Sunday, August 28, 2022 Brad Barrett
The Resurrection: From Suffering to Glory
I officiated at a funeral two weeks ago. The mother of our former neighbors died. She was 93.
When a 93-year old dies, we’re not typically shocked, are we? We actually may think, “Wow, she made it to 93! That’s a good, long life.”
But what if it was a funeral, not of a 93-year old, but a 3-year old? Our reaction would be quite different. Devastated. Shocked. “Just 3 years old! What a tragedy!” We’re shocked in one case but not the other. And I understand why.
But let’s back up all the way and consider: Have you ever wondered why do we have death at all? We seem to accept the death of a 93-year old but not the 3-year old. But why do people die at all? Have you ever considered that?
Scriptures give us the answer. God’s Word tell us that death was not included in our world as God originally created it.
But now death has been with us so long that we don’t know any other way. Death is normal. Death dominates this world.
This morning we are going to read a story that borders on unbelievable. And the people who witnessed it did not believe it. At first. But they were confronted with indisputable evidence of the unbelievable, and they finally believed.
We are in the last 2 weeks of a long sermon series going through the Gospel of Luke. If you are unfamiliar with the Bible, that’s OK. Let me give a brief overview.
The Gospel of Luke is one of four books in the Bible that tell the story of Jesus Christ.
The word “Gospel” means, “good news.” So these four stories recount the “good news” about Jesus. Good news of this unique, unparalleled person from 2000 years ago. A person who is the fulfillment of centuries of prophetic words from God.
A person who is the Hero of the story. Actually, the Hero of all stories.
Luke’s Gospel is so named because a man named Luke wrote it. (The same for the other three Gospels written by Matthew, Mark, and John.) Luke wrote it under the inspiration and direction of God.
That’s what the Bible claims.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 ESV All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The Scriptures are from God’s mouth. He “breathed it out.” And it’s profitable. Useful. Beneficial…for our lives to know God, to understand ourselves and this world, and to know about the afterlife—what happens after we die.
Today’s passage is Luke 24, and the topic is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Arguably, Jesus’ resurrection is the single most important event in human history. No exaggeration. Though death has dominated this world for thousands of years, God has provided a glorious solution: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And his resurrection leads to eternal life for us through him.
So whether this is your first Sunday at Stonebrook or your 1000th, this could be the best chapter in the whole Bible you could read!
Luke 24:1-12 The Startling Discovery
Luke 24:1–12 (ESV)
1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.
“They” refers to several women who on Friday witnessed Jesus’ body placed in the tomb (see 23:55 and 24:10). They then went home and prepared spices and ointments suitable for a burial. It was morning of the first day of the week: Sunday morning.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.
Jesus was buried not in a casket in the soft ground like we do here in the Midwest. He was buried in a tomb cut out of the rock with a large, cylindrical stone rolled over the entrance. We’ll read later that these were actually angels who looked like men.
5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?
Why do you look for someone who is alive here in a graveyard?
6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,
7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
8 And they remembered his words,
9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven [apostles] and to all the rest.
These two angels told them that Jesus was alive, just as he prophesied multiple times that he would be killed but be raised from the dead. However, the disciples simply didn’t understand it or believe it. Virtually every Jew had in mind that when the Messiah came, he would come as a Conquering King and overthrow oppressive governments like the Roman empire. So they just couldn’t seem to grasp that Jesus would suffer, be killed, and then rise from the dead. Although the prophesies did reveal that, they simply didn’t get it. But now these dear women hear this stunning news of a resurrected Jesus. We can only imagine how fast they traveled back to the Eleven apostles and the other disciples.
10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles,
11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
The disciples should have believed them. Yet, in a way, I don’t blame them for not believing the women’s story. They simply could not imagine someone rising from the dead. Such a thing seems preposterous.
If the knowledge of the gospel—of Jesus Christ dying for sins and rising from the dead—if that knowledge is compared to a light on a dimmer switch, right now the dimmer is turned almost completely off. The past several days have been devastating. Crushing. Soul-darkening. Their Messiah sent from heaven was arrested, beaten, crucified, and buried. If they had never been depressed and confused before, they were now.
So the light in their heart was virtually turned off, and they simply wouldn’t believe the women’s story of angels and a resurrected Messiah.
But Peter apparently had enough questions that he took some action:
12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
The tomb was empty except the linen cloths that Jesus’ body had been wrapped in. Something strange had happened. At this point, the dimmer switch may have gone up very slightly, but Peter still doesn’t get it. He went home marveling. Amazed.
Luke 24:13-35 The Burning Conversation
The events of that day continue in amazing fashion with another story. I love this passage. What the disciples simply did not get before is now made crystal clear. I so wish I could have been there in these few hours to experience this.
13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,
14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
So it’s still Sunday and these two disciples are walking to this nearby town.
15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
That’s fascinating. Somehow God kept them from knowing it was Jesus.
17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.
They stopped walking to stare at this man. They were downcast. Discouraged.
18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
Cleopas is shocked. How could anyone not know what’s been happening in Jerusalem?
19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.
21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.
22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning,
23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.
24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
So they tell the stranger what has happened in the past few days. They are confused and perplexed.
Now Jesus, without revealing who he is, rebukes them and instructs them.
25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
It’s right there in the Scriptures that Jews have had for centuries.
27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
He walked through the Bible showing them everything written about himself, the Messiah. The Savior.
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther,
29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.
32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
The dimmer switch in their hearts just turned way up. The lights are on. Now they believe. Their eyes have been opened by God to understand. Though they didn’t even recognize Jesus at first, they knew something was special about him. Their hearts “burned within them” while he talked to them and spoke of the Scriptures. Something was happening.
Now they knew. Jesus Christ—violently slaughtered by evil men, but gloriously resurrected by the God the Father—was very alive and very well.
So to pause here for just a moment: What is the foundation to this entire story? The Scriptures. The Bible. Jesus is the fulfillment of all the ancient prophecies. It was all there. Now, the One whom Israel has been longing for for more than 1000 years is here.
But until this very moment, none of the disciples understood it fully. They didn’t see the Scriptures that pointed to a Suffering Messiah. One who would go to the cross, die, and then be raised from the dead. Now they did. It was all right there in the Bible. The Bible is true. The death and resurrection of Jesus was all planned by God long before and written down for all to see.
33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,
34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
They hurried back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples.
Luke 24:36-49 The Frightening Appearance
36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”
37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.
38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?
39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
43 and he took it and ate before them.
What a spectacular scene. As quickly as Jesus vanished in Emmaus he appears here. But they were all terrified. Was this a ghost?? Some sort of spirit? Jesus reassures them. He encourages them to touch him, see him, and watch him eat.
Vs. 41 is fascinating: “While they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling…” They could see it was true, but their minds and hearts couldn’t catch up to reality. “Wait, it’s true? You’re alive?” The dimmer switch was turning up quickly, and the light was getting bright. Their doubts were fading rapidly. Their stubborn, foolish hearts were now believing it was all true.
Vs. 44-49 The Glorious Commission
The remaining passage will be a part of next week’s sermon, our final week in Luke’s Gospel as we look ahead into “What’s Next?” But let’s read with a couple of comments.
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
48 You are witnesses of these things.
49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Once again, Jesus goes back to the Scriptures. What he told the two disciples in Emmaus he now tells all the disciples.
He opens their minds to understand. It’s all right here in the Bible. Believe it’s true. The resurrection is real. Salvation and forgiveness are now here, and they will not go away.
Luke 24:50–53 The Final Parting
Now in vs. 50, we know from the Book of Acts that this moment is 40 days later.
50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.
51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.
52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.
What an amazing end to the story. But there’s more after this. Luke wrote a second book. Essentially it’s Volume 2 to Luke’s Gospel. We call it the Acts of the Apostles, looking at how the 12 Apostles and the entire church took this truth of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and lived it out and spread the news across the land. More on that next week.
So we have this remarkable, almost unbelievable story of Jesus Christ raised from the dead to never die again.
What do we do with this? How should we respond to this. Let me offer two things.
The first thing is simple. But glorious.
- Rejoice and be glad, for Jesus is among the living!
To rejoice in that news sounds so simple, but it’s not simplistic. This is beautiful news!
Because he is alive, we will be alive if we believe, for he is the Resurrection and the Life.
A passage I shared at the funeral two weeks ago: Jesus was speaking to a woman named Martha whose beloved brother had just died. Jesus said to her:
John 11:25–27 ESV “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
You and I are all going to face death. That sounds so obvious. But we need an answer.
Jesus is saying, “I am that answer. I am the answer, the ONLY answer, to the world’s greatest problem: Death.” No one else can solve the unnatural problem of death except Jesus. No amount of religious activity can undo death’s firm grip on our lives. Jesus alone conquered it. He broke the back of death.
He says, “Whoever believes in me will live and never die.”
If you have never looked to Jesus for eternal life, I urge you to do so.
I did that years ago as a 19-year old just days before my sophomore year at Iowa State.
Since then, I’ve never doubted my future. I’ve never doubted that I now will live forever… Not because I’m a great person….Because Jesus is.
And I know that many of you in this room have believed in Jesus like I have. You have that hope. That eternal hope.
To you I say, Rejoice! Worship him!
There are so many implications of the resurrection for the Christian.
A few years ago, I did a personal study and found 16 implications of the resurrection. So you can thank God I’m going to give you only three of them!
- Our forgiveness.
Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we find complete and radical cleansing from the guilt of our sin. In vs. 47, Jesus said the Scriptures told of his death and resurrection, and now repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed. The Apostle Paul said that if the resurrection isn’t true, there is no forgiveness.
So many of us carry around a weight of guilt that we ought not to carry. To forgive means to cancel a debt. Some of you have student loans and car loans. If the bank (or the government) mercifully just cancelled your debt, we could say, “They FORGAVE my debt. I am no longer encumbered by that weight…by the heavy chains of that debt.” So it is in the spiritual realm. No matter how heavy the guilt is from our many and repeated sins, Jesus death and resurrection cancels that guilt. For the guilt was actually placed on Jesus when he died. And it was proven when he rose!
So worship him!
- Justice will be accomplished because of the resurrection.
When Jesus rose, he rose into glory as King of kings. And when he returns to earth someday, he will rule in perfect justice and will set all wrongs right.
Acts 17:30–31 CSB “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has set a day when he is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man he has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
If you have experienced a terrible injustice, OR you are driven crazy by the injustices in this world, be at peace. Someday Jesus will make it right. And when he brings his perfect justice, we will all say, “Now that was the right and fair and just decision.” All wrongs will be made right.
We can rejoice. Our hearts can be calm now in the face of current injustices… because someday soon Jesus the Risen King will make it all right.
- Find strength in our trials because of the resurrection.
The resurrection assures us that something far, far, far better is coming. A glory and a joy is coming that far surpasses even the worst pain we experience now.
2 Corinthians 4:16–18 NIV Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
It’s all true. In your trials, don’t compare them to someone else’s trials or to your life before that trial.
Compare them to a coming glory that will far, far surpass your pain now…in the presence of Jesus Christ and in resurrected bodies. Do this, and you won’t lose heart.
Second, because of Jesus’ resurrection, let us…
- Trust what God says… what he says in the Scriptures he has given to us.
I suspect we all have times of doubt and skepticism. Even the disciples who had been with Jesus for 2-3 years had doubts.
But they found as we can find that God is trustworthy. Not only did the disciples become eyewitnesses that we can trust, their eyes were opened to the Scriptures that revealed God’s magnificent, eternal plan to send his Son to bring us salvation.
They found as we can find…that what God says can be trusted. Every word of it.
Twice Jesus clearly pointed to the Scriptures to reveal to the disciples that what seemed so unbelievable was actually right in front of them.
What can we learn? The Scriptures are reliable even when we are skeptical. God’s Word is sure though we doubt.
The fundamental problem the disciples had was not intellectual. Jesus’ words and the OT prophecies were not written in some secret language. It was all there. So their problem was not really intellectual.
Jesus plainly told Cleopas and his companion, “Your problem is a heart problem. You are foolish. And you are slow of heart.” They simply had dull, slow hearts that would not trust what Jesus said. Like them, our problem in our journey through the Christian life is most commonly not an intellectual problem. It is a heart problem. As Jesus called the disciples to simply believe what is written in the Scriptures… so he calls us.
So what can we do??
The obvious thing I could tell you is to hear and read the Bible more often.
Romans 10:17 says that faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ. So how can we believe in something we haven’t heard or don’t remember. So I could tell you to read and listen to the Bible more. Discuss it more. Study it more.
I could tell you that. But you’ve heard me say that before, so I won’t say that.
But let me offer one other thing: PRAYER. We can start with Prayer when we read or listen or discuss the Bible. Both privately and with others, we can pray, “Lord, please open my mind like you did the two disciples in Emmaus.” Help me to be “QUICK” of heart, not slow or dull. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to help us understand truth. So we pray for the Spirit’s help.
We can have doubts about all sorts of things related to God and our lives.
For example: Do I believe the resurrection is true? Do I believe that Jesus can completely forgive me? Do I believe that God is with me in this trial? Do I believe that God cares for me?
The Scriptures answer all these questions we have. Will we be skeptical, or will we trust…even when life is overwhelming?
A couple weeks ago I was reading a wonderful story in the OT. The king of Judah, named Jehoshaphat, we facing an overwhelming army that was coming to destroy Jerusalem. The king and all the people were understandably terrified. But he gathered all the people, proclaimed a fast, and he led them in prayer. Here is his conclusion. In his prayer, he admitted to God…
2 Chronicles 20:12 ESV “We are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
That has been my exact prayer dozens and dozens of times over the years. “I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on you.”
May we pray that our hearts would respond in simple, childlike faith to the truth God has given us in the Scriptures.
The disciples were so convinced it was true that they staked their lives on it. And so can we.
Luke wrote this Gospel to verify all that his readers had already been taught.
Luke 1:3–4 ESV “…it seemed good to me… to write an orderly account for you… that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”
The Gospel of Luke is essentially an eyewitness account by the disciples that gives us greater certainty that what we have been taught about Jesus Christ is completely true.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is absolutely true. Death has been defeated. Jesus Christ now reigns. And he is coming back very soon to rescue his people and to bring justice on the earth.