For us today, together as a church, I’m so glad to see all of your faces because your presence here just pays recognition to the fact of what we know today means for God’s people. This is our day to celebrate, that if we don’t celebrate today, who will? But because of today, this is the greatest event in all of history. It transforms lives for all of eternity and where you put your faith in a moment like we will describe in scripture today matters. It matters for eternity. It matters in Jesus. It matters for his church. It matters for this valley. It matters for your family. It matters for you. And this morning, we’re going to look at Luke chapter 24, and I’m just so thankful to even have the opportunity to share this with you today. I mean, could you imagine, in the first century, what it would have been like to follow Jesus leading up to the events that took place a couple of thousand years ago when Jesus was crucified and ultimately resurrected?
The Bible tells us in the Gospel of Mark chapter one, verse 15, that when Jesus comes on the scene, he says, “The kingdom of God is at hand.” And then Matthew 4:19, he tells us to come and follow him. And you see through Jesus’ ministry that he begins to heal the lame and the blind and the sick and the unlovable are loved. And the crowds begin to gather around him. And in John chapter six, verse two, it talks about the masses being there so much so that in Luke, the disciples in chapter nine, verse 46, start to argue, “Who’s going to be greatest in the kingdom? Who’s going to carry the title of vice president when he steps on his throne and he’s ruling and reigning before all of us?” And the crowds, it says in John 6:14, tried to capture Jesus and force him to become their King.
But as you follow Jesus’ ministry what you find is animosity starts to build and the hatred for the religious and the political leaders against Jesus grew. And the disciples began to recognize it, and they began to become fearful and concerned. They didn’t know who to trust. And in the last days before Jesus goes to the cross, it tells us that he journeys to Jerusalem, and the way the scripture indicates that for us it’s like he’s walking straight into the jaws of the lion. In Mark chapter 10, in verse 32, it reads this way for us, now they were on the road going up to Jerusalem and Jesus was walking on ahead of them, and they were amazed and those who followed were fearful. You can imagine those moments in these final days of Jesus’ life, as he’s celebrating the Passover for the final time, he’ll do this with his disciples in the upper room, then he’s going to Jerusalem. They know what’s taking place in the political landscape and the hatred that’s built for Jesus. And he’s about to go into the area where all of are present.
And it says that Jesus is walking that road bravely, and all of the disciples are cheering him on but looking back saying, “You be you, you enjoy that journey, Jesus,” but Jesus boldly heads to Jerusalem for you and for me. And on the night in which Jesus is betrayed, in Luke chapter 22, he turns the world of the disciples upside down when it says, “And he broke bread and he gave thanks, and he held it before his disciples and said, ‘This is my body, which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And also, after supper, he, he took the cup and he says, ‘This cup is the new covenant of my blood for you. Do this in remembrance of me, for as often as you drink this cup and eat this bread, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.'” Jesus took a picture of the Old Testament from the time of Moses when the first Passover was celebrated, and now on Passover, Jesus introduces himself as that ultimate lamb who’s dying for our sins.
And we continue that tradition today, only today rather than call it Passover, we call it communion. We’ll partake of it here at the end of the service. When the disciples hear that Jesus is giving his life for them, it tells us in Luke chapter 22, verse 45, Jesus goes into the garden with his disciples, and he says, “Pray with me. Pray with me.” And Jesus, he goes and he prays before the father under such anguish because the weight of sin is on his shoulders, that he sweats the drops of blood. And he comes back to his disciples multiple times and he sees that they continue to fall asleep. And it records in the Gospel of Luke in verse 45, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow. They were overwhelmed by the thought that they were going to lose their champion, their King, the one that they had followed for years now, and here they are in Jerusalem for his final days.
In just a few hours, Jesus is going to hang on a cross and he’ll be there for six hours. And he’ll meet his end at the hand of professional executioners. And he’s thrown into a tomb. I know when we talk about a day like today, we expect to talk about a resurrection, but I want you to know Jesus, in the first century, his friends, his followers, they didn’t expect a resurrection. They expected Jesus to stay dead. In fact, in Luke chapter 24, which is the passage I’m going to concentrate on this morning. If you’ve got a Bible with you or a bulletin with the sermon notes in it, in Luke 24, verse one, it says, “The women went to the tomb expecting to find a dead Jesus.” I mean, the first day of the week at early dawn, the passage says, “they came to the tomb, bringing the spices, which they had prepared, and they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. But when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus while they were perplexed about this.”
So it’s saying the ladies went to the tomb. The women went to the tomb. They were the bravest at the end of Jesus’ life. They were there at the cross with John. He was the only disciple, and they go, the first to the tomb, and they take spices because they’re going to anoint, they’re expecting to anoint his dead body. And their concern is, “When we get there, how are we going to roll away the stone in front of the tomb?” But when they get to the tomb, they see the stone’s already been rolled away, and their first thought isn’t, let’s celebrate, Jesus has risen, their first thought is, this concerning? Where is his body? It says in verse 10 that the women, it names the women in verse 10, that they run to the disciples, the other disciples. And a little bit further on, in verse 10, they were telling these things to the apostles. But in verse 11, “But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe the women.”
You ever have a conversation with someone that when they began the discussion, you’ve got to pause it for just a minute because you weren’t even ready for where they came at you with that discussion? It’s like they started their journey from a different point of origin from where you were and now you’re trying to scramble to catch up to what they’re even saying in the discussion, because it’s so far beyond where your mind is at that time you can’t follow along. And that’s what you see in this passage from the disciples. It comes across to them as nonsense, what the ladies are sharing with them, because they didn’t expect a resurrection from Jesus in the first century. But nonetheless, in verse 12, what you see is, “Peter got up and ran to the tomb. And when he stooped and looked in, he saw the linen wrappings. And when he went away to his home, he marveled at what had happened.”
What it’s saying to us is Peter, when he gets to the tomb, even though he’s skeptical of what the ladies are saying and he doesn’t even understand what they’re saying, he gets to the tomb and he looks in, and what Peter sees by looking in is that the clothes Jesus are wrapped in are laying there. But then Peter marvels, and what that means is, it’s the Greek word where we get the word theorizes. So Peter peers in, [foreign language 00:08:30], Greek, Peter looks in, but as Peter looks at him, when he leaves, he’s just wondering to himself, theorizing, “What in the world could have even happened for this tomb to be empty?” As Peter is thinking about this, I mean, you could journey in the thought with Peter, what would you be thinking if you were not expecting a resurrection and you go to this empty tomb and you see the grave clothes sitting there?
I mean, your first thought would be, “Maybe someone robbed the body. Maybe someone came to get the belongings on Jesus. So they came to capture Jesus, but instead of doing that, they took off the clothing of Jesus, and now there’s no Jesus, but here are his clothes, so whoever took Jesus is running around with the naked Jesus.” And you can see why this wouldn’t make any sense. That left the disciples concerned, perplexed, worried. So what this is saying to us is, here’s the connection, if you doubt Jesus’ resurrection, so did the first century believers. Jesus’ best friends were skeptics. That’s what the Gospels share with us. None of them assumed resurrection. They assumed their King was gone and they assumed all hope was lost, and to the point that they were even worried about their own lives, because they knew publicly that people had identified them as some of his leaders that went out proclaiming his message. They were worried. They were scared.
In fact, in the Gospel of John, in chapter 19, it says, “Now when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were together due to fear of the Jews.” The worry of the disciples was that their end was coming too, and so rather than tell everyone, “Look to the future resurrection of Jesus,” they were hiding in a room and locking the doors trying to hunker down and preserve their own life. But Luke 24, in verse 37 goes on. It says, “But they were startled and frightened and thought they were looking at a spirit. And Jesus said to them,” verse 38, “‘Why are you frightened? And why are doubts arising in your heart?'” I mean, of all the concerns of the disciples and now in verse 37, Jesus appears to them and they think it’s a spirit and there’s this concern within them.
But, but in verse 44, Jesus said to them, “These words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, all the things that are written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” What Jesus is saying to his disciples is, “Why worry? Everything that I said would happen has happened. All things written about me,” he says, “all the things in the Old Testament, all things need to be fulfilled.” I love this about Christianity, you’re called to a faith that has a root in a reasonable explanation for why you would even want to believe in Jesus, because you can turn to the Old Testament and you can see the prophetic declaration of everything Jesus would do before Jesus did it. And not only that, when you think about how incredible that is, and you hold the Bible in your hand, you think the Bible was written over 1500 years with over 40 different authors and 66 books in three different languages on three different continents and one congruent theme. One theme.
What book does that? What book declares that kind of message of hope for people in identifying who the savior would be and how he would come and the way that he would die other than the Bible? And Jesus is identifying that for us to say, “Look, disciples, right now, you’re looking for something to hold on to. You’re skeptical and you’re hopeless and you need something, and I’m telling you, I am everything I said I was. All has been fulfilled.” What Jesus is identifying for us is not just the prophetic words of the Bible about him, but to understand all of the Bible is about him. If you read scripture and you think that you’re the hero of the story, then you’re reading scripture wrong. I mean, everything that the Jews had established in their system of worship, all of it was an ultimate picture of everything that Jesus would be for us. Jesus told the Jews to build the temple, and Jesus tells us that he would destroy the temple in three days, he will resurrect it, and he declares to us, “Now the temple of God lives in you.”
In Hebrews chapter four, in verse 14 to 16, it tells you, because of what he’s done, now you don’t have to go to a building to walk with God, but you can enter into the throne room of God wherever you are, because the Holy Spirit dwells within his people. John said in John chapter one, verse 29, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” that for thousands of years they’ve been celebrating the Passover and now Jesus appears, and Jesus becomes that Passover lamb, that fulfillment. He is the final prophet, the final priest, the final King, all of the picture of the Old Testament and the symbolism of their worship was intended to point us to Jesus because he was the center of everything and all hope rests in him. Jesus goes on Luke 24, verse 46, “And he said to them, ‘So it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all the nations beginning in Jerusalem.'”
And then in verse 48, “You are witnesses of these things.” Jesus looks at his disciples after the resurrection and he says to them, “Because this was declared that for three days, I would be in the grave and resurrect, and now this message of victory over sin, Satan, and death has to be preached to all of the nations. And you are the witnesses of all that’s taken place.” And now today, as we gather here today, we’re here believing in the resurrection, because, one, scripture declares it to us, and in addition to that, what scripture identifies for us is that the followers of Jesus, the transformation that happened in their life, you think of where they were to where they are as the Bible unfolds in the New Testament, that when Jesus was crucified, all hope was lost. They were concerned for their own life. They weren’t thinking resurrection. But now that they’ve seen the resurrected Jesus, they go from skeptic unbelief to now believing again to the point that the disciples go on all, but the disciple John, to give their lives for the sake of the Gospel, radically transformed in this moment.
We say sometimes, “For an ideology someone will die. People will do crazy things for an ideology.” But for a truth claim, the resurrection of Jesus, if it weren’t true, would you give your life? James, John, Paul, Andrew, Peter, Jude all met the fate of a martyr’s death for the sake of the Gospel. When you think about the apostle Peter, the apostle Peter’s life was probably more radically transformed than anyone. I love Peter in the Gospels because Peter is the guy that always wore his emotions on his sleeve, always spitting at the mouth, saying things he regretted. When you see Peter’s life, Peter goes from believer to unbeliever to the point that when someone accuses him of being a believer, he curses at them. And then all of a sudden, Peter becomes a believer again. What happened? It’s the resurrection.
The resurrection led Peter to Rome where he and his wife would ultimately be crucified for their faith. The resurrection radically changed their lives. When you read the Gospels, these disciples don’t write themselves down as heroes. They write themselves down as they live their lives with Jesus, which was always tripping over themselves, and at the end, becoming skeptics and giving up on him. But Jesus says that they are witnesses. When you think about Peter and what he experienced in the life of Jesus, one of the reasons I think I’ve seen people deny Christ today is because of suffering. They conclude that things are hard so there must not be a God or because things are hard, if there is a God, then he must not be good. Either way, they don’t want anything to do with him. But when I think about these first century followers of Christ, for the early disciples, pain didn’t stop their belief.
It temporarily delayed them when Jesus was crucified, but pain didn’t stop their belief. But through the pain, they came to believe. They experienced the worst thing they could ever have hoped to endure through happening to their best friend, the best person they would have said that has ever lived. They watched some of the most horrific things take place to him, then just a few days later, eat breakfast with him on the Sea of Galilee. Peter writes for us in First Peter chapter one, verse six, “In this, you greatly rejoice. Even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials so that the proof of your faith being more precious than gold which perishes though tested by fire may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus.”
The early church believed because it was true, and they learned to handle their suffering through it. And Peter says the same thing to us, “Though now for a little while, you may suffer. But much more precious than that, your faith being refined and able to be refined because it’s resting in what is certain, in what transcends beyond the moment of today but for all of eternity, the hope of a resurrection. Without God, we have no hope in our suffering. Without a God who cares, we have no hope in our suffering. But in Jesus, there’s a hope greater than our suffering.” And so Peter goes on in this chapter, in verse 18, he says this, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood, as of a lamb, unblemished, spotless the blood of Christ.” That’s God’s message for you. That’s what Jesus has done for you, that Jesus bravely journeyed into Jerusalem when the rest of the disciples stood back and feared.
Jesus walks valiantly to the cross and conquers sin, Satan, and death claiming to us his love by the demonstration of his life for your soul and the forgiveness of your sins. The Bible says, “He became sin, who knew no sin, that the righteousness of God may be on you because of him.” It communicates to us that God who is personal, a God who cares, a God who gives life, if people would just listen to the message of Christ when he says to us in Mark chapter one, verse 15, “Behold the kingdom of God is at hand.” Maybe the best question for us to ask is, is he your King? Is he your King? In the first century, the events that we celebrate today radically transformed the lives of the disciples from unbelief to giving all that they were for him because they knew even if someone would take their lives it would not hold them down because Jesus had conquered the grave. And now through him, they would conquer the grave too.
The greatest decision that we can make with our lives is what we choose to do with that King. This idea of Jesus’ resurrection wasn’t intended just to give you hope to point you to heaven, but this was ultimately to point you to Jesus because where Jesus is, that will be heaven. It’s his kingdom, his home that he invites you to. It’s not about when we die, we just simply get to go to heaven because we believe we get to go to heaven. It’s to recognize that there is a King of heaven and that King of heaven is Jesus. And it’s his kingdom, and if you don’t want King Jesus, he won’t force you into his kingdom. But he wants to invite you into his kingdom if you just receive him and what he’s done for you. Because when he went to that cross, his thoughts were for your life. His sacrifice was on your behalf. That spotless lamb was the perfection that you needed.
Religion won’t get you there, doing good the rest of your life won’t get you there, because one day you’re going to meet a Holy God, and no matter how much good and how much religion you think you do, it can never undo sin that you’ve performed against the Holy God. But Jesus paved that way. And Jesus gave his life. This King is worthy of your devotion and worthy of his name just as the first century church carried a passion for his kingdom in this world so we have the opportunity to live this day. And guys, this is what I’m going to give you an opportunity to do. If you’re here today and you’ve never put your faith in that King, before today’s out, I’m going to give you an opportunity. In fact, just a moment, I want to invite the band up here, guys. You guys can go ahead and come up. We’re going to sing a song in just a moment of worship together, and we’re going to have people back here at our back tent, our information tent, and they’re going to be there to pray with you.
If you want to know more about what it means to receive Christ, or if you’re struggling with something, maybe First Peter, you think about what Peter said in Peter’s life, that we go through this trouble in our lives and we have adversity that we face, and maybe there’s some adversity that you’re going through in your life and you just want faith and you want to look to Jesus and see how Jesus can help you in the middle of the struggle, if you want someone to pray with you in that, because we have people at the back tent that will be more than happy to do that, to talk to you about Christ, don’t delay. Don’t delay. The best time to put your faith in Jesus is not tomorrow.
It’s to recognize that gift is for you right now, that in your heart, you can kneel before this King and say, “Lord, I am a sinner, but, God, thank you. Thank you that your journey to Jerusalem was done so triumphantly that you walked to the mouth of the lion and you died for me. And you resurrected for me, that you did not leave me there, but that you give me a hope and your kingdom endures forever, and that your church can gather and we can celebrate and rejoice and lift up your name, that I can belong, Lord, and you give me worth and dignity and meaning. And I can honor you all of my days, just as they’ve done throughout the centuries to proclaim your good name, because you are worthy.