This is Resurrection Sunday. It’s the Sunday that we designate each year to celebrate Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
In recent days, I have read L. Frank Baum’s book, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" to my younger children. They enjoyed it so much that I have picked up Baum’s next book in the series, "The Marvelous Land of Oz." In this book, we find a young boy, Tip, who was under the care of a mean woman with magical powers named Mombi. One day, Mombi had travelled to visit a crooked wizard to obtain some magic potion. In her absence, Tip thought to frighten Mombi by making a life-sized man out of sticks with a pumpkin as its head. He decided to place "Jack Pumpkinhead" at a bend in the road, a little way from their house, so as to scare Mombi when she saw him.
When Mombi turned the bend in the road, she encountered the pumpkin-headed man. She was not scared, but felt tricked by Tip. So, she sought her revenge by using her newly acquired powder of life to bring the life-sized doll to life. "Surely this would scare Tip even more than a life-sized doll," she thought! So, she applied the powder to the pumpkin-headed man, said a few magical words, and the pumpkin-headed man came to life! Upon discovering that that powder actually worked, she was excited. She danced around Jack Pumpkinhead screaming with delight, "He lives! He lives! He lives!"
This is the great reality of Easter! "He lives! He lives! He lives!" (Luke 24:6). My heart this morning is for us to catch again the great reality of the resurrection of Christ that we would say in our hearts with more joy than Mombi did, "He lives! He lives! He lives!" This morning, I want for you to relive the joys of the reality of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
Now, this is an amazing thing that we believe. We believe that God came in the flesh to live among us. Throughout the course of His life He did many miraculous things. He taught us much. We believe that He lived a sinless life. And yet, He was crucified as a criminal. He died and was buried in a tomb. But, on the third day, He rose from the dead.
He rose, so that we too, might rise from the dead someday, ever to live with Him. His death was the sacrifice needed to forgive our sins. His resurrection was the first-fruits of life from the dead.
Now, we can easily lose the marvels of everything that this means, because (as we should) we hear it so often. Indeed, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of our faith. Paul told Timothy, his beloved disciple in the faith, "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead" (2 Tim 2:8). However, it’s easy for us to lose the marvels of the resurrection, because we hear it so often.
When it comes to novels, you often hear people say, "Don’t read the last page, because then, you will spoil the ending." Unfortunately for us, this resurrection morning, we have read the last page. We know how the story goes. And, in one sense, the story is spoiled for us. It’s good that it’s spoiled, because it is our very hope! But, because we know the end, we can often miss the joy that we ought to have.
Well, this morning, as you hear about the resurrection, I want for you to try to hear it for the first time. Hear it as if you have never heard about it before. Now, in order to help us in this, I’m not going to read the entire text for you, so that you see the end. No, this morning, I want to walk through the text, letting you see the historical tension work itself out.
Let’s look first at ...
1. The Empty Tomb (verses 1-12)
We'll begin in verse 1, ...
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.
The "they" in this verse is referring to three women, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James (according to verse 10). They had been at the crucifixion and had seen everything that had happened there (23:49). They watched the body of Jesus come down from the cross (23:55). They saw the tomb. They saw the body of Jesus placed in the tomb (23:55). They left the scene to prepare "spices and perfumes" (23:56).
In Israel during the days of Jesus, they didn’t embalm the bodies of the dead like they did in ancient Egypt. Instead, they smothered them in spices, so as to help the smell of the decaying body. This would take some preparation. When the body of Jesus was first prepared with spices, they used a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes (John 19:39). So, these women were probably coming with many pounds of spices for the body of Jesus.
They didn’t come back the next day, because it was Saturday, the Sabbath. But, on Sunday morning, "at early dawn, they came to the tomb" (verse 1). They came with all of their preparations to anoint a body. But, alas, their preparations were in vain.
And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
Now, I want for you to think about what’s going on in their minds. They had come to anoint a body in the grave. Their mind was upon their task for that early morning. In fact, in Mark’s gospel, we find that they were concerned how they were going to roll away the stone, as it would be too large for three women to move it by themselves.
But, when they arrived at the tomb, they found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. They were not prepared for this. According to verse 4, they were "perplexed." Look at verse 4, ...
While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing;
I experience a perplexing situation like this once when I was in LA. I had parked my car in a parking lot one morning for a meeting at about 8 am. Now, I knew that this parking lot had some restrictions for evening parking. I knew that I would not be allowed to park there between 4 pm and 6 pm. But, knowing that this was the morning, I was grateful that it was a safe spot to park for my meeting. Well, when I came out of the meeting to go to my car, I found nothing. The lot was empty, and my car was gone. It was the strangest phenomenon. All sorts of thoughts came to my mind. Had I parked here? Or was it somewhere else? Had my car been stolen? It was only later that I realized what took place. I found another sign, stating "No parking: 7 am to 9 am." That explained it.
We see the same type of explanation happening here in Luke. Through other accounts of the resurrection, we can safely assert that these men were angels, who had rolled away the stone (Matt. 28:2-5).
and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again."
This thought hadn't yet entered into their minds, though it should have. Jesus had told them plainly that this would take place. Likewise, had I seen the sign where I parked my car, I would have known what had taken place.
Shortly after Peter had confessed that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus unveiled His plan to His disciples. He said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day" (Luke 9:22). A few months later, as they were about to enter Jerusalem, Jesus again told them plainly, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again" (Luke 18:31-33). And what was told to the disciples was told to these women as well. At least that’s the assumption of verses 6 and 7: "Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee." These women had heard Jesus tell them the same things that He told His disciples.
But, instead of putting the words of Jesus together with what they experienced in seeing the empty tomb, they were "perplexed" (verse 4). Although told, the resurrection of Christ wasn’t even on their minds. Obviously, they weren’t prepared to see the tomb empty. They were prepared to anoint the body with their spices. It was as if they had a mental block against such a possibility. But, we see that they quickly come to put all of these things together. Verse 8, ...
And they remembered His words,
I believe that it all came together for them at this point. Jesus’ words came to their minds. The empty tomb was before them, the angels had explained what happened, "He is not here, but He has risen", and they believed. They believed that Jesus was, indeed, risen from the dead.
In verse 9, we see their faith in action, ...
and [they] returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles.
Picture the scene. These three women came back from the tomb and told the disciples how they had prepared all of their spices to anoint the body of Jesus, and how they approached the tomb, finding the stone rolled away. They tell the disciples how they encountered two men "in dazzling clothing" (verse 4) and how they told them that Jesus had risen from the dead and how Jesus had told us this very thing: "He would go to Jerusalem and be crucified and rise again!" They concluded that Jesus had risen from the dead!
I can picture the faces of the women lit up with excitement, just like Mombi, "He lives! He lives! He lives!" I can picture them dancing around the disciples for joy, just like Mombi when the pumpkin-headed man came to life, "He lives! He lives! He lives!"
I can also picture the disciples not being amused. To be sure, they were hearing their testimony and observing their joy and remembering everything that Jesus had said to them. But, they couldn’t buy it. They didn’t believe them. This is what verse 11 says, ...
But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.
Men, how slow we are to believe unless we see more proof. At least this is what Peter was after he initially heard the news from the tomb. Typical of Peter, and typical of most men, we read in verse 12 that ...
But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.
Can you picture it? Peter hears the words of these women, not believing what they said. And yet, there was something in Peter that wanted to verify what took place. And he found everything just as it was told to him by the women. The stone was rolled away. The tomb was empty. All that was left were the wrappings in which they had placed His body.
Did Peter believe? No, he was just like the women when they initially encountered the tomb. "He marveled" at the empty tomb (verse 12). Though the resurrection had taken place, and though the tomb was empty, Peter was unconvinced. Rather, he was dumbfounded, as he attempted to deal with the evidence before his eyes. Later, he would believe. It was merely going to take him a bit more time.
In verse 13, the scene shifts away from The Empty Tomb
(verses 1-12), and takes us to ...
2. The Lonely Road (verses 13-27)
Particularly, we come to the road to Emmaus. We meet two disciples along the road. Here’s what we read, ...
And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place.
We don’t know who these disciples were. According to verse 18, we know the name of one of these disciples. His name was Cleopas. The name of the other was unknown to us. As the details of this chapter unfold, we discover that they weren’t any of the 11 remaining disciples either (verse 33). But, they had a close connection with the eleven, because soon after this scene, they returned to them to tell them of what they experienced.
Anyway, these two were walking toward Emmaus. They were talking about Jesus. They were talking about the things He did (verse 19). They were talking about the things He said (verse 19). They were talking about His trial (verse 20), how Pilate tried to release him, how Pilate declared that He was innocent, and how the chief priests persuaded the crowds to demand His crucifixion. They were talking about the way that He died, suffering upon the cross (verse 20). They were talking about their own hopes and dreams of Jesus being the Messiah, to rescue the Jews out of the Roman tyranny (verse 21).
They were talking about all of these things. But, most of all, they were talking about the empty tomb.
It’s not surprising. The events that took place in Jerusalem were well known to all. Jesus was known all over Israel. Even from the earliest days of his ministry, "news about Him spread" rapidly (Luke 4:14). Many were healed by His hands (Luke 4:40; 5:19). Thousands were fed through His works (Luke 9:12-17). Many heard Him speak of the kingdom of God and were amazed at His teaching (Matt. 7:28). Crowds welcomed Him into Jerusalem (Luke 19:37). In Jerusalem, "all the people were hanging on to every word He said" (Luke 19:48).
And then, you place Jesus against the religious leaders of the day. They were fully aware of the influence that Jesus was having upon the crowds, and "were seeking how they might put Him to death" (Luke 22:2). The crowds witnessed their attacks, trying to trap Jesus in what He might say (Luke 20). All of this was taking place among the backdrop of the Roman occupation of Israel. None of the Jews liked the way that the Romans ruled over them. They wanted out of it. They wanted freedom. And Jesus was a revolutionary, who just might be the One to deliver them. Their hopes were in Him!
The stage was set for the drama of the big confrontation. Jesus entered Jerusalem upon a donkey. The crowds were on His side. For the next few days, there is conflict in the public square. And then, the religious leaders find their opening by a tip from Judas. They find out that Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane. And they bring a mob to arrest Jesus late at night in the garden. After a hasty (and unjust) trial in the wee hours of the morning, Jesus was put to death on the cross as a criminal, even though Pontius Pilate, the governing authority, declared Him to be innocent.
That, in and of itself, would have been enough to stir Jerusalem. But add to these things the testimony of the missing body, and all of Jerusalem is in a stir at the events that just took place. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand why these two disciples were deep in discussion. But then, the drama deepens in verse 15, ...
While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.
It is easy to overcome others when they are deep in conversation. These disciples were talking and discussion, and then the very one of whom they were discussing came up into their midst! But, from all they knew, this traveler was a typical traveler along that lonely road to Emmaus.
And He said to them, "What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?" And they stood still, looking sad.
Apparently, this question stopped them in their tracks. They had been walking along, but now, they "stood still." And of course, this was a God-question. Jesus wasn’t really looking for information He knew full-well what they were discussing. But, he asked the question and provoking them so that they might answer the question. Let’s continue in verse 18, ...
One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, "Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?" And He said to them, "What things?"
Again, another God question to lead these disciples to reveal their minds.
... And they said to Him, "The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see."
The sense you get from the disciples here is that they were stumped. They didn’t know how to put everything together. They had placed their hope in Jesus, but He was dead. But, where was His body? They had totally forgotten the words of Jesus regarding His resurrection. And then, we see Jesus rebuking these disciples, ...
And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?"
In other words, wasn’t the death of the Messiah prophesied? Didn’t it have to take place? Only after the Messiah died would He be promoted to glory.
They didn’t understand this, and Jesus called them "fools." He called them "slow of heart", because they didn’t believe everything in the Scripture. To be sure, they believed parts of the Scripture. They believed that the Messiah would reign in His glory. They just didn’t believe in his suffering.
And so, Jesus sets them right in verse 27, ...
Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
Right there from memory, Jesus began at the front of the Old Testament Scriptures and worked His way right through them, showing these two disciples how they taught that the Messiah was to suffer and then to enter into His glory. This is one of those monumental verses in the Scriptures. Books have been written about this one little verse, describing how Jesus is the center of the Bible. The Old Testament predicted His sufferings and glory. The New Testament explains His sufferings and glory.
And here, on the road to Emmaus, Jesus took a few moments to tell them that this was the case. Oh to have had a tape-recorder for that one little sermon, huh?
Jesus may have said something like this:
Gentlemen, you are right to place your hope in Jesus of Nazareth, as the one who would redeem Israel (verse 21). But, have you ever thought of what this means? Do you realize how that redemption was to be accomplished? Think with me about what took place in the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve fell into sin. To the serpent, he said, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." (Gen. 3:15). In order for the serpent to receive his death-wound, the bruise on the head, the Messiah would be bruised on his heal, but a flesh wound.
This signifies the suffering of the Messiah. Consider the Psalms, they speak much of the sufferings of the Messiah. To be sure, Psalm 2 speaks of the victory of the Messiah--the Anointed One. But, before His reign, the rulers of the world spew their hostility toward the anointed one. "The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 'Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!'" (Ps. 2:1-2). This signaled a battle between the Messiah and the rulers of the earth. His sufferings would surely ensue.
Then, perhaps, the climax of all the prophetic Scriptures, comes in Isaiah 53. In that chapter, we see the servant of God coming. We see the Messiah coming. And yet, how does this chapter describe the Messiah? "He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him" (Is. 53:3).
"He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed" (Is. 53:5).
"He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth" (Is. 53:7).
"By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?" (Is. 53:8).
"His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth" (Is. 53:9).
Isn’t this what happened to Jesus? Wasn’t He "despised and forsaken" of men? (Is. 53:3). Wasn’t He "oppressed and afflicted"? (Is. 53:7). Didn’t He go to the slaughter "like a lamb" (Is. 53:7). Wasn’t He "cut off out of the land of the living?" (Is. 53:8). Wasn’t His grave assigned with a rich man -- Joseph of Arimathea? (Is. 53:9). All of these things were prophesied of the Messiah! Don’t you see?
It was necessary for the Messiah to suffer. It was necessary for the Messiah to die! Isn’t this what Jesus told you?
Do you remember the when He came into Jerusalem and confronted the Pharisees with the story of the man who prepared a vineyard and went away. When he sent his servants to collect the proceeds of the vineyard from the workers, they mistreated them and beat them. But, when the owner sent his beloved son, they beat him and killed him (Luke 20:9-18).
Then, Jesus quoted from Psalm 118, predicting that the Messiah would be rejected, ...
"The stone which the builders rejected became the chief cornerstone" (Psalm 118:22).Before the Messiah would become the chief cornerstone, it was necessary for him first to be rejected.
Or do you remember when Jesus was upon the cross? He took the words of Psalm 22 and applied them to Himself? "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" God would forsake the Messiah, allowing Him to die. Do you remember the other verses in that chapter?
All who see me sneer at me;
They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,
‘Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.
Isn’t this what took place when Jesus was upon the cross? The chief priests and the scribes and the elders all mocked at him using these very words (Matt. 27:43). Do you remember verses 16-18?
For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me.
They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.
Didn’t every one of these things take place? With Jesus upon the cross, His hands and feet were pierced in His crucifixion. And yet, He died before they would come and break his legs to bring upon His death. Furthermore, they cast lots for his garments. It couldn’t be more clear. It was necessary for the Messiah to suffer before entering His glory.
But, God wouldn’t allow the suffering to be defeat. Do you remember Psalm 16:10: "You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay"? That wasn’t talking about David. His tomb is in Jerusalem. You have probably seen it (every school child takes a field trip there). His body underwent decay. It was talking about the Messiah. He wouldn’t be in the tomb long enough for His body to undergo decay. He would be raised from the dead. That’s why they can’t find His body. Jesus Christ of Nazareth is alive!
He will enter into His glory! He will obtain the glory of the Messiah! 'The government will rest upon His shoulders; His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end of His government or of peace.' (Is. 9:6-7). He will be seated upon David’s throne forever and ever (2 Sam. 7:13). Through Him all of the nations will certainly be blessed (Gen. 12:3). But,. it was necessary for Him, first to die.
Jesus certainly could have talked about many more portions of Scripture. But, their journey was at it’s end. Verse 28, ...
And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. But they urged Him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over." So He went in to stay with them.
I believe that these disciples were intrigued. They certainly wanted to hear more. Their hearts were buring within them (verse 32).
And here, within the home, they heard more. This is my
third point. We have seen The Empty Tomb (verses 1-12) and The Lonely Road (verses
13-29) Now, we see ...
3. The Revealed Christ (verse 30-53)
It’s here, within the home, that Jesus reveals to these disciples His true identity.
When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him;
Through some divine means, they had been prohibited from recognizing Jesus upon the road (see verse 16). But, now, God was opening their eyes. Notice how this verb is in the passive voice, "Their eyes were opened." They didn’t open their own eyes. Rather, their eyes were opened by someone else. Here we see the sovereign hand of God working in their midst. God was opening their eyes to recognize Jesus.
It’s what we need this morning. We need God to open our eyes to see the reality of the resurrection. But, somehow, when Jesus took the break and blessed it and broke it and distributed it, they began to see the reality. Perhaps it was the nail-pierced hands that helped them to see that it was Jesus. Perhaps it was the way that Jesus addressed His heavenly Father. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Jesus took the bread, and broke it, saying, "This is my body broken for you", using the same words that He used with the 12 in the upper room.
But, at that moment, it all started to come together for them. They began to see. They began to believe. Now, at that moment, we read in verse 31 that ...
... He vanished from their sight.
What happened at this moment, I’m not sure. But, somehow, Jesus was no longer among the disciples. Perhaps it was miraculous. Perhaps He merely slipped out into the darkness, as they marveled at the resurrection. But, then, they began to talk with one another about what took place.
They said to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?"
There was something within the hearts of these disciples that resonated with God’s words. Though Jesus had prophesied of His death before them, they had never really embraced the reality of His death. But, now, with opened eyes, they were seeing it all. They were believing in the raised Messiah. Yes, the Messiah had to come and suffer first. Then, He would enter His glory, and all of the prophecies concerning His kingdom would be fulfilled. Now, they saw how the crucifixion was necessary. But, they also saw how the resurrection was equally as necessary.
We read what took place next in verse 33, ...
And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, saying, "The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon." They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.
In verse 36, we see Jesus continuing to reveal Himself to His disciples, ...
While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be to you." But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit.
Their hearts were will filled with unbelief. They couldn’t believe that it was really Jesus who was standing before them. Was it a spirit they were beholding? Were they hallucinating for lack of sleep? Could it really be Jesus? But, Jesus sought to remove the doubts, ...
And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them.
Jesus was revealing Himself to the disciples as really risen from the dead. His body, which was dead, was now alive! He wasn’t a spirit. They could touch him -- He invites them to do so. He could eat -- He, Himself asked for something to eat. He didn’t need to eat anything at that moment. But, He ate the fish to show that He wasn’t a spirit.
This is all a very clear lesson for them and for us: Jesus Christ rose from the dead in bodily form. That is, His body came to life again!
And then, He continued to teach them about Himself in all the Scriptures.
Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
Jesus had opened their eyes to recognize Him (verse 31). And now, Jesus had opened their minds to understand Him (verse 45). Rather than a cursory study while walking along the road, Jesus seems to have had the time to do an in-depth study in the home. He showed them more passages from the Scripture that refer to Him. Indeed, this is the key to understanding the Bible. It all points to Jesus. Jesus said that "the Scriptures ... testify about Me" (John 5:29).
Again, we see the sovereign hand of God working in the hearts of His disciples. It’s not that they understood everything on their own. It’s not that they saw Jesus and fully understood. No, Jesus had to work upon their minds for them to understand.
Such is the illuminating power that every one of us need to see the reality of the resurrection this morning. We need the Lord to open our eyes to see. We need the Lord to open our ears to hear. Oh, may God do that this morning. May God give us eyes to see the glories of the resurrection afresh this morning. The message of the Scripture is clear, ...
and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
This has been fulfilled. As you work through the book of Acts, you see the disciples waiting in Jerusalem for power from on high, which came at Pentecost. Then, you see the gospel going forth from Jerusalem, into Judea (in the south) and Samaria (in the north). And it has reached the nations. It has reached Loves Park this morning.
This is the message that we preach. We preach "repentance for forgiveness of sins." Christ died "for our sins" according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3). His death upon the cross was an atoning sacrifice. We need but repent and believe, and there we will escape the grave. There could be no better news than this.
This past week, one of my "friends" on Facebook posted the following a few days ago: "My young son asked me what happens after we die. I told him we get buried under a bunch of dirt and worms eat our bodies. I guess I should have told him the truth - that most of us go to Hell and burn eternally - but I didn't want to upset him." As I read this post, I was saddened. I was saddened to see the levity of Hell. A dozen people "liked" this post. One commented, "lol." Another said, "That's funny ... There's an app for that!"
I’m not too active on Facebook. Normally, I just stalk to see what everyone else is doing. But, at this post, I could not remain silent. I commented, "Tell him about Jesus. He died so that we might live eternally in His presence. We simply need to trust him. Read about it in John 3:1-21."
This is the great message of Resurrection Sunday. Jesus Christ has conquered death, so that we might live! We simply need to believe in Jesus. We simply need to turn from our sins and trust in the Savior. Have you done that? If not, I invite you to come to our Savior this morning.
He isn’t a dead Savior. No, He’s a Savior that is risen from the dead. He is a Savior that has ascended into heaven. He is sitting at the right hand of God, waiting for His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet. That’s the point of the last four verses of our text this morning:
And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.
This is my heart this morning. I want for us to leave this place "with great joy." May we have the joy this morning of rejoicing in the risen Christ. "He lives! He lives! He lives!"
This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on
April 24, 2011 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www.rvbc.cc.