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Resurrection of Our Lord

Luke 24:1–12

James T. Batchelor

Easter: The feast of Resurrection, series C
Saint Paul Lutheran Church  
Manito, IL

view DOC file

Sun, Mar 27, 2016 

Every year, we hear the story of the resurrection of Jesus.  When you hear a story often enough, it is easy to gloss over many of the details of the story.  Weve heard the story so often that we think there is nothing new to learn.  All kinds of people come to an empty tomb.  One or more angels informs them that Jesus has risen.  Everybody lives happily ever after.  The End.  As is the case for all the writings of the Bible, its not that simple.  There is always more to learn.

One of the things I didnt notice for a long time was the timing of everything.  If we flashback to Friday, you may remember that Jesus died in the middle of the afternoon.  Before Joseph of Arimathea could lay Jesus in His tomb, he had to obtain an audience with Pontius Pilate to get permission to remove the body from the cross.  Then He and the other friends of Jesus had to actually remove the body, transport it to the tomb, and prepare it for burial.  This all takes time.  Ordinarily, that would not be a problem, but in this case, the next day was a Sabbath.  Even the work of burying a dead body was strictly forbidden on the Sabbath.  There was no way to get that all done in time and do a half way decent job of placing Jesus in the tomb.  Sundown and the Sabbath just came too quickly.  The timing of Jesus death guaranteed that the friends of Jesus had to return on Sunday morning in order to properly care for the body of their dead friend.  By arranging the timing on Good Friday so that the burial had to take place in a hurry, the Lord assured that there would be plenty of witnesses at the empty tomb on Sunday.  And, in fact, all four Gospels tell us that the empty tomb was a pretty busy place from about the time that the sun came up until the middle of the morning.

Think of it.  The first Easter was a swirl of activity and emotion.  The women came to the tomb with spices and find that the tomb is open and the body of Jesus is gone.  Then men show up who dress like lightning, and the men said to them, Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise. (Luke 24:57) These men knew these women even though the women have never seen them before in their lives.  And in the midst of all of this commotion, where do the messengers direct their attention?  They directed their attention to the words of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit inspired Luke to point out that everything has happened exactly as Jesus said it would.  As we make our way through the Gospel accounts, we regularly read that Jesus was teaching his disciples, saying to them, The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise. (Mark 9:31) The angels got Jesus message exactly right.

There is something else that you notice when you get into the nitty-gritty details of the day of resurrection, you start to notice trends and patterns in the way Jesus showed Himself to His people.  After a bit of study, it becomes evident that Jesus wanted His followers to believe in His resurrection because of His promise that His promise to rise was more authoritative than His actual presence.  The angels said as much; Dont you remember His promise to rise from the dead?  When God makes a promise, He keeps it.  Why are you looking for Him here in the place of the dead? Even though His followers had not yet seen Him, they should believe that He is alive based on His promise alone.

Slowly the truth of the situation began to sink in.  For these women, remembering the Lords words brings them more fully into reality.  With the words of Jesus, they begin to understand the strange new world that surrounds them.  Empty graves and men who dress like lightning.  Angels who have been with you all of your life.  These things start to make sense: Jesus had talked about a heavenly kingdom.  The world is Gods, and Gods kingdom has come.  What about the pain of the crucifixion?  Was this all a mistake?  No, Jesus had told them: His betrayal and death were part of Gods will.  God so desired to save all people that He gave His Only Son to bear the punishment for their sin.  And now, punishment is gone.  Divine vengeance is over, and the open grave gives a glimpse of heavenly joy.  Angels talk to humans.  Humans speak to one another, sharing a message that saves every man, woman, and child.  God loves you.  In love, He gave His life for you.  And now He lives and reigns eternally.

The women could not keep this kind of news to themselves.  They had to share the things they had seen and heard.  The Holy Spirit brought the promises of Jesus to their minds.  He had promised to rise from the dead and now He had risen just as He said.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ certainly demonstrates His power and authority.  Many people have talked about merely communicating from the dead and not been able to do it.  Now here we have someone who not only promised to rise from the dead, but actually pulled it off.  This alone makes Jesus unique in all of history.

Furthermore, this resurrection certified once and for all that Jesus has defeated sin, death, and the power of the devil.  As God promised in Eden, the seed of the woman has crushed the serpents head.  This fact alone is reason to rejoice over this victory.  But there is more.

Jesus promised to rise from the dead and He kept His promise.  His resurrection means that there is nothing that can stop Him from keeping His promises.  I can make a promise and get sick or have a flat tire or have any of a number of other difficulties.  Every fiber in my being can be dedicated to keeping my promises.  Never the less, it is possible that circumstances beyond my control can stop me.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ clearly demonstrates that there are no circumstances beyond the control of Christ.  Not even death can prevent Him from keeping His promises.

Jesus promised to rise from the dead.  Now hear some of the other promises that He made.  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Fathers hand. (John 10:2729, ESV) I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. (John 11:2526) Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Fathers house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:13) These are but a few of the promises that Jesus has made.  These are but a few of the promises that you know Jesus will keep because even death cannot hold Him or prevent Him from keeping His Word to You.

Christs promises teach us that a day is coming when He will return to raise all the dead back to life.  If you or I had to face that day based on our own good works, we would fail.  For no one is able to earn salvation.  But Christ has promised salvation to us based on His perfect life and His sacrificial death.  He has promised that those who have the Holy Spirits gift of faith will rise to eternal life.  For it is by faith that we receive the benefits of Christs work.  We can have absolute certainty of our eternal salvation, not because of anything we have done, but because we have the promise of Christ.  And not even death can stop Him from keeping His promises.  For He has risen from the dead just as He said He would.  Amen

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