************ Sermon on Luke 24:45 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 11, 2004
"The Disciples Believe: He has Risen"
I He is Dead
As far as the disciples were first concerned, Jesus was dead. They were exactly like the women we looked at this morning who came to the grave to properly prepare Jesus' body for burial.
After the women became convinced Jesus indeed was alive they went and told the Eleven and all the others. We are told the disciples "did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense" (Lk 24:11). In the Greek the word "nonsense" means "incredible story, idle tale." We would say "fairy tale." As far as the disciples were concerned, dead people remained in the grave; they didn't suddenly come to life again. In spite of everything they had seen and heard, on the first Easter Sunday the disciples had problems believing the supernatural; they couldn't believe in the resurrection of Christ's body.
Topic: BibleThe disciples were like Thomas Jefferson – even though they should have known better. Jesus had predicted His crucifixion and resurrection. He had performed countless miracles – including resurrections. But they couldn't believe this. As far as the disciples were concerned, Jesus was dead.
Subtopic: Despised And Attacked
Title: A BIBLE WITH A SAD ENDING
In the 18th century, the U. S. Congress issued a special edition of Thomas Jefferson's Bible. It was a simple copy of our King James Bible with all references to the supernatural eliminated. Jefferson, in selecting, had confined himself solely to the moral teachings of Jesus. The closing words of Jefferson's Bible are: "There laid they Jesus and rolled a great stone at the mouth of the sepulchre and departed."
From Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations by Paul Lee Tan, submitted by Charles Krieg, St. Joseph's Seminary, Princeton, NJ.
II Is He Alive?
When Peter went to the tomb his first reaction was about the same as the women we looked at this morning. Remember how the women wondered after they saw the stone and the empty grave? The stone and the empty grave left the women puzzled. We are told that when Peter saw the strips of linen lying by themselves he went away "wondering to himself what had happened" (Lk 24:12).
In the Greek a different word is used to describe Peter's first reaction then the word used to describe the women's first reaction. Peter's reaction was not so much puzzlement as amazement, wonder, admiration, and marvel.
Why was Peter amazed when he saw the burial wrappings? Ask yourself: when would burial wrappings be left behind, when would burial wrappings be discarded, when would burial wrappings be just lying there? The answer: when there no longer is any need for them! Peter saw the strips of linen and he wondered to himself.
Do you see the progress Peter was making? He was one of those who scoffed at the women and dismissed their words as nonsense and fairy-tales. But now he was beginning to feel the awe and amazement experienced by people who are witnesses to the great and wondrous things done by God. It wasn't full-fledged faith yet. But he no longer was simply and automatically dismissing the women and their story.
III He is Alive
A What, then, convinced Peter to believe "He has risen! He has risen indeed!"? Why did the disciples end up believing?
First, there was the strips of linen lying by themselves. As I already mentioned, the only reason those strips were left lying there was because they were no longer needed. Dead people need burial wrappings. Living people, on the other hand, have no need for them. Remember what happened when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead? Lazarus came out of the grave with his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen and a cloth around his face. And Jesus said, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go" (Jn 11:44). But, by themselves, the burial wrappings did not bring faith.
B Second, I did not read this part of the Easter story, but there was two travelers to Emmaus who invited Jesus to have supper with them. Jesus "explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself" (Lk 24:27). Afterwards they could say to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" (Lk 24:32). After Jesus revealed Himself to them they got up and returned at once to Jerusalem and reported to the disciples what they had seen and heard.
Peter, meanwhile, also had an encounter with the risen Lord (Lk 24:34). We are not told any details about this meeting – either by Luke or any of the other Gospels. But Peter also reported back to the disciples.
It seems that these appearances of the risen Lord were enough to convince the apostles and disciples of Jesus that "He has risen! He has risen indeed!" They must have been convinced because they said to one another, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon" (Lk 24:34; cf 1 Cor 15:5).
But, they still did not really believe in an actual, physical resurrection of the Lord. Notice how Jesus still had to admonish them: "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?" (Lk 24:38).
C It is at this point in the story that Jesus Himself suddenly stood among them. This is the third element which took them down the road of faith and belief in Easter's resurrection. However, when the disciples saw Jesus they were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. A ghost!
This is not the first time the disciples mistook Jesus for a ghost. Remember the time Jesus walked on the water towards the disciples? They thought a ghost was coming towards them and they were scared, even terrified (Mk 6:49).
What is a ghost? In the Bible a ghost is the spirit of someone who died. It is someone's soul or spirit without the body. In other words, the disciples did not believe it was Jesus' body that had been raised; they thought it was Jesus' spirit that had somehow risen from the realm of the dead.
I don't think this cartoon is still on TV but children used to watch "Casper the Friendly Ghost." He was a friendly, little, white thing. He meant no harm. He tried to avoid scaring people. He was kind and helpful and considerate. He was neither scary nor dangerous. The ghost the disciples thought they saw, on the other hand, was everything Casper was not. He was scary and dangerous and threatening. At the time of Jesus it was believed that ghosts were the disembodied spirits of the dead who meant harm and not good. Their presence was believed to foreshadow evil, even death.
I want you to notice what Jesus all did to convince the apostles and disciples that He was not a ghost, that He was not a disembodied spirit, that He was a fully resurrected person with a body and a soul, that He was someone Who meant them good and not harm or evil.
Jesus invited the disciples to look at His hands and feet (Lk 24:39). His hands and feet retained the marks, the scars, of the nails used in the crucifixion.
Then Jesus invited the disciples to touch Him, to feel for themselves that He is real flesh and bones (Lk 24:39).
Luke tells us, "They still did not believe it because of joy and amazement" (Lk 24:41). Like Peter in the tomb, they were filled with amazement, wonder, admiration, and marvel.
Then Jesus took His last and final step to convince them He was not a ghost, a disembodied spirit. He asked for food. A ghost, a spirit without a body, would not and could not eat so this is treated as proof that He was no ghost. "Then they gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate it in their presence" (Lk 24:42-43). However, the Bible tells us of more than one heavenly visitor – all of whom were spirits without bodies – who did eat and drink. Think of the three heavenly visitors to Abraham's tent. Abraham set before them some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared which they ate (Gen 18:8). Think of Lot's two heavenly visitors. Lot prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate (Gen 19:3).
By itself, the physical appearance of Jesus did not fully convince the disciples that "He has risen! He has risen indeed!" They were past the point of outright disbelief. But they were still stuck in amazement and wonder.
D So what, then, convinced the disciples that "He has risen! He has risen indeed!"? Here we come to our text for this evening:
(Lk 24:45) Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.The disciples believed in Easter's resurrection the same way the women we looked at this morning did: by means of the Word and the Spirit of Christ.
I want you to notice the parallel with the Emmaus travelers. Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to these travelers what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself (Lk 24:27). He opened the Scriptures to them. The result was that their hearts and minds burned.
There are so many prophecies in Scripture about Christ. I read somewhere that in the Old Testament there are over one thousand promises about Christ: His birth, the place of His birth, His ministry, His miracles, His teaching, His suffering and death, His resurrection, His inclusion of the Gentiles – every one of them fulfilled in Jesus. Let me highlight just some of the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in Jesus:
Jesus would be born in BethlehemThese are just some of the Old Testament prophecies that refer to and are fulfilled in Christ.
(Micah 5:2) "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."
Jesus is the Son of God
(Psalm 2:7) I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son ; today I have become your Father.
Jesus would be anointed with the Spirit of God
(Isaiah 11:2) The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD--
Jesus would be the King
(Psalm 2:6) "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill."
Jesus would be a Prophet
(Deut 18:15) The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.
Jesus would be a Priest
(Psalm 110:4) The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
Jesus would be the "seed of the woman" that would crush the serpent's head
(Gen 3:15) And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
Jesus would be the "seed of Abraham"
(Gen 12:3) I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
Jesus would be of the tribe of Judah
(Gen 49:10) The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.
"Elijah" would come just prior to Jesus
(Malachi 3:1) "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty.
Jesus would be born of a virgin and called Immanuel
(Isaiah 7:14) Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Kings would bow down to Jesus
(Psalm 72:10-11) The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts. (11) All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.
Bethlehem's children would be killed at His coming
(Jeremiah 31:15) This is what the LORD says: "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more."
Jesus would live in Egypt
(Hosea 11:1) "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
Jesus would live in Galilee
(Isaiah 9:1) Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan--
Jesus opened the minds of His disciples to understand that all these Scriptures point to Him. Jesus opened the minds of His disciples to understand that from eternity to eternity God's plan for our salvation included His cross and His grave.
Jesus "opened their minds." In other words, they now believed. They believed Easter's resurrection. They believed in the Lord Jesus.
I invite you, congregation, to go through the Scriptures. I invite you to marvel how everything written about Jesus in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms has been fulfilled. I invite you to look and believe "He has risen. He has risen indeed!"
Do you believe "He has risen. He has risen indeed!"?
When it comes right down to it, belief starts with the Scriptures. But, to understand the Scriptures you mind needs to be opened by the Spirit of Christ.
Spend time with the Word. Let the Spirit open your mind. And, like Peter, like the disciples, like the women, you will believe "He has risen! He has risen indeed!"
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page