************ Sermon on Luke 24:1-12 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 21, 2019
"He has Risen"
Christ has not risen! The women went to the wrong tomb. That's what some critics say. Well, then, Joseph and Nicodemus buried Jesus in the wrong tomb. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were at the wrong tomb for the burial of Jesus. The soldiers were guarding the wrong tomb. Even the angels made a mistake.
Christ has not risen! The disciples came and stole His body. That's the story spread by the Pharisees.
Christ has not risen! Because He didn't die; rather, He fainted, and the cool air of the tomb revived Him. That's what some liberals say.
Christ has not risen! The women and disciples were hallucinating. That's another attempt to explain away Easter.
All four gospel writers agree on six basic facts. One, Jesus truly died and was buried. Two, His tomb was empty three days later. Three, angels explained He arose. Four, women were the first eye-witnesses to the risen Christ. Five, the women tell the apostles. Six, the apostles don't believe the testimony of the women.
The resurrection of Jesus is the greatest and most important event in the Christian religion. It is the main event in God's redemptive plan. It is the cornerstone of the Gospel. According to Romans 10:9-10, in order to be saved you need to do what we heard this morning: you need to confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.
Why does the gospel writer Luke believe Jesus arose from the grave? Why do we believe in Easter's resurrection? Why can Will and Kayla profess faith in the risen Lord? We see three reasons in our Bible reading: the empty tomb, the angels' message, and the women's testimony.
I The Empty Tomb
A Listen to the first three verses of our Bible reading. Luke writes,
(Lk 24:1-3) 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. (2) They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, (3) but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.Do you hear the testimony of Luke? The tomb is empty. The stone is rolled away and when the women go in they see the tomb is empty. They are eye-witnesses to the empty tomb.
Why are the women at the tomb? They followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem. They saw His miracles. They listened to His teachings. They loved Him and put their trust in Him. To their utter shock, Jesus was arrested by the religious authorities. They watched as He was beaten, crucified, pierced, and died. They watched as Joseph and Nicodemus buried His body. They were stunned by all this. But now they want to do something for the man they loved so much.
The last verse of Luke 23 tells us they went home and prepared spices and perfumes with which to anoint Jesus' body after the Sabbath. Telling us what? Telling us they were not expecting a resurrection.
B So on the first day of the week the women go to the tomb. Luke tells us there are at least five women in the group. When the women come to the tomb they "found the stone rolled away." We are talking about the stone at the entrance to the tomb. This stone is rolled away. This is significant. We know from the other gospels the women wondered who would roll the stone away for them because it was extremely large. They know they can't move it. So on the way they are having this discussion:
We have all these spices and perfumes we prepared on Friday. We want to properly anoint Jesus' body for burial. But who is going to roll away the stone?They have no idea how they are going to move the stone.
"Who will move the stone?" That is their question. Telling us what? Telling us that two days after Jesus' death they are not expecting a resurrection. Telling us they are expecting to find Jesus' body in the tomb. Telling us they are expecting to properly anoint Jesus' body.
They come to the tomb and "found the stone rolled away." Remember who rolled the stone away? One of the angels (Mt 28:2). Do you know why the angel rolled the stone away? Not to let Jesus out. Remember, Jesus could walk through walls -- as He did when He appeared to the disciples later that day. The angel rolled the stone away to let the women in. "Who will roll the stone away?" God sent an angel to roll the stone away. God sent an angel to roll the stone away so the women could enter in.
C "When they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus." They looked. They looked for Jesus' body -- all the women from one end of the tomb to the other. We don't know how big the tomb was, how many chambers it had, how many different shelves for bodies. But the women looked, they searched, every part of the tomb. Can't you just picture them standing in the tomb, looking around, their arms filled with spices, linens, sponges, and soap? They walk around the tomb looking into each of the burial chambers in turn. But they do not find the body of the Lord Jesus. Now what? They have come looking for Jesus, for the dead body of Jesus. And when they find it they will give Him the proper burial He deserves. They have done this before when friends or other loved ones have died. But this is the first time a body has gone missing.
The women looked for the body of Jesus. Telling us what? Telling us they still were not expecting a resurrection.
The women "did not find the body of the Lord Jesus." What are we to conclude from this? That the tomb is empty. The tomb is empty. Why is it empty? Because Jesus has risen.
The tomb is empty. This sounds so simple. But it is also so profound. Here is the difference between Christianity and all other faiths: Mohammed's tomb -- occupied. Confucius' tomb -- occupied. Buddha's tomb -- occupied. Jesus' tomb -- empty! Mohammed, Confucius, and Buddha are all dead and in their coffins. But Christ is alive and in heaven and all power has been given to Him!
The message of Easter's resurrection is that death is not the end. Because of Jesus, death is the doorway into eternity. Everyone goes through that doorway and lives forever -- some to resurrection with Christ in the new heaven and new earth and others to resurrection with Satan in hell. The message of resurrection is not found in Buddhism. There is no resurrection in Hinduism -- instead, they have a reoccurring, cycling, reincarnation. But this is the message of Easter.
Why do we believe Jesus is alive? Why do we alone of all the world's religions profess faith in a risen Lord? Here is the first proof: because His tomb is empty.
II The Angels' Message
A This brings us to Luke's second proof for the resurrection of Jesus: the angels' message.
The women are bewildered and in shock when they can't find Jesus' body. Two men suddenly stand near them in dazzling clothes -- like the dazzling appearance of Jesus in the transfiguration. They are glorious, bright, blazing, brilliant, shining beings. The women are frightened -- fear, panic, and terror has come upon the women. There is no reason to believe any of the women at the tomb have ever seen an angel before. Yet, the women realize they are in the presence of heaven's angels. So they bow with their faces to the ground.
B The angels speak to them. "Why do you look for the living among the dead?"
A couple of weeks ago I was looking for a small, little screw driver that I use to tighten my glasses. Where do I look for it? Do I look in the milk carton? Do I look in the pantry? Do I look in the cupboard containing the pots and pans? You don't look in places like that for a screw driver. Rather, I looked in the drawer where I keep specialized tools. To look anywhere else is foolish and silly.
"Why do you look for the living among the dead? You can almost hear the reproach: why are you doing something so foolish? Why are you doing something so unnecessary? It's like looking for a screw driver in a milk carton. "Why do you look for the living among the dead?"
The women were looking for Jesus. They thought they could find Him in the tomb. And, if Jesus was dead, it only makes sense to look for Him there. But Jesus is not dead. The grave could not keep Him. He is living. "He is not here," said the angels. "He has risen! Remember how he told you ..." (Lk 24:6). He told them way back in Galilee. This is nothing new.
Then they remembered. They should have known. He had told them what was going to happen, didn't He? How could they have forgotten? How could they be so foolish? Why do they look for the living among the dead?
"He has risen!" The women aren't at the wrong tomb. The disciples didn't steal His body. The women aren't hallucinating. The angels give the only possible explanation: "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" He died but now He is living. He is alive. He is risen!
Why do we believe Jesus is alive? Why do we alone of all the world's religions profess faith in a risen Lord? Here is the second proof: because the angels say He is risen.
III The Women's Testimony
This brings us to Luke's third proof for the resurrection of Jesus: the testimony of the women. Listen to what Luke says:
(Lk 24:9-10) When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. (10) It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.
Can you picture the scene? The women arrive in front of the Eleven breathless because they hurried from the tomb. Breathless because of their encounter with the angels. Breathless because of the angels' message. They rush into the room. Words are stumbling from them:
Jesus is alive. The tomb is empty. We couldn't find His body. Then angels appeared and told us He is alive. Exactly as he told us way back in Galilee. He said this was going to happen and it did.
All the women are saying the same thing. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others. These are reliable women. These are women they all know. These are women who aren't given to flights of fancy. Multiple eye-witnesses all saying the same thing.
Ask any police officer or detective and they will tell you most eye-witness accounts are unreliable. "What does the suspect look like?" "Red hair, brown hair, black hair, 5'8", 6"2'', thin, fat, big nose, small nose, running, walking." You get the picture. But these women all have the same story.
Why do we believe Jesus is alive? Why do we alone of all the world's religions profess faith in a risen Lord? Here is the third proof: because of the united testimony of all the women.
There is one more testimony. It is a negative testimony. I am talking about the unbelieving disciples:
(Lk 24:11) But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.Nonsense -- that is, a fable, a fairy tale, an unbelievable story.
Fast forward fifty days. What did the disciples proclaim on Pentecost? What did the disciples proclaim to the world? The same thing as the angels, the same thing as the women: that the tomb is empty because Jesus has risen.
Yet, when the women told them the Good News the Eleven did not believe. How does this prove Easter's resurrection? It tells us the disciples did not expect a resurrection. It tells us the disciples did not steal His body. It tells us the disciples did not fabricate the resurrection. The change in the disciples is proof that He has risen!
Why do we believe Jesus is alive? Why do we alone of all the world's religions profess faith in a risen Lord? Luke tells us three proofs that Jesus is alive: the empty tomb, the angels' message, the women's testimony.
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