The Other Side of the Cross

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Matthew 28:1-10 (Easter)

INTRODUCTION: Today is the last day in our message series “Lead Me to the Cross.” For six weeks now we have been following Jesus’ last days to the cross. All this Lenten Season we have reflected on how Jesus boldly, determinedly, and willingly went to the cross in obedience to the Father. All of his actions, all of his words spoke one single desire and prayer: “Father, lead me. Lead me to the cross.”

It has been a heart-wrenching journey. We have looked at Jesus’ anointing for burial, his last supper with the disciples, his prayer for deliverance in the Garden of Gethsemane, his unjust trial before Caiaphas the high priest, and his sufferings on the cross. On Maundy Thursday we saw how his closest friends abandoned him at his greatest time of need. And on Good Friday we finally came to Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus our Savior bowed his head, gave up his spirit and breathed his last.

Thankfully, that was not the end of the story. Although we have been focusing on, “Lead me to the cross,” today we come to the other side of the cross. And what we find here, on the other side, is that the cross is not the final destination, that death does not get the last word. (Read Matthew 28:1-10 and pray.)

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So here we are, it’s Easter Sunday, and we are on the other side of the cross. Did you know that the cross has two sides to it? The cross is a dividing point in our lives. When you stand before the cross, you stand before a crossroads, and you must choose. There are two sides of the cross for every person, and you can only be on one side or the other. So far all of our messages in the series have focused on leading up to the cross. Today we look at what it means to be on the other side of the cross.

I. The other side of the cross for the women at the tomb

First, let’s look at what the other side of the cross meant for the women at the tomb, for the women at the tomb were the first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. Matthew mentions Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, but we know from the other gospels that there were other women there too.

These were the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. These were the women who watched from a distance as Jesus hung on the cross. These were the women who followed Joseph of Arimathea to the tomb and saw where they buried Jesus. And these were the women who rose early on Sunday morning and brought spices to anoint the body of Jesus.

Instead they found an empty tomb with the stone rolled away, fainting guards and a mighty angel sitting on the tombstone. They had arrived at the other side of the cross.

What did the other side of the cross mean for the women? We can sum it up in three words. Joy, worship, and commission.

   A. Joy mixed with fear (Matthew 28:8)

First they experienced joy mixed with fear. You might think that’s a strange combination, how do you mix joy with fear, but let’s look at verses 5-8:

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 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.’ Now I have told you.” 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. (Matthew 28:5-8)

The angel shared with them the good news of Christ’s resurrection, and the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy. The angel told them, “Do not be afraid,” but they were still afraid. You would have been too. This angel had come from heaven fresh with the glory of God. His appearance was like lightning; his clothes were white as snow. The tough Roman soldiers guarding the tomb were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. No wonder the women were afraid.

I believe they were also afraid because they just didn’t know what this all meant yet. They had come expecting to anoint a dead man’s body, and now the angel tells them Jesus is alive. What did this mean for them, for the disciples, for the world? And so the women hurry away from the tomb. They are afraid, yet they are also filled with joy.

And here is the dominant emotion for the women. They are filled with joy: joy at the sight of the empty tomb; joy at the good news that Jesus is risen from the dead; joy that Jesus is alive and going ahead of them into Galilee; joy that they will see their Lord again. It’s a strange combination at first, but when you look at it closely, it all makes sense. Joy mixed with fear.

   B. Worship (Matthew 28:9)

The second word describing the other side of the cross for the women is “worship.” Look at verse 9:

Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. (Matthew 28:9)

And so the women were not only the first witnesses to view the empty tomb, and not only the first ones to hear the good news that Jesus had risen, they were also the first to see Jesus alive.

Can you imagine? Their whole world has just been turned upside down, but in a good way. They are rushing, running to tell the disciples the good news, when Jesus himself meets them on the way. “Greetings!” he said, just like it was any normal day. For this is the new normal on this side of the cross. Jesus is alive! Every day is good news! Jesus greets you every day with his power, and love and forgiveness.

The women come to Jesus, they clasp his feet, and they worship him. They worship their Lord who suffered so much for them and now stood alive and well on the other side of the cross.

   C. Commission (Matthew 28:10)

The third word for our women this morning is “commission.” Look at verse 10:

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:10)

Jesus’ resurrection is not just a nice story. Rather it is the basis for new marching orders. The resurrection is good news, and good news is for sharing. And so Jesus commissions the women to go and tell the disciples. Later this commission will extend to the disciples and then to us, as Jesus commissions us all of us to go into all the world and tell the gospel, the good news of Easter that Jesus Christ is alive!

What did the other side of the cross mean for the women? Joy, worship, commission. It is the same for us today. We should be filled with joy that Jesus is alive; we should fall at his feet in worship; we should go forth and tell others the good news of Christ.

II. The other side of the cross for Jesus

Well that’s the other side of the cross for the women. What did the other side of the cross mean for Jesus? We had three words for the women, and we have three words for Jesus also. Satisfaction, reunion and glory.

   A. Satisfaction (Isaiah 53:11)

First of all, the other side of the cross for Jesus meant satisfaction. Look at Isaiah 53:11 with me:

After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11)

This verse comes from Isaiah 53, the most striking chapter in Old Testament prophecy foretelling the death of Christ on the cross. But did you know that it also foretold his resurrection? “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied.”

Jesus went to the cross for a purpose. There was a reason why he marched determinedly to the cross in his last days, never wavering, praying through the temptation in the garden, refusing all human assistance and divine. Jesus went to the cross to pay the price for our sins that we might be forgiven, or as Isaiah 53 puts it here: “to bear our sins and to justify many.” And now on the other side of the cross, Jesus sees that his work has been accomplished. Jesus looked across the full scope of human history and saw the countless lives that would be saved by his sacrifice. And he was satisfied – deeply, richly, fully satisfied.

   B. Reunion (John 13:1)

The second word for Jesus is “reunion.” For this we flashback to John 13 – in the Upper Room the night before Jesus went to the cross.

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. (John 13:1)

It was just before the Passover Feast. Within the next twenty-four hours Jesus would be arrested, betrayed, abandoned, denied, beaten, crucified, dead and buried. Jesus knew all this, and yet for Jesus these next twenty-four hours meant something else. It was time for him to leave this world and return to the Father. At Christmas Jesus left the Father and came to our world – and every day how he longed to return. It is part of the price Jesus paid to save us from our sins. And so now with the cross looming before him, what is Jesus thinking about in the Upper Room? It’s time to go back to the Father. The other side of the cross meant Jesus’ work here on earth was done, and he looked forward to the glorious reunion with his Father in heaven.

   C. Glory (Revelation 5:12-13)

And that brings us to our third word for Jesus, which is “glory.” Look at Revelation 5:12. The scene is heaven. Jesus the Lamb of God stands in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. They are surrounded by a choir of angels, thousands upon thousands, ten thousand times ten thousand who sing in a loud voice:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12)

Then every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, join them in singing:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13)

For Jesus the other side of the cross meant glory, honor and praise in heaven. His sacrifice will never be forgotten. It is the theme of all of heaven’s songs. He is worshiped forever as the Lamb who was slain who is worthy to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! What does the other side of the cross mean for Jesus? Three words: satisfaction, reunion, glory.

III. The other side of the cross for you

There’s one other aspect of the cross we must look at this morning. It’s important to see what the other side of the cross meant for the women as they were the first witnesses of Christ’s resurrection. It is important to see what the other side of the cross meant for Jesus as he is the whole reason we are here celebrating Easter this morning. But it would be wrong to let you go this morning without reminding you of what the other side of the cross means for you. Once again, we have three words to look at here: salvation, perseverance, resurrection.

   A. Salvation (John 3:18)

First of all, salvation. John 3:18 says this about salvation in Christ:

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:18)

Remember we said earlier there are two sides to the cross? And when we come to the cross of Jesus, we all come to a crossroads in our life. You have to make a choice. Will you accept what Jesus did for you at the cross and put your trust in him as Lord and Savior, or will you turn and walk away? There is forgiveness, salvation and eternal life waiting for you at the cross of Jesus. But you must embrace it. You must receive it. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” There is salvation for you on the other side of the cross.

   B. Perseverance (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Once you receive Jesus as your Savior, then our second word takes on new meaning for you: “perseverance.” Hebrews 12:1-3 says this about the Christian life:

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Receiving Jesus as your Savior is just your first step on the other side of the cross. Now that you’re a Christian you have embarked on a whole new life. The Christian life is not a one-hundred yard dash. It’s an all-out marathon. You are a long distance runner, and God has marked out the race for you. How will you persevere to the end? How will you endure on the other side of the cross? There is only one way. Fix your eyes on Jesus who endured the cross for you. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

   C. Resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

There’s one more word for you this morning, and it is a beautiful one: “resurrection.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 tells us:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

For the Christian we need not fear death, because death is no longer the end, but just the beginning. Jesus conquered sin, and death and hell on the cross, and on the other side of the cross there is resurrection and eternal life in God’s presence.

CONCLUSION: There are two sides to the cross. Which side are you on this morning?

Romans 6:23 says this: “For the wages of sin is death.”

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death

The Bible says there is a great chasm between you and God because of your sin. You can never bridge this chasm on your own, no matter how hard you try. We cannot save ourselves, and if God never sent a Savior, none of us would ever go to heaven. The wages of sin is death, eternal death apart from God.

But praise God there’s more to the verse: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) We could never bridge the gap, so Jesus bridged the gap for us. We only have to trust in him to pass from one side to the other.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death

There are two sides of the cross. On one side the wages of sin is death. On the other side the gift of God is eternal life. Which side are you on this morning?

Praise God he has made a way for you through the cross of Jesus Christ. That is the good news of Easter. That is the glory of the cross. That is why Jesus is satisfied this morning. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

© Ray Fowler

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