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HE HAS RISEN!

Luke 24:1-24:35
Key Verse: 24:5b-6

In the last lesson we learned that while Jesus was dying on the cross, the curtain of the temple was torn into, indicating that a new and living way for us to come to God was opened. Then Jesus was happy to die calling out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” and breathed his last. His death was a victorious and glorious one after much suffering. After death he was buried by a prominent man of the Council. This Jesus had to rise again as he promised. The resurrection of Jesus is written in all four gospels along with his death on the cross and burial. Yet, Luke’ description of Jesus’ resurrection is longest with 53 verses including the unique description of two’ disciples encountering Jesus on the way to Emmaus. The point of this long detailed description was the fact of Jesus’ resurrection: he died and rose again. In this deceiving world even fact is denied, yet, fact is fact. Our belief should be based on the historical fact. Nonetheless to say, the resurrection of Jesus is the greatest event that had happened in human history. His resurrection is the confirmation of his atoning death for our sins and the assured token of everlasting life and the eternal kingdom of God. The words of God in Luke’s gospel specifically tells us how we can put our faith in his the resurrection and live by that faith. May the risen Jesus come to us and speak to us.

First, the women at the tomb (1-12). Look at verse 1. “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.” These women were the ones who watched the unjust and cruel death of Jesus by crucifixion and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. They were faithful women. Although Jesus was gone from this world and all others went on their own way, they were still faithful to him. They went to the tomb very early in the morning on the first day of the week. Because of their love for Jesus it was not scary for them to go to the graveyard that very early morning. Their last hope was to anoint the dead body of Jesus whom they loved dearly. How sorrowful were they? Then what happened? Look at verses 2 and 3. “They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” To them it was likely that things went from bad to worse. Even such a tiny last hope was not possible for them. Who on earth could understand these women, let alone help them?

How does the story go? While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lighting stood beside them. Their tearful eyes were shocked by the light of the shining clothes. They were so frightened that in their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground. Now it seemed that to them things went to worst. Yet, at this time amazing news came to them. They men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” What a news! But firstly the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the tomb?” This is a kind of the word of rebuke not of comfort, yet certainly out of love. The women came to the tomb to embalm the dead body of Jesus, for they loved him. This was all they could do in their situation. We can say that this was a human limitation. However, from God’s viewpoint this was a mere dead religious activity which would not please God. If they had come to look for Jesus, they came to a wrong place. They should have not come to this cemetery. For he is the Living One. The men said, “He is not here; he has risen!” Jesus is the Living One. In Revelation chapter 1 when John saw the risen Jesus, he fell at his feet as though dead. Then the risen Jesus said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever” (1:17-18).

Jesus is the Living One. He is not among the dead. He is not hear; he has risen! We must know this very clearly. However great a human being is, the person is among the dead. All religious leaders, philosophers and social reformers died and they are among the dead. Mohammed, Socrates, Confucius, and Buddha were dead and belong to the dead. One temple in Thailand claims to have the remains of Buddha’s toe in the center of its shrine. Other body parts may be in other shrines. This only shows that he is among the dead. There are the living dead and the deadened, and all belong to the dead. Jesus is the living One; our God is the God of the living, not of the dead (Lk 20:38). Yet how easy it is for us as believers to look for the living among the dead! Christianity is not a mere display of religious activities with singing, praying, Scripture-reading and some devotion in deadened spirit. The risen Jesus said to the church in Sardis, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Rev 3:1). Whether we as an individual or a church are spiritually dead or alive makes me trembled and humbly awake. Christianity is the fellowship with the living One.

There was a family of Martha and Mary and their brother Lazarus. When the Lazarus lay sick, the sisters texted to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” Then Jesus sent back a text message, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory…” After receiving the message they thought Jesus would come right away, for they were assured of his love. But Jesus did not come until Lazarus died. When Jesus came to them, they expressed their deep sorrow with some sort of bitterness, questioning like this, “Why coming so late?” Yet, Jesus gave them the words of promise, “Your brother will rise again.” Then Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus meant Lazarus’ rising again right now, but she could not believe it, even imagine such a thing. Yet, she concealed her unbelief with her eschatological knowledge, which had nothing to do with her practical life. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never did. Do you believe this?” Then she answered, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” Even at this point she only showed her theoretical belief. As a result she remained in deep sorrow, although Jesus, the resurrection and the life, was right there to raise Lazarus. Anyway, Jesus determined to raise Lazarus and said to her, “Take away the stone.” Even such a moment she spoke big about the impossibility of raising her dead brother, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” At this Jesus said to her out of his broken heart for her unbelief, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” After this Jesus indeed raised Lazarus and let him come out of the tomb. Martha’s unbelief problem was due to not believing Jesus’ words of promise given to her three times.

Here in this passage we need to pay attention to how God helped the women through the two suddenly appeared men. They said to the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” These words are not all the men said. In Luke’s gospel they continue to speak, “Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then the women remembered his words. What does remembering his words men? Surely it meant they could believe Jesus’ being raised again as he promised through remembering the words of Jesus. Interestingly Luke did not record the women’s encountering the risen Jesus face to face as did Matthew and Mark. Remembering Jesus’ words was enough for them to believe the resurrection of Jesus. Definitely remembering Jesus’ words indicates that Jesus’ words came back into their mind and were alive in their hearts.

Then the women could be resurrection witnesses. Look at verses 9 and 10. “When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.” Notably, in Luke’s gospel their names were written here as those who told this to the apostles, while in other gospels their names were written when they went to the tomb. These are the names of resurrection witnesses to the apostles.

But the apostles did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. According Mark, they were severely rebuked by Jesus for their stubborn refusal to believe the women (Mk 16:14). Peter, however, got up and ran to the tome. Bending over, he saw the stripes of linen, lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. There was a clear evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. Yet he was still wondering, for Jesus’ words were not in his mind.

How great the resurrection of Jesus is! “He is not here; he has risen!” How can we believe this personally while it seems nonsense to the people of the world? We can believe in the resurrection of Jesus as we believe the written words of the Bible, although we do not see the risen Jesus with our physical eyes. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says, “…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised according to the Scriptures.” Scripture is everything. No human being saw and knew completely what had happened in human history for several thousand years. It was impossible. God, who is the Alpha and Omega, watched all people and all events and wrote in the Scriptures what is necessary for us to believe. The Scripture is the very source of our belief. Because of the Scriptures we can believe Jesus’ death and resurrection. God is living; he is the living God, so are his words in the Scriptures. So the Bible is the Bible of today for each individual beyond time and space.

Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” But when we believe the resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead in our hearts, the spirit of the risen Christ dwells in us and assures us that we are not in our sins. Those who believe the resurrection of Christ Jesus have a living hope of the kingdom of God through a new birth. They can entrust their future into the hands of the risen Christ. And through faith in the resurrection of Christ Jesus, you can I can overcome the thought of impossibility and challenge our limitations even deadened conditions and experience the power of Jesus’ resurrection see the glory of God in our lives. The power of resurrection is the power of almighty God who raise Jesus from the dead. We have seen this power through our Easter celebration. We may see this power all the more while we prepare SBC and through this conference. Paul said in Philippians 3:10, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings…” Like him, may we have earnest desire to know Christ and the power of Jesus’ resurrection in our lives along with the fellowship of sharing his sufferings!

Second, two disciples on the road to Emmaus (13-35). This part is an interesting story with a clear lesson to support the first part. Look at verse 11. Now that same day two of them was going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, surely out of despair when they saw Jesus being crucified and dead in Jerusalem. In their despair they were running for their lives to Emmaus. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. Then Jesus himself came up and walked along with them. At this point their physical eyes were blinded to see Jesus in them. The risen Jesus took initiative and let them speak. They knew all about Jesus of Nazareth and shared the information all about him along with their hope and what their women and their companion did: “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” The two disciples seemed to be nice people and so kind to the stranger. But their words were the words of those who were under the power of death, full of despair and fatalistic thoughts. Yet, an important thing is that they confessed the despair in their hearts.

Hearing all the story, how did Jesus respond to them? He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all that the Scriptures concerning himself.” Here Jesus’ way of helping them draws our attention. First, the risen Jesus rebuked them for their foolishness and slowness of heart to believe the spoken words of Bible. Despair is not an intellectual problem, but a heart problem. Then he pointed out their ignorance of Christ’s suffering and glory. After this, instead of identifying himself directly to them as Christ, he had a long Bible study with them beginning with Moses and all the prophets and going through all the Scriptures with the theme of Christ himself. We will see the result of this Bible study.

Look at verses 29 and 30. “As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them.” Now it was the supper time. So when he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then what happened? “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” In this verse two things are written together in one sentence: their recognizing him with their eyes opened and Jesus’ disappearing from their sight. Here we see the purpose of the risen Jesus appearing to them. It was to help them to recognize him. When they did so, he disappeared from their sight. When the risen Christ had Bible study with them and broke the bread and gave it to them, they could recognize him. Taking the bread, breaking it and giving to them can mean having meal together. The risen Jesus did not perform any miracle before them to convince his being alive. He explained the Scriptures and had the fellowship with them in a very ordinary and familiar way of eating together.

When Jesus disappeared from them, they were not sorrowful or discouraged and despairing at all. They were convinced of Jesus’ being alive. “They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’” With that conviction they got up and returned at once to Jerusalem, surely to challenge their failed life there with resurrection faith. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. They also became resurrection witnesses.

Christ Jesus is living. He is willing to walk with us in our life journey, teaching the words of the Bible to us and having life together with us so that we can recognize him and grow in our faith in him. He wants us study the Bible with him until our hearts are burning within us and the Scriptures be fully opened to us. His words are clear to give understanding to the simple (Ps 119:130). Also his words are limitless and boundless (Ps 119:95). We should keep a pure and humble heart and searching attitude and eager learning mind.

In this study we thank and praise God for Jesus who was raised from the dead according to his promise. He is the living One in this world of the dead: “He is not here; he has risen!” It is true! The Lord has risen.” We can believe the resurrection of Christ Jesus when we accept the written words of the Scriptures personally. May we have an absolute faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and live in this world with that faith, witnessing his resurrection and challenging impossible things to his glory.

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