Because He Lives
The resurrection of Jesus is meant to change your everyday life. In other words, the historical truth that Jesus is alive is just as important on the Monday after Easter as it is on Easter Sunday. In the words of rapper Lecrae, “If he's truly raised to life, then it's news to change your life,” but change it in what way? How does Easter Sunday relate to your Monday? Thankfully, Matthew answers that question in the end of his gospel. Unlike the other gospel writers (Mark, Luke & John), Matthew doesn't focus so much on the evidence of the resurrection but upon the implications of the resurrection. Matthew is not out to prove the resurrection but to explain what the resurrection proves. Matthew wants people’s lives to change because Jesus is alive. He wants people to think differently and live differently. Like the women on that first Easter morning, Matthew wants people to seek Jesus, to worship Jesus and to obey Jesus.
When the women came to the tomb on Easter morning, they were met by an angel who encouraged them in their seeking after Jesus. However, the angel needed to redirect their seeking. The women were only seeking to memorialize Jesus, not to meet Jesus. They were seeking the right person, but they were seeking him in the wrong place. But what is the right place? If people are called to seek Jesus, where is Jesus? He’s not on the cross. He’s not in the tomb, and he’s not in Galilee. Where is Jesus? He’s on the throne of God, and so you seek Jesus through the word and prayer. You draw near to the throne of grace and seek him by faith. Because Jesus is alive, it is possible to seek out a personal relationship with him, not simply a mechanical knowledge about him.
When the women found Jesus, Matthew mentions twice that they worshipped Jesus. They took hold of Jesus’ feet and worshipped him. So, this wasn’t a vision. This wasn’t a hallucination. They literally grabbed his feet. Did you know Jesus has feet? He has two feet with ten toes. Jesus has a shoe size. That’s how real Jesus is. That’s how alive he is. But how did they worship him? Why did they worship him? Well, they probably didn’t whip out a guitar and start singing songs to him. Worship is much more than music, as important as music is. Worship is recognizing the worth of something or someone and responding accordingly. And what fuels worship for Jesus is recognizing who he is and what he’s done. The late British Preacher Martyn Lloyd Jones once gave the example of a man coming to you and telling you that he had just paid one of your bills. You really don’t know how to respond until you know what bill he paid, and how much the bill was. Did he pay your electric bill or your entire mortgage bill? The size of the debt that was paid determines the extent of the response. You don’t worship someone who pays for your coffee; you worship someone who’s paid for your sins. Once a person sees the depths of his or her sin but at the same time the heights of Jesus’ love, it can’t help but produce worship. Jesus himself taught that those who have been forgiven much, love much (see Luke 7:47). This means that if you don’t find yourself lost in wonder, love and praise, it’s because you don’t see how much you’ve been forgiven. You’re forgetting how big your debt of sin really was and all that Jesus did. But when this does happen, worship leads to obedience.
Matthew’s gospel ends with Jesus saying to his followers, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore …” (Matthew 28:18,19a). Jesus isn’t just a Savior; he’s the Lord. In other words, he’s the one who calls the shots. But remember that obedience stems from worship. The worship and love of Jesus always precedes faithful obedience to Jesus. It’s like in the beginning of the film The Princess Bride. When Princess Buttercup would ask Wesley to do something, all Wesley would say was, “As you wish.” And soon Buttercup realized that what Wesley was really saying was, “I love you.” His joyful obedience to her commands flowed out of his great love for her.
It’s the same way with Jesus. The more you love him, the more you want to obey him. The more you will say, “As you wish.” There was once a Muslim college student who came to believe in Jesus Christ, and one of his friends was shocked and asked him, “Why did you become a follower of Jesus?” Here was his response – “It’s simple really. Imagine that you’re walking down a road and you come to a fork in the road and there are two people there to follow as your guide along the way. One of them is dead, and one of them is alive. Which one would you follow?” One of the great appeals of Christianity is that Jesus, its Founder, is not dead but alive, and so even after the pastels are all hung up and the hype from Easter Sunday fades into the grind of Monday, Jesus is still alive. And because he lives, people should seek him, worship him, and obey him.