Thank God, It’s Sunday (Matthew 28:1–20)

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Well-known author and Bible teacher, Warren Wiersbe, once commented that one reason he goes to church on Sunday is because he wants to testify to others that Jesus Christ lives. In point of fact, this is the central truth that gives Sunday its significance. On Sunday, we remember that Jesus Christ lives, and therefore we can face the coming week—whatever it may hold—with confident hope.

It was on Sunday that the Lord Jesus rose from the grave. It was therefore Sunday that the church set aside as the day of corporate worship, edification and celebration. Sunday serves as a day of corporate preparation for a new week of corporate dedication to the living Lord. For this reason, on each Sunday (and not merely “Easter Sunday”) the church of Jesus Christ should loudly declare, “Thank God, it’s Sunday!”

The events of life during the week can be well-nigh devastating. All hope can seemingly be dashed. One’s guilt over sin can be crushing; one’s doubts peace-shattering. Certainly, this is the type of week that the disciples faced the final week of the Lord’s earthly ministry.

As we have been observing, it all began on the Sunday prior to the resurrection. The opposition against the Lord intensified greatly, commencing on that day. His enemies began to plot against Him with renewed vigour, which only intensified as the week wore on. The opposition began to reach a fever pitch when the Lord was betrayed by one of His own disciples, Judas Iscariot. After being sold into the hands of the Sanhedrin, Jesus experienced a cruel and illegal trial. He suffered the pain of being utterly denied by another of His closest companions, Simon Peter. The remaining disciples all fled from Him; only John stayed close by to the very end. Jesus was scourged, beaten and spat upon, before suffering a scornful death by crucifixion (despite the fact that Pilate recognised His innocence). At His burial, all hope seemed lost. In the disciples’ estimation, it had been a devastating and hope-destroying week. But Sunday was coming.

As Mathew’s Gospel moves to a close, we find a most glorious account. The bitter hopelessness of the preceding week suddenly turns to jubilant rejoicing, as a handful of women come to the tomb, only to find it empty. And their joy can be ours as well.

In this study of that first Easter morning (preached at our church on Easter Sunday 2015), I want to consider six important truths found in Matthew 28:1–20. I trust that we will come away appreciating (1) the significance of Sunday, (2) the strength we can derive from Sunday, and (3) the proper order enabling us to give thanks on Sunday.

A Grave Expectation

In v. 1 we see something of a grave expectation. The scene in Matthew 28 does not open with the same powerful hope with which it closes. The day began, even for those who most dearly loved the Lord Jesus Christ, as one with grave expectations. Matthew writes, “Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.”

The Historical Setting

When you consider the parallel accounts, you learn that there were at least four women named who visited the tomb early that Sunday morning: (1) Mary Magdalene (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10; John 10:1, 11–18); (2) Mary, the mother of James (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10); (3) Salome (Mark 16:1); and (4) Joanna (Luke 24:16). Susanna was also most likely present (compare Luke 23:54–24:1 with Luke 8:1–3).

Matthew’s account focuses on but two of these women: Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James. It is also to be noted that, in comparing this account with John’s, it is clear that this was their second visit to the tomb.

It took great boldness for these women to visit the tomb. The Sanhedrin had posted their temple guard outside the tomb, by Pilate’s authority, and they would not take too kindly to followers of Jesus (27:62–66). These women came to the tomb, fully expecting to find the guards still there. They were therefore placing their own lives in danger.

These women had been there to the bitter end, even standing by as Joseph and Nicodemus removed Jesus’ body from the cross for the burial. They had observed the necessary Sabbaths (i.e. the first day of Unleavened Bread [Thursday] and the weekly Sabbath [Saturday]) and, now (Sunday morning), they came to the grave with their spices, prepared to anoint the body.

Despite the expected presence of the soldiers, they were willing to carry out what they believe to be their duty. We must commend them for their love and loyalty. Nevertheless, we must ask, what did they expect to find when they got to the tomb? Doubtless, they expected to find the situation much the same as it had been three days prior. That is, they expected to find things sorrowful and hopeless. They fully expected to find the Lord’s tomb blocked by a boulder, rolled in front of the door, to keep out grave robbers. They expected what anyone would expect from a visit to a grave: silence, solitude and sorrow. They did not have great expectations; they had “normal,” grave expectations. We might say that, though they were devoted, determined and dutiful, they were not delightful. They were with the right people, at the right place, at the right time, with the right offering and the right affection, but they lacked the right expectation and perspective. They did not expect a glad and glorious breakthrough; they expected the same sorrowful scene—albeit with religious devotion. Sunday held no great expectation for them; it was simply the first day of another long, hard, sorrowful and painful week.

The Contemporary Similarity

Are we just like the women at the tomb that Sunday morning? We may be in the right place, at the right time, with the right affection and the right offering. But do we have the right expectation? We may be dutiful and devoted, but are we delighting in the Lord? The fact of Christ’s resurrection should profoundly shape our expectations. How so? Let me count the ways.

First, in the way we approach the circumstances of life. We face the same circumstances that the world often faces. Sadly, we often face those circumstances with the same grave expectations with which the world faces them. How do we arrive at our circumstances—the calamities of life? Do we approach these calamities with hope or despair? With great expectations or with grave expectations? Don’t let your circumstances have the final word.

Second, in the way we view the sinfulness of our heart. What is our response as we recognise the sinfulness of our own heart? Do we become despondent, believing that sin and failure have the last word in our lives? Are we convinced that we can never change? Or do we look, with great hope, to the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and power? That is, do we remember the Sunday-proving gospel?

Third, in the way that we sometimes approach the Lord’s Day. Do we merely adopt a stoic spirit and put on a religious face, having no expectation of being (to borrow a phrase from C. S. Lewis) surprised by joy, because we really don’t expect to find Jesus Christ alive? Is Sunday simply another day in the week? Or can we say with heartfelt joy, “Thank God, it’s Sunday!”

Of course we have less excuse than these women had. Though they had been told that Jesus would rise again (see Matthew 26:32), they were doubtless somewhat disorientated by the events of the last three days. They had seen Him die; they had stayed until the bitter end. They had seen the spear thrust into His side; they had seen the blood and water flow from the wound; they had seen Joseph and Nicodemus remove the body and bury it. They knew He was dead. What reason did they have for hope?

But we live on the empty side of the tomb. We know that He is alive! Read, remember and respond accordingly to the resurrection. I would never make light of sorrow, but I firmly believe that we can face sorrow with great expectations, knowing that our Redeemer lives.

A Gracious Invitation

Verses 2–6 give us some insight into a gracious invitation:

And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

(Matthew 28:2­–6)

The women have come to the tomb with grave expectations, prepared to anoint the body of Christ, but they were blessedly surprised by what they found. By comparing the Gospel accounts we get a fuller picture.

It seems that the earthquake had already taken place, perhaps an hour or two before these women arrived. The guards, having witnessed the earthquake and the stone being rolled away, had fainted.

According to John 20, the women were under the impression that someone had stolen the body. But now they saw the angels (two, according to John 20:11), who issued a most gracious invitation to these devoted followers: “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

In this scene we learn the value of Sunday in the life of the Christian.

The Preparation for the Invitation

Long before these women ever arrived at the tomb, the Lord had prepared the way to give them a blessed surprise. The earthquake, the rolling away of the stone, the flight of the guards—all these things happened, by God’s providence, so that the women could receive the blessing of witnessing the empty tomb. Despite their initial fears, they soon discovered that His body had not been stolen but resurrected. Let me put it this way: Long before they ever got to the tomb, the Father had gone to a lot of trouble to make it clear that the Son had risen. God did all of this so that they could be confronted with the irrefutable fact of the risen Lord.

Earthquakes and Easter

God often uses the upheavals in our life to reveal the uprising of His Son. Devastation is often His design to reveal the resurrected Christ. The calamities we face are often God’s way of saying, “I want you to understand that My Son has risen from the dead and He lives today.” Calamity is often the best way for us to grasp this truth. Does this mean that God is in control of everything, even the devastation that we face? Absolutely! And that ought to give us more reason to praise Him. If God were not in control of everything that happens to us, we would do well to cry, “Woe is me!” But the fact that God is in control of our manifold temptations proves that His manifold grace is sufficient for us. Barbara Hughes records a true story that illustrates this beautifully.

Pastor Scott Willis and his wife, Janet, together with six of their nine children, piled into their minivan, buckled up, and left their home on Chicago’s south side for Wisconsin. It would turn out to be a day of excruciating pain and horror. While driving north on Interstate 94 in Milwaukee, the van ran over a large piece of metal that punctured the [petrol] tank, immediately turning the vehicle into an inferno. By the time the van stopped and the parents fell out, their children were hopelessly trapped. Six of their children went home to be with the Lord that day.

You’d think that the Willises would conclude that their God was far away at that moment. Yet the burned, bandaged couple, still in physical pain, gave witness to God’s grace at a news conference. Janet relates that when she looked back toward the van and began screaming, Scott touched her shoulder. “He said, ‘Janet, this is what we’ve been prepared for.’ And he was right. He said, ‘Janet, it was quick, and they’re with the Lord.’ He was right.”

… The Willises’ testimony amidst the tears and heartache is amazing. “I know God has purposes and God has reasons,” says Scott. “God has demonstrated His love to us and our family. There’s no question in our mind that God is good, and we praise Him in all things.”

“It’s His right,” agrees Janet. “We belong to Him. My children belong to Him. He’s the Giver and Taker of life, and He sustains us.”

With these words, Janet and Scott Willis demonstrated to the world and particularly to believers what it means to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” [see Hebrews 12:1].

When that drama unfolded on national television, an icy fear gripped my heart. I suspect that most Christian women prayed something like, “Dear God, please don’t ask that of me!” The Willises’ amazing faith poignantly revealed the shallowness of our own—the tentative commitment that lets us fall apart if we experience even the inconvenience of losing the car keys.

Faith in the goodness of God in the face of extreme adversity doesn’t just happen. It grows out of a discipline of perseverance in the day-in, day-out grind of everyday life.

Thank God that He prepares us for this.

Such devastations are a fact of life in this very broken world. Yet, on the authority of God’s Word, we know that, when there is devastation, God has a purpose: to show us that the tomb is empty. We can live knowing that Jesus Christ lives. We are not alone.

This “devastation” took place after the resurrection. God did not send the earthquake to wake Jesus up. The stone was not rolled away to let Jesus out. The earth shook and the boulder moved in order to show that Jesus had already risen.

Whatever problem you face in your life, be encouraged that it has taken place after the resurrection. Therefore, we have hope as we look to an empty tomb. Jesus Christ is on the right hand of the Father, interceding for His people. Take courage in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank God it’s Sunday!

The Proclamation of the Invitation

The angel boldly proclaimed that the Lord was no longer in the grave and invited the women to see the place where Jesus had lain. We see two things here that Resurrection Sunday accomplished for these women.

First, it dealt a deathblow to their fears. “Do not be afraid,” the angel exhorted. Though the soldiers had had great cause to fear, and though unbelievers generally have great cause to fear, the women (and all God’s children) had (and have) no reason to fear, for He is alive. Those who had scorned the Lord were smitten by fear; those who had sought the Lord were relieved of all fear.

Fear can be paralysing. I remember one particular occasion when I was giving my oldest daughter driving lessons. I picked her up at university but, on the way home, pulled over and told her to drive the rest of the way. She was quite happy, initially, until she realised where were heading. “Dad!” she fearfully exclaimed, “We’re going onto the highway!” Though she protested that she “could not” do it, I insisted that she could, and she in fact did. Sometimes we need the encouragement, “Fear not.” Each Sunday should remind us the Jesus is alive and this will help us through our fears.

Second, it enabled them to see for themselves that the Lord had risen. The Lord’s gracious invitation to “come and see” has the power to calm even our deepest fears. When fear grips your heart, be sure that the Lord is saying, “Come and see for yourself: The tomb is empty.” Thank God that He continues to reissue the invitation, even if we don’t at first accept it. Over and over again, God says to mankind, “Look, My Son is alive!” The disciples needed multiple confirmations of this (see John 21:14), and so do we often. Perhaps one reason we face multiple difficulties is because we need multiple reminders of the resurrection.

The angels were the ones who proclaimed this message of hope to the women at the tomb. The Greek word rendered “angel” is angelos, which is sometimes translated “messenger.” God’s messenger declared boldly that God’s Son was alive. God still has His messengers across the world who boldly proclaim the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. Each Sunday is Resurrection Sunday. Sunday is always a special day for God’s “angels” to invite the congregation to “come and see.” Will you heed the call?

Come to See

If we will come and see then we must come to see. We must gather in order to see. I don’t know your motives for attending church. Perhaps you do so in response to the invitation of a friend or a spouse. Perhaps you gather because you are forced to do so by your parents. Perhaps you attend simply out of a sense of tradition. It is doubtful that you will see unless you have come with the specific intention of seeing! Will you?

A Great Reorientation

In vv. 7–8 we read of a great reorientation. The angel urged the women, “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” In response, “they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.”

Having invited the women to see the empty tomb, the angel now charged them with the assignment to tell the disciples about the risen Lord. These verses teach us what a proper response to the gracious invitation will produce. And they illustrate a very practical purpose of Sunday: It reorients us.

Reoriented in their Activity

Though they had come to anoint a dead body, the resurrection so reoriented these women that they left to proclaim a resurrected Saviour!

Interestingly, they were not given the task of proclaiming the resurrection to the world, but to His disciples. And they were to proclaim this news quickly.

Now that the women had been encouraged by the resurrection, His other disciples needed similar encouragement. They were to run straight to the believers to tell them this good news. They needed to “go quickly,” before the disciples sank into further despair. Each Christian has a similar commission. We are mandated to exhort one another that Jesus is alive (see Hebrews 10:23–25).

Good News for Christians

The women were commanded to “bring His disciples word” of the resurrection. They were to use their tongues to bring good news; their mouths were to be the means of proclaiming the gospel.

The tongue can be a dangerously potent source of much misery (see Proverbs 18:21). James argues that, though the tongue is but “a little member,” but that it “boasts great things.” He goes on the marvel at “how great a forest a little fire kindles” and observes that “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity,” which “defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” The tongue, he says, “is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:1–12). The tongue can be used for good or for ill. Let Sunday determine your talk, both for Sunday and for every subsequent day.

Thank God that each Sunday is Resurrection Sunday; a day to corporately encourage others that Christ is alive.

Yes, Quickly!

If we do not “go quickly” with the truths that have been impressed on our hearts, there is the danger of the truth being snuffed out by the affairs of the world. How easy it is to leave the church after the worship service, and to immediately turn to Internet. How easy it is to talk to others about all things but the resurrected Lord: the economy, sports, crime or politics. But I would challenge you: When God impresses upon your heart the truth of the resurrected Christ, go quickly and tell others about Him.

Many of us recall the terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001. In the days immediately followed the attacks, churches across America were full—for three weeks. But this sudden “interest” in God quickly wore off. At first, people were sobered and looked to God, but it did not last.

Please hear this: When you are the gracious recipient of being confronted by the living Lord, don’t neglect the gift! God graciously shows His people the truth of the Bible and the resurrection. He convinces us of those things in life that are really important. When He does so, we ought to cling dearly to those things, and rush to tell others, exhorting one another of the glorious truths that He has revealed to us. We must quickly and consistently exhort one another that, regardless of our circumstances in life, Jesus Christ lives!

Reoriented in their Attitude

Whereas they came to the tomb with tremendous sorrow, “they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy.” They came to the tomb walking and downcast; they left the tomb running and upbeat—with reverence and rejoicing. This is the divine design of Sunday, for it brings us back to the crucial issue: the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Every Sunday, not merely Easter Sunday, should so reorient us that we quickly depart from hopelessness and despair and quickly embrace hope and perseverance.

In Summary

This passage indicates that these women were reoriented spiritually (they now understood the truth of the resurrection), emotionally (they went from great fear and sorrow to great joy), mentally (they could not before think clearly about the events of the past days; now they can) and even physically (they came slouching to the tomb but they left sprinting to take the disciples word).

You may have had a most difficult week. You may be emotionally spent. Your mind may be clouded with the temptations of the world, urging you to think the world’s thoughts rather than God’s. You may even be physically exhausted from the hard week. But thank God, it’s Sunday! We should be spiritually, emotionally and mentally uplifted by the preached Word and by fellowship with the brethren. In fact, this particular day, which the Lord has made is divinely intended for even physical rejuvenation. Thank God that we have 52 of them!

A Glorious Visitation

Following the gracious invitation, we find a glorious visitation: “And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘Rejoice!’ So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me’” (vv. 9–10).

A most wonderful thing happened to these women as they were on their way to obey the words of the angel: The Lord visited and encouraged them.

It is interesting that Jesus would appear to them with this charge, since it was precisely what they were on their way to do. The angel had commanded them to tell His disciples that He was alive and would meet them in Galilee; why would the Lord now appear and tell them the same thing? I believe in order to further encourage them.

By God’s grace they had responded to the angel’s gracious invitation to “come and see”; they had obediently responded to his commission to go and tell the disciples; now they experienced a glorious visitation from the Lord Himself. Within a very short space of time, they went from a hopeless low to a holy high.

In like manner, if we heed the divine command to “come and see,” Sunday can be a day of great visitation. As important as it is to listen to the preacher and to what he is preaching, you must have an encounter with the Lord. Pray for that. Seek that. Prepare for that. Look for that!

And if you are disappointed, then keep heeding the invitation to “come and see” and to “go and tell.” The Lord may wonderfully surprise you with His presence!

Come and See to be Saved

Perhaps you are an unbeliever. You may be a church member, or you may rarely darken the doors of the church, yet you have the guilt of your sin upon your soul. My plea is that you “come and see.”

There is a Saviour. He died on the cross, shedding His blood to death for His people. He died to save men and women, boys and girls from their sins. He came to redeem us from sin, self and Satan. He was buried but, “come and see,” He is alive! Because He is alive, He can save you today if you will turn from your sin and come to Him in repentance and faith. You can have the glorious experience of the risen Lord coming into your life and giving you a new, clean heart, thus placing you in the family of God.

A Grievous Fabrication

Verses 11–15 record a most grievous fabrication:

Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept. ’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

(Matthew 28:11–15)

These verses, describing the reaction of the soldiers, are sad—grievously so. Rather than the soldiers and the Sanhedrin repenting of their evil deeds, they fabricated a story to make it seem as if the Lord’s body had been stolen. The soldiers were told to say that the body was stolen while they slept. But “the lie is suicidal,” comments A. B. Bruce, “one half destroys the other. Sleeping guards could not know what happened.” The lie was obvious, but many people obviously believed it. Many still do.

Their intent, of course, was to rob people of their reason to believe, thereby robbing them of their joy. The threat was never that of grave-robbers (for the disciples were long gone); the real threat was that of faith-robbers and therefore of joy-robbers.

There are many things that would rob us of our faith in the fact that Jesus Christ is alive.

Our dire circumstances would lie to us: “This situation is too bad—you cannot handle it.” Such circumstances would take our attention off the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord. They would rob us of our reason to believe; they would rob us of our joy.

Satan will seek to fabricate lies in an attempt to blind us to the reality that something marvellous happened on that Sunday. Satan is “the accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10).

Finally, cynics and sceptics and secularists and idolaters will also seek to rob us of the glory of Resurrection Sunday.

Fundamentally this foolish fabrication was essentially an attack on all subsequent Sundays. Rather than “thank God it’s Sunday,” it would seem that their intent was to demote the first day of the week to, “Big deal, it’s only Sunday.”

We need to realise that all of the attempts to secularise Sunday are fundamentally a religious issue; it is an area of spiritual warfare. We need to pray and labour and practice for the day when the gospel so triumphs that cultures and communities honour the Lord’s Day. We should long and live for the day when the culture will join us in saying, “Thank God it’s Sunday!”

In the meanwhile, be on guard against the faith and joy-robbers who seek to turn us away from the truth that Jesus is risen.

A Great Expectation

Matthew’s Gospel closes with a great expectation:

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

(Matthew 28:16–20)

To put it succinctly, the expectation, proclaimed by the risen Lord is that the nations will bow the knee to Him. The nations will be discipled. As Paul would write elsewhere, because Jesus is Lord (proven by His resurrection) everyone will bow the knee to Him (Philippians 2:9–11). We should expect this and exert our efforts towards this end. By virtue of the resurrection, we know that Jesus can and will save His people from their sins. We should expect this. You can and may expect this.

Now, let me make an important digression at this point. It is directly related to this expectation.

Now, and Only Now, “Hosanna!”

When Jesus met His disciples in Galilee (on Sunday?), His proclamation—“all authority has been given to Me”—was predicated upon His resurrection. He was claiming to be King of kings and Lord of lords. He was now in a position to answer the cries a week prior: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9).

When the crowds chanted that, they did so expectantly. They had great expectations, but they were erroneous expectations. Their motives were skewed and their order was wrong. Let me explain.

The term “hosanna” means “save (deliver) now.” It can be translated as, “Please save now!” or, “Please preserve now!” It is a plea for deliverance. It is found in Psalm 118:25, where it is translated in the phrase, “Save now, I pray, O LORD.”

Unfortunately, the crowds were concerned primarily with political, economic and social deliverance. These things were not wrong in themselves, but the expectations betrayed a wrong order. Jesus needs to be acknowledged as Lord and Saviour before we can cry out for any kind of social salvation. And, in fact, the order of words in Psalm 118 makes this abundantly clear.

This cry of “hosanna” in Psalm 118 is preceded by and predicated on other truths.

Verses 21–23 read: “I will praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.”

Jesus quoted from Psalm 118:22 a few days into Holy Week (Matthew 21:42). He, of course, was speaking of the events of Thursday and Friday, in which He would be rejected to the point of death on the cross.

When Jesus cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30), His redemptive work was finished. But three days later the Father delivered Him from death, vindicating Him forever. This is referenced in Psalm 118:21: “You have answered me, and have become my salvation.” And it is for this reason that we then read in v. 24: “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

The original terminology referred probably to one of the special Sabbath days, or to a feast day. But ever since Resurrection Sunday the church has recognised “the day the LORD has made” as Sunday.

Now note what follows in vv. 25–26: “Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!”

The hosanna only follows after hell has been paid and Jesus has been honoured by rising from the dead. The psalmist is saying, “Dear God, there will be a Thursday; and, oh, my God, there will be that awful and awe-filled Friday. But, thank God, there is coming a Sunday!”

In other words, there had to be a Thursday and then a Friday before true “hosanna” (deliverance) could be celebrated on Sunday. Jesus had to endure the “dear God, it’s Thursday” (Gethsemane), followed by the “oh, My God, it’s Friday” (Golgotha) before He could say, “Thank God it’s Sunday” (Galilee). The same is true with you and me.

Sadly, many are like the first century Jews who get the order wrong. They want deliverance but they bypass Thursday and Friday. Their expectations are shallow. They expect prosperity rather than purity. They expect riches rather than reconciliation. They expect satisfaction and peace rather than salvation and true peace—with God. And therefore they want the benefits of Sunday apart from the brokenness of Thursday and Friday. But without the cross of Friday you will never enjoy the consequences of Sunday. The price paid on Friday must be acknowledged before you can receive the prize that came with Sunday.

In other words, you can only get to v. 25—“Save now, I pray, O LORD”—by going through the cross of Christ prophesied in vv. 21–24. That is the divinely ordained order: Thursday, Friday and then Sunday.

Do you want to be saved from your sins by the only one who can do so, the Lord Jesus Christ? Then contemplate what Jesus did on Thursday and Friday. See Him as dying in your place. See Jesus crucified for you. Then, and only then, will you rejoice and be glad as you embrace the risen Lord crying out, “Thank God, it’s Sunday.”