The most incredible morning that has ever been has now arrived. Jesus has risen from the dead and the time to show Himself to His beloved friends has arrived. He Slowly, even methodically reintroduces Himself as glorious!
Christ is Risen!
The Gospel According To Luke 24:1-12
Good morning and welcome to the House of the Lord. And those of you listening online, good morning to you also. We are in the Gospel according to Luke 24. We probably have four or five studies left in Luke, and it has been quite a ride. We’ll read verses 24 through 12. Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they and certain other women with them came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened as they were greatly perplexed about this that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the Earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He spoke to you when He was in Galilee saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and the third day rise again.'” And they remembered his words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the 11 and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the Apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.
But Peter arose and ran to the tomb. And stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves. And he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened. Christ is risen, as that is what we are considering this morning. And I don’t think there’s ever been a man on Earth that could ever really capture the spirit of these things. We all understand that. In my preparation time, I kept finding myself saying to myself, “How am I going to keep it– ” it’s hard enough to keep you awake on cue. But now on a topic like this that you know as well as I, how do I keep you interested? Well, that’s not for me to do. That’s up to God. The most incredible morning ever, and that is what we are looking at, Jesus risen from the dead. And it is now time for Him to show Himself to those who loved Him, who’d been suffering so much over the last three days at His death, His loss, and their loss. But the moment has arrived. Slowly and methodically, He begins to reintroduce Himself in His glorious form. At the creation, there we see the power and the sovereignty of God. In the beginning, God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. But here, this is not so physical as it is spiritual. This has to do with the salvation of our souls and everything about people. It is the biggest story ever, the greatest story ever told.
But where has He been these last three days? Active in Heaven and Sheol. Sheol was where souls went after they died. It was divided into two compartments, one for the unrighteous dead, and the other side for the righteous dead. None could go into heaven to be with the father until their sins were taken away as they were on the cross of Christ. So when he introduces himself in the Book of Revelation, He points this out. Revelation 1, “I am He who lives and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore. Amen. I have the keys of Hades and death.” And that, of course, a reference to Him unlocking Sheol, the righteous side, and bringing the righteous into Heaven. He did this instantly. In fact, He told the thief on the cross, the penitent one, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” This is what the writer, Paul, in his Ephesian letter, was talking about in the fourth chapter. There in the eighth verse, he says, “When He ascended on high.” Now, He didn’t do this only once. He ascended twice in front of the believers that we have on record, but we can’t think in terms of everything being absolute as far as the sequence of events go. The truths are absolute. “When He ascended on high,” writes Paul, “He lead captivity captive,” and there it is, the unlocking of the gates. He goes on to say, “And gave gifts to men.”
Now, I’ll open that up momentarily. Now this, “He ascended,” what does it mean, but that He who also first descended into the lower parts of the Earth, He who descended is also the one who ascended far above the heavens that He might fill all things. So He descended into Sheol, and He lead the captives free. But he also says, “He lead captivity captive and gave gifts to men.” What gifts? What men? It has something to do with what we’re talking about this morning. It’s interesting the word that Paul uses in Ephesians is not the typical word for gifts, charisma, but doma. He is not talking about the special gifts as noted in the Corinthian letter. For example, the gift of knowledge, the gift of teaching. He’s talking about gifting the church with leadership. And that’s why in that fourth chapter of Ephesians, he then goes on to say, “That He gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor teaches for the work of ministry, for the edification of the body of Christ.” And it all starts here. So we have the coming of Christ, we have His cross right after His life, that virtuous life. And now the resurrection and the work of the church is now beginning, and we’ll kick into high gear on the day of Pentecost. And so Luke 24, which we’re in, in the 45th verse, He says this to his apostles and it says this about what happened, “And He opened their understanding that they might comprehend the scriptures.” That’s part of the gift. That we can understand the Word of God, so we could know the will of God, so we can do what God wants us to do. The more skilled at this we become, the more we are used. The more useful we are, the more work gets done. What is the opposite? What if just a bunch of people professing to believe in Jesus and know nothing about Him? Well, unfortunately, we won’t have to go far to find places just like that.
Now, we look at the first verse. That is the introduction, where Jesus had been, what is going on with all these things. It’s not the end of the story. It’s the beginning of the story. And now on the first day of the week, verse one, very early in the morning, they and certain other women with them came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. Now, that first word translated now in the King James. But in other translations, they opted to translate, but which is more accurate? Not that important of an issue and the Greek is very clear on its meaning, and so neither depart. And so you would read the first verse, “But on the first day.” And whenever we find this Greek word, we know that the thing we are about to read is linked to something that we already read. But, or however, it’s going to add to it and go into a different area with it. And so we look back at Luke 23, the last two verses, “The women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils, and they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. But on the first day of the week– ” so you catch the flow. It’s connected. The last thing we read about was the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and everyone smitten in their hearts, but more to the story. I was asked years ago– I like saying this. I’ve said it several times from here. I was asked years ago by someone, “Well, what happened after Jesus rose?” The entire Book of Acts concerns itself with that very thing, and then everything after with the very thing. And we are in the Book of Acts ourselves, the acts of the believers through the power, through the actions of the Holy Spirit upon us. And so these believers, there they were in grief. But Sunday morning came, and that’s why the church meets on the first day of the week. The day of the resurrection. Not the last day of the week, the Jewish Sabbath. It is a big distinction, not only between us and everyone else, but of the events that took place that made all the difference.
Mark writes it this way, “Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.” It’s a long walk from the City of Jerusalem and all the apartments, to get outside of the city and to go up. And again, in Israel, everything is up a hill in Jerusalem and then to the garden tomb. So it was not just a quick stroll across the street. This is important to the story because we’ll find Mary Magdalene moving. She’s a track star through all these events. She is going back and forth. She knows shortcuts. I’ll try to bring that out as we go through. It adds life to the story. And whenever we find life in the story, is we find something that we can extract in our own lives to the benefit of the Kingdom and the preaching of the Gospel. He says in verse one, “They and certain women with them came to the tomb bringing the spices, which they had prepared.” These are the feminine faces around the tomb. They were the feminine faces around the cross, the women from Galilee. They weren’t part of the Jerusalem jet set or [palanquin?] set [laughter]. They were not the rich, and the wealthy, and the famous. They were Galileans, and they had been with Him a long time. They still loved Him like no other. And they came looking and prepared to find a dead man. They did not. Their understanding had fallen short, but their love did not. Christ pays attention to that. That means something to God. He’s not expecting us to be theologians, though he is expecting us to be students of the Word. That’s a long road and it’s filled with a lot of work. But the love, the love for Christ, that comes easy once you’ve been born again. That’s evidence that you have been born again. You can’t love Him if you’ve not been touched by Him.
Verse two, “But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.” Again, this was so unexpected. Who saw this coming? They all should have saw it coming, but none of them did. The angel who rolled the stone away did not do so, so that Christ could leave, but so that He could announce that He’s gone. That’s why the stone wasn’t there. Mark tells us it was a large stone. Mary Magdalene, she thought that the body was stolen. John’s Gospel, chapter 20:2. Let me pause here. You can preach to the feelings of people, and that has its place. But if you do not give them bullets, if you do not give them something to sharpen their swords, to attack the interest of hell – and that is in their own flesh and the unbelievers in the world – then what have you given to them? It is the role of the pastor to teach the Word and to preach the Word. And it is the role of the recipients of the Word to yield to the Holy Spirit, during the service and after. And so you get the details, so that you could do something with them, so that the Holy Spirit can speak to you. Because hopefully, the speaker, in his preparation, had already been speaking with the Lord and spoken to about these very things. And they are meaningful.
In John’s Gospel, he writes about this. I’ll get to why, there’s so many angles. We won’t spend too much time on it. But here he says, “Then she, Mary Magdalene, came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They’ve taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.'” You see, they’re looking for a dead man. They’ll never find him that way. You will never find Jesus dead. He’s alive and only alive. Interesting side note, where was Peter? He was with John. John did not turn his back on Peter because Peter denied the Lord. He embraced him, took him in. Somewhere in Jerusalem, they have a residence. Mary is there with him. She’s not mentioned. Mary, the wife of Joseph, she’s really not mentioned. She doesn’t need to be mentioned. The grief and the sorrow she is going through, no one needs an exposition on that. Verse three, “And then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord.” No one on Earth could find the body of the Lord. There is no dead body of the Lord. Sarcastically we can say, “Well, the church is the body of Christ, and there are some dead bodies of the church.” But who wants to be sarcastic? Let’s rather be helpful and try to salt each other, shine light.
Verse four, “And it happened as they were greatly perplexed about this. That behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.” You want to say here, “Ha-ha. Greatly perplexed, are you? How can you not be? You didn’t expect Him to rise. You’ve come, the tomb is– ” it’s empty of Jesus Christ. There’s no body of Christ, but it’s not empty. There are things there. This is a faith scene, not a crime scene. No one raided the tomb. The Roman soldiers did nothing to harm it. The disciples did not steal His body. There are evidences there. The word perplexed is closer in the Hebrew to having no way out. You look at the root words that make the word that you have in front of you, and the idea is they have no way out in their thinking. They’re perplexed. They’re cornered. We would say, “You don’t have a clue.” That’s where they were. They didn’t have a clue. They did. It was there, but they weren’t tying into it. John identifies these two men as angels, John 20. And she saw two angels – he only records Mary Magdalene going there – in white, sitting. One at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Verse 5 of Luke 24 now, “Then as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the Earth, they said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?'” Well, the women, they didn’t know what. They were overwhelmed. These garments– incidentally, the Greek word for the shining was like lightning flashes. It was not just white. It was active. And they knew they were in the presence of something other, it just hadn’t gotten that far yet. Their hearts were still reeling. They’re still in grief. They don’t know what’s going on. And in humility. And so again, then as they were afraid and bowed their faces, they, the angels, said to them, “Why do seek the living among the dead?” That’s a real good question. They, couldn’t answer. There’s no answer given.
Verse 6, “He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee.” Whoa. The angels were present when Jesus was teaching. They heard what He taught the disciples. Nothing’s really changed in all this time. They’re still with us. We pray sometimes that someone we love, that the Lord would open their eyes to see the truths of the Kingdom that you can only see if the Lord opens your eyes. This was the case with the servant of Elijah. The prophet said, “They are more with us than there are against us.” And he prayed that the Lord would open his eyes, so he could see. And then he could see into the spiritual realm what he needed to see. Well, the angels, they remembered. And they knew and they repeated it. That’s critical to the story, because you and I know things about Christ. And opportunities should arise in your life when you have a chance to repeat it, to share it, to preach it, to witness it, to testify to it, to herald it. The herald is one that would go in front of the king and say, “Make way for the king.” John the Baptist was the great herald of the New Testament. He closed out the Old Testament. And comes along and he says, “Make way for the way of the king.” That was prophetic and he fulfilled it. Matthew writes this about the moment. It’s all in the Gospels, but I’ve just taken it from Matthew, Matthew 17. Now, while they were staying in Galilee – you see, these women are Galilean – Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. In the third day, He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and that kind of ended. May God help us to believe the things we claim to believe. That is tested when we’re put under pressure, the pressure of temptation, pressure of sorrow, pressure of something in this life.
Verse 7, we’ll make other comments about this, saying, “The Son of Man,” the angel still speaking, “must be delivered into the hands of simple men and crucified. In the third day, rise again.” So He quotes what is now scripture. Whatever Jesus says is scripture, whether He says it directly or He says it through one of His sermons, but He repeats it. Never, not once, do you read of Jesus Christ referring to His cross and not His resurrection at the same time. And so again, here they came, prepared to prepare a dead body, not greet a risen Lord. Likely, the tomb was a temporary burial place in the minds of the disciples, because it was the Sabbath. It’s very likely they were going to move Him and bury Him elsewhere after. Not a big part of the story, except to understand that they’re putting so much into this preparation. Remember, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea came with 100 pounds of spices and things to dress the body. All of it would be lost and well worth the loss. The events are unfolding this Sunday morning with such rapidity and excitement, that the writers, the writers of the Gospel, struggled to piece together the sequence of events. And that’s why when we go and study it, we struggle. We have to make charts to try to track what is going on. The Galilean woman were the first to enter the emptied tomb. Mary was the first to see Him risen. Those woman that were with her when they went out that morning, are second to see Him risen. Then there were the two on the road to Emmaus. Then there were Simon, Peter, then the apostles. Then Thomas, one of the apostles. And then as many as 500. Mary was the first to tell that she saw Him risen, but John was the first one to actually believe in the resurrection without seeing the risen Lord. How did he do that? Well, when Peter and him came to the tomb, Peter went in, John hesitated. Typical Peter. John then goes in. When he sees the cloths, the linen clothes that the body was wrapped in, still in the shape of the body but no body in it, he knew. Peter wasn’t so fast and that’s not a surprise.
There had to have been a shortcut, as I mentioned, between where they were staying in Jerusalem and the garden tomb. Which was right next to, actually, the Golgotha, the place where he was crucified. The reason for this is because the women go to the tomb, the body is gone. They’re thinking it’s stolen, at least Mary is thinking that. The other women are older women. We know because their names are listed – and we’ll come to that momentarily – and they’re probably in their late 40s or more. Not all of them, but many in the group. As I mentioned, the hills in Jerusalem, it was a slow walk. A slower walk for them. Matthew uses the word ran, but the Greek word means moved with haste. That is at the pace they could move. So Mary, she kind of separates from the entourage and she gets to Peter first, and she tells Peter that they’ve stolen the body. He and John get up and they run to the tomb, but they don’t cross paths with the group of the women. There’s a different route. Peter gets to the tomb, looks in, goes in, comes back. He and John, amazed at what’s going on. Mary stays in the garden, and that’s where she sees the Lord. Then the Lord makes Himself visible to her. Then the Lord goes to the women that are still on their way to Jerusalem, and shows Himself to them. And then He takes these two groups – there’s the women and then Mary, who probably beats them back to town again, taking the shortcut, the hilly path – and they begin to share with the apostles who are loaded with doubt. Exciting stuff. I get so frustrated, annoyed, at so many commentators who charge the apostles with stupidity as though they were going to do better if they were there. I don’t think there’s a person in this room that would’ve figured it out if you were there. We would be thinking just like they were thinking. They’re the template. Well, what were they supposed to do? Who had ever risen from the dead like this? Lazarus was raised from the dead. So was the son of the widow of Nain. Elijah raised someone from the dead. But this? There was no human involved in this. It never happened before. They saw Him die. If you’ve ever witnessed something that is traumatic, an accident, you get flashbacks for days. Months, even. At least, the first time you see something. You get better adjusted to it, but you still– it gets in your head. Well, the crucifixion was in their heads, deep in there. He lost. That was the conclusion. They still loved Him, but He lost. And they were wrong. And boy, were they glad they were wrong.
Verse 8 says, “And they remembered His words.” Not a casual morning. Nothing about these events were casual. Who on Earth can measure this excitement with any degree of exactness? They tried. The writers tried. Matthew 28, “So they,” that’s the women, “went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran,” that’s hasten, that Greek word I mentioned, “to bring His disciples word.” This is what they were told to do. They followed orders. Go and tell His disciples. They were also told– and Simon Peter, particularly singling him out. Thank you, Lord. Next time you do something that you’re ashamed of and you ask for forgiveness, Christ forgives. He was eager to forgive the outlaw on the cross. There was no hesitation. There was no, “Well, I’ll have to think about your confession. Well, we’ll have to take you to a board of elders.” He did no such thing, “Today you will be with me.” “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom,” okay. He’s quick to forgive. He’s eager. He’s looking for a reason to forgive a sinner, and so many sinners won’t give Him the chance. And so leaving the place of dead things, that’s the beginning of the Gospel every single time. Even once you’re saved – as far as serving faith, to serve the Lord – if you don’t leave that place of dead things, dead memories, you’re stuck. You’re in a quagmire. Paul counseled forgetting those things which are behind. He wasn’t talking about everything. I mean, you couldn’t forget your [math?] for example. You’ll need that. But he was talking about those things that have no value in contributing to blessings. Forget them. Those things that hinder us from forgiving one another, from serving, from getting back up.
There’s evidence in the Old Testament of that very thing. What did Joshua do after Achan? That whole event where Achan sinned and the Jews were defeated, and Joshua was on his face talking to the Lord, “What happened? Why? I thought you were with us.” And God said, “Stand up. Forget that. Let’s deal with this now.” Ezekiel goes before the Lord. In Joshua’s case, he had to still deal with it, but he had to get past certain things if they were going to deal with it. Ezekiel is another one. On his face to the Lord, and the Lord says, “Stand up. You got things to do.” Next time you find your knuckles dragging, let them drag a little bit. Not too much. Understand that the Lord is never going to encourage you to be discouraged. He’s always going to look for you to move forward, to get up, work. You who serve in the church, when you feel, “Ugh,” that feeling, understand that’s your flesh falling apart and your spirit is winning. Do you think service is supposed to be always a joy? You’re more mature than that. You know better, so be ready for it. The next time you look and see your names on the schedule after having too much fun during the week, or doing something else, or too much work, or whatever it is, too many pressures in life. And there’s your name, fight that. Don’t fall for that. That’s not God. God is not encouraging you to do that. It’s your flesh. It’s Satan egging it on, cheering for your flesh to fail the spirit. Christ will cheer you to finish the fight. By the resurrection, God acquitted his Son. But what was the charge that they hurled against him? “He’s a blasphemer,” he was not. The writer of Hebrews is so particular about these things because of the Holy Spirit, “For such a high priest was fitting for us who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the Heavens.” No one else can have this said about them. Just Jesus. It is exclusive. It doesn’t say it about anyone else. And you can’t write it in about anyone else, anymore than you could say, “Everybody was the same height as Goliath in those days.” That would be an abject lie. And you cannot write it in, “Mary was sinless.” No, she was not. That’s why she praised the Lord for a savior. If she was sinless, she wouldn’t need a savior.
In verse 9 of Luke 24, “Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the 11 and all the rest.” And so Mary, again, beating them back. Mark Chapter 16, he picks it up, “Now when He arose on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene out of whom He had cast seven demons.” At this time, Mary still thinks the body is stolen. Verse 10, “It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles.” Joanna here, her husband was Herod’s steward. Luke 8, “Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for him for his substance.” And so they were the women supporting the ministry of Christ. And when we covered that, we said it was not just the women. But Luke took any opportunity to show that women were not second class citizens in the Kingdom of God, they were first class. Equal in value – distinct in calling albeit, but equal in value – and so he takes opportunity to point these things out. The others do too, but Luke especially. And that’s why the characters, the female characters, are so outstanding in the Gospel of Luke. Verse 10. We are still in verse 10, he says, “Mary the mother of James.” She is the mother of one of the apostles, James the Less. There was James the brother of John, the sons of Zebedee, but then there was also James the Less. He was probably younger, not lesser a man. But younger than John, and that’s how he was distinguished or that’s how they distinguished between the two. Here, we have a few servants with the same names. And to overcome that, you refer to them by their last names if that will help reduce the confusion. She was the wife of Clopas. A variant of Alphaeus, the name Clopas.
Mark 15, “There were also woman looking from afar.” Among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less, and Joseph and Salman– or Salome. So her name means peace. And other women, they’re unnamed Galilean woman. But they were there, they were used, the unnamed servant. Don’t underestimate the unnamed servant in the hands of God, there are many of them in scripture, there are many of them in life. Maybe you’ve been an unnamed servant. You’ve done something and no one really knows what you’ve done, but it was done unto the Lord. He knows. Mark’s gospel, “She went and told those who had been with Him as they mourned and wept.” So here in verse 10 where it says, “Who told these things to the apostles.” Those apostles at this time, Mary’s somewhere around all of this too, they were overcome with grief. This is not for us to stand up and attack them for being unbelievers. Their hearts were ripped out of them. They placed everything on Jesus and they saw it go away. Yeah, they forgot to do this and that, but who doesn’t? So Mark writes, “She went and told those who had been with Him as they mourned and wept.” It tells us about what was going on there. If you walked into the room there, they weren’t all wearing festive clothing, Hawaiian shirts, and kick back and relaxing. They were in deep, deep grief. Verse 11, “And their words seem to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.” Again, after all, who rises from the dead after three days like this?
Mark writes, “After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.” It wasn’t just because, “Oh, they’re just women.” Well, when Clopas got there and another, they didn’t believe them, those two men either because of grief. This is not the kind of unbelief that comes from, “I just don’t believe it.” Thomas was so messed up in his head, he couldn’t put it together. It was just, “I’m done with this. I cannot have my emotions go this way and that way, and still be this happy face.” I love that man, Thomas. Because he said, “I can’t,” and he did. Christ gave him a slight smack on the hand, a little rebuke. “Blessed are you, Thomas,” He said. That’s not a rebuke. The next part had a little bit of a rebuke in it, “More blessed are those who don’t see and believe,” but He still said, “Blessed are you.” Jesus expected more from them, but knew what was going to happen nonetheless. So Peter gets word at this point and now he’s going to investigate it himself, and John is going to be going with him. Inseparable were these two. Verse 12, “But Peter arose and ran to the tomb. And stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves. And he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.” A lot of information is left out by each one of the Evangelists. Each one of the Gospel writers leave out, and you have to take what the other one fills in. Again, they could not put the pieces together in sequence. It was just too much going on. Too many feelings. It’s amazing we have this much. Have things ever happened to you so exciting that you didn’t write them down, you just lived them? That’s what was going on here.
This was at the report that the body had been stolen. John 20:2, Mary Magdalene, “She ran and came to Simon Peter,” you see, she’s running all over the place. She took that shortcut, “and to the other disciples whom Jesus loved and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.'” Peter therefore went out and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they’re going to the tomb, but they’re not expecting, again, to find Christ risen. They’re expecting to find a crime scene. But here’s Peter, doing something as always. Here’s a man that just was– oh, he would not rust out. He might burn out, but he would not rust out. Here’s a man that just was a man of action. After the Lord had showed Himself to them, and He sort of weaned them off His appearance. He’d show up, then He’d go away, He’d show up, then He’d go away, and they never knew when they would see Him again. Well, when they were on the boat one day, fishing in Galilee, we read John writes about it. He says, “Therefore, that disciple whom Jesus loves said to Peter,” this was when Christ was on the Lord. He had the fish and the bread waiting for them and He called out to them, and they didn’t know at first who He was. But John said, “It is the Lord.” Now, when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment and the next thing they all heard was splash. He dove into the water. This is the kind of man he was. “For he had removed it and plunged into the sea,” John writes. John wrote this over 60 years after the event. That day was marked in his brain. He couldn’t get it out. Be around a man like Peter. He wrote it down as if it were yesterday.
It says in verse 12, “And stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves.” Well, the head wrapping was never part of the body. They were always in two separate pieces for the Jews. They would wrap the head with one piece of linen, and then the body would get other pieces of linen. This, you would think, would have squelched any thought about the Shroud of Turin belonging to Christ. The Bible and the facts should have been enough. But no, there were those that, “Oh, is it? Is it [laughter]?” John’s Gospel, again, chapter 21 verse– well, let me see. I don’t want to read that one. We’ll catch it back to the linen clothes. Lazarus, when he was raised from the tomb, here’s a distinction. They were told to unwrap him. John 11, I want to read this one. Verse 44, “And he who had died,” and he had died and it’s very clear. He was not in a coma. He was not– he was dead, “He who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with cloth. And Jesus said to them, ‘Loose him and let him go.'” Didn’t happen that way with Christ. The garments were right there. The headpiece was neatly folded. Well, grave robbers would not have done that. No one would have done that, except the Lord. In other words, He wasn’t in a hurry. He rose up, He sort of made up His bed. The linen from the body was either flat or still in the shape of the body. There’s evidence to go both ways. You cannot be dogmatic about it, but you can be dogmatic about this. When Peter looked in there, went in the cave and he saw the linen in the shape of Christ’s body, he– John got it, that He came through the clothes. Why should that be a surprise? Later on, we’re going to read Him go through a wall. The tomb, as I mentioned, the stone wasn’t rolled back so He could get out. It was rolled back to show He had already gone. [inaudible] about this. If you have a problem with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created from nothing everything material.” If you have a problem with that, then you have a problem with everything else, with God and life, and you’re just going to be a mess. But if you can believe Genesis 1:1, this is just a walk in the park as you might say.
And then it says, “And he departed.” There was a mental nuclear reaction going on in the minds of these men. John believed. He writes that about himself. He says, “I believe. I knew he was risen.” But he had really nothing else to go. He didn’t see yet himself, and he still had a lot of things to piece together in his thinking. It says, “Marveling to himself at what had happened.” Luke zeroes in on Peter. And Peter’s like, “What is going on?” He hadn’t gotten much farther than that. He didn’t know what to make of things. We should read out loud, I will, John 20, “Then the other disciple who came to the tomb first,” that’s funny, I like to say that John is quick to point that out, “By the way, I beat Peter and Mary Magdalene to the tomb.” So he points that out that he got there first, but it’s a distinction. He went in also. That is after Peter. “He saw and believed,” that’s what it says. Very, very human story. So in closing this up this morning, the resurrection, it is not part of the crucifixion story. It is the story. Men have been crucified and not risen from the dead to testify to their power to forgive sins. Only Christ. The cross is not His distinction. It is the empty tomb that distinguishes Him. Take the tomb away and you have no Christianity. You have no faith that’s biblical. 1 Corinthians 15, “And if Christ has not risen, your faith is futile. You are still in your sins.” It’s not enough that He died on the cross. He had to rise again. Others had been revived, resuscitated, brought back to life, but not resurrected. They had to die again. Their bodies could not come through the cloths, or through tombs, or through walls. They were still in a human body in the flesh. And as I just mentioned, they had to die yet again. Those are resuscitations. Lazarus, for one, the son of the widow of Nain, another. Whom Jesus rose from the dead, both of them. They would, again, go on to die. But not Jesus. This was the resurrection. And He is in His resurrected body, and one day we will be in ours too.
And so we do not have today an empty tomb to walk to and show people. See, He’s gone. We’re too far removed by time and the centuries. We have something else. We have the truth of God’s Word and the reason that is to accompany it, and that is powerful. So powerful that every saved person in this room is saved, because of the record that has been preserved by the Holy Spirit. Don’t underestimate the power of the Word of God. It is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. When you share the faith, use Scripture. It is sharper than any two-edged sword. It cuts to the division of the soul and the spirit, the joints and the marrow. The division of the soul. Everyone has a soul, but not everyone’s spirit is alive. Those who are dead in their sins, their spirit is dead. Those who are saved, your spirit is alive, Ephesians 2:2. And so the Word of God, the division of the soul and the spirit, and close with these words from Romans 4, “Speaking of Jesus who was delivered up because of our offences, and who was raised because of our justification. He saved us. He made us as though we’ve never sinned.”
We’re going to take Communion. But first, let’s close our study of the Word with prayer. Our Father, the powerful story from that first Sunday morning of the resurrection. And may it never become an old story with us, may it be in the forefront. When we share our faith, may we say, “He’s risen. He’s not dead. He’s not resuscitated, He’s resurrected.” And this was God’s prophecy. It is God’s fulfillment. And it is done by Christ Jesus. If you’re here this morning and you’ve never opened your heart to Christ Jesus, you’re dead in your sins according to Christ Jesus. You are doomed if you die the way you are, and you’re not promised another minute. You may not get a chance to have a deathbed confession. Your life could be snuffed out instantly before you confess, and so it’s serious business. And God’s says in His Word today, “If you harden not your heart.” If you’re here this morning and you would like to open your heart to Christ, then you need to say this prayer with me and mean it, and God will honor it. If you say, “Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. I’ve broken your law, I’ve broken your rules and your standards, and I come to you and I ask you to forgive me. There is no one else who can forgive me. No one loves me like you do. No one died for me as you did, and no one rose again as you did. I give my life to you today. And as from this day forward, that you would be not only the one who saves my soul, but the one who lords my life. I give my life to you.” Now, Father, if anyone has made this confession this morning, may at the end of the service when they are invited to share it with one of the pastors, may they not hesitate in Jesus’s name. Amen.