Resurrection Sunday 2023
Happy Resurrection Sunday!
We will be in Luke 24 this morning, if you have your Bible. This morning I hope to create some excitement in you, or remind you of the hope you have in Christ. If you find that your faith has gone a little stale, I hope to inject a little energy where things have gone dry.
Before we dive in, just a quick recap of what has happened. On Good Friday, we read the crucifixion story, and where we left it is that Jesus has died. We went through a number of different people that we encounter in the story, and I hope you were challenged by someone or found hope if you needed it.
After Jesus dies, he is placed in a tomb. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that a stone was rolled over the tomb and a seal placed on the tomb. So Jesus’ body has been wrapped in cloth and laid to rest.
But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” Then they remembered that he had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.
The Witness of the Women
I start here as a back drop of what is happening in the story. The women have gone to prepare the body, and Jesus is gone.
Luke is quick to establish that there are a few women at the tomb. Why? Because Luke is trying to create a credible testimony that Jesus’ resurrection actually happened. So not only does he say there were several women, but he names a few to add to the account. Even in a day that women really didn’t have a voice, enough women would give it some credibility. As we read, even with several women, the guys at the time had a tough time believing, but it worth noting for us today.
We then have the story of the Road to Emmaus. I won’t read it for sake of time, but essentially two disciples are walking to Emmaus when they are joined by a mysterious figure. This individual proceeds to unpack the Old Testament for them, showing them that the Messiah had to die for the forgiveness of sins. It isn’t until the three men sit down the eat and the bread breaking that they realize this mysterious person was Jesus the whole time.
So the men rush back to Jerusalem and that’s where we pick up the story again.
Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost! “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet. Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it as they watched.
Jesus Reveals Himself
Imagine being the disciples in this moment. Jesus was dead, they watched it happen. Now He has suddenly appeared in their midst. You can’t blame them for being shocked and excited and frightened and every other emotion they are feeling. I can only imagine how eating that fish was for Jesus. They would’ve been watching Him so intensely. Someone would’ve been trying to see through the hole in the hand. Jesus getting poked just to see if it was real.
It is interesting that the holes in His hands, feet, and side are all still there. One commentator said that the holes in Jesus’ hands and feet are the only man made thing in Heaven right now. The reason it is interesting is that there doesn’t seem to be any other scares or injuries from the Good Friday account. We know that Jesus would’ve been near unrecognizable after the beating He took. The crown of thorns would have been attached to His head, not just set. In fact, one of the prophets said His beard would’ve been ripped out. Yet the disciples can see that it is Him, so why to the holes remain?
There are a couple reasons for this. Number one is to identify Him. Thomas believes it is Jesus because he places his fingers in the holes.
Number 2, it is one of the ways Jesus identifies with us. When life gets tough, when it seems like too much to bear, we can turn to Jesus and remember that He suffered just like we did. The author in Hebrews reminds us that we don’t approach a god who doesn’t understand pain and suffering. The holes in Jesus’ hands, feet, and side a constant reminder that Jesus knows pain, and He is able to walk with us through our pain.
In fact, it is through suffering that we really truly connect with someone. Our deepest relationships won’t be with the people we only laugh with, our deepest friendship will be with the people we have cried with. We can connect with Jesus deeply because He understands pain and will walk with us through our pain.
Is there something you are struggling with? Are you under pressure? Have you gone to Jesus with it?
Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”
The Great Commission
I want us to take note of everything that happened in really quick succession in this passage. It is important because everything Jesus did for the disciples, He continues to do for us today.
Jesus opens their minds to understand Scripture
the disciples have been with Jesus for 3 years, listening to His teachings, yet they still didn’t get it. They were still looking at the Scriptures with human minds, and thus they were missing what was right there in front of them. So Jesus opens their minds so that they can understand. Suddenly, all the dots connect and they can see the fullness of who Jesus is and what He has just accomplished
Jesus continues to do this for us today. The Bible is a spiritual book. When we approach it like we approach any other book, we can so often miss what is really going on. We can take the words at face value and miss the true meaning of is happening. I’ve talked about the logos and rhema meaning of Scripture. Logos is the general revealed word. Everyone and anyone can pick up a Bible and see the general revealed word of God. But there is a rhema word, and that is a specific word for a specific person at a specific time. This rhema word only comes from the Holy Spirit. Without it, the Bible can feel dry. With it, you begin to see the Word come alive in your life. It is the reminder that God still speaks today, and He has something to say to you.
Jesus opens their minds to understand, and He continues to open our minds today.
Jesus gives them a message
All through out the Gospels, we see Jesus teaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Now the message the disciples are to take to the world is, “There is forgiveness for sins for all who repent.”
Forgiveness for all. Jesus died on the cross to take away the sins of the world, and He came back to give the disciples this message of hope. He has conquered sin and death and now forgiveness is for all. Everyone. No exceptions. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done it, and doesn’t even matter how much you dislike yourself for doing it. Forgiveness is for everyone!!
Everyone who repents. This is important. What Jesus is saying is that God will not withhold forgiveness from anyone, but we can reject it. Forgiveness is available to everyone who is willing to turn away from sin, and embrace the new life Jesus wants to impart to you. You can be forgiven, but you have to choose to repent of the sin you are asking for forgiveness for. If you are willing to turn, and lean on God’s strength when temptation comes, then the slate is wiped clean and you are forgiven
Jesus commissions them to be witnesses
Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples to hit the books so that when the Pharisees come they can argue them under the table. What does Jesus say? Be witnesses. Share with the people the things you are experiencing. The world doesn’t need more arguing and fighting. It needs more sharing. What is God revealing to you through His word? What is God speaking to you in your prayer times? Why do you follow Jesus? What is the good thing He has done for you? What has He saved you from? Just share. You don’t have to have 40 scriptures memorized to back up your faith. You don’t need 4 years of bible school. You just need to be willing to share what God is doing through you. What is He teaching you? Just share your story.
Jesus promises the Holy Spirit
One of the things Jesus really emphasizes in the Gospel of John is that He must go so that another one can come. Jesus was limited to one place at a time, but the Holy Spirit can be everywhere at once.
It was through the Holy Spirit that the disciples turned the world upside down. In fact, many of the disciples were dead before the New Testament was written. Think about it. Most of what we call the New Testament were letters written to different churches. It was never meant to be treated like a new law.
What if we created space for the Holy Spirit to really speak to us? What if we showed up on Sunday morning, not to receive marching orders or the latest edition of rules, but we showed up expecting God to speak? Or better yet, to hear whether or not what God is speaking to you lines up with what He’s speaking to me? What if we saw church as an opportunity to take what God is saying to you and what He is saying to me and combine them to get a fuller picture of what God is saying to us?
Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven. So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. And they spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God.
How will you respond?
The disciples walked away filled with great joy and worshipping God.
Because Jesus has ascended, He has given such a great gift. He has given you the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit dwells within you, the scriptures can be opened to you. The Holy Spirit will give you the power you need to take on the challenges of life. He has given you a mission. Look for God at work in your life. Listen for His leading in your life, and as you begin to see and hear the things He is doing, share it with others.