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Easter Service (2012)

Mike Connell

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The next thing you notice, and this is the unusual one, it tells us that the graves were opened. Now so when the earthquake came, not only did it shake the ground, and broke the rocks, but it also opened up graves. I don't know whether you've ever seen any open graves at all. They're not very nice! Now these are people who would have been entombed, and so there was a boulder over the tomb, and the boulder was rolled away or split or whatever, and the tomb was opened up. Or they were people who were in the ground, the ground just cracked open. Now have you ever seen when there's been a major damage in an earthquake? They had a bit of it in Christchurch, where some of the graves had broken open, and the bones of people were actually visible. It's usually a shock and a horror when people see that kind of stuff, but this was widespread. Graves everywhere around that area opened up - and can you imagine what that's like, the fear that would have come upon people at that moment? Can you imagine the fear? Firstly the earthquake; secondly rocks around which are normally hard, shattering; and third, graves opening up, and you can see bodies! Now they're not in good shape. Most of them would just be bones. They'd be decayed away, and there's just fragments of bones, and its left open, just like that, all over the place - open graves.

So often these are the things that we don't see, so we don't read these aspects around the crucifixion. Now why is it that God did a thing like that? Firstly, the display of power is to demonstrate that His favour was on the offering that Jesus did. Second thing was, when He opened the grave, the Bible says: when we sin, the wages of sin is death. The consequence of sin is separation from God, ultimately physical death. Now what's happened is, at the death of Jesus Christ, suddenly all the graves are open, and God is putting on display: this is the consequence of sin. Horrible. No one wants to look at a grave, no one looks at the dead body, there, open in front of everyone, so everyone could see this is the consequence of sin. So Jesus declared: He'd won a victory over the devil. Very soon, He's going to demonstrate His power again, and He's going to get a victory over death, so I want you to read with me just another passage now.

So the first thing we see is, Jesus died on the cross, He won a victory, totally, over the devil; and made it possible for us to come near, personally access God. Here's the second thing we see then, the graves open, and the consequence of sin exposed. Now I want you to have a look at this - go into Matthew 28. Now after the Sabbath, this is the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. Now look at Verse 2. Many of you perhaps read it, and never noticed this: behold, there was a great earthquake, another earthquake, a second earthquake - so there were two earthquakes. There was an earthquake the moment Jesus died, God shook the ground like that, shook everyone up, and it was so scary that even toughened, hardened Roman soldiers were terrified, and knew it was the Son of God. It's definitely the Son of God! Now these guys had been campaign-hardened military men, and they were shaken to the core of their being with fear at what they saw, and acknowledged: this was truly the Son of God. They got saved right at that point.

Now I want you to see something else happens. Now, here it is, and we're back there, it's the third day of Jesus being dead, in the grave for three days, and it says: there was a great earthquake. Now that's not just an earthquake. This time it's a great earthquake, and the word that's used in the original language is 'mega'. There was a mega-quake! That's got to be pretty big, doesn't it? A mega-quake! There was a massive, massive earthquake, and then it says: an Angel Lord descended from heaven, came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat on it, and its countenance was shining. And the guards again were terrified, and they shook like dead men and fell down; and the Angel Lord said to the women: don't be afraid, I know who you seek. You seek Jesus, who was crucified. He's not here, He's risen.