************ Sermon on Luke 24:6-8 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 24, 2011
The Fresno Bee had a fascinating article last week on Genevieve Marie de Montremare, a local lady who "was a recognized authority on the Friesian breed" of horses. Equestrian magazine published an article in 2005 describing her genetics degree and her French heritage. After she founded the International Friesian Show Horse Association, around 2004, she became known as "the queen of the Friesian world."Did Genevieve experience a Lazarus-type resurrection? Did she arise from the grave even as Jesus arose from the grave? Turns out her death was fake. So was her genetics degree and her expertise in Friesian horses. And, her French ancestry was also fake – she actually grew up in Lindsay, California as Genevieve Sanders.
Her husband, a doctor, told friends that his wife died suddenly on November 30, 2007. He helped write her obituary and obtain a French death certificate so he could sell her assets. He took her body to France, where her heart was buried in one church and her body buried in another.
Yet, four months after her death her signature appeared on a legal document. Last Summer, a lawyer trying to get information was directed to a dimly lit bedroom where he found a bedridden woman. And, in a recent interview, a woman who answered the phone identified herself as Genevieve's personal nurse. She said Genevieve is gravely ill, suffering from major depression, hypertension, and diabetes, and hasn't left her home in more than a decade.
In a similar fashion, there are those who say Jesus' life, death, and resurrection were nothing but a fake. This started already with the disciples "who did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense" (Lk 24:11).
We have heard public professions of faith on this Easter Sunday. Was faith professed in a Jesus Who is still on the cross – as Roman Catholics believe? Was faith professed in a Jesus Who is still in the grave – as liberals say? Of course not! Those who professed faith in Jesus did so in a Jesus Who is off the cross and out of the grave just as He said. So, says our text, remember. Remember that Jesus died and Jesus arose.
A David, Chris, and Josh can never remember my birthday. Sometime in January they know. But they are never sure of the actual day. They need to be reminded – maybe I should send them the church's birthday calendar. Funny that they have no problems remembering their mother's birthday.
This past week I noticed for the first time that "remember" is one of the key words in the Easter story. The women are told, "Remember how he told you ..." (Lk 24:6). And in the very next verse we are told, "Then they remembered his words" (Lk 24:7).
We all know that "remember" is a key word when it comes to Good Friday and the Lord's Supper:
(1 Cor 11:24) "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." However, we usually don't tie in "remember" with Easter.
(1 Cor 11:25) "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."
(Cf Lk 22:19)
B Do you realize that "remember" is to be found throughout the Gospels. Think of the "Song of Mary." After she is told she will bear God's Son, the Messiah, Mary glorifies the Lord and rejoices in God her Savior. Why? Because God has been mindful of His servant (Lk 1:48); that is, He has remembered her. And, because God has remembered to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants (Lk 1:54). After the birth of John the Baptist, Zechariah praises God because God has remembered His holy covenant (Lk 1:72). After Peter denied Jesus three times and a rooster crowed, Peter remembered Jesus had predicted the denial (Mt 26:75). What did the thief on the cross ask Jesus? "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Lk 23:43).
C "Remember" is a key idea to be found not just in the Gospels but throughout the Bible. For instance, the rainbow is a sign that God remembers His covenant with all living creatures to never again destroy all life with a flood (Gen 9:15). When Israel was a slave in Egypt, we are told God heard their groaning and remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex 2:24). How does the fourth commandment begin? It begins with, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy ..." (Ex 20:8). What did God command Israel to do after she crossed the Jordan River on the way to Jericho? To set up stones on the bank of the Jordan as a memorial – a remembrance – to the people of Israel forever (Josh 4:7).
D When it comes to "remember" there are two constant themes throughout the Bible. First, God never forgets; He always remembers. He remembers His covenant. He remembers His promises. He remembers His salvation plan. He remembers His people. Second, man often forgets; we have trouble remembering what we are supposed to remember. We forget God's covenant. We forget God's promises. We forget God's people. We forget God's gracious and merciful acts. We forget God's Word and God's Law. We forget. God remembers. It is as simple as that.
No wonder the Bible keeps telling us to remember. Which is why we are so repetitious in the church. We celebrate the Lord's Supper seven times per year to help us remember the cross. We keep reading the Law on Sunday after Sunday because we forget we are sinners and we forget how to live the Christian life. We keep reading the forms for baptism and Lord's Supper and profession and installation because we forget our promises and our vows before God and His people. We forget. God remembers.
Can you believe it? We forget the cross. We forget the resurrection. We forget God's promises. We forget. God remembers.
II The Women
A Our Scripture reading begins with five (or more) women on their way to the tomb of Jesus (cf Lk 24:10). After Jesus died the women watched as Joseph took down Jesus' body. They followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how Jesus' body was laid in it (Lk 23:55). They watched as a stone was rolled in front of the tomb (Mk 16:3). Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes in order to anoint Jesus' body (Lk 23:56).
Two days later on the way to the tomb the women wondered who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb (Mk 16:3). But when they arrived at the tomb they saw – much to their surprise – that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away (Mk 16:4).
The women walked into the tomb and went straight to where Joseph had laid Jesus' body but Jesus' body was not there. Scripture tells us they were "wondering" about this. The missing body of Jesus perplexed and confused the women. They didn't know what to do, what to think, or which way to turn.
While they were wondering about this two angels appeared to them. This appearance frightened and alarmed the women so they trembled with fear and bowed down with their faces to the ground.
Then comes what has to be one of my favorite lines about Easter's resurrection: "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" (Lk 24:5). Don't you just love this line? "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" (Lk 24:5). Think about this line. Where do you look for the dead? You look for the dead in graveyards and morgues and funeral homes. Where do you look for the living? You don't look for them in tombs. You look for the living in the place of the living. You look for the dead in the place of the dead. But you don't look for the living in the place of the dead.
"Why do you look for the living among the dead?" (Lk 24:5). Do you hear what the angels are saying? Aren't they saying that Jesus is alive?
B "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" (Lk 24:5). Why were the women doing this? Because they forgot. Because they did not remember. So the angels said to them, "Remember ..."
(Lk 24:6-7) "He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: (7) 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"The women forgot. The women forgot the words of Jesus. The women forgot the promises of God in the Old Testament.
How many times did Jesus tell His followers He was going to die but on the third day be raised? At least three times (Lk 9:22,31; 11:29-30; 18:31-33). Furthermore, the prophets spoke about this (Hosea 6:1-2). And, we also read about this in the Psalms (Ps 22, 118). As Jesus told the disciples in one of His resurrection appearances,
(Lk 24:44) "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."
Jesus told the women. The Old Testament told the women. But the women forgot. They did not remember.
C The women forgot so they prepared spices and perfumes. The women forgot so they went to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body. The women forgot so they wondered who would roll the stone away. The women forgot so they looked for the living among the dead. The women forgot so they were perplexed when they did not find Jesus' body.
The women forgot so imagine their state of mind, their mood. Here are five or more women, followers of Jesus. Women who witnessed the whole grisly crucifixion. Women whose dreams were dashed and whose hopes were broken. Women who were sorrowful, disappointed, devastated, weary in body and drained in spirit. Women who can think of nothing to do but to anoint Jesus' body in one last, final, loving act of devotion.
The women forgot. They forgot the promise of the resurrection. So they went through the motions of death and burial. So they were bleak of spirit. So they were discouraged and disappointed. All because they forgot. All because they did not remember.
"Remember." That's what the angels say. Remember what you have been told. Remember what Jesus said. Remember Who He is. Remember what He promised. Remember what He told you He would do.
"Remember." A word to the women but also a word to us and to those who professed their faith this morning. Remember Who Jesus is. Remember what Jesus promised. Remember the cross. Remember the empty grave. Remember the depth and power of His promises. Remember, because we are more like these women than we would like to think. We, too, forget.
Remember when you face trials of many kinds. Remember when there is death, illness, cancer. Remember when there are marriage problems. Remember when your life gets turned upside-down.
So what do we do because we do not remember? What do we do because we forget? We worry. We have insomnia. We lay awake all night. We fret. We cast around for a way out of our predicament. We actually make ourselves sick. We fall into sin. We turn to the bottle. We use illegal drugs. We turn small problems into big problems and mole-hills into mountains. All because we do not remember. All because we forget we serve a risen Savior.
D "Remember ..." That's what the angels say. "Then they remembered his words" (Lk 24:8).
We aren't told, but what do you think happened to the mood of the women when they remembered? Do you think they were still depressed, disappointed, heart-broken, devastated, weary? Do you think they remained in the depths of sorrow and grief? Of course not! They remembered and their souls were lifted up. They remembered and they rejoiced.
And, what do you think they did with their precious spices and perfumes? Were the spices and perfumes even important anymore? Did they just drop the spices in the empty tomb? We don't know, but we do know this – the spices and perfumes were no longer needed. They were no longer important. All because they remembered.
The women remembered and they told everything to the Eleven Apostles and all the others with them. "But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense" (Lk 24:11). The apostles and the others did not believe. Why not? Because they, too, did not remember. Because they, too, forgot.
Remember, congregation. Remember, those of you who have confessed your faith this morning. Remember that Christ has risen from the dead. Remember Who He is. Remember what He is doing in you. Remember that He, the risen Lord, is working in you and with you. Remember we serve a risen Savior.
Remember. And, don't ever forget. That Jesus lives.
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