He has risen

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au

Luke 24:1-35

1. It is all over

Have you ever been to the football or the cricket and come to the last 5 or so minutes of the game and noticed that lots of people have already begun to leave the stadium?

1.1 Spectators at a game

I don’t often find myself in a stadium but on a few occasions when I’ve been there, I’ve noticed this happening. It usually happens when one team is absolutely flogging the other team and they are so far ahead of them that everyone thinks that the game is essentially over. At that point, some of the crowd decide that it doesn’t really matter what happens from here on, it’s all over for their team, and it’s time to start heading home. At first it might be just a few and then you start to notice a steady stream of people flowing out of their seats into the aisle and then heading upstream back up the aisle, before they flow out of the exits.

 I think people get to a point where they think that things are so hopeless that it’s no use even hanging around anymore. The final whistle or siren might not have been blown, but for them the game is over and if your teams isn’t going to win you might as well get on your way and get out of the car park before everybody else. There is no use waiting for the final whistle to blow to tell you what you already know. There is no hope. It’s all over.

1.2 The disciples after the crucifixion

I think this is what was see going on in chapter 24. In chapter 24 we see that after the crucifixion of Jesus the disciples thought that it was all over. Any hopes that they had were now completely gone. Even when the women came and told the disciples about the empty tomb no one believed them. Most of the Eleven didn’t even bother to leave where they were hiding to go and check out the tomb for themselves and what we see is two of the wider group of disciples even decide that it was game over and it was time to leave and head for home.

After the death of Jesus, the disciples seem to have quickly given up all hope. They thought that it was all over for the man that they had been following for the last three years was now dead. He talked about rising on the third day, but nobody seemed to have taken his words seriously. The women were going down to the tomb to finishing burying him. Even when the women came back telling them about the empty tomb, the disciple didn’t believe them and two even decided to head home. Today/tonight what I want to explore with you what happened on that third day to change the disciples and give them an unshakeable hope in the resurrection.

2. Discovering that it wasn’t over

You might be sceptical of this, but the story shows that the disciples had been sceptical too. The disciples were really the first sceptics. What we see in chapter 24 is that they were not easy group to convince that Jesus had risen from the dead. Today/tonight we want to understand what it took to convince them? What was it that convinced them that it wasn’t over for Jesus? What happened to turn their scepticism into conviction? What turned them from being doubters to devotees? Today/tonight we want to follow the events that took place on the first day of the week to understand how they came to believe that Jesus had risen.

2.1 The women at the tomb

The women were the first ones to come to the realisation that it wasn’t over. They got up early on the first day and went to the tomb to finish burying Jesus. But when they got there, they discovered that the stone had been rolled away and the tomb itself was empty. This itself wasn’t enough to convince them that Jesus had risen from the dead. They wondered what had happened. It was the appearance of angels that made the difference for the women.

Luke 24:4-8

While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.

  • The angels tell the women he has risen

Luke makes it clear that these men at the tomb were not ordinary men but heavenly messengers for he said that their clothes shone like lightning. The women didn’t think they were ordinary men because they bowed down their faces to the ground. As at other times in Luke’s gospel these messengers appeared to explain what God was doing. They were there to tell the women what had happened. The question, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’ is a bit of a rebuke. The angels told the women that they were looking for Jesus in the wrong place. They had come looking for his lifeless body to finish burying him, but he wasn’t dead. The angels tell the women that “He is not here, he is risen!” The tomb was empty because on the third day, Jesus was raised to life. The apostle Paul writes, that this is one of the truths of first importance (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-5). He went on to say that if Christ had not been raised to life, then our faith would be futile and we would be still in our sins (15:16-17). But he then goes on to say, But Christ has indeed been raised. Luke has recorded the events of that third day so that we can be certain of what we believe.

  • The angel tells the women to remember

The angels not only tell the women that Jesus was alive, but they called them to remember what Jesus had told them when he’d been with them in Galilee.  The “Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day raised again”.

Jesus had outlined God’s game plan. He had already told them what they need to know to prepare them. He would suffer and die and be raised on the third day. The cross would not be the end of his story. It wasn’t going to be over. But in order to understand what was going on they needed to remember his words. He had told them what would happen and how on the third day he would be raised to life. It was only after being told these things by the angels that we read that the women then remembered his words (Luke 24v8). It was these messengers that convinced the women that it wasn’t over and what they needed to do was believe what Jesus had told them.

2.2 The Eleven in Jerusalem

But it took more than this to convince the others. The women went back to the Eleven and told them about the empty tomb and what the angels had told them, but the Eleven and those with them didn’t believe them. Instead of believing them we read that they thought that they were speaking nonsense.

Luke 24:11-12

11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Even Peter, who at least took the trouble to go and check out the tomb, didn’t believe their story. They all seem to have forgotten the words of Jesus even though he had repeatedly told them the game plan. They had not remembered his words because they did not believe them and take them to heart. Even after Peter had heard the explanation of the women and had been to the tomb and had seen the strips of linen lying there by themselves, he went away wondering what possibly could have happened to the body. What Jesus had told him, and the others had been ignored and forgotten. What they should have done was hold on to his words and believe them.

2.3 The two on the road

In verses 13 to 35 we hear the story of two more disciples. These disciples had been there that morning with the Eleven but were so convinced that it was all over that they decided to leave and head home that same day.  They are like the people who leave the stadium even before the final whistle has been blown. We meet this pair on the road to Emmaus where they were discussing everything that happened in Jerusalem. We are told that as they walked along that Jesus himself came up and walked alongside them, but they were prevented from recognising him.

  • Jesus appeared to them “undercover”

You might have seen a television show called “Undercover Boss”. In this US TV show a boss who might be the company executive, or the owner of the business goes “undercover” as a fellow employee disguising themselves so that nobody will recognise them. The advantage of going “undercover” is that they get to hear what their employees really think about things and they get to witness how they really behave on the job when they are not there. If the show is to be believed it can be a very eye-opening experience for the boss revealing what is really going on with the employees.

The fact that these disciples were prevented from recognising Jesus meant that they saw him just as another traveller heading out of Jerusalem and they tell him exactly what they were thinking about everything that had taken place in Jerusalem. Cleopas was surprised that Jesus had to even ask about what had gone on in Jerusalem, but But Jesus kept up the pretence about not knowing to see what these disciples had made of the things that had gone on.

Luke 24:19:-24

19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

What these disciples, who didn’t know that they were talking to Jesus at the time, said was that they had given up hoping in him. It was all over for them. What they said about Jesus revealed this. The first thing they said was that he was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.  Secondly, they said that they had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. But notice that this was all in the past now for them. For them the crucifixion had put an end to all their hopes of Israel being redeemed. The fact that they were now on the road home rather than still in Jerusalem with the others meant that while the women’s report had amazed them, they had not believed it. They go on to say that although some had found the tomb and it was just as the women had described it, they did not see him.  

  • Jesus diagnosed their problem

Jesus diagnosed their problem in verse 25 and I assume that the same diagnosis probably could be applied to all the other disciples as well. They were foolish and slow of heart to believe. They were foolish because they were slow of heart to believe what all that the prophets had said about the Christ. They should have known that the Christ (or Messiah) would suffer these things before he entered his glory. The Scriptures foretold it and Jesus had explained this to them. But they had ignored what he and the Word of God had said. What they should have done was to remember these things and believe them.

So, starting again with these two disciples and beginning with Moses and all the prophets Jesus again explained to them how all the Scriptures pointed to himself. It’s here with Jesus explaining the Word of God to them that I think that Jesus started to rekindle their hopes. After Jesus had revealed himself to them, they told each other how their hearts had burned within them as he had talked with them on the road and opened up the Scriptures for them (32). The word of God has this effect on us. It revives our hearts for all the Scriptures point us to put our hope in Christ.

  • Jesus opened their eyes

But finally, it was when Jesus revealed himself while he was breaking bread that everything changed for these two disciples. What finally convinced them was realising that the one who they had been walking with and talking to that day was the risen Lord. This is what finally changed the minds of the disciples. It was encountering the risen Lord Jesus, seeing him face to face.

Seeing the risen Lord changed everything for the disciples. As soon as the two realised that it was Jesus who had been with them, they got up and returned to Jerusalem. It didn’t matter that by now evening had come. Coming face to face with the risen Lord turned them around and brought them back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples the good news that he had risen. When they got there, they didn’t have to convince the others of what they had seen for Simon had also seen the Lord with his own eyes. The others tell them that it is true. The Lord is risen!

3. Seeing the risen Lord

Seeing the risen Lord, is what convinced the disciples that it wasn’t all over.

3.1 It turned sceptics into believers

It was seeing Jesus alive and in the flesh that turned these sceptics into believers. The fact that they were not so easily convinced and were themselves inclined to doubt the resurrection ought to reassure us that it wasn’t just wishful thinking on their part. The disciples needed real evidence to convince them that Jesus had rose from the dead. It wasn’t until they saw the risen Lord themselves that they believed. In the  gospel of John we are told that it wasn’t actually until Thomas actually saw Jesus with his own eyes and got to see the marks in his hands and put his fingers where the nails had been (see John 20:24-28). It wasn’t just an empty tomb that swayed them. It wasn’t just the report of the women claiming an encounter with an angel as important as that was. Rather it was people coming face to face with the risen Lord Jesus. This is what Luke who wrote this gospel wants us to see and understand. He wrote so that you and I might be convinced that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week.

You might be sceptical about the resurrection but what you need to understand is that all the disciples began as sceptics and it took a lot to convince them. But in the end what convinced them was the one thing that probably that it would have taken to convince you, if you had been able to be there on that day. Things changed when they saw the Lord Jesus and eventually every one of the would. We have this account of what it took for them to be convinced so that we can be certain of the things that we have been taught that have been passed on to us. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve.” (1 Cor. 15:3-5)

3.2 It gave them hope and strength

It was seeing the Lord Jesus that gave the disciples hope and strength for what they were going to face. Seeing the Lord Jesus gave them the courage to trust him and go out with the gospel and suffer for his name. It was all being fulfilled just as he had promised. They knew that because he lived, they too would be raised to life and live. The game wasn’t over for him or the disciples. It was just beginning. He would sent them out to all the nations to preach repentance and forgiveness in his name, to be witnesses of these things (see Luke 15:47-48)

3.3 We must remember his words

Seeing the Lord Jesus is something that we will all do one day. We are promised that one day we will stand before him and see him face to face (1 Cor. 13:12, Revelations 22:4). But while we wait for that day, we are to remember his words and this means holding on to them and trusting them. This is what the angels told the women to do – remember. The Lord also called the two disciples on the road foolish for they were slow at heart to believe all the that the prophets had spoken about him. He then taught them from all the Scriptures what they promised concerning him. We have the words of Jesus and the words of Scripture, but we must remember them. We must hold on to them and believe them.

Like the disciples we will go through times of doubt and uncertainty. There will be times when we will feel hopeless and helplessness. But what we must do is to remember that on the third day that Jesus was raised to life and this changed everything. The third day was not just the just the first day of a new week, it was the beginning of a new creation in which those who put their trust in the Lord Jesus will live forever more. Luke has recorded these things so that we can be certain of that these things (see Luke 1:3-4). We are to remember these things and hold on to what we know to be true until one day we too will see him face to face and discover the risen Lord for ourselves.