"AFTER THREE DAYS I WILL RISE AGAIN"
Jesus had told the disciples that He would be resurrected on the third day. The disciples somehow thought that everything had ended in tragedy. The women came early that Sunday morning to complete the burial. They had "prepared spices and ointments" for the body of Jesus. The need not have done so. When they reached the tomb of Jesus what they saw perplexed them greatly. The stone had been rolled away from the sepulchre. The stone was not rolled so that our Lord could come forth, but to provide evidence to people that He had already been resurrected. They did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. Two men wearing shining garments asked, "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" As a woman, Eve, was the first sin and to taste death. A woman, Mary Magdalene, was the first to see the resurrected Lord and to know that there could be life! She was the first person to tell anyone else of the resurrection. (John 20:1-18) Jesus had overcome the death that He had temporarily tasted. The reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the central fact of the Christian faith.
It is strange that the disciples failed to recognize the risen Lord. They had given up hope until the Lord appeared to them and gave them understanding of what His resurrection truly meant. When they saw Jesus die they forgot His teaching about the resurrection. Jesus' appearances prove that He is the Messiah. The apostles walked and talked and ate with Him. They could touch the wounds He received on the cross. Jesus' death led to our life; His cross led to our victory. Jesus appeared to His disciples for forty days after His resurrection. (Acts 1:3) The rain came upon the earth forty days and forty nights in the days of Noah. (Genesis 7:12) Moses was in the mountain forty days and forty nights when he received the Law. (Exodus 24:18) The spies spent forty days searching out the Land of Canaan. (Numbers 13:25) Elijah fasted for forty days as he journeyed in the wilderness to the mountain of God. (1 Kings 19:8) Jesus had fasted forty days and forty nights when He was tempted of the Devil. (Matthew 4:2) The apostles were witnesses of the resurrection and to the ascension of Jesus as He went back to heaven. He ascended to the right hand of the Father in Heaven. After His departure from earth Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles into all truth and to give them power to do His work.
Jesus was raised from the dead -- Luke 24:1-12: The resurrection of Jesus took place very early on Sunday morning. The tomb was empty when the women went there carrying spices that they had prepared to anoint His body. The huge stone that sealed the tomb had been rolled away. It was rolled away by the power of God in spite of the Roman seal and in spite of the guard that had been set at the tomb. The tomb was opened not to allow the Savior to come out but to allow the witnesses to come in. When the women found that the tomb was open, they went in. They were amazed and perplexed; they did not know what to think. Two men wearing shining white clothes stood beside them and said, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen." The women were reminded that in Galilee Jesus had told them that "The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." (Luke 24:7) Then they remembered what Jesus had said. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women were the ones who had gone to the tomb. Upon their return they told the apostles and other disciples what had happened. The apostles did not believe them; their words seemed to them as idle tales. Then arose Peter and ran to the tomb. He stooped down and looked in; he saw the linen clothes laid by themselves. He left the tomb wondering what had taken place.
Jesus Appears to Two Disciples -- Luke 24:13-35: On that same day two of Jesus' disciples were going to the village of Emmaus. Emmaus was about seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about what had taken place with Jesus. Jesus came along side of them and started walking with them. They did not recognize Him? He asked them, "What were you talking about as you walked along?" One of them, whose name was Cleopas, asked if He was the only person who had been in Jerusalem and did not know what had happened there during the last few days. Jesus asked them what things they were talking about. They said they were talking about, "Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people." The two men told the story of Jesus' arrest and death on the cross. He said they had hoped that Jesus would be the one who would redeemed Israel or set them free from Rome. They reported that it had now been three days sense His death and that some of the women had been to the tomb but did not find the body of Jesus. These women also said they had seen a vision of angels who told them that He is alive. They said others went to the tomb and found it as the women had said. Jesus rebuked them for being so foolish that they had not believed what the prophets wrote concerning the suffering and death of the Messiah. Christ suffered these things that He might redeem man and enter into His glory. Jesus then explained everything written about himself in the Scriptures, beginning with the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets. As the day was far spent they begged Jesus to stay with them. Luke records, "And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" These two disciples immediately returned to Jerusalem to the apostles to find out that Jesus had also appeared to Peter. The Lord was really alive. The disciples from Emmaus told what happened on the road and how they knew he was the Lord when he broke the bread. In Acts 1:3 Luke records, "To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." (Acts 1:3)
What Jesus' apostles must do -- Luke 24:36-49: As the disciples of Jesus talked about what happened Jesus appeared to them. They were terrified and frightened; they supposed they had seen a spirit or ghost. Jesus asked them both about their fear and their doubts. Sixty-three in the KJV of the Bible we read the words "Fear not." Jesus offered them the opportunity to look at his hands and feet and to touch Him. This was positive proof that it was Jesus and that He was not a ghost. A spirit or ghost does not have flesh and bones. They were amazed and happy after they knew for sure that it was Jesus. He asked them, "Do you have something to eat?" They gave Him a piece of broiled fish and some honeycomb. He took the food and ate it as they watched. He told them that while He was with them He had tried to teach them that these things would happen. He had used the Law of Moses, the Books of the Prophets, and the Psalms to teach them. Jesus opened "their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures." He then told the apostles very specifically what they were to do. "And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." (Luke 24:46-49)
Jesus returned to Heaven -- Luke 24:50-53: The gospel of Luke closed as the Book of Acts opened, that is, with the ascension of Jesus. Jesus did three things before His ascension: (1) He led the apostles out as far as to Bethany. (2) He lifted up his hands. (3) He blessed the apostles. When He lifted up His hands He was taken up to heaven. The apostles were eyewitnesses to the ascension of Jesus Christ. Their eyes were watching Him carefully as He ascended to heaven, so there could be no mistake about an event so amazing. As the disciples were standing on the Mount of Olives they saw Jesus suddenly ascend into heaven and they never saw Him again. Two men who stood by said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11) The resurrection of Jesus, His ascension and the second coming of Christ are closely related. The teaching period for the apostle to be students is now over. They must be teachers of the gospel. Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. He was lifted up before the eyes of the apostles till a cloud hid Him from their sight. "This same Jesus" is coming back. One day this same Jesus will return in glory and every eye shall see Him. "And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen." (Luke 24:52-53)
They were waiting for power from on High.
Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Do you believe in Him? You can enjoy redemption through the blood of the Lamb and also forgiveness and hope in the kingdom of God that was preached by Jesus. To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (John 6:44-45), believe in Jesus as the Christ (Mark 16:16), repent of all sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:36) and be baptized for remission of sins. (Acts 2:38) After baptism remain faithful to God. (Revelation 2:10) Obey God then teach others about Jesus before it is too late both for you and for them. (Acts 2:36-41)
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA