Sunday School Lesson 11 - Luke 24:1-12 - HE HAS RISEN
BACKGROUND: Last week, in Luke 23:33-46, we covered Luke's account of Jesus' crucifixion and death. Two events' unique to Luke's gospel occurred first in v. 34 when Jesus said, "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." The statement did not excuse the Jews or Romans for Jesus' death but showed that they really didn't comprehend the extent of the great evil they were committing. Then in vv. 40-43, we saw an incredible example of a last-minute salvation when one of the criminals hanging beside Jesus believed in Him and confessed his wrongdoing, after which Jesus told him, "today you will be with Me in Paradise." This amazing passage reminds us that it's never too late to recognize Jesus as Lord and live-eternally. The main truth of the lesson is that the only point of view on the crucifixion that truly matters is God's--the theological perspective: That He sent His only Son to die on a cross in order to take the full penalty of humanity's sin in our place so that we may be forgiven and have eternal life in God's kingdom. This is the true significance of the crucifixion and everything else about it is secondary.
This week, In Luke 24:1-12, we will hear Luke's account of the resurrection. Before I get into the lesson text, I want to briefly talk to you about how the details of post-resurrection events differ between the four gospel accounts. If you carefully read them-Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John-side -by-side, you cannot help but notice the differences in the timing and sequence of reported events, differences in location, and differences in the people involved. First, we must remember that these gospels were written by different people at different times who were writing either from memory or from the testimony of different witnesses. And to make even more complicated, Bible scholars acknowledge that there are even differences between the manuscripts of the same gospel. What we need to understand is that the aim of the gospel writers was not to record history but to explain and communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost word. Which one is correct? Answer: they all are!
Read Luke 24:1-3 - THE EMPTY TOMB
1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
v. 1a: "But on the first day of the week, at early dawn," - All four gospels agree that the resurrection took place on "the first day of the week," which corresponds to our Sunday. In the early Church, because Jesus was resurrected on Sunday, it became our day of worship.
v. 1b: "they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared." - "they" refers to the same women from Galilee who had previously witnessed Jesus' dead body being placed and sealed in the tomb by Joseph of Arimathea in Luke 23:44-56.
v. 1c: "bringing the spices which they had prepared." - They were prevented from doing this sooner because of the Sabbath regulations. Jewish corpses weren't embalmed but were anointed with spices to mask the odor of decomposition. This verse reflects that these women were greatly devoted to Jesus because after two days, the odor of the corpse would have been almost unbearable.
v. 2: "And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb," - Normally, in order to protect the tomb against robbers and vandals, this large stone disc, weighing hundreds of pounds, would set in a deep groove in front the tomb's entrance; and It would have been impossible for these women to move it by themselves.
v. 3: "but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus." - This verse is an important witness to the humanity of Christ. These women came here fully expecting to find the physical body of Jesus. But once the women stepped inside the tomb, they were utterly shocked to discover that no body was there-it had vanished! We need to see that the stone wasn't rolled away to let Jesus out; it was rolled away so that others-really everybody in the world-could see that Jesus, who these women had watched being sealed in this tomb, was no longer there. This is a fact.
Read Luke 24:4-8 - HE HAS RISEN
4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in gleaming clothing; 5 and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why are you seeking the living One among the dead? 6 He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise from the dead." 8 And they remembered His words,
v. 4a: "While they were perplexed about this," - For starters, the women were confused because the stone had been moved. In other words, they weren't even expecting a resurrection to happen.
v. 4b: "behold, two men suddenly stood near them in gleaming clothing;" - The fact that Luke has "two men" in his account could possibly relate to Deuteronomy 19:15, which requires two male witnesses to establish and verify a fact, and that they wore "gleaming clothing" is a common biblical reference to the presence of angelic beings (John. 20:12, Acts 1:10). Luke used the same word to describe the people in the Transfiguration event (17:24), and God routinely uses angels to announce revelation.
v. 5a: "and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground," - Consider the emotional state of these women: they saw Jesus hideously crucified, they saw Him suffer and die, they saw Him sealed in a tomb, and when they came to prepare His body, His body was gone! And now, in the tomb, they're suddenly confronted by two men whose clothing is glowing. It's no surprise that they would be terrified. Fear is the most common response to divine presence.
v. 5b: "the men said to them, "Why are you seeking the living One among the dead?" - This is a gentle rebuke. It could be re-phrased to say: "Why on earth are you women looking for Jesus in a cemetery?" The reality revealed to them was that Jesus is now physically among the "living."
v. 6a: " He is not here, but He has risen." - This is the central pillar of the Christian faith, because it unequivocally demonstrates God's approval of Jesus' life and His sacrifice. And when Luke speaks of the resurrection elsewhere (Acts 3:15; 4:10; and 5:30), he makes it clear that it was God who raised Jesus from the dead, as opposed to Jesus being the power behind His own resurrection.
v. 6b: "Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee," - This refers to the predictions Jesus made about His impending death and resurrection (9:21-22; 17:25; and 18:31-34);
v. 7: "saying that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise from the dead." - Earlier, after Peter had confessed Jesus as Messiah (9:18-20), Jesus told him not to tell anyone and said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised on the third day" (9:22). The verb "must be" (Gk. dei, lit. imperative, a necessity) reflects the fact that Jesus death and resurrection not only fulfilled OT prophecies, but were in accordance with the will of God.
• However, in this instance with the women, given the fact that they had come to prepare a body for burial, it's very obvious that they did not anticipate this outcome-i.e., they did not comprehend that Jesus would be resurrected on the third day.
v. 8: "And they remembered His words," - This confirms that the angels correctly assumed that the women had overheard Jesus' predictions of His death resurrection, even though Jesus had only addressed them to His disciples. When Jesus predicted His own death, the disciples didn't understand what He was telling them because the meaning was hidden from them (9:45; 18:34). Because they didn't understand Jesus-and because the very idea of Jesus dying soon was completely at odds with their way of thinking, His predictions appear to have gone in one ear and out the other. Yet, His disturbing predictions did make some impression-enough that the disciples could remember them after they saw God's plan come into full implementation.
Read Luke 24:9-12 - THESE WORDS APPEARED TO THEM AS NONSENSE
9 and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest. 10 Now these women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. 11 But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe the women. 12 Nevertheless, Peter got up and ran to the tomb; and when he stooped and looked in, he *saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.
v. 9a: "and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven," - The women who had seen the empty tomb with their own eyes, heard the angels' declaration with their own ears that Jesus had risen, and then finally remembered hearing what Jesus Himself had said about His coming death and resurrection (Luke doesn't mention the excitement they must have felt), went to the "eleven" (the remaining apostles after the betrayal and death of Judas Iscariot) and reported to them everything they had seen and heard. I can imagine that they were probably jumping with joy by now.
v. 9b: "and to all the rest" - Besides the eleven and the women, there were many more followers of Jesus who'd heard Him teach and experienced these post-resurrection events (Matthew 28:17); and it very possibly might have included the two disciples to whom Jesus had revealed Himself on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:18-31) and some or all of the 120 who were in the upper room in Acts 1:15.
v. 10: "Now these women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles." - Luke's list here is only slightly different from the one in Mark 16:1. "Mary Magdalene" is the woman who encountered Jesus first in Luke 8:2, and she is always listed first in the names of the women who traveled with Jesus; "Joanna" is mentioned only once in Luke 8:3; "Mary the mother of James" (i.e., the mother of the apostle known as James the less, son of Alphaeus [Mark. 3:18], not James the son of Zebedee, who was John's brother, nor James, the half-brother of Jesus); and the "other women" most likely included Salome, who was the mother of James and John.
v. 11a: "But these words appeared to them as nonsense," - The word used here for "nonsense" (Gk. léros [lay'-ros]), is a medical term that describes hysteria and fever-induced hallucinations. They seemed to think that the women had lost all sense of reality. The real paradox of this scenario was the true reality was that Jesus had in fact been resurrected from the dead and was alive at this time.
v. 11b: "and they would not believe the women." - This phrase implies that the women made repeated attempts to convince the apostles that Jesus had risen. Yet, the apostles refused to believe it. I mean, as far they were concerned, the idea was too good to be true. What's really amazing is that the Sanhedrin took Jesus' predictions about His resurrection seriously enough to post guards around His tomb (Matthew 27:62-66), but His own apostles are caught totally by surprise.
v. 12a: "Nevertheless, Peter got up and ran to the tomb;" - Always a man of action, Peter is unable sit still when he has the ability to personally go and check-out the women's story. John's account reports that he and Peter both ran to the tomb (John 20:4).
v. 12b: "and when he stooped and looked in, he *saw the linen wrappings only;" - These "wrappings" would be the burial clothes or shroud. Luke's account doesn't indicate whether the linen cloths were neatly folded or simply collapsed as if the body disappeared beneath them. In either case, they testify that Christ had been there and now was not.
v. 12c: "and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened." - Peter was certainly puzzled and amazed at this point, but the text does not go as far as to indicate that Peter believed that Christ had risen. In the final analysis, the complete surprise of the apostles at the resurrection-i.e., their surprise that it happened exactly as Jesus said it would-is further proof of the genuineness of all the gospel records pertaining to the event.
APPLICATION-Faith in the Resurrection and the Life
1. While faith is based on the historical fact of the resurrection, it's not just an intellectual choice. Faith in Jesus is above all a moral choice. We acknowledge that we are sinners and that our sins put Jesus Christ on the cross. There are many questions-mysteries-that will not be fully resolved until we get to heaven. So, faith in Christ isn't just a matter of weighing the evidence and making a sound intellectual decision; it's actually a matter of having saving faith that morally convicts us of our sin and our need for a Savior.
2. We must remember that our faith must always be centered on the living Jesus Christ as Lord. As we progress in our Christian walk, it's good for us to learn the doctrines, theology, and the moral standards for the Christian life, but our primary focus should always be on our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who, at the right hand of the Father, is now alive and interceding for us in heaven. As the apostle Paul succinctly put it, "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." (Philippians 3:10).