DON’T BE SURPRISED BY THE REALITY OF THE RESURRECTION
The historicity of the Resurrection is crucial to the Christian faith – as the apostle Paul develops in 1 Cor. 15. Yet despite all of the predictions by Jesus of His coming resurrection, the disciples needed some persuading before they could embrace its reality.
Donald Miller: The final Resurrection faith, then, cannot be accounted for on the basis of wishful thinking, or of a predisposition to believe, or of an over-readiness to draw implications without examining the evidence. In spite of all Jesus had told them beforehand, the disciples seemed to have no hope whatever that he would be raised, and were even suspicious of the evidence when it came to them. The Resurrection finally became a reality which they could not deny, rather than a phantom which they wished into being.
Steven Cole: The Christian faith is unique to all of the world’s major religions in that it is founded on the living person of Jesus Christ, who was raised bodily from the dead. It is not primarily a system of moral or doctrinal beliefs, although it has definite moral standards and doctrinal truths. Christianity is founded on the living Lord Jesus Christ, crucified for our sins, risen from the dead, ascended into heaven, and returning soon in power and glory.
Darrell Bock: Without resurrection, Christianity is just another human approach to reach God; it is emptied of transforming power and hope; it is a mere shell, not worth the energy one devotes to it.… To believe in Christ is to believe not merely in his example, but in the power of his resurrection to grant new life.
I. (:1-3) THE SURPRISE OF THE DISCOVERY OF THE EMPTY TOMB –
WHERE IS THE BODY OF JESUS?
A. (:1) Expectation of Ministering to the Dead Body of Jesus
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb,
bringing the spices which they had prepared.”
– Mission of Urgency – came at first opportunity
– Mission of Love and Compassion – came to apply spices to the body
Steven Cole: The fact that the early church changed the day of worship from the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday can only be explained by the fact that Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday morning. The apostles were all steeped in Judaism with its strict observance of Saturday as the day of rest and worship. Why would they change the sacred day from Saturday to Sunday? Clearly, it was not a strategic planning decision that was made to distinguish Christianity from Judaism! Rather, they did it to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Sunday became “the Lord’s Day” (Rev. 1:10), when the church gathered for worship and instruction (Acts 20:7).
B. (:2) Effort to Remove the Stone Not Needed
“And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,”
C. (:3) Empty Tomb Raises More Questions Than It Answers
“but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”
II. (:4-7) THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROPHECY OF THE RESURRECTION –
HE IS NOT HERE, BUT HE HAS RISEN
A. (:4) Encounter with Dazzling Angels
“And it happened that while they were perplexed about this,
behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling apparel;”
– State of Perplexity
– Spectacular Angelic Interaction
B. (:5) Encouragement to Reverse Their Negative Expectation
“and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground,
the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living One among the dead?’”
Why did they need encouragement?
– Terrified in the presence of these angelic beings
– Traumatized by the death of Jesus
Liefeld: “The living” (ton zonta), only in Luke, stresses the factual aspect of the Resurrection Luke also refers to in Acts 2:24: “It was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”
C. (:6a) Exclamation of the Reality of the Resurrection
“He is not here, but He has risen.”
– Empty Tomb Should Be No Surprise
– Resurrection Is Now Historical Reality
Ralph Wilson: The angels ask a startling question: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” They are in a tomb looking for a dead man. But a grave is no place to find the living Christ, the angels declare with some irony. A grave is the last place to you look when you are seeking Life. .
To followers who have been stunned by his crucifixion, hearts heavy with dejection, and eyes puffy with tears, these words are like an explosion. Risen! Raised to life! Their emotions are now wrenched again with the news. It must be true, coming from angels! But how can it be?
MacArthur: So, the evidence concerning the resurrection is the empty tomb, and there is no other explanation for the empty tomb than a resurrection. The Jews didn’t steal His body. The Romans didn’t steal His body. The Apostles didn’t steal His body. The women didn’t steal His body. His enemies had no reason to steal His body and fabricate a resurrection. His friends didn’t even believe in a resurrection, and nor would they steal His body, fabricate a false resurrection and then go out and die as martyrs for a phony. The angels give the only possible explanation: He’s not here because He’s risen.
D. (:6b-7) Enlightenment Regarding Fulfillment of Messianic Prophecy
“Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
– Remember the Teaching of Jesus Regarding Upcoming Events in Jerusalem
– Three Key Historical Realities:
III. (:8-12) THE RESPONSE TO THE REPORT OF THE RESURRECTION –
HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?
A. (:8-10) Veracity of Reporting
No fake news here; accurate and timely reporting of eyewitness accounts
1. (:8) Remembered
“And they remembered His words,”
2. (:9a) Returned
“and returned from the tomb”
3. (:9b-10) Reported
“and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles.”
B. (:11-12) Variety of Responses
1. (:11) Skepticism and Unbelief
“And these words appeared to them as nonsense,”
“and they would not believe them.”
2. (:12) Excitement, Investigation and Amazement
“But Peter arose and ran to the tomb;”
“stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only;”
Anyabwile: Peter found the linen cloths by themselves – which would be strange if some grave robbers had taken the body as a hoax or to ridicule the disciples. That’s why Peter went home “amazed at what had happened.”
“and he went away to his home, marveling at that which had happened.”
Liefeld: In Luke people “wonder” about things that are hard to understand. The word does not in itself imply either belief or unbelief. We conclude that Peter is still incredulous at this point, not because the verb implies it, but because his visit to the empty tomb fails, in spite of the evidence, to evoke a statement of belief from him (cf. John 20:8).