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He Has Risen!

Date: Mar. 27, 2016

Author: Michael Mark

Luke 24:1-53

Key Verse: Luke 24:6

“He is not here; he has risen!  Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee”

He has risen!  (He has risen indeed!)  Happy Easter!  As you know, Easter is a time we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Just a little over 2000 years ago, on a Sunday around this time of year, Jesus rose from the dead.  In this country, we have holidays commemorating real people or events.  On the third Monday in January, we observe Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday.  On the third Monday in February, we observe George Washington’s birthday.  On July 4th, we observe Independence Day.  We know these people and events existed, even though we never met them.  But we have documented evidence of their existence and authenticity.  The same goes for Easter.  We have documented evidence and eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  In fact, that is the purpose of Luke’s gospel.  Luke himself was a well educated and intelligent man, and a physician, like our own Jimmy.  He says in Ch. 1 that he has carefully investigated everything from the beginning, and wrote an orderly account from primary eyewitnesses, so that we may know the certainty of the things taught in the Scriptures. 

The resurrection of Jesus is not an easy thing to believe.  Actually, the resurrection of anybody is not an easy thing to believe.  But Jesus was not just anybody.  Imagine, you hear about loved one coming back from the dead.  First, it would seem strange, but let’s assume resurrection is possible, and it isn’t strange to you anymore.  Most likely, you would be overjoyed!  We all know people who have lost siblings, parents and relatives – how much would they love to see them again!  That is how Jesus’ loved ones responded when they came to understand he was alive.  But with Jesus, the joy goes even further beyond that.  It is more than the joy of receiving a loved one: it is the joy of victory and the joy of hope.  In Jesus we don’t have to assume resurrection is possible: Jesus made resurrection possible.  That is why all people can rejoice.  That is why the saying “He has risen” is so powerful.  Let it not be be empty words or tradition, but when we say it, let it be full of meaning and power.  Now let’s see how Jesus helped those he loved believe, and keep this question in mind: How has the resurrection of Jesus impacted you?

Look at v.1, “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.”  Jesus was crucified on Friday, and he had died.  Joseph, a high ranking Jewish official, and likely a disciple of Jesus, took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in linen, and placed it in his own, brand-new, unused tomb.  He then rolled a big stone to shut the tomb.  Some women followed him, and saw how the body was laid in it.  They wanted to embalm the body with spices and perfumes, but it was almost the Sabbath.  The Sabbath is the last day of the week, which we know as Saturday.  In Bible times the days started at 6pm in the evening.  Jesus died around 3pm, so there was only 3 hours left before the Sabbath began.  The women went home to prepare the spices and perfumes, and they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to God’s law.

Now the first day of the week, early Sunday morning, the women came back to the tomb, but the found the stone rolled away.  This was strange.  Had Joseph or someone else come?  They went into the tomb, but they didn’t find the body there.  Just then two men in clothes that shined like lightning appeared and stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground.  Don’t you hate it when people scare you like that?  But these women were truly terrified.  These were no ordinary men who appeared, but they were angels, as evidenced by their shining clothes.  Listen to what they said to the women: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”  What a question!  It might be kind of a reproof, pointing out some error, but it also seems a little amusing, a little bit playful, almost with a smile on their face.  “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”  What were they suggesting here?  They were suggesting that Jesus is no longer dead, but living.

As the angels continued speaking, they no longer suggested, but declared the glorious fact.  Can we all please read v.6 together, “He is not here; he has risen!  Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee.”  What a bold declaration:  He is not here; he has risen!  He has risen!  This is the initial proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection in the gospel of Luke, and the rest of the chapter continues to prove and establish this fact.  The angels reminded the women, “Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’”  The women had come to see Jesus, but they had forgotten what he said.  When the looked in the tomb, they didn’t think, “By golly he must have come back to life!”  Instead, they did not know what was going on.  But look at v.8, “Then they remembered his words.”  After the angel reminded them, they remembered – ah, our Lord was crucified, and this is the third day, he must have risen from the dead!

What did they do next?  They went back and told the Eleven and all the others.  Matthew 28:8 tells us, “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.”  Look at what happened to the women.  They were afraid, yet filled with joy.  Some people might call that excitement.  They were afraid, yet filled with joy.  They believed the words of the angels, and they didn’t even see Jesus yet.  They believed because of Jesus’ words, and they were given grace.  They were the first to understand, believe and experience the arrival of the resurrection for all mankind.  This was big.  By contrast, when they told the disciples, how did the disciples respond?  Look at v.11, “But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.”  What! Whoa!  What was the reason they did not believe?  Because the women’s words were like nonsense.  The angels, the missing body.  They dismissed the testimony of the women.  Men.  How some things never change (joke).  Peter, on the other hand, ran to the tomb.  Something was stirring in his heart.  He wondered, though he had not yet fully come to a knowledge of the truth.

Later in the day, two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about 7 miles from Jerusalem, maybe about a 3-4 hour journey on foot.  These two disciples were not part of the Eleven, but were with them, probably in that same room where the women told them what happened.  They were talking with each other about everything that happened.  Look at v.15-16, “As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.”  Here we see the first post-resurrection appearance of Jesus in Luke’s gospel.  It’s almost like watching a TV show.  We in the audience know what is going on, but the character’s do not.  Why might Jesus not reveal himself to them right away?  I think it was because he wanted to teach them a lesson.  He wanted them to understand their own unbelief, and then he would reveal himself to them.  In this way, they could also learn about his grace, mercy and patience with sinners.

So Jesus asked them what they were talking about, and in v.21 we can see what their issue was.  Look at v.21a, “but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.”  What do you notice there?  They said, “we had hoped.”  This could mean two things – either they lost hope in Jesus, or their idea of who Jesus was was wrong.  It could be both.  They hoped Jesus was going to redeem Israel.  Since he died, that hope also died.  Either way shows a lack of faith in who Jesus is.  I used to work at a company, this was right out of college, 2004-2005, and there was a supervisor who would constantly question my work.  “You sure it’s going to work Mike?  You sure?  You absolutely sure?  You sure it’s not going to break?”  It was disheartening, even though I had a proven record of successful projects.  When we lose hope that Christ is our redeemer, and has the power to redeem us, how disheartening it must be for him.  It is also grievous to have a wrong idea of Jesus.  His disciples may have thought that Jesus would rise up and free Israel from the tyranny of the Roman Empire, and restore glory to Israel at that time, 2000 years ago.  That was the typical Jewish understanding of the Messiah.  But that was not the right understanding of who Jesus is.  When Jesus did not fit their image, they lost hope. We must not invent new ideas of Jesus, we must come to know him through his word.

The disciples then continued on, and spoke about how they heard the testimony of the women, you know, the testimony that they dismissed.  The great news of the empty tomb, and probably what the angels had told the women to remember.  They thought the women’s words were nonsense, but they even had some companions to verify what the women had said.  Still they did not believe.  So Jesus decided to wake them up.  Look at v.25-26, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”  What strong words!  But remember, these disciples had been with Jesus for 3 years, they walked with him, talked with him, ate with him, learned from him.  After they were rebuked, they didn’t say, “Hey buddy, you’re outta line,” or “Who do you think you are?”  But they seemed to take his words to heart, and listen to what he had to teach them.  Jesus didn’t rebuke them to talk down to them, he did it to tell them the truth.

Did you also notice that this is the 2nd time Luke mentioned that the Messiah had to suffer? I think Luke really wants us to know something.  He will mention this 3 times in this last chapter of Luke's gospel.  He wants us to know that Jesus came to suffer and die as it was written, and to rise again from the dead, as it was written.  What do these things represent?  They represent the gospel.  This is the gospel, which Paul tells us is of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:3-4).  The Bible from cover to cover is all about the good news, and about the one who brings us good news: Jesus Christ.  In Gen 3:15, a descendant of Eve, that is a human, will come to crush the head of the serpent.  In Gen 12, God promises to bless all peoples on earth through a descendant of Abraham.  In Isaiah 9, a child will be born to us and be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.  The prophet Micah (Micah 5) writes that out of the little town of Bethlehem will come a ruler over Israel, whose origins are from ancient times.  All of these prophecies pointed to Jesus Christ who was to come.  And Jesus was not created, but he himself was the Son of God, whose origins are from ancient times, coming into the world in human flesh, entering in through a virgin’s womb.

They sound majestic, glorious and powerful, but that was only half.  How might Jesus become a blessing, a king, and a savior?  He would only attain these things through suffering.  It was appointed, and decreed, that he would suffer.  Psalm 22 describes his agony on the cross, saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Psalm 69 adds additional details about his crucifixion, how he has sunk into the water, into the muddy bottom with no foothold, his throat is parched, many hate him without reason, at give him vinegar to drink for his thirst.  Why was he made to suffer?  We find an answer in a passage some of us are familiar with, Isaiah 53:4-6, which says, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  Jesus suffered for us.  He died because of my sins.  It is our fault, that we caused him to die.  But that is why we rejoice so deeply when we hear “He has risen.”  He took our curse, he bore the pain, the shame, the guilt, the affliction, and he took them down to the grave.  Death had swallowed him up, but he broke through, destroying death, and he won the battle for us.  The resurrection itself proves that he is the Son of God.  He has returned to free us from the power of death, and lead us on to life, a new life with him.

Jesus had explained to the 2 disciples all that was in the Scriptures concerning himself, maybe including some of what we just heard.  They had walked maybe 3-4 hours, which was plenty of time to tell all about those Scriptures.  It was getting dark.  When they reached their destination, Jesus pretended to go farther, perhaps still concealing his identity from them, but they urged him strongly to stay until day.  They all sat down together for a meal, and now he would reveal himself to them.  He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them.  Look at v.31, “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.”  Their eyes were opened; Jesus opened their eyes.  Jesus was the one who concealed himself from them while he was talking to them, and Jesus was the one who enabled them to recognize him.  Let this be a lesson to us, that God is our creator, and he has control over our senses, we ought to give thanks to him every day, that we can see and hear.  But let us also thank God more, that he opens our eyes and our minds to believe in him and understand and accept the Scriptures.  If you are growing in your understanding of God’s word, even as I am growing, give thanks to God.  And if there is hope for these two from Emmaus to see Jesus, there’s hope for us.

Look what happened to them in v.33-34 once they received the truth, “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem.  There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying ‘It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’”  Remember how it was evening, it was dark, and they shouldn’t be out walking?  Well, forget about that.  They immediately got out of the house, and ran back 7 miles to Jerusalem, during the night, another probably 3 hour journey to tell the disciples, “It is true!  The Lord has risen!”  Here again see the transformation when they believed in the Lord’s resurrection.  There was joy, and that provided the strength to tell the good news.

Luke now moves on to show how Jesus then appeared to his disciples, starting in v.36, “While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”  The first thing Jesus says to them is “Peace be with you.”  Jesus knows their hearts, before they even say anything, he says, “Peace.”  He knows that they are anxious, and that they have locked themselves up in this upper room in Jerusalem for fear of the Jewish leaders.  But here the risen Jesus bids them, “Peace.”  Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  Look at how the disciples react in v.37, (Gasp!!) “They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.”  I presented it humorously, but the disciples were truly startled.  This is something you don’t see every day – someone simply appearing in a locked room.

Jesus graciously continues to calm their fears and remove their doubts, in v.38-39, “He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet.  It is I myself!  Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’”  Jesus also knew their doubts, but he did not rebuke them.  He handles each situation differently.  He encourages them to look, to touch and to see.  This is something incredible.  This same Jesus, whom they shared their lives with, whom they saw arrested, crucified, dead and buried, was now standing in their midst.  He was alive!  He has risen!  This is Jesus, with a new resurrected body – and it’s not only spirit, but it has flesh.  Jesus was resurrected in human flesh, in a human form.  This is both a preview, and a great hope for us.  The disciples still did not believe because of joy and amazement.  Wow, this seems like a different problem.  At first they couldn’t believe because of hopelessness, now they can’t believe because of joy and amazement.  Maybe like a “This is too good to be true” moment.  But Jesus continues to help them, and asks if they have anything to eat.  I believe that Luke also includes this in here to show that this truly was not a ghost, or a spirit, but Jesus in the flesh, who even ate something in their presence.

Jesus continues to help them believe.  He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”  He was about to tell them that which Luke found very important, but first, he opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures.  Then he told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.”  Here is the great purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection – the repentance for the forgiveness of sins – this is salvation.  People of all nations will be called to repent, to turn away from their sin and unbelief, and turn to God.  Jesus’ death and resurrection won for us all the forgiveness of sins, which comes through repentance.  The forgiveness of sins is the pardoning of sins, as if they have never been committed.  It is the removal of the penalty for sin, which is death.  That is why, through Jesus’ resurrection, resurrection is made possible for all.  But it comes through repentance, and in Jesus’ name only.  There is no other name in under heaven given to men by which we can be saved: only Jesus’ name.  We cannot be saved in the name of good works.  We cannot be saved in the name of Buddha, or any other name.  We can only be saved in the name of Jesus.

The disciples would witness to the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, but they would also receive help.  Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem until they have been clothed with power from on high, a promise given by the God the Father.  Look at v.51, “While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.”  He has risen, and now, he has ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God.  This is our Jesus, who came to suffer and die, and rise again from the dead.  He is now Lord of Heaven and Earth, King of Kings, and the Judge of all mankind, and taken his place at the right hand of God.  Christ reigns in heaven, even today!  From heaven he sends the Holy Spirit, which is this power from on high.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, and he is the power that will open our eyes and our minds to the truth, and enable us to boldly testify about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Finally, see how the disciples were transformed, in v.52-53, “Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”  Joy filled their hearts, and they worshipped at the temple.  Prior to this they hid in the upper room for fear of the Jewish leaders, but now they worship openly and joyfully at the temple.  How has Jesus’ resurrection impacted your life?  Do you believe that Jesus has risen from the dead in Jerusalem, 2000 years ago, and lives today?  Do you believe that he is living and reigning in heaven, even now?  You believe in George Washington, in Dr. Martin Luther King, in Independence Day, yet you have not met them and you were not there, but you believe. Why not believe in Christ, on the basis of his word?  This truth  of the resurrection hit me hard at our conference last week.  I loved the whole conference, and all of the messages and presentations were excellent.  What moved me especially was Jimmy’s message on Sunday, about knowing Christ, which is to know the power of his resurrection and to participate in the fellowship of his sufferings, and how Christ changes our lives to shape them for eternity.  Just as we become more like him in his sufferings, we will also become like him in his resurrection, and this gave me a greater sense of the hope of eternal life.  After that we sang the song, Christ is risen from the dead, and when we sang the lyrics “He’s Alive, he’s alive,” my heart was especially moved.  Yes, I thought, “He is alive, he is alive.”  It was my sins that put Christ to death, but thank God, he’s alive!  My sins could not keep him in the grave, and he overcame them for me.  My sins are forgiven because he’s alive, and in that I rejoice. 

This truth of Christ’s resurrection and life has impacted me in subtle ways as well.  It has helped me to pray daily, morning and night, it has given me a desire to try to read His word daily.  Most days I do, but there are some days I did not, but I do try, and it is important to me to be in His word daily.  The truth of the resurrection also has led me to share this with my coworkers, and to raise disciples.  It has taught me to die to myself and my sins, given me a constant conviction of my sins, and to ask forgiveness from God and others and to forgive others.  It has taught me to love my wife, to super love my wife, and to love my family here at IIT as well.  Though these things sound great, I still sin, not in a sinful lifestyle, but there is still a daily battle, sins of the heart, and temptations, I am more aware of them.  But God is faithful and gracious and he helps me overcome, when I take it to him in prayer.  I trust in the Holy Spirit to keep me blameless, until that day when Christ comes again, and renews my kind of young but still aging body, to clothe it in immortality, so that it may be like his glorious resurrection body.  Thank God that He has risen!  He has risen indeed!

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Key Verse: 6:8b

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