Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed

Suffering Unto Death and Resurrection into New Life

Purpose:  To discover through Jesus’ suffering and death what true victory is.

Luke 23:32-46

Luke 23:32-46 (New International Version)

32Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”

36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38There was a written notice above him, which read:|sc THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[ Jesus’ Death

Today is Easter 2010, a time of resurrection and renewal.  But before there can be resurrection, death and burial must occur.  Today’s scripture begins with the crucifixion of Jesus.  We know that Jesus was captured in the Garden of Gethsemane, not during the day but in the middle of the night.  How might this story have played out differently had Jesus’ trial been during the day?

During the day there surely would have been people who had followed Him who would have protested his arrest.  But people who inhabit the night quite often are those who do not fit into society.  Thus when the authorities sought witnesses against Jesus they were easy to find for the price of a few coins.

However, we know from studying the Word that Jesus was not actually taken against His will.  In fact, His submission to betrayal, trial and execution was in reality submission to His Father.

The place where Jesus died was called the Skull, and as you know the hillside has rocky formations that resemble a human skull.  The King James version uses the word Calvary (calvarea) which is latin for skull.  In other Gospels the place of crucifixion is called Golgotha, which is Aramaic for skull.

Along with Jesus, two criminals were crucified.  Historically we have thought of these men as thieves, but crucifixion was generally reserved for one convicted of murder or of political insurrection, so it is likely these men were not simple thieves.

The men hanging there with Jesus were guilty of the accusations lodged against them.  In fact, while one man was mocking Jesus the other protested and said they were guilty but Jesus was not.  It was then that he asked that Jesus remember him when Jesus came into His kingdom, and Jesus uttered the controversial words, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Why do I say these words are controversial?

For people who believe baptism is a prerequisite for entering Heaven, this episode breaks all of the rules.  The criminal admits his transgressions, recognizes Jesus as God, and in essence asks forgiveness and without anything further being required Jesus says, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Additionally, some people say there is a comma after today, changing the context and promising eternity but perhaps not eminently.

Others question how Jesus could have descended into Hell to set the captives free, while at the same time ascended into Heaven.  Perhaps it was Jesus’ physical body that was in Hell, and His spirit that ascended into Paradise.  I don’t know the answer, but I know that if Jesus said “today you will be with me in Paradise” , then today is the day this man could be certain, without a doubt, he would meet Jesus in Paradise.

Let’s talk for a moment about the differences between the criminals on the cross.

Criminal #1 Criminal #2
Unrepentant Repentant
Knows he is guilty but wants a way out Knows he is guilty and deserves his punishment
Says if you are the Son of God, save yourself and us Acknowledges Jesus is the Son of God and asks that Jesus will remember him when he comes into his kingdom
Does not fear God Fears God

We all look at life through our own lenses.  Just like the four gospels all relate the story of the crucifixion somewhat differently, these men looked at Jesus differently.  One was guilty, knew he was guilty, and only cared if Jesus could provide him a way off of the cross.  The other was guilty, knew he was guilty, but also feared God and recognized Jesus as God in the flesh.

44It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Jesus has suffered humiliation, physical pain, spiritual loss when God turns His back on Jesus because of the sin covering, and finally he suffers death.  Yet, Luke’s account of the crucifixion does not include the cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.”  Why?

Remember I said earlier each of the gospels relate the crucifixion differently.  For Matthew, Jesus was the King, the Messiah who came to fulfill the Scriptures.  To Mark He was the suffering servant, to John He was the lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world.  But to Luke, Jesus was the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  Because Luke saw Jesus as an overcomer, victorious over all that satan threw at Him, he omitted the words, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me.  Jesus the man might have felt forsaken, but He was not.  Jesus might have felt alone, but He was not.  Jesus the man suffered untold pain, but the divine Jesus was victorious through it all.  His last words, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, tells what Paul Harvey says is the rest of the story.

During my first heart attack, as they were wheeling me from my house and into the ambulance, I had occasion to say these same words.  I knew I was close to death, and even though I was just 50 years old, I knew I was ready.  So, I said if this is my time, then into thy hands I commend my spirit.

There is a peace that comes with knowing that Jesus was victorious over sin and death.  There is a calm that comes with knowing that whatever we go through in this life, Jesus is right there with us.  The lesson writer says the good news of the gospel is that God is most present where God seems most absent.

We end our reading by seeing that Jesus’ death was accompanied by physical manifestations upon the earth.  Although it was around noon, darkness came over the whole land for the next three hours.  The curtain of the temple, which was about 60 feet high and 4 inches thick was torn in half from top to bottom.  Why?  Because Jesus replaced the veil as the only way to the Father and he became our High Priest, our sacrifice.  From that point forward God had no need to dwell in a temple made by man, but instead would dwell in the temple of our bodies made by God.

Jesus suffered the cross, the grave but ultimately was raised victorious.  We, too, must suffer in this life, but like Jesus, we can be victorious.

Resurrected Unto New Life

Luke 24

The Resurrection

1On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7’The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8Then they remembered his words.

9When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

The women in the first of our scripture reading were faithful, and because of their faith they had no fear, or, if they feared, they were able to overcome their fear.  They had been followers of Jesus, they were at the cross when He breathed His last breath, they saw Him buried, and now they were here to perform ritual cleansing suggesting his burial had occurred in haste due to the requirement of being finished by the Sabbath.

What was the first thing the women saw upon arrival at the tomb?  The stone was rolled away, and Jesus’ body was not there.

The women encountered two angels and were asked “why do you seek the living among the dead?”  Why, indeed.  Jesus had prepared His followers for his death and resurrection by referring to the plight of Jonah, and by telling them the temple would be destroyed but raised three days later.  Yet, until these women saw the empty tomb they did not quite appreciate that Jesus was, indeed, the son of God.  Remember, Hebrews 11:1 says faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not see.  Until now, these women’s faith consisted of hope, but on that first Easter, their faith turned from hope into evidence.  Once they saw that Jesus was not dead, but indeed was living they rushed to share the information with the disciples.

Why do you suppose God would ordain that women were the ones to witness that Christ was not in the tomb?  After all, the testimony of women was not legally admissible.  However, we should remember a few things that strengthen their witness:

*These women were followers of Christ

*These women supported Christ’s ministry with their income

*The women were not sent to the tomb but went there of their own accord

*They were not told of Jesus’ resurrection by the angels, but reminded that Jesus himself had told them earlier this would happen

*They immediately went to share the news with the other disciples

*Luke names the women so that we know they were women of high character and could be believed

Jesus legitimized women in the ministry throughout His time on earth, and now, even at death and with His resurrection, He elevated women to a whole new level.

Where were the eleven disciples?  They were huddled in a room in Jerusalem.  The women went immediately to where the disciples were staying and told them the good news of the resurrection.  But the reaction was not exactly what they anticipated.  In fact, only Peter shows some semblance of belief by going directly to the tomb to witness  the events for himself.  What did he find at the tomb?

Peter found the grave clothes and left amazed, wondering what it all meant.  We have heard all of our lives about the birth of Jesus to a virgin in Bethlehem, the ministry of Jesus in Galilee, and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem.  We affirm our faith by reciting the Apostle’s Creed, by praying the Lord’s prayer, by partaking of the elements of the Lord’s table.  Do we wonder what the empty grave means or can we say, Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed?

We, like the women at the tomb, have the opportunity to go beyond the hope realm and into the evidence realm.  Just as their faith took them from the foot of the cross to the open tomb, likewise our faith no longer depends on some obscure hope, for we have the evidence the Jesus is our risen Lord.  Where is our evidence?  It is in our hearts, where Jesus abides continually from now until the Great Resurrection when the dead in Christ shall rise and we shall meet Him in the skies.

The message of Easter is quite simply, Come and see, and Go and tell.  Come and see, go and tell.  Not all will accept the truth of Easter, but all deserve to be told the truth.  Christ is risen, He is risen indeed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: