We had a great worship service this past Easter Sunday. The sermon was on Luke 24:1-12 where we were encountered by the empty tomb of Christ – a shocking surprise to hearers ancient and present. The apostles who heard the news passed it off as “nonsense” or an “idle tale” (Luke 24:11). Many throughout history have passed the empty tomb off as an idle tale, including Thomas Jefferson. Indeed, he even went so far as to not include the four Gospel’s united resurrection account in his version of the Gospels (although Wikipedia is not the best of sources here is more info on the Jefferson Bible if you are interested http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible).

Nevertheless, my intent was not so much to bring Jefferson into focus as much as how ending the story of Christ at the burial leaves us looking at a graveyard. Luke wants us to look elsewhere. He wants us to look into Paradise (Luke 23:43) and into the face of Jesus. The way Luke records the story functions like this: as we stare depressed at the graveyard of the Lord Jesus he comes from behind and turns us around to look into his face. Luke, under the inspiration of the Spirit, wants us to look into the face of our living and loving Lord.

Jesus is living – the Living One (24:5). He is no ancient character from history past only to be regarded for his great morals. No! Jesus is alive! He is Risen!

We can communicate with him now and he hears our prayers.

Jesus is alive…but that may not bring us repose. I mean, he’s holy and we are sinners. Yet, the heavenly men at the tomb remind the women that Jesus’ love for them included the cross (24:6-7). Christ had told them that this all would come to pass. What seemed to the women to be a senseless act of violence against their innocent Rabbi turned out to be part of God’s loving plan for the Son of Man and his people.

Finally, Jesus is Lord. Nowhere in Luke had Jesus been called “the Lord Jesus” until 24:3. Then, in Luke’s second volume (the Book of Acts) Jesus is called by that title over and over again. Why? Christ has now officially been vindicated in his role as King of Kings and Lord of Lords by his resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:1-4). This is partially what Peter may have been marveling about as he trekked home from the empty tomb (24:12). Peter, who had given up so much for the Jesus movement and seen it all crash days before now had regained hope for the movement based in Jesus’ proven Lordship.

Christian: Jesus is alive today – he hears your prayers. Jesus loves you today – he does not mean you harm in the least. Jesus is Lord today – his movement is alive. Don’t get stuck staring at the graveyard, sin, depravity, and death. The story has moved beyond the grave to the resurrection and Jesus has turned us to look at him our resurrected Lord and Friend.

Luke 24:1-12

Questions for Conversation

Do people modify the Gospels today? How so?
How do Christians truncate the Gospel story?
Have you ever thought that it was proper to dwell on the death of Christ in isolation from his resurrection? Is that possible?
What would you tell a friend who is not a believer about the resurrection of Jesus if you had one sentence?