************ Sermon on Luke 24:5-6 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 27, 2016
"He has Risen"
Ann Marsh attended Stanford and joined the fencing team. She admits she was nothing but a life-size pincushion. She says "I was out of my depth but still thrilled to compete."A similar mistake was made by the women and the Eleven disciples. Jesus was not Who they thought He was. So they ignored the evidence that was right in front of them.
One weekend Stanford hosted a regional tournament and fencing teams from half the country showed up. Somehow Ann ended up in one of the last rounds, which absolutely should not have happened. When the results were in, she placed ninth in the tournament, but she knew she should have ended up 29th.
Afterwards, in the locker room, one of the other competitors approached her hesitantly. "Are you Ann Marsh ...?" "Yeah," Ann responded, furrowing her brow. The other competitor backed away.
Only later did Ann learn that out East there was another Ann Marsh; this one was an Olympian fencer. Stanford Ann's opponents lost because they thought she was the other Ann.
This begs the question: Who did they think Jesus was? They thought Jesus was dead. They no longer thought Jesus was the Messiah. It seemed to them that Jesus was not the Son of God.
The seven who professed their faith this morning did not make this mistake. They know exactly Who Jesus is: their risen Savior and Lord!
I The Confession
A I don't know if you realized this, but we started our worship service this Easter morning with one of the earliest creeds of the church. What the early church believed and confessed we also confess: "He is risen!"
"He is risen!" is the first and basic confession of the Christian church. Not, "He suffered." Not, "He is crucified." Not, "He is buried." But, "He is risen." Why? Because as we will see in tonight's message, the Christian faith stands or falls with the truth of the resurrection.
B There has always been opposition and skepticism when it comes to the resurrection of our Lord. Sad to say, we see that opposition and skepticism even on Easter morning. The women came to the tomb with spices to finish anointing Jesus' body for burial -- telling us they were not expecting Easter's resurrection. When they arrived, they discovered the tomb wide open and the body missing. This left them perplexed and wondering (Lk 24:4). Suddenly, two angels appeared and told them that Jesus had risen, according to His promise.
When the women came back from the tomb, they told the Eleven what they had seen and heard. "But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense" (Lk 24:11). When Peter went to see for himself, he also was left perplexed and wondering (Lk 24:12).
Ever since the first Easter, there continues to be those who oppose the resurrection story. You all know the story spread by the chief priests: Jesus didn't arise; rather, His disciples came during the night and stole His body (Mt 28:13). A modern liberal variation of this lie says the Romans or the Jews removed His body.
Some liberals deny that Jesus even died on Good Friday. He simply fainted on the cross, they say, and the cool air of the tomb revived Him. From there the stories become very fanciful. One liberal tradition says Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children with her. Another liberal tradition says Jesus moved to Japan and had a family there.
Another group of liberals declare that Jesus did die but did not arise. They explain away the resurrection stories by saying the women were so insane with grief that they did not see Jesus' body laying in the tomb. Another liberal theory is that the resurrected Jesus was a ghost and His body remained in the tomb. Jesus, they say, did not really arise except in the faith of the church.
Did you know there is more evidence for the resurrection of Christ than for His birth? Look at what is recorded in Scripture: only two narratives deal with the birth of Christ whereas more than twelve deal with the resurrection. Strange, isn't it, that all the world can celebrate His birth without celebrating His resurrection?!
C On this Easter morning, in spite of opposition and skepticism, the Christian church believes and confesses a risen Savior and Lord.
There are at least five reasons we do this. First, is the empty tomb. Yes, liberals and Jews scoff at this, but no other founder of a major religion has an empty tomb. Mohammed's tomb, occupied. Buddha's tomb, occupied. Confucius' tomb, occupied. Moses' tomb, occupied. Jesus' tomb, empty.
Second, is the burial wrappings without a body. Why would grave robbers take the time to unwrap His body, especially when there was armed Roman soldiers guarding the tomb? That doesn't make sense.
Third, is the appearances of Jesus during the forty days between His resurrection and ascension. Scripture records twelve appearances.
Fourth, is the witness and presence of the Holy Spirit -- something that I kept saying in Pastor's Class to those who confessed their faith this morning. If the evidence is so clear, why do some confess a risen Savior and Lord when so many others don't? Because the Spirit has testified with their spirit that Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. Do you hear what I am saying? Those who confess a risen Savior and Lord do so because they have the Spirit at work in them.
Fifth, is the message of Jesus Himself. The angel said, "Remember how he told you ...?" We looked at what Jesus said the first Sunday of Lent. Three times Jesus told His disciples and followers that "the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again" (Lk 24:6).
The last thing I want to mention is the radical change that occurred in the disciples. All except John had forsaken Christ before his crucifixion and fled like cowards. Peter even denied he knew the Lord in order to save his own life. But suddenly there was a complete change in their conduct. With great boldness they began to testify to the risen Christ.
II The Must
A During the Good Friday service we heard the account of Jesus' burial. In Q & A 41, the Heidelberg Catechism asks why Christ was buried. It answers that "His burial testifies that He really died." That is our testimony against the liberals who want to maintain that Christ did not really die on Good Friday. We testify He really did die and was buried.
But we can say more about the burial of Christ. Let me get at the point I want to make by asking, "When did the exaltation of Jesus begin?" Usually, our mind jumps to Easter's resurrection. Jesus, we say, was exalted on Easter morning. But actually, the exaltation of Jesus begins earlier.
In fulfilment of Isaiah 53:9, after His death Jesus was assigned a grave with the rich. Now, remember, He died a criminal's death. Normally, the body of a crucified criminal was taken down and dumped into Gehenna, the burning garbage dump outside Jerusalem. Instead, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus' body. When permission was given, he wrapped Jesus' body in linen cloth with costly oils and spices. Then He placed Jesus' body in a new tomb. These events were the beginning of His exaltation. But important as these events are, they are nothing next to the glory of Easter's resurrection.
B Now, remember, Jesus said His death and resurrection MUST happen. Let's first ask why must Jesus die? Let's expand this and ask why must any person die? Because of sin. "The wages of sin is death," says the Bible (Rom 6:23). Sinners suffer the just sentence of death, and their bodies lie in the grave until the final judgment (Gen 2:15-17; Dan 12:1-2). Placed on Jesus was the sin of the world. Placed on Jesus was your sin and my sin. So Jesus had to die. So Jesus must die.
But now the next question: Why must Jesus arise? Let's go back to the words of Isaiah 53:9. After telling us Jesus was assigned a grave with the rich in His death, Isaiah adds, "though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth" (Is 53:9). In other words, Jesus had committed no sin.
Remember, death and the grave are for sinners. Jesus wasn't a sinner but He was treated as if He was a sinner. Jesus was NOT a sinner, yet He died and was buried. He did NOT deserve the grave. So once He was in the grave the grave could not keep Him. Death could not hold Him. Hades could not claim Him. Death cannot and does not keep hold of the righteous.
C Let me tell you, now, another MUST. Because Jesus conquered death and the grave, those who believe in Jesus MUST also conquer death and the grave. It is a MUST because believers are joined to Jesus in His death and resurrection. It is a MUST because believers are credited with the righteousness of the resurrected Jesus and death cannot and does not keep hold of the righteous. But more on this in tonight's message.
III The Search
A Jesus MUST die and MUST be raised. In the light of this statement, let's look at the question of the angels: "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" (Lk 24:5).
This past week Ruth and I were looking for our vegetable slicer. It used to be in the island but it has all those sharp edges we need to keep away from the grandchildren. So where did we put it? Do you think I looked for it in the toaster? Did I look for it on the bookshelves? Did I check the medicine cabinet? Did I look in the milk carton? Of course not! It only made sense to look for the vegetable slicer in one of the high cupboards of the kitchen.
Now, apply this logic to the Easter Story. The women were searching for Jesus. So where should they look? If Jesus was dead, it only makes sense to search for His body in a mortuary or in a morgue or in the tomb. But if Jesus is alive, that's the last place to look for Him. "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" (Lk 24:5).
The women should have known better. "Remember how he told you ... The Son of Man must ... be raised again." He told them this was going to happen. They knew His sinless life. They knew death could not keep hold of Him. "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" (Lk 24:5).
"He is not here." So, where is He? Where should they look for a living Jesus? In the temple -- He loved being there in His Father's house. Or at the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus -- they were His good friends. Or the Jordan River -- where He was baptized. Or Cana -- the scene of His first miracle. Or the Garden of Gethsemane. Almost any spot but the tomb.
B Where must we look for Jesus? We too must look for Jesus in the place of the living.
We can start off with the church. It is within the church, the people of God, that we can find the Lord Jesus. His power, His life, His Spirit, His love, His care and concern, His grace, His holiness, His forgiveness, is to be found in us. Kind of scary, isn't it? People should be able to look at Trinity United Reformed Church and find the living Jesus here.
Many today do not want to look for Jesus in the church. "I believe in Jesus," they say, "but I want nothing to do with the church." So they claim belief in Jesus but rarely, if ever, attend church and certainly don't take on the responsibilities of church membership. Instead of looking for Jesus in the wrong place, these people are not looking for Jesus in the right place.
We look for Jesus -- the living Jesus -- in our heart. If we only believe, then Jesus lives in us, making and shaping and molding us to be like Him.
Especially, though, we look for Jesus -- a living Jesus -- in heaven, seated at the right hand of God where He is head of the church and ruler of all things.
Our Bible reading ends with Peter "wondering to himself what had happened" (Lk 24:12).
We know. Those who professed their faith this morning, they know. "He is not here; He has risen!"
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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