If you go on the internet and do a search based on the word “greatest,” you can find all sorts of things. One site had the greatest quotes ever made. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” “You are what you eat.” were near the top of the list. Greatest quarterback? It listed Terry Bradshaw as the greatest. That’s when I knew that these lists were very subjective. Everyone knows that Roger Staubach was the best.
I did a search for the greatest sermons ever preached. Google took me to a book being offered for sale by Amazon. (Surprise!) On the cover they listed a few of the names. I was not surprised to see Billy Graham at the top of the list. Old time preachers like Billy Sunday and John Wesley made the list. So did Mother Teresa and Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. My name wasn’t there. While disappointed I thought I might be included under the phrase at the end of the list. It said, “and many others.”
This week I told several people that if they wanted to hear the “greatest sermon ever preached” they should come to our church Sunday. If they come, that is what they will hear,- “The greatest sermon every preached.” But it was not preached by me. I am not that good, far from it. It was preached by someone long ago. I will just read it to the congregation.
The sermon I am referring to was the one given by the angel to the women outside Jesus’ grave on Easter morn. It is found in Matthew 28 verse 6. It reads, “He is not here. He has risen, just as he said.”
The women had come to the sepulcher of Jesus early Easter morning to finish the job they had started on Good Friday afternoon, the burial of their good friend and Lord, Jesus.
A lot had taken place the last few days. All of it set the stage for the angel’s powerful sermon. Jesus had been arrested on Thursday evening. He was shuttled back and forth early Friday morning between Caiphas, Pilate, and Herod. Pilate found him guilty of nothing yet sentenced him to death by crucifixion.
Friday afternoon, the women had seen Jesus hang on the cross,, suffering a cruel death while innocent of any crimes. What was not seen was that Jesus was being held responsible for the sins of the whole world. God’s wrath, his need for justice was being poured out on his Son, Jesus Christ. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished” and gave up his life, our salvation was complete.
The resurrection of the Lord was God’s announcement to the world, to us, and to the women who had come to the grave that the victory had been won. The power of sin, death and the devil had been broken, our salvation secure.
That’s the sermon that was preached to the women. The tomb was empty. The angel proclaimed,, “He is not here. He has risen just as he said.” It truly was the greatest ever preached.”