Scripture: John 20:1-17; Luke 24:1-53
Jesus was crucified and buried on Friday. Saturday was the Passover. On Sunday, the third day, very early in morning, several women approached His tomb to anoint His dead body with spices in accordance with the prevailing Jewish burial customs. There is the tomb but the scene is all wrong.
The stone is rolled away. There are no soldiers on guard. Entering the burial chamber their worst fears are realized. Jesus’ body is gone!
As they stand there in shock, two angels appear and say to them, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (24:5-6).
The “good news” of the Gospel is that Jesus is risen from the dead. Belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus is not only the foundational truth of the Christian faith, it is a well-documented fact of history (Acts 1:3). We serve a risen Savior!
Everything Jesus claimed to be—the Son of the living God, the promised Messiah, the Savior of all mankind, God’s substitute Lamb—is proven true by His resurrection from the dead.
In Luke’s account of the resurrection (chapter 24), supplemented by John’s account (chapter 20), we read about several post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. I am entitling this message, “Our Resurrected Lord.”
Our Resurrected Lord Cares About the Sorrows of His Followers (Luke 24:1-2; John 20:1-18)
Luke provides us with a general summary of what happened early Sunday morning when the women discovered the empty tomb.
He knows and cares when you are traumatized
John’s account zeros in on the trauma of one specific woman, Mary Magdalene. He tells us that Mary remained behind at the tomb weeping while the others ran off to tell the disciples what they had discovered. Jesus made His first post-resurrection appearance to her.
From this account we learn that our resurrected Lord is compassionate. Mary is overcome by the grief of the last few days. She thinks, “It’s bad enough that they have killed Him, but now even His body is to be desecrated! What have they done with my Lord?”
He comforts us by shifting our focus to His Promises
Jesus approaches and asks her twice, “Woman, why weepest thou?” (Jn. 20:13, 15). He was gently trying to get her to change her focus of attention. She was weeping because she had lost sight of His promises.
He promised that He would rise the third day. She needed to change her focus from that of personal loss and heartbreak, to praiseful trust in the One who always keeps His promises! We need to remember that Jesus knows all about us and He wants us to look away from the discouraging circumstances that may surround us to His unfailing promises.
Our Resurrected Lord is Concerned About the Faith of His Followers (Luke 24:13-35)
Luke gives us the account of two weary downcast travelers, trudging along a dusty road in the late afternoon, returning from Jerusalem to their village of Emmaus. They are joined by a third man who does not share their downcast bearing. Luke 24:15 says, “Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.” Jesus had yet another lesson to teach his disciples—the importance of a transcendent faith in God’s Word.
He gently rebuked them for their failure to believe all that the prophets had spoken (Luke 24:25)
Jesus was grieved to witness the lack of scriptural insight shown by these two disciples and the resultant spiritual discouragement. He knew that the journey ahead of them was only possible if they understood the true significance of the events they had just witnessed.
“Beginning at Moses and all the prophets,” Jesus brought into proper focus the truth about a suffering Messiah—the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world. Claiming the verses that spoke only of Messiah’s victory, triumph, and glory, they had closed their eyes to the verses that spoke of Messiah’s sufferings and death (24:26).
As a result, they had set themselves up for disappointment and disillusionment. We must be careful that we do not make the same mistake about the suffering and rejection predicted for those who follow Christ. Each teaching of Scripture must be balanced by and harmonized with the teaching of all the other verses that relate to that subject.
He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27)
Our faith is to be based on what God has spoken, not on what we or some other person has experienced. It is interesting that Jesus did not rebuke them for not believing the report of the women. His primary concern for them was to build their faith on the revealed Word of God.
Therefore He first “expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Only after He had laid a proper scriptural foundation for their faith did He open their eyes so that they could recognize Him. Experience is always to be tested by the written Word of God.
Our Resurrected Lord Commissions His Followers (Luke 24:36-45)
Come with me now to the “Upper Room.” His disciples are behind locked doors hiding in fear and depression. Max Lucado, in his book, No Wonder They Call Him The Savior, writes,
Have you even wondered what the eleven disciples did that weekend?
Where did they go?
What did they do?
How did they feel?
Wherever they ran, wherever they stayed, we do know one thing.
They came back. One by one they appeared at the same upper room. Too convicted to go home, yet too confused to go on. They were caught on that uneven ground between failure and forgiveness.
Suspended somewhere between ‘I can’t believe I did it’ and ‘I’ll never do it again.’ Too ashamed to ask forgiveness, yet too loyal to give up. Just when the gloom gets good and thick, just when they feel all is lost, a familiar face walks through the wall.
For those who, like the apostles, have turned and run when you should have stood and been faithful, this passage has a message of hope. A repentant heart is all He demands. Come out of the shadows and be done with running and hiding.
A repentant heart will summon the Son of God himself to walk through our walls of guilt and shame. He who forgave His followers stands ready to forgive the rest of us” (adapted and condensed, pp. 83-86).
When Jesus appeared to the disciples gathered in the upper room, He first offered them peace to calm their fears (Lk. 24:36-37).
He then gave them facts for their faith by proving He was not a spirit (Lk. 24:38-43). Then He emphasized the importance of building our faith on God’s Word (Lk. 24:44-45). Lastly, He gave them a commission (Luke 24:46-49). This commission applies to every one of Jesus’ followers. There are three aspects to the commission.
- He specified the message we are to communicate: that Jesus is the Messiah who suffered, died, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures. (v. 46)
- He specified the method for making converts: that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (vs. 47-48).
- He specified the means of empowerment to enable us to fulfill this commission: “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (v. 49). Jesus has a work for His followers to do. Each of us, as a successor to the original disciples, is to embrace Jesus as Lord and Saviour through repentance of sins and belief in His saving death and resurrection. We are to experience the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in His cleansing and filling ministry, and then share the good news with everyone we meet wherever we go.
Our Resurrected Lord is to be Celebrated by His Followers (Luke 24:50-53)
Lastly, go with me to Bethany where Jesus is about to ascend to heaven. Tragedy has turned to triumph. See our resurrected Lord, with hands raised blessing His disciples as he is carried up to heaven to assume His High Priestly ministry. There are at least two important truths to learn.
Jesus delights in blessing His people (Luke 24:50-51)
The Book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is continuing His ministry of blessing. (Read Hebrews 4:14-16 to the congregation). What is it that you need today? Jesus is merciful and has grace to help, whatever your need. Reach out by faith and receive His help just now.
Jesus’ followers delight in celebrating a risen Saviour (Luke 24:52-53)
In light of who Jesus is, and what He has done for fallen mankind, no wonder the redeemed sing and shout and dance about with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Jesus is alive! He has triumphed over sin, death, and hell. And because He lives, we can face the tomorrows of life with great confidence that His Kingdom will come and His will is being done on earth even as it is in heaven.
The Jesus we preach and the Lord we serve is alive! He is ready to forgive you, comfort you, strengthen your faith, and empower you to be a faithful, obedient disciple. He is the Lord of Life and is still bestowing His blessings.
Let us ever praise and worship Jesus—Lamb of God, Son of God—risen and reigning over all triumphant!
Originally published in the Ministry Library of God’s Bible School & College.