Daily Family Worship

Luke 24: The Risen Savior!

by | Mar 10, 2024

luke 24

After seeing where Jesus was buried, the women who had followed Him from Galilee and ministered to Him began preparing spices and ointments with which to embalm His body. However, as the day drew to its close, the evening brought the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath; and so these women rested from their labor of love until Sunday, “the first day of the week.” Then, “at early dawn,” they came to Jesus’ tomb; but they were astonished to find that the grave was opened, and that the body of Jesus was not inside!

Many critics, skeptics, and unbelievers have devised numerous theories and explanations to answer the question of why the tomb was empty. But there is only one explanation which is credible, and which is in accordance with the facts. Some persons profess to believe that Jesus did not really die, that He only swooned upon the cross, that He regained consciousness after He was laid in the tomb, and that He escaped and appeared to His disciples. But Jesus had declared that He was going to die and that He would rise again on the third day, and He afterward caused His disciples to believe that this had truly been His experience. This theory, therefore, cannot be held without denying the honesty and morality of our Lord. A second theory maintains that “his disciples came by night, and stole” away His body, but these disciples continually declared that He rose from the dead on the third day. According to this theory, then, these disciples were impostors; but this cannot be believed by anyone who is familiar with their subsequent lives and influence. And it is just as impossible to believe the third notion – namely, that the enemies of Jesus stole His body. For if that dead body had truly been in their possession, how gladly they would have produced it in order to forever silence the disciples who declared that Jesus was indeed alive. Besides, if anyone had taken the body – whether they were Jesus’ friends or foes – they would have certainly carried it off, still wrapped up in the shrouds of death. But these were left behind in the grave (verse 12), and they were lying in such an orderly fashion that evidently there had been neither violence nor haste.

The only true and credible explanation of the empty tomb is that which was given to the wondering women by two angels: “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee.” This startling statement of the angels embodies the very essence of the Gospel-message that was preached by the Apostles. The truth which it declares forms the cornerstone of our Christian faith! The resurrection of our Lord is vitally connected with all the realities which relate to His Person and work, and also to the life of His followers.

But when the women had reported the fact of the resurrection to the Apostles, they regarded the words of the women “as idle talk, and they disbelieved them.” This incredulity on the part of the Apostles shows the absolute absurdity of another theory that is often advanced by those who deny the resurrection of our Lord – namely, that His followers so eagerly expected Him to rise from the dead that their fevered brains finally imagined that He had thus risen, and so they testified to what was actually only a product of their own imagination. The truth is, the disciples did not expect Jesus to rise! Therefore, when the truth was reported to them by these women, they refused to accept it until proof upon proof had been given them, making doubt and unbelief absolutely impossible. There is even more weighty evidence of the resurrection of our Lord, but those who deny this supremely important event must first give some rational account of this empty tomb.

Many eyewitnesses saw the risen Christ. He appeared to Mary, Peter, James, and “the eleven”; and He also appeared to more than 500 disciples at one time. But of all the appearances on the day of His resurrection, none is recorded with more dramatic vividness and definite detail than that which is related here by Luke, when Jesus walked with two disciples toward the village of Emmaus, seven miles northwest of Jerusalem. These two men were going there with sad and discouraged hearts, and Jesus joined them on the road and drew from them expressions of their disappointment and despair. The One upon Whom they had set their hopes of redemption for Israel had been put to death! He had spoken mysteriously of a resurrection on the third day, but the day was passing and they had not seen Him – although it was true that reports had reached them about a vision of angels, who said that He was alive. Their words, in no small measure, were a confession of unbelief.

It was not strange, therefore, that Jesus rebuked these two men: “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory?” It is noticeable that Jesus did not chide them for refusing to accept His own words, or those of their friends, or those of the angels; they were rebuked for not believing the Scriptures of the Old Testament. They had partially accepted it, just as people often accept that which is in harmony with their own prejudices and tastes and notions; but they failed to believe all that the prophets had spoken – particularly the predictions of Jesus’ atoning death, and of His return to the heavenly glory which He would share when He ascended. The two men listened in wonder to His explanation of the Scriptures; and finally, as they were sitting at dinner with Him, they suddenly realized that they were in the actual presence of their living Lord! After He vanished from their physical sight, they hurried back to the disciples in Jerusalem; and there they found them already wondering at the news that Jesus had appeared to Peter earlier in the day.

No story tells us more impressively the truth that a Divine Savior walks beside us all the way of our earthly journey. It is sad that our eyes are so often dimmed by unbelief that we fail to realize His presence. We walk in sadness when we might be rejoicing in our relationship with Him. It may be as the Scriptures are opened to us, or as we meet together to break bread in His name, that our blindness will be removed. And surely when this earthly pilgrimage ends, and when we enter the home toward which we are journeying, we shall see Him face to face – and the vision will not fade in deepening twilight; but rather, it will grow more and more glorious throughout the eternal day. 

The incidents of the day on which Jesus rose from the dead, as recorded by Luke, do not only form a sequence in time; but they also move in logical order. The empty tomb can be explained by no other theory than that of a resurrection, but this was only a negative proof. To this was added the actual appearance of Jesus to two disciples on their way to Emmaus. Yet even this was not evidence enough, for some might try to say that such an appearance had merely been a vision of a ghost. Therefore, as Luke relates the appearance of Jesus to the eleven disciples in the upper room, after night had fallen and the two men had returned from Emmaus, he lays stress upon the fact that Jesus appeared to them in bodily form. When the disciples saw Him, they thought that they were indeed beholding an apparition or a spirit. But in order to forever dispel such a false impression, Jesus used every possible appeal to the senses so that it might be made evident that He was not standing before them in an immaterial or spiritual body; but rather, in the identical body of flesh and blood which had been crucified and laid in the tomb, and which was scarred by the cruel nails. It was a body capable of eating food, and a body which could be touched and felt, in which He appeared to His disciples. He solemnly declared that He was not a disembodied spirit; He showed them the wounds in His hands and feet; He declared that a spirit does not have flesh and bones, which they could plainly see that He had; and finally, to remove every lingering doubt, He ate some fish and honey in their presence.

The appearances and disappearances of Jesus after His resurrection were mysterious and miraculous, just like His walking upon the waters of the sea in the days of His previous ministry; but by every possible sensible sign, He caused His disciples to understand that He had indeed risen from the dead in His actual, physical, human body. The theory that Christ’s resurrection can be explained as a hallucination, a vision, or an apparition is forever silenced by the testimony of Luke – the careful historian, the intelligent physician, and the Divinely-inspired Evangelist. Upon the foundation of the established fact of our Savior’s literal and bodily resurrection, this superstructure of our Christian faith firmly stands!

The last words of Jesus, as recorded by Luke, were spoken to His disciples during the 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension. They are luminous with truths which are still needed by the disciples of Christ today. Among them are such facts as these: the Scriptures contain authoritative messages concerning Christ; these messages can be understood only by those who believe in Him, and who are guided by Him; the essential truths concerning Christ center in the facts of His death and resurrection; because of His successful accomplishment of the work of salvation, repentance and forgiveness of sins can be preached; this Gospel-message is to be proclaimed throughout all the world; the followers of Christ are the messengers by whom this good news is to be made known; the power for such proclamation is imparted by the Holy Spirit, Who was manifested in new power on the day of Pentecost, and Who is now an abiding Presence and a source of limitless strength to all who seek to do the will of Christ, and who endeavor to glorify His name.

The ascension of our Savior was an event that was quite distinct from the resurrection. It occurred nearly six weeks later, and it indicates a number of supremely important truths. The first of these is that Jesus withdrew from the sphere of the seen and physical, to the sphere of the unseen and spiritual. He did not pass up above us, through vast spaces of the skies. We are not to think of Him as far away. He is an unseen, Divine Presence – superior to the limitations of time and space, and existing in any and every time and place. The ascension should make us feel that Jesus is near, rather than far away.

Second, when Jesus ascended, He assumed universal power. It was not at the time of His resurrection, but at the time of His ascension, that He was seated “on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” This indicates Divine omnipotence. It is the continual teaching of the New Testament that King Jesus has all authority, both in heaven and on earth. The ascension, therefore, should remind us of the limitless power of Christ.

Finally, it was at the time of the ascension that Jesus entered “into his glory.” It was then that His body was transformed and made spiritual and celestial, and then He began again to share the Divine glory which He had enjoyed with His Father before the world began. The ascension, therefore, is a pledge and promise of the glory which still awaits His followers. It is an assurance that He will yet fulfill His promises, and that He will again appear. Emerging from the sphere of the unseen, He will be manifested to all mankind as the ideal Man, and the Savior of the world!

Lord Jesus, we give thanks to You for mercifully providing us with so many evidences of the reality of Your resurrection, so that we may not be left in the shadows of doubt and death; for – as the Apostle teaches us (1 Cor. 15:17) – if You did not rise from the dead, we are doomed because we are yet in our sins! Amen.

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