Dear brothers and sisters in Christ!
We are gathered in fellowship ( “in mystic sweet communion” ) with the great church - past, present and future. We are gathered on the first day of the week in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to remember the gospel - the things of first importance: “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared…” (1 Cor. 15: 3-5).
The Eastern Orthodox church has a lovely greeting on Resurrection Sunday morning . The pastor says in the Greek language: “Χριστός ἀνέστη!" - "Christ is Risen!" and the congregation responds: "Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!" - "Truly He is Risen!"
This strikes me as so much more biblical than saying “Happy Easter“. Most sources seem to think that the word “Easter” it comes from the Anglo-Saxon name “Eostre”, (and Norse “Ostara”) , the goddess of the sunrise and the spring, who was worshipped at the time of the (northern hemisphere) spring equinox. The direction of the sunrise, the East, is named after her. The worship of her was associated with the springtime themes of rebirth, new life, new hope, and light - some of the very themes associated with the story of the resurrection. Bunnies and eggs were symbols of fertility and so we find here a classic case of syncretism, i.e. where the Christian faith has been mixed with pagan beliefs . Enough said about that! Our passion is the passion and resurrection of Christ. Today we remember especially the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
Our text in Luke 24 describes Luke (the physician’s) orderly account (Lk. 1:3) of the resurrection, from the early dawn of that first day of the week ( 24:1) until the Ascension (24:50-53), 40 days later, with Pentecost (50 days later) implied in v.49.
There can be no doubt that the significant theme of this 24th chapter is the Resurrection of Christ, and the accompanying proofs that He had truly risen. The reason why the Christian church made the transition between Yom Shabat (Sabbath Day or 7th day) to Yom Rishon (First Day) as the 7th day of rest and worship is simple. This is the day on which Yeshua rose. This was also the day on which, 50 days later, the Holy Spirit (Ruach hakodesh) would be outpoured. It would be the birthday of the church (the ekklesia (Gr.) or k'nessiyah (Hebr.) )
Jesus had often been speaking, directly and indirectly about His death and resurrection in the course of His ministry (Lk. 9:21-22; 44; 11:29-30; 13:33-35 ;17:25; 18:32-33; 20:9-18, 22:14-23, 37). But now the time had come when His words would be tested. Surely, the supreme test of Christ’s claim to who He is must have been this : would He conquer death? Nobody had ever come back from the dead ! Death was the final curtain. It was the final sting. Death always had the last word, and death always seemed to have the victory! Why should this be different for the miracle-worker from Nazareth?
Let’s see, but before we see, I want to draw your attention to a remarkable fact. In the course of His ministry there were three people (that we know of) whom Jesus had raised from the dead: The widow's son at Nain (Lk 7: 11-17); Jairus' daughter (Matt. 9:18 18-26) and Lazarus (Jn 11: 1-44). These three people ( and especially the story of Lazarus) prove that Jesus had the power to overrule man’s greatest enemy- death. But would He Himself be able to overcome His own death? Who was going to raise Him ?
The Resurrection ( 24:1-12)
Jesus died on Friday (on the eve of the Sabbath). On the Sabbath day ( this is significant!) He rested in the grave. His work was indeed finished! But on Yom Rishon, the first day of the week, He rose from the grave ! We read that the those who wanted to embalm Jesus’ body with spices and ointments ( see their names in v.10) did not find Jesus in the tomb that Joseph of Arimathea had so graciously provided . Very strange - the stone was rolled away! There was no one in the tomb.What happened?
The answer is provided by 2 men in dazzling apparel – in shining garments. Who are these men? It seems clear that these were angels of God. As always, they have a similar effect on mankind: “… they( the women) were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground.” (v.5a). The angels say to them, “Why do you seek the living (Christ) among the dead?”
The Power of Unbelief
The angels are actually rebuking these faithful women for coming to embalm the body. Christ had told them so many times, that He was going to be raised from the dead! So, here unbelief was coming to embalm Christ’s dead body!
We shall see that this unbelief is frequently addressed in the 24th chapter, and it constitutes another subject which we shall address in a short while.
And so the angels say to them : “He is not here, but has risen! Remember how He told you while He was still in Galilee (cf. 18:33), that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” (vv.6,7).
And they remembered His words…! (v.8) Ah, it is not that they had not heard Him saying this! This is simply the testimony of the power of unbelief. They would not believe that Jesus was going to do what He said! I remind you once again, that if it depended on our faith to be saved, none of us would be saved!
The mercy and grace of Christ alone saves us!
Now hear this (and it reinforces the point made that we ‘hear , but don’t hear!’ ) “… and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest…but these words seemed to them an idle tale and they did not believe them! (vv. 9-11) The power of unbelief is amplified by the fact that the 11 disciples (now minus Judas, who was not only possessed by unbelief , but by Satan himself) did not believe the women! Peter, who fancied himself as the Lord’s blue eyed boy, and who swore undying allegiance to Christ was the chief of unbelievers. We shall meet them again in v. 36.
In the meantime … on the road to Emmaus ( 24:13-35)
The narrative is disrupted by an important insert.  This happened on the same day as Jesus had risen (v.13). 2 men are walking from Jerusalem to a village named Emmaus- about 12 kilometers. There is ample time to talk, and they talk about all these things that have happened. As they are walking, we read that Jesus joined them and walked with them! This is hard to fathom. Jesus joins their company and they don’t recognize Him. Had they never seen him before? This is unlikely . The explanation is given in v.16: “But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him.” Keep that verse in mind until later, when we get to v.31 .
This account is not without a touch of humour. As Jesus joins them, He says: “So, what are you talking about? “ With sadness one of them, named Cleopas says: “You mean, you haven’t heard? You are coming from Jerusalem, and you don’t know about the things that have happened there?“ Jesus plays dumb: “What things?” And they tell Him about Himself! … “Jesus of Nazareth… and what the chief priests did to Him- they crucified Him. He’s dead ! To be honest, we had hoped that He would be the Great Redeemer of Israel. But He’s dead. This is already the third day! But to be honest we have heard a very puzzling report from some of our women. Angels told them that He had risen from the dead !” And Jesus takes them to task: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?”
Let us pause here again for a moment and continue to meditate on this recurring matter of unbelief. None of these New Testament personalities actually believes Christ’s words . Worse still, none of them recognize Christ- until He chooses to reveal Himself! And so it is my dear brothers and sisters ! Without help we are simply not able to see Christ clearly. We are simply not able to comprehend His truth fully – even as those who say that they believe in Him! We need grace to understand. We need revelation.
And thus Jesus began to patiently explain, beginning "with Moses and all the prophets, as He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." (v.27) We don’t know precisely what He might have said concerning Himself , but He might have shown them that He was the fulfillment of every OT sacrifice; that He was the true Deliverer and King, of whom all the judges and deliverers in Jewish history were but shadows. He was the true temple to whom the people were to be gathered; He was the coming Prophet greater than Moses. He was the seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head (Gen 3:16). He was the One in whom all nations were to be blessed. He was the true scape-goat that bore away the sins of the people ; He was the true Lamb who alone could take our sin. He was our true High Priest of whom every priest was a figure.
Here is the solution to our great problem : If we do not have revelation, if we do not receive help from the Holy Spirit, we shall never know Him for who He is! One of the greatest works that we can do as a church is to pray that the Spirit of revelation may rest upon us and upon our ministry! Apart from Him we can do nothing! Does that sound familiar (Jn 15:1-7)
The road came to an end, and so did the conversation. Since the day was now far spent (v.29) these two dear men prevailed with Christ (whom they still had not recognized) to stay with them overnight . It was only at the supper table that their eyes were opened as to who had walked with them. When He took the bread , blessed it and gave it to them (v.30) their eyes were opened. The passive mood indicates that this was done to them.
But then comes verse 32: “And He vanished from their sight“. This is resurrection body dynamics. He vanishes … He appears (v.36). We won’t be able to understand this yet. Science cannot explain this dynamic .
But note the conversation that follows now : “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures? “ This is a very interesting comment. Christ used the Scriptures to explain Himself. Can we do any better than that on this resurrection morning? When I open the Scriptures to you, and show you what is there , and the Holy Spirit is present, the Scriptures make our hearts to burn within us. The truth resonates within us. Our hearts testify ... this is true … this is true … this is TRUE! And this is proof of the fact that our Lord Jesus lives. Jesus is alive and the Scripture (His Word) is alive. The result of having it opened up and explained produces revelation , and where there is such revelation there is joy!
They returned to Jerusalem within the hour , where they found the 11 disciples and testified to them: “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon (Peter) “ , and our 2 disciples of the Emmaus road were able to verify this as they related their own experience and “ how He was known to them in the ( revelation of) breaking of bread” (v.35).This is followed by another sudden appearance of Jesus (v.36) … and more fear.. and more being troubled and more doubts… but v.41 gives us a redeeming insight : “ And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling….” It was dawning on them again. Jesus is alive! , and in v. 45 we read how Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
Now let us learn from this: Unless the Lord regularly meets us, and helps us to see Him and opens the Scriptures to us so that our hearts burn, we will not see, and we will easily lapse into unbelief. Remember that the entire life of a Christian is lived by grace and by revelation from God. If this were not so, we would continue in the deadness of our unbelief. Thank God then for the resurrection of Christ by which the Living Lord comes and ministers to us! Amen.
 The Church’s One Foundation – Samuel J. Stone (1866 )
 The first day of the week ( Sunday) is called “Yom Rishon” i.e. “day , the first”
 Isaiah 6:9 – “ Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive…” quoted by Jesus in Matt 13:14,15
 Only found in Luke’s gospel