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Jan 18 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

January 15, 2012

Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. 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. Luke 24:5-7 (read vv. 1-12)

INTRO: When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, Peter was not at all comfortable with it

It must have seemed like a very awkward situation to him, so he asked, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” and Jesus answered, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter”
– washing their feet in that moment did not make sense, but an explanation was coming

That is the situation here
– women and men who followed Jesus are thrown into a mystery that has them completely baffled
– but as the story goes on, the pieces come together

Verses 1-3, Women who volunteered to tend to the corpse

It is impossible for us to enter into and share their experience
– we know what has happened, but they had no idea, no way of knowing, and no one to ask

There is a small chapel at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Tustin where I have officiated several funerals and a couple of weddings. Because my grandparents and uncle were laid to rest there, I allow myself enough extra time to visit their grave sites. When I do, there’s a bench near their headstones where I sit and remember their lives, wondering what they would have to say to me today.
It would be very disturbing if one day I went to visit their graves and their markers were missing. I would rush to the administration office wanting answers, needing to know what happened, if they had been moved, and if so, why.
The shock the women experienced in Jesus’ tomb was many times more severe than what I would feel over three missing headstones.

They “found” two surprises waiting for them:
– “they found the stone rolled away” – this was unexpected
– “they did not find the body” – this was also unexpected

Verses 4-7, Angels who helped them make sense of this

“Perplexed” – to lose your way
– just two days before, they had seen his body laid there (23:55)
– now the tomb is empty

They were not seeking “the living One,” but the dead One
– they had come to the right place to find a dead body
– but it wasn’t there and they found no clues as to where it went
– they needed help solving the mystery

This is a moment of suspense – but it lasted no more than a second or two

What do we do when we come to the word “Behold”? We look — that is what it tells us to do (vv. 22-23)
– angels appeared to announce Jesus’ birth (2:8-14), now angels appear to announce his resurrection
– and the women who see the angels respond as the shepherds had — they were “terrified”

The angel’s message was brief and systematic – i.e., they clearly spelled it all out

  • A question: They were looking for Jesus in the wrong place
  • An explanation: notice that there are no more details about the event than there were for his crucifixion
    – they only explain what happened, but not its theological meaning
  • A reminder: They pointed them in the direction they needed to look

How was their perplexity resolved?
– not by a vision of angels – that only added terror to the shock
– the angels told them that they already had the solution; it was in the teaching of Jesus
– they only had to remember what he had said and interpret his words in this new light
For example:
Lk. 9:44, “Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.”
– why did he emphasize, “Let these words sink into your ears”?
– because at the time, what he was saying made no sense to them

Jesus’ teaching provided the key to solving the mystery
– faced with a world suddenly turned upside down, they needed to return to the teaching of Jesus to make sense of it

Verses 8-10, The burial committee instantly became messengers

(I love it when the NASB does my alliteration for me)

  • They remembered
  • They returned
  • They reported

Luke says they returned, but he does not reference where they returned to but where from
– they were going away “from the tomb”
– the tomb is a site of perplexity, fascination and wonder, but it has nothing for them – no body, no message, no meaning (the empty tomb does not explain itself)
– the tomb is now a symbol without any energy
– it’s not even a spooky like it used to be
Jesus emptied it of its sting and terror

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives (He. 2:14-15)

We no longer have to do all our living on this side of the tomb — the best lies on the other side

Verse 11, They did not get an enthusiastic response from eleven

The reaction of the disciples was the rational response
– a story like the one the women told them was too out there
– a sane person would never believe such things
The only reason the apostles’ response was wrong is because Jesus had told them he would rise
– this is what was supposed to sink into their ears

Verse 12, One apostle investigated on his own

That Peter “ran” is an indication of his curiosity and eagerness to see for himself
– but after looking inside, he could only marvel at what had happened — and he wasn’t even sure what that was
– he did not have an experience of angels at the tomb, he had no message to take to others, so he just went home

CONC: Let’s look at this again

Jesus’ resurrection took everyone totally by surprise
– it was so upsetting, they almost didn’t want it — it challenged not only their theology, but their understanding of reality
– no wonder the disciples refused to believe it

Speaking for myself, I’m just like that
– I don’t do well when unexpected things happen
– especially disappointments, setbacks, or sudden chaos

Surprises mean that I’m not in control of my world
– they may also mean that some of my thinking is wrong
– standing in the tomb, perplexed, is the experience of witnessing the death of my ideas — that is, my ideas about how the world works, how things are supposed to turn out, about what I can trust and hope to see happen
– we have hundreds of these little deaths
– these moments when things go differently than we thought they could and we are left stymied

The story of Jesus’ resurrection tells us not to fixate on our little deaths
– instead, look for the new life on the other side of the tomb

When the women reached the tomb and found it abandoned, their world was turned upside down
– after that, nothing would be the same or could go back to the way it was before
– for the first and only time in Luke’s gospel we find the words “the Lord Jesus” (it will occur at least nineteen times in Acts)
– he is the Lord Jesus after he proved himself the Lord of life and death – he is Lord of everything (Mt. 28:18)

It seems odd that all this happens and Jesus hasn’t appeared yet
– he isn’t in this scene
– but I think that’s the point: How are we to make sense of our situation when it blows up?
– don’t get angry,  don’t fight or kick at reality
– but learn to interpret the perplexities in light of Jesus’ teaching
That is where the mysteries are explained and the problems are solved

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