Putting Your Eggs in One Basket

Putting Your Eggs in One Basket

Matthew 28:1-10

Dr. Jim Denison

He was a new clerk at the supermarket, his first day on the job. A lady told him she wanted to buy half a head of lettuce. He said, “I’ll have to go back and talk to the manager.” He went to the rear of the store, not noticing that the woman was walking right behind him. He found the manager and said, “There’s some stupid old lady out there that wants to buy half a head of lettuce. What should I tell her?”

Seeing the horrified look on the manager’s face, he turned around and, seeing the woman, added, “And this nice lady wants to buy the other half. Will that be all right?” The relieved manager agreed.

Later that day, the manager congratulated the boy on his quick thinking and asked where he was from. The boy said, “I’m from Toronto, Canada, the home of beautiful hockey players and ugly women.” The manager said, “My wife is from Toronto.” The boy said, “Oh, what team did she play for?”

I’m going to assume today that you’re as smart as that young man. That you know that reindeer don’t fly, and the Easter bunny isn’t real, and bodies don’t rise from the dead. If a friend of yours dies this week and you go to the “viewing” at the funeral home, you’ll expect to find his body in the casket. If it’s not there, you’ll consider these possibilities: (a) you’ve gone to the wrong viewing room at the funeral home; (b) the morticians have moved the body; (c) a family member or friend has taken it; (d) the person didn’t really die, and it’s all a mistake; or (e) you’re hallucinating, grieving so that you’ve lost touch with reality. These are your only logical options. Or maybe there’s one more.

I’d like to tell you two very personal stories regarding the resurrection. Next to my decision in 1973 to trust Christ as my Savior, these two stories are the most important events that have happened to my soul. I hope they’ll happen to yours as well this morning.

Then this will be Resurrection Sunday, not just a holiday but a holy day, for you today.

Is Easter real?

It was February of my senior year in college. My father had just died two months earlier. Janet and I were engaged to be married. In three months I would graduate and move to seminary to begin a life in vocational ministry. And the roof fell in.

I was taking part in a college retreat in East Texas. That Saturday morning, I woke up with the greatest fears and doubts I have ever experienced in my life. What was I doing? Where was I heading? Was I sure this was what I wanted to do with my life? I had become a Christian six years earlier, but my faith had been easy to this point. Church, worship, friends.

Now I was about to put my future on the line, to spend the rest of my life preaching and teaching the word of God. Was I sure it was really true? Did I really want to do this? In Easter terms, did I want to put all my eggs in this basket?

I left the retreat on that Saturday morning and went for a very long walk. I can still remember the blue sky overhead, the crunch of the winter leaves beneath my feet as I hiked through the woods. In my mind I returned to the first Easter. Go there with me now.

As the story begins, “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb” (v. 1). Why here? Because they had seen Jesus buried (Matthew 27:61) and knew this to be the place. Even if they were wrong, Joseph (the owner of the tomb) would have corrected the mistake. If he did not, the Roman soldiers and authorities would have and quickly produced the body. So we haven’t come to the wrong viewing room.

When the angel rolled back the stone, the guards “shook” and fainted. So the soldiers didn’t take the body. Even if other Roman or religious authorities did, and Christians began erroneously proclaiming the resurrection, they would have produced the corpse and proved them liars. The morticians didn’t move the body.

“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified” (v. 5).”

Jesus “was crucified”–the Greek is completed action, something already done. The Roman medical examiner pronounced him dead; the spear thrust into his side had pierced the pericardial sac around his heart, ensuring his death.

The burial cloths wrapped around his corpse made an airtight seal which would have suffocated him, even if he survived the cross. John’s gospel tell us that when Peter and John saw these burial cloths, they were collapsed on themselves, not stripped off; the body inside simply vanished (John 20:5-7).

He didn’t swoon, or fake his death. Ancient historians Tacitus, Seutonius, Mara bar Serapion and Josephus all confirm that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. It’s not a mistake–he really did die.

The angel continues: “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him'” (vs. 6-7).

So we know that the disciples and women didn’t steal the body. They were as confused as anybody. They would not later lie about the resurrection, then die for a lie. And we know that they were not hallucinating; Peter and John would soon see the empty tomb, and the risen Christ would appear to more than 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:6).

That Saturday morning, on that long walk, I mulled over the evidence. And came to this logical conclusion: Jesus Christ really did rise from the dead. If he is raised, he must be God and Lord. He must be worth my life and service. His resurrection is the rope from which we swing. We put all our eggs in this basket. Easter is real. I hope you’ve come to the same conclusion, or that you will today.