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Have you ever heard the little ditty about "Habit"?
"You can take off the 'H ' and you still have 'a bit.'
You can take off the 'Ha ' and you still have 'bit.'
You can take off the 'Hab ' and you still have 'it.' "
Is this why it is so difficult to get rid of a bad habit?
Of course, there are good habits.
We should strive to develop good habits.
Tradition is composed of habits passed on from one generation to another.
Soldiers follow a routine.
- Habits and traditions associated with death can help friends and relatives come to terms with their loss.
- Habits and traditions reflect the beliefs of people about this life and the life to come.
They provide a familiar routine during a period of grief.
- Habit and tradition play a significant role in the events surrounding the tomb.
Routine enables them to cope with common tasks and unexpected crisis.
At the request of the Chief Priests and the Pharisees, the tomb of Jesus was sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers.
They were told to guard the tomb "so that his disciples will not be able to steal the body,
and then tell the people that he was raised from death." (Matt.27.64)
A three-ton stone covering the opening sealed the tomb and sealed with the great seal of the Roman Empire.
The guards knew what was expected of them.
The seal was legal evidence that the tomb had not been tampered with by anyone.
They were there to ensure that nobody removed the body.
They were Roman soldiers.
They were independent of the disciples and the Jewish leaders.
The guards probably saw this as a routine assignment.
They had their routine, which kept them awake and alert.
Nothing suspicious would escape their attention.
The routine was fine, until something out-of-the-ordinary occurred!
The earth shook with a violent earthquake.
Then, this dazzling angelic creature appears and rolls away the stone.
Then, he sits on it!
The stone rolled aside revealed that the body of Jesus was already gone!
- Their training had not prepared them for this!
- They were scared stiff, and "trembled and became as dead men."
- They heard the angelic message, "He is not here; He has been raised, just as He said."
- They had done everything required of them.
- Their procedures had been exact.
Some of them hurried into the city with the news.
But where should they go?
If they went to the Roman superiors, that could mean their death.
Would their story be believed?
Their lives could be at stake!
So they went to the Jewish authorities, and reported the extraordinary events.
So, the chief priests formed a plan.
So, the men were given a large sum of money to say that the disciples of Jesus had stolen His body.
- They were relieved that these men had come to them first!
- They were determined to stop that news then and there!
Sleeping on duty was punishable by death, but the chief priests must have convinced the soldiers
that they would back them up.
When the body of Jesus was laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, there were women watching the proceedings.
Matthew names "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary" as being at the tomb. (Matt. 27.61).
Jesus was put to death on the eve of the Sabbath, and it was a Passover Sabbath.
- They had good reason to watch.
- They had their traditions and routines to follow.
There was no time to complete all the burial procedures before the Sabbath begun.
It would be necessary to come back after the Sabbath.
It was early Sunday morning when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary returned to the tomb to complete the embalming.
When they neared the tomb, an earthquake shook the ground and they saw the angel of the Lord roll the stone away and sit on it.
The angel said to them, "You must not be afraid!
I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
He is not here; he has been raised, just as he said.
Come here and see the place where he was lying.
Go quickly now, and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from death,
and now He is going to Galilee ahead of you; there you will see him!'
Remember what I have told you."
So they hurried off to tell the news to the disciples!
On the way, Jesus, Himself, met them.
The same Jesus who had been put to death on the cruel cross is alive!
They couldn't make the tomb secure enough to stop Him from rising!
- He rose victorious over death and sin!
- He is Saviour and Lord!
The earthquake and the angel only confirmed that He was already alive from the dead!
The guards and the women were just doing their duty.
They were following the traditions and habits from generations of custom and practice.
And, while they were carrying out their tasks, this extraordinary event interrupted their routine.
The guards found that they were guarding an empty tomb, and the women found
that their embalming spices were unnecessary!
Jesus is not dead!
He is alive!
What have you been doing this past week in the course of your duty?
Where will your duty take you this week?
As you go through this coming week with your traditions and routines, remember -- this extraordinary fact -- Jesus is alive!
Jesus is alive!
He is here in this place!
Invite Him into your heart if you have never received Him as your Saviour!
Sermon By Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at email@example.com