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.

9And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.

10Then Jesus *said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

11Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened.

12And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,

13and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’

14“And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.”

15And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.

16But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated.

17When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.

18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Three actions that any soul must take to transform the soul-corroding spiritual anxiety of death into fearless living now.

II. intentionally Engage the Evidence of the Resurrection (vv. 1–10)

Each resurrection account in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, present details about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. With very little commentary from others.

Like a police report… you are interested in the facts of what happened from the perspectives of the first eye-witnesses on the scene.

These are oral accounts of eyewitness testimony of those who saw Jesus.

The book of Matthew focuses on who Jesus is and what he came to accomplish through is birth, his ministry, his death and then the resurrection, and Matthew ends providing you the evidence for you to intentionally wrestle through….who do you believe Jesus is and what do you believe he accomplished?

Everything about the identity and work of Jesus comes to the climax right here, this is the fulfilment of the mission he came…to save his people from their sins.

Three pieces of evidence you must intentionally engage that demonstrate that Jesus is risen from the dead.

The first…

There was an empty tomb (Matt 28:6)

What is the first thing to do if you want to prove that someone is dead?

Show the corpse…exhume the grave… and bring forth the body and bones.

Two women “came to look at the grave” (v1) fully convinced their was a dead man still in the tomb. We know from other accounts they brought burial spices with them. And they met an angel with the stone rolled away and who invited them to look at the empty tomb…. “Come, see the place where He was lying” (v.6)

Why was it two women were the first witnesses of the empty tomb?

Women being mentioned show that this story is not likely to be made up.

2nd century AD critic of Christianity, Celsus said that the woman witness that she was “A hysterical woman …. deluded by Jesus’ sorcery and so wrenched with grief at his failure that she hallucinated him risen from the dead by a sort of wishful thinking (Some things never change)

If this was the cultural prejudice regarding women, and if Christianity made up the story of the resurrection, then why on earth would they make the first witnesses of the empty tomb women?

The most likely reason as to why…is that indeed, women were the first witnesses…you are reading factual accounts.

Furthermore, the fact that the tomb was empty is confirmed by the authorities needing to make up some an explanation regarding what happened!

The second piece of evidence to consider is:

A group of His followers along with many others believed they saw Him and touched Him after His death (Matthew 28:9)

His followers mentioned in this passage believed they saw Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 15:6, Paul who once denied the resurrection of Jesus then seeing him resurrected would later say the numbered witnesses were 500—someone counted.

How would you verify a historical event like this?

You would go and talk to witnesses that were still living.

The apostle Paul after mentioning 500 people having seen Jesus says…many remain until the time of his writing…point?!

…Go talk to them.

But if you say, they were all hallucinating, please give me an example of ss hallucination in the history.

The best explanation of that 500 people saw Him is that Jesus is risen.


Those who had believed they saw Him carried out His mission—even though it meant their own death.

After the resurrection Jesus’ followers were encouraged and motivated from fearful followers to with boldness carrying forth the great commission that we will address in just a moment.

What would transform the disciples from fearful people to faithful followers who would be willing to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 26:71-74, Peter had only a few days earlier said…

“This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” … 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” John 20:19 –“Now when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were together due to fear of the Jews.”

Then within about a month time period…

22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power… 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.

What accounts for such a change in attitude and conviction?

The best explanation for this evidence is that Jesus is risen from the dead and they encountered the resurrected Christ.

31 years after the crucifixion, Christianity had rapidly expanded to Asia Minor, Greece, Rome and the Mediterranean world.

Those who deny the evidence offered by the Gospel and the aftermath of the rapid expansion of the news about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, bear the responsibility of providing a more compelling explanation.

Folks, if we are going to deal with the spiritual anxiety of death’s reign we must engage the evidence that Jesus is alive so that your confidence rests not on your own strength but the power of the one who raises the dead.

II. Resist Our Innate Tendency to Deny Reality (vv. 11-15)

The American Psychological Association’s definition of denial is “a defense mechanism in which unpleasant thoughts, feelings, wishes, or event are ignore or excluded from conscious awareness.”

We naturally and it would seem intentionally, especially regarding death—seek to filter out reality that we do not like.

Pastor Aucoin during the Good Friday message from Aldous Huxley, a non-Christian English philosopher who said...

“I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none,. …For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means

Huxley, was saying that He rejected God, because He wanted to participate in sexual freedom however He wanted.

The same evidence of the resurrected Jesus were given to the chief priests, but they intentionally denied and suppressed the truth. All the evidence was there, but they dismissed every piece of evidence.

They paid others to tell… “you guards tell that the disciples came by night why you were asleep and stole the body.”

I don’t think this plan was terribly thought through…if the guards were asleep how did they know the body was stolen??!!.

Our denials of reality make us irrational and deepen the holes we dig for ourselves.

God’s Word reveals we all suppress the truth about God in unrighteousness.

When Rochefoucauld (Roshe-fou-cauld) said, Death, like the sun cannot be looked at steadily.

He was right…unless the reality of death has been eclipsed by something greater that helps you to see and look at it without fear.

That happens when you…

III. Embrace the meaning and mission of the resurrection (vv. 16-20)

  • · Death and all that it represents has been thoroughly conquered.

We see our purpose and mission as the church from these last verses of Matthew…We must recognize the hope and success of our mission is grounded in the foundation of our resurrected Savior.

Think through what Jesus asked the disciples to do.

They were in Jerusalem…and then He said…go back to Galilee.

“Jesus, why can’t you tell me what you need to tell me right here?”

Jesus, will have those who witnessed His ministry, His death, and His resurrection…travel 70 miles back to a mountain in Galilee to contemplate what they had seen along the way considering the news of His Resurrection…What does all of this mean…?!

They heard the fact that from the women that God raised this man from the dead, but now what…?

The Great Commission Passage Regarding the Living Jesus Signifies….

God Has Conquered the Reign of Death

Throughout Matthew, mountains have been a part of Jesus’ story with the disciples…

  • Sermon on the mount—echoes of Moses on Mt. Sinai
  • Mount of Transfiguration—the radiance of Jesus revealed as if He is God in all of God’s brilliance
  • Mt. of Olives—where Jesus would come from into Jerusalem during Passion week and where He had give the Olivet discourse about His second coming

Not only in Matthew, but throughout redemptive history, mountains have been an important part of the redemptive story.

In the beginning, the Garden of Eden is referred to as “the mountain of God” where Adam and Eve dwelled with God.

So… Now, post resurrection, where does Jesus tell his disciples to go to meet him?

A mountain in Galilee… Hmmmm…

Furthermore, Jesus previously in Matthew 17 had unveiled His divine glory so that Peter, James, and John would behold Him in His divine glory. And Jesus commanded them ….“Tell no what you saw until the Son of man has risen from the dead.”

So, If Jesus’ post resurrection meeting with his disciples was the mountain of transfiguration,

What picture do you have…?

Here is the image you have---the glorious splendor of the resurrected Jesus dwelling with His people on a mountain…and tell me what that hearkens back to…?

The garden of Eden, where mankind dwelled with God, on the mountain of God.

God has overcome millenniums of death reigning and made a way back to dwelling with Him in life.

And regardless of if all these mountain connections are valid….the point is still, God has made a way back to Himself that had been gone since Eden.

The Kingdom of God and Life and all that it represents has overcome the kingdom of death that has reigned since Genesis 3.

More than that…. God has used precisely, the most feared entity that has plagued humanity since Gen 3 to be THE instrument of victory.

The most horrific instrument that mankind invented to terrify crucifixion, God has transformed, to something that is the most beautiful.

Secondly, the Great Commission Passage Regarding the Living Jesus Signifies

There is only one man in history Who has been vindicated by God and there will be no more “sons of…” genealogies—“All authority has been given unto me”

Do you remember what Matthew started his Gospel with?

A genealogy!!

I know one of the reasons you love the NT is that there are no genealogies. …read the rest of the Bible from Matthew on and what will you discover?

The person of Jesus ends the ---the genealogies…!

So what? !!

Here is the so what….God the Father has found

  • The obedient Adam
  • the unfaltering Abraham,
  • the non-deceiving Jacob,
  • the true suffering servant Joseph,
  • the faithful Israel
  • the non adulterous King David,

The search for the man who would bring forth righteous mankind has been found in Christ.

Jesus’ resurrection is God’s vindication of

  • His life as blameless in fulfilling God’s righteous.
  • His unbelievable claims of divinity
  • His claims of being the long awaited Messiah
  • and His work of atonement on the cross.

What ultimately provoked authorities to crucify Jesus outside of the enmity that we talked about at the Good Friday service is His claims to be divine.

  • to be God in the flesh come down from heaven
  • to be the Son of God
  • to be the figure that Daniel prophesied about ---from heaven…the son of man
  • to have the authority to forgive
  • to have the authority to judge

What justifies anybody believing these fantastic and unbelieving claims?

God the Father’s raising Him from the dead and seating him at the right hand of power…all authority (how much? ) has been given to Jesus.

What separates Jesus’ resurrection from someone like Lazarus and other individuals in Scripture who died, was brought back to life, and then died again is that Jesus was raised never to die again and this was His public vindication that He IS THE ONE.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ has not left us with the option of saying that Jesus’ claims about his self-understanding of who he was were misguided or faulty….Got has vindicated all his words, His claims, and His actions…..

Now the only choice you have is what will you do with this one who has all authority…..

Will you come to Him and recognize Him as such or…will you going on living as if you are the one….

Luke 12:4-5 4“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. 5But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!

THE ONE—WHO HAS ALL AUTHORITY IS WHAT THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS MEANS—MAKE YOUR CHOICE…(no dazzling light/theophany—he is a man with a unique body that we have never seen before..we will meet THIS MAN SOMEDAY)

Third, the Great Commission Passage Regarding the Living Jesus Signifies

A new mankind is possible—“Go therefore and make disciples”

This One Who has all authority is making a new mankind not through physical procreation (like Adam) that procreates the spread of sin…But through spiritual regeneration imparting God’s life in mankind once again.

And how did it He do that?

  1. Forgiveness of Sins through Repentance — “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”
  1. A transformed way of life—"teaching them all I have commanded”

What we can be and do now…

  • There is the possibly of staring directly at death and not having to look away like you would if you were looking at the sun.
  • There is the possibly of having someone take the horror and terror of death for you. Someone has been there and returned. It’s no longer as Hamlet said, the undiscovered country, Christ has transformed the terror of that undiscovered country, into the promise of eternal life.
  • There is the possibility of resting from trying to live this life as if this is all that there is!
  • There is the possibility of you getting off the performance treadmill of ensuring that your better than everyone else to make it good in the afterlife.

Fourth, the Great Commission Passage Regarding the Living Jesus Signifies

The promise of the living presence of Jesus with His people.

Matthew also began with God with us and ends with the hope that God is with us in all times. [Example of story of someone who has faced death well].


Aaron Birk


Pastor of Faith West Ministries - Faith Church

Pastor of International Ministries - Faith Church


B.S. – Accounting and Management, Purdue University
M.Div. – Faith Bible Seminary

Aaron is married to Tirzah and has four children: Zemirah, Boaz, Keziah, and Isaiah. Aaron is the Pastor Global Missions for Faith Church and Pastor of Faith West Ministries. Aaron oversees Faith Church West, international student and family ministries, missionaries, and short-term missions. He teaches in Faith’s Biblical Counseling Ministries and is certified as a biblical counselor through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).