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Sermon on Luke 24:1-10

Sermon passage: (Luke 24:1-10) Spoken on: April 23, 2017
More sermons from this speaker 更多该讲员的讲道: Dr. Tan Hock Seng
For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: Luke

Tags: Luke

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About Dr. Tan Hock Seng: Dr. Tan teaches New Testament studies, theology and languages in various seminaries in Singapore.

Date: 23th April 2017
Preacher: Pastor Tan Hock Seng

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'" 8 Then they remembered his words. 9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Introduction

Today’s Bible passage proclaims the Resurrection of Jesus.

It is important that we distinguish the difference between “Resurrection” and those cases where dead people were raised to life.

Jesus is the first human to be resurrected in human history. There was no resurrection before Jesus. You may feel disturbed at this point because in the OT you ever read about Elijah and Elisha raising the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2Kings 4:25-31). In the NT you read about Jesus raising several people, like Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:49-56) and Lazarus back to life even before He himself was resurrected (John 11:17-44).

Q: What is the difference between “people coming back to life” and the “resurrection”?

Those people who just came back to life are not cases of “resurrection.” That kind of “being raised from the dead” is considered as “Resuscitation + Miracle of healing.” They came back to life, their lives were extended, but eventually they would die again like any normal people. Resurrection means “You are raised to life and never to die again.” In the resurrection our physical body will be transformed and we shall live in eternity with God. Eternal life cannot be cut off or separated from its source, that is, the Creator- God.

You have heard me use the terms, “Resuscitation + Miracle of healing” earlier. It is important for people who had died for some time to be healed physically. Imagine the situation of Lazarus who had been dead for four days: If Lazarus merely came back to life, he probably would suffer brain damages, organs failures, and become a handicap for the rest of his life. So, Lazarus was both resuscitated and healed at the same time when Jesus raised him. However, after some years Lazarus did die again, and he shall await the end-time Resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ and Christianity stand or fall together.
This means that Christianity will collapse if someone were to discover the bones of Jesus today. Then people who believe in the Covenant God would have to worship the LORD the OT way, which is, approaching God by means of offering sacrifices.

The Apostle Paul says, “If Christ had not risen, then is our faith is futile.” (1 Cor. 15:17).

1 Corinthians 15:12-15, 17
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.

17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

In other words, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then the power of death remains unbroken. Sin is still effective in humanity, and believers are still in their sins.

Because the Resurrection of Jesus is the key pillar in Christianity, many critics have attacked Christianity by asserting that Jesus Christ died and did not resurrect. The disciples could not accept the fact that their Messiah was dead, so when they saw an empty tomb, they impulsively proclaimed that Jesus had risen.

Let us read carefully Luke’s record of this historical event – the resurrection of Jesus:

Luke 24:1-4
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices (aromata) they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering (perplexed; at a loss) about this …

At the beginning of this story, Luke just mentions “the women” went to the tomb. He does not say who they were. Luke only reveals the women’s names later in the story. We read, “The women took spices to the tomb.” Q: Why did they take spices to the tomb?

Let us learn a bit about the Jewish Burial Custom.

When preparing the dead for burial, the Jews would wash the body first. After the washing, they would wrap the body with linen cloth. The cloth must be sewn, no tying of knots was allowed. As they wrap the body, they would smear spices mixed with myrrh on the cloth. The gummy myrrh is to plaster the cloth to the body, so that it could be removed easily. The body was wrapped from the feet to the armpits. After that they would put the arms down, and then wrap up to the neck. A separate piece of linen was used to wrap around the head.

After the burial, it was customary for women to visit the tomb for seven to show devotion. In the case of Jesus, the burial custom was interrupted by the Sabbath. Jesus’ body was taken down from the cross after 3.00pm. The process of burying was done hurriedly before 6.00pm, the time when the Sabbath begins. For Jewish people, a new day begins at 6.00pm.

Luke says, “They found the stone rolled away from the tomb…”
The situation is like, you and your family returned home and found the house’s door forced open. The women might have wondered, “Did we come to the right tomb?” They probably checked the tomb’s marking. “Correct tomb, but why is the entrance open?” They did not quickly conclude “Jesus is alive,” and went away.

When they found the stone rolled away, they entered the tomb …
If there were any tomb-raiders, there was nothing valuable for them to steal.
The women wanted to do what they went there for. Luke tells us,

“They did not find the body of Jesus …
As much as they had missed Jesus, they never entertained the thought of Jesus coming back to life.

Instead, they wondered …
The Greek word that is translated “wonder” means the women were perplexed, didn’t know what to do next. Perhaps, they asked themselves, “Who came?” “Where is the body now?”

Then Luke tells us, “While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men … stood beside them…
That experience was probably shocking. It’s like, you thought you are alone in a room, somebody suddenly appeared, standing next to you.

Normally, under poor lighting, it is difficult see the color of the clothes people wear. It’s like watching black and white TV. Luke says that the two men’s clothing gleamed like lightning

Now that kind of gleaming is not the result of washing with FAB detergent. The word astraptō is used to describe “lightning”.

When the women encountered the dazzling beings, they probably wanted to scream but no voice. They tried to run, but their knees gave way.

Luke tells us, “In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground…”

The word “bowing” is not the same word that denotes “bowing” in worship. The women were not worshipping the two men. They were so frightened that they dared not look up.

but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?

Q: Who is “the living among the dead?” As he reference is not clear, it could refer to anyone who is alive. The men could be asking “Why are you looking for Joseph?” If you remember, the tomb belonged to Joseph of Aritmathea.

Then the men announced, “6 He is not here; he has risen!”

The two men explained Jesus’ body was missing because Jesus had risen.

In this context, the word “risen” means “resurrected.” To say that someone has risen means that that person had died, and is now alive.

Somehow the women found it difficult to accept that Jesus had risen. They might have seen Jesus raising people from the dead. But the news that “he has risen” seemed too good to be true. So, the men helped the women recollect Jesus’ words…

Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:
The word “remember” is not a suggestion. The angels were asking the women to recall what Jesus told them. This part of the story indicates that the women had probably forgotten what Jesus had told them.

The angel said, “Remember Jesus saying,

“The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”

Q: Has Jesus ever told his disciples about his arrest, crucifixion and resurrection?”

Yes, indeed, Jesus had told the disciples many times …

Luke 9:22
22 And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."

Luke 9:44-45
"Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men." 45 But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

The disciples did not understand Jesus’ foretelling of his arrest, crucifixion because the meaning was hidden from them.

Q: Why was the meaning hidden from the disciples if the message was so important?

Because if the disciples knew Jesus was going to die instead of becoming king, they would probably try to prevent Jesus from dying. Then Jesus could be greatly hindered in His God-given mission.

Jesus had told his disciples, on different occasions, about his arrest, death and resurrection. But because the disciples did not understand the message so they forget. We normally forget things that we do not understand, even after we memorized the facts.

Q: Why did Jesus die?

From the gospel we only know that Jesus was crucified because he was suspected as a messianic pretender, he spoke and acted as a blasphemer. He told people, “Your sins are forgiven” when God is the only One who can forgive sins (Luke 5:20). He referred to himself as the “Lord of Sabbath,” when Yahweh is the One who instituted the Sabbath for Israel (Luke 6:5). He had also posed as a threat to the nation’s peace.

John 11:48
If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.

However, Isaiah 53 reveals to us the theological significance of Jesus’ death:

As we read the text, take note of the interchange between the pronouns “he” (singular) and the “we, our, us” (plural). The “he” refers to the Messianic Servant, and the “we, our, us” refer to people whom the Messiah died for.

Isaiah 53:4-6

4 Surely he took up our infirmities and
(he) carried our sorrows,

yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Now, let us return to the Easter Story…

After the angels reiterated what Jesus had said, we read…

8 Then they (the women) remembered his words.

Luke continues the story …

9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.

It is only at this point of the story that Luke reveals the names of the women: There were Mary Magdalene; then, Joanna; the third was Mary, the mother of James, and a few others.

Of the three identified women, one of them had a past record of demon possession.

Luke 8:1-2
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

Q: What was the disciples’ reaction to the women’s words, “Jesus has risen?”
If the news came from just one person, it could be easily dismissed “You went to the wrong tomb,” or “You are imagining things” But here, the three women all said the same thing. What they reported corroborated with one another’s.

Yet, Luke tells us the disciples reaction …

11 But they did not believe the women,
because their words seemed to them like nonsense.

The word “lēros” translated as “nonsense” also means “entertaining speculation”

The disciples did not believe probably because they had witnessed how Jesus had suffered and died on the cross (Luke 23:49). The gospel of John recorded that one soldier ascertained Jesus’ death by thrusting a spear into Jesus’ side, and blood and water oozed out from the body. So, even if Jesus had pretended to die, he would eventually be speared to death.

Then Luke tells us,

12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves,

Peter got up and ran to the tomb. Now, if the women had visited the wrong tomb earlier, Peter should be able to locate the right tomb. At the tomb’s entrance, Peter bent over and saw …

Now, it is interesting that the Greek text highlights the phrase “Peter saw”. In the original language, Luke used past tense verbs to tell the story. Then suddenly, Luke switched one past tense verb to a present tense, “Peter sees”. We cannot detect this change-of-tense in all English translations because the translators edited “Peter sees” to “Peter saw” to make the consistent. In English, the use of a single present tense verb among the past tenses is awkwardly out of place – it is bad grammar. But in the Greek a sudden change of the tense has intention. It serves to highlight or underline important matter.

So, Luke is telling his readers, what Peter saw is very important in the story.

Q: What did Peter see that deserves our attention?

Luke says, “he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves …”

Peter saw the stone bed where Jesus’ body was laid, the bundle of grave cloth was left there. It was a lot of cloth. Usually, about 100 pounds of cloth were used to embalm a body. The phrase “lying by themselves” paints the picture of an empty caterpillar cocoon. The body within the “cocoon” of cloth had vanished, leaving behind an empty cast.

This is piece of evidence testifies against anyone asserts, “The tomb is empty because Jesus’ body was stolen”. In the case of theft, both the body would be taken away together with the cloth. The tomb-raiders would not have time to unwrap and then fold the linen neatly, leaving it behind.

Unfortunately Peter still could not accept the idea that Jesus had risen. We read,

“and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.”

Luke’s account of the empty tomb account can refute a few theories against the Resurrection:

Apologetics is a branch of theology that aims to defend the Christian faith. The “Resurrection of Jesus” is one of the many topics that Apologetics discusses. I am limiting my contents to the details in Luke’s account, instead of all the four gospels.

For a more detailed Apologetic learning, you may watch the YouTube video, “Dr Sean McDowell’s Resurrection”; or “Richard Carrier vs William Lane Craig’s Debate on the Resurrection; or read books like, Josh McDowell, The Resurrection Factor; Darrell L. Bock & Robert L. Webb, editors, Key Events I the Life of the Historical Jesus.

1. The First Theory: The Wrong Tomb Theory

The Wrong Tomb Theory was initiated by Dr.
Kirsopp Lake.

This theory proposes that the women came to a
wrong tomb. A young man tried to tell them that
they had made a mistake in the place, “He is not
here…” He then pointed the right location to the
women, “See the tomb where they laid him.” The
women were so frightened of being scolded for
their blunder that they ran away.

The weaknesses of the “Wrong Tomb” theory
are:

1. The tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea
was a private burial ground, not a public. There
were no other tombs in that area.

2. It very unlikely for people to forget where their
loved was buried so quickly. The women were
at the tomb less than 72 hours before.

3. Markings were normally made at the tomb’s
entrance, so it is unlikely to mistaken a tomb
that looked similar.

4.K. Lake had quoted the text from Mark’s
Gospel incorrectly.

Kirsopp Lake’s Version
“…He is not here; see the place where they laid
Him…”

Actual Version (Mark 16:6)
“…He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is
the place where they laid Him.”

The complete text reads, “He is not here, for He
has risen, just as He said. “Come, see the place
where he was lying (Luke 24:6; Matthew 28:6;
Mark 16:6).

5. Someone should be able to locate the right
tomb eventually.
In Luke 24:12 says that Peter ran to the tomb.
If the “Wrong Tomb” theory were true, then it
implies that Peter went to the wrong tomb; the
other disciple also went to the wrong tomb;
people who did not like Jesus also went to the
wrong tomb; and after everyone in Jerusalem
also went to the wrong tomb to verify the
story.

2. Theory 2: The Hallucination Theory

An acceptable definition of “hallucination” is “a
false sensory perception in the absence of an
actual external stimulus.

Here’s an example of Hallucination:
A mother who has lost her son remembers how
he used to come home from work every evening
at 5.30pm. She lies in her couch every afternoon
to take a short nap. Finally, she thinks she sees
him come through the door and has a
conversation with him. At this point she has lost
contact with reality.

From the example, we may understand that
hallucinations are usually experienced in
nostalgic atmosphere, or at a certain time which
brings the person to a reminiscing mood.

The Hallucination theory has many weaknesses:

A.Only Certain People Hallucinates

Only certain kinds of people have hallucinations
usually the paranoids or schizophrenic
individuals are most susceptible.

Critics may point out that Mary Magdalene had
some kind of Institute of Mental Health (IMH)
records because she used to be demon
possessed.

However, if the suspicion against Mary were
true, Luke would have recorded that. Luke has
an eye for details. When Matthew just recorded
“She (Mary) gave birth to a son … (Matthew 1:25);
Luke added in the details, “Mary gave birth to her
firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloth and
put him in a manger…" (Luke 2:7). When Mark
simply stated, “He appointed twelve, designating
them, “apostles” (Mark 3:14); Luke elaborated,
“Jesus went to a mountainside to pray, and he
spent the night praying to God. When the
morning came, he called his disciples to him and
chose twelve of them, whom he designated
apostles…” (Luke 6:6-13). As a man of integrity,
Luke did not cover up facts that could discredit
his witness. He wrote that Mary Magdalene used
to be possessed by seven demons, even though
that fact could discredit Mary’s testimony. So, if
Mary were mentally unsound, Luke would not
cover that up but also record that detail in the
Resurrection story.

Luke portrayed Mary Magdalene as a sound and
sensible women in her testimony.

B.The Disciples Themselves were Skeptical
The disciples themselves were not optimistic.
When the women told them “Jesus’ tomb is
empty,” they did not go around shaking one
another’s hand and say, “Praise the Lord; Jesus is
alive!” Instead, they said, “Fake news! don’t talk
nonsense” They were skeptical. They went to the
tomb to verify the story:

Luke 24:24
Then some of our companions went to the tomb
and found it just as the women had said, but him
they did not see.

C. Long Moment of Interviews
In Luke’s record, the resurrected Jesus also
appears to two believers walking along the road
to Emmaus (24:13-32), and to the other eleven
disciples eventually (2:33-48).

The appearances of Jesus were not some fleeting
sights or out-of-focus images, but prolonged
interviews.

D.Jesus Could Be Touched and Felt
The disciples did not just see Jesus, but He
challenged them, “Look at my hands and my
feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost
does not have flesh and bones, as you see I
have.” (Luke 24:39)

Even then, the disciples did not believe. So Jesus
asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and He
took it and ate it in their presence” (Luke 24:41-
43).

E.The Sense of Expectancy was Absent

Hallucinations require of people an anticipating
spirit of hopeful expectancy which causes their
wish to become projection of the thought.

Mary Magdalene, obviously, did not expect to
see Jesus again. When she first saw Jesus, she
mistook Him for a gardener [John 20:14-15].
The disciples truly believed that Jesus was dead.
So, when they saw Jesus, they were frightened
and thought they saw a ghost.”(Luke 24:39).

F. Visions of Hallucination are Subjective
Hallucinations are linked to a person’s past
experiences and sub-consciousness. Two
people cannot see the exact same “thing” at the
same time.

1 Corinthians 15:3-6
Christ died … he was buried… he was raised on
the third … he appeared to Peter and then to
the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more
than five hundred of the brothers at the same
time…

Five hundred people saw the resurrected Jesus
at the same time.

The allegation of five hundred people having
mass hallucination at the same time is highly
questionable.

3. The Legend Theory

Some critics argue that the resurrection of Jesus
is a legend. Jesus was an ordinary person. After
he died, the church elevated Jesus’ status from
man to God. The church invented the
Resurrection story some 100 - 300 years after
the time of Christ.

Sir William Ramsay, a renowned archaeologist,
was once convinced that the book of Luke-Acts
was a fiction written in around AD 150.

After 30 years of examining the historical data in
Luke-Acts, the overwhelming evidence uncovered
in his research forced him to acknowledge that
he was wrong about Luke-Acts.

At one time some of the Luke’s geo-political
references in the book of Luke-Acts were
considered either wrong or incorrect. Later the
ancient inscriptions that were discovered in
Mediterranean regions prove that Luke was
accurate in his historical and political records.

 “Praetors” in Philippi (Acts 16:20-38)
 “Proconsul” title for Gallio (Acts 18:12)
 Publius, “leading man” of the Malta (Acts
28:7)
 “Politarchs” of Thessalonica (Acts 17:6-8)
 “Lystra” & “Derbe,” but not “Iconium” in
Lycaonia (Acts 14:6; 16:1)
 “Lysanias the Teterarch of Abilene” (Luke
3:1)
Sir Ramsay concluded that “Luke is a historian of
the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact
trustworthy… this author should be place along
with the very greatest of historians.” [William M.
Ramsay, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the
Trustworthiness of the New Testament.

If Luke had wanted to make up stories about the Resurrection of Jesus, he would not have employed women as witnesses. In the first century women’s testimonies were not considered as reliable. The witness of the women in Luke’s Gospel shows that the author had recorded the event just the way it actually happened.

Now, let us give attention to Luke’s own words at the beginning of his gospel writing:

Luke 1:1-3
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus … (Luke 1:1-3).

Luke is telling his readers …

I did not simply hand the story down,
I have investigated,
I have investigated everything,
I have investigated everything carefully.
It was only then I write this account,
I write it this account orderly to you ….

Because Luke was a careful and accurate historian, he verified the Resurrection testimonies that he recorded in his Gospel. The Church did not invent the “Resurrection” story. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is indeed a true historical event.

Conclusion
Earlier, we had read the Apostle Paul’s teaching concerning the Resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:12-15, 17

If Christ has not been raised,
our preaching is in vain;

If Christ has not been raised,
our faith is futile;

If Christ has not been raised,
we are still in our sins

Let us invert that text to see its emphatic effect:

Since Christ has been raised, our preaching is not useless;
Since Christ has been raised, our faith is not futile;
Since Christ has been raised, we are no longer in our sins.