Easter message – The angel on the rock

Published 3:17 pm Friday, April 22, 2011


Senior Pastor

First United Methodist Church

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Consider this, it could be that the scene Matthew (28:1-10) describes could be seen as being hilarious.

Picture if you will, early on that Sunday morning, an angel of the Lord descending like lightning from heaven. He landed near the huge rock covering the door of the tomb.

The guards who had been placed there saw what happened and being startled and scared beyond belief they froze in their tracks.

The angel promptly put his muscles to work rolling back that huge rock.

Then Matthew tells us that after he finished the job “he sat on it.” Yes!

He sat on it as though to say: “There now! I have done my job. God has raised Christ from the dead. Now I have opened the tomb so that all may see that his body is gone. Now I can just sit here and rest and direct any traffic that might cruise by.”

Sure enough it was not long before he saw someone coming, actually two people, the two Marys.

You may remember what Matthew writes as taking place upon their arrival. They saw a fellow in a glistening white garment sitting on the grave stone, and, as puzzlement and shock began to mix with their grief, they hear him speak: “Do not be afraid; I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised. … Come see the place where he lay. Go quickly and tell his disciples.”

The women did as they were told. They sped away from that puzzling, awesome scene like runners leaving their starting blocks.

In Matthew’s words: “They left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell the disciples.”

Now what do you think about this New Testament story?

Don’t you find it somewhat hilarious, absolutely joyous that at least prompts a wide smile and perhaps even a few chuckles?

Imagine for a moment what Hollywood could do with such a story; say with Robin Williams as the funny angel rolling away the huge rock and the sitting on it with an air of triumph and finality. That could be funny, and why shouldn’t it be?

The resurrection of Christ is at once the most joyous and the most serious event in all of history. And that really is what Matthew and the other New Testament writers would have us ultimately realize.

The story of the angel on the rock is great fun … Or at least it should be … but what is the story designed to tell us?

What is the message, which the story carries?

What is the heart of the matter?

Just this: the God of the universe, Almighty God, is ultimately in charge of this world. And humanity can do all of the foolish and sinful deeds warped minds can conceive, from cannibalism to crucifixion, from mad mayhem to meaningless murder and God can turn it all around and make it rebound for his glory. God can turn evil into good.

That is joyous good news!

The angel sitting firmly on the rock says God has the final word. This is the message we are to understand. The cross was bad news. God’s response is what makes Easter the most glorious day in the history of the world. It is the most joyous day, affecting all of humanity.

On Easter Sunday, at a tomb in Jerusalem, God defeated sin and death decisively. And the angel on the rock says, “That’s final! This is for certain! This is incontrovertible! This is a fact! A fact of history!”

We invite everyone to come and worship with us this Easter Sunday morning at Bainbridge First United Methodist Church, 9 a.m. contemporary, 9 a.m. traditional, and 11 a.m. traditional to hear the rest of the story as Paul Harvey would say.