Easter is to our faith what water is to the ocean, what stone is to the mountain, what blood is to your body. It is the unique substance of redemptive reality. It is the first and final word in the dictionary of God. It says that Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
—Raymond I. Lindquist
Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
Today is the pinnacle of Christian Holidays! For today is the day that we celebrate the victory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We celebrate because it was not only a victory for Him but a victory for all. Now it is interesting that Jesus never commands us to remember, commemorate or celebrate His Resurrection, He does, through the Lord's Supper command us to remember His death. I think He knows the Human heart enough to know that we would celebrate this event, but lest we forget that the Resurrection could not occur without the death He gave to us the Lord's
Easter celebrates the end of the slavish reign of sin and the beginning of the free reign of righteousness.
Easter celebrates the gift of life brought through the death of Christ.
Easter is the celebration of a people wretched and full of sin who have been given hope by a Savior Holy and full of righteousness that won the victory and made it ours.
Today we are going to take a look at that first Easter morning through the story as told in Luke. Now we have four accounts and in each account we have different facts being brought out, does this mean that we have conflicting views of the resurrection, no. This means that we have four people giving four different accounts, two are eyewitnesses to the accounts and two are giving the accounts as reported by eyewitnesses. And so you might ask how can they be so different, well they simply choose to include different details. Just because one includes stories not told by the other doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, but it means that it wasn’t important to them.
If right now in this sanctuary someone would burst through that door and shout and dance and cause a commotion and run right back out you could immediately begin to question everyone here and ask what did you see and you would get as many different versions as you do people and none
of them, necessarily, would be lying, they would just be telling the story as they see it.
But for our purposes this morning I want us to focus on the account of the resurrection morning as told by Luke. So turn with me to Luke 24.
Luke 24:1-12 (KJV)1 Now upon the first dayof the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain otherswith them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. 3And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8And they remembered his words, 9And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. 10It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. 12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
Luke 24:36-53 (KJV) 36And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath
not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them hishands and his feet. 41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? 42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43And he took it, and did eat before them. 44 And he said unto them, These
arethe words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, andin the prophets, and inthe psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48And ye are witnesses of these things. 49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. 50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: 53And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
Let us first look at the doubt of the ladies.
Luke 23:50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: 51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. 55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
24:1Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. (KJV)
Now what I want us to see is the heart of these ladies. As they come to see Jesus, they are looking to prepare the body of the one that they thought would be their Savior, and as much as they had set at the feet of Jesus, as much as their families had set at the feet of Jesus, yet they did not believe.
From Mary Magdalene Christ had cast out seven devils. Grateful for his great mercy, she was one of his firmest and most faithful followers, and was first at the sepulchre, and was first permitted to see her risen Lord. The "other Mary" was not the mother of Jesus, but the mother of James
and (Mark). Mark says that "Salome" attended them. Salome was the wife of Zebedee, and the mother of James and John. From Luke< Luke 24:10> it appears that Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod's steward (see <Luke 8:3>), was with them. These four women, Mark says <Mark 16:1>, having
bought sweet spices, came to anoint him.
(from Barnes' Notes)
We never speak of the doubt of these ladies, but these ladies have been with Jesus throughout His public ministry and surely they have heard Jesus speak of this day and this moment.
Matthew 27:61-63 (KJV) 61And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. 62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
These ladies were taking to the tomb burial spices, why? They were taking them because they believed their Lord and Savior to be dead!
The doubt of the disciples of Jesus
Now I want to turn our attention to the men. Most of us are aware of Doubting Thomas. You cannot mention this disciple without this disclaimer. Yet I want to take a moment to show you this morning, Thomas was not alone in his doubting.
Luke 24:10-11 (KJV) 10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and otherwomen that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
Mark 16:9-14 (KJV)9 Now when Jesuswas risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. 10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. 12After that he appeared in another form unto two of
them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13And they went and told it unto the residue:
neither believed they them.
Mark 16:14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
But once again I want to caution you and I before we begin to be too rough on these guys for their disbelief.
First of all, remember the unbelievable death they either witnessed or heard about and remember the man that was beaten beyond recognition now stands before them, only days after the even with mere scars.
Medically think about this, wounds of the nature that Jesus suffered would still be gaping and open only days after, but he has, only days after the even mere scars.
After the arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus was next brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiphus, the High Priest; it is here that the first physical trauma was inflicted. A soldier struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiphus. The palace guards then blind-folded Him and mockingly taunted Him to identify them as they each passed by, spat upon Him, and struck Him in the face.
In the early morning, battered and bruised, exhausted from a sleepless night, Jesus is taken across the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia, the seat of government of the Procurator of Judea, Pontius
Pilate. Jesus apparently suffered no physical mistreatment at the hands of Herod and was returned to Pilate. It was in response to the cries of the mob, that Pilate ordered Barabbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.
There is much disagreement among authorities about the unusual scourging as a prelude to crucifixion. Most Roman writers from this period do not associate the two. Many scholars believe that Pilate originally ordered Jesus scourged as his full punishment and that the death sentence by crucifixion came only in response to the taunt by the mob that the Procurator was not properly defending Caesar against this pretender who allegedly claimed to be the King of the Jews.
Preparations for the scourging were carried out when the Prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. It is doubtful the Romans would have made any attempt to follow the Jewish law in this matter, but the Jews had an ancient law prohibiting more than forty lashes.
The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagellum in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus' shoulders, back, and legs. At first the thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.
The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped.
The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood. The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be king. They throw
a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. Flexible branches covered with long thorns (commonly used in bundles for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is pressed into His scalp. Again there is copious bleeding, the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body.
After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tire of their sadistic
sport and the robe is torn from His back. Already having adhered to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, its removal causes excruciating pain just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, and almost as though He were again being whipped the wounds once more begin to bleed.
In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans return His garments. The heavy patibulum of the cross is tied across His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution detail of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion begins its slow journey along the Via
In spite of His efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. He stumbles and falls. The rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance.
The centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus follows, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy
sweat of shock, until the 650 yard journey from the fortress Antonia to Golgotha is finally completed.
Jesus is offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic mixture. He refuses to drink. Simon is ordered to place the patibulum on the ground and Jesus quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He
drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action being careful not to pull the arms to tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum is then lifted in place at the top of the stipes and the titulus reading "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" is nailed in place.
The left foot is now pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The Victim is now crucified. As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists excruciating
pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain -- the nails in the writs are putting pressure on the median nerves. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.
At this point, as the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences recorded:
Medical account of the Crucifixion.
So when we read of the doubts of the ladies or the doubts of the men, we cannot be too hard on them, they have just witnessed one of the most cruel deaths known to man, in that age or any age since or before.
I want us to see that in their disbelief they deny the Word of God
In their disbelief they despair over their circumstances
Deny the Word of God
Matthew 20:17-19 (KJV) 17 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in
the way, and said unto them, 18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, 19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the
third day he shall rise again.
Mark 9:30-31 (KJV)30 And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would
not that any man should know it. 31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.
Mark 10:32-35 (KJV) 32 And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve,
and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, 33 Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes;
and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: 34 And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again. 35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.
Luke 9:22-23 (KJV)22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. 23And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Luke 18:31-33 (KJV) 31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. 32For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: 33And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.
John 2:18-22 (KJV)18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body. 22When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
In each and every one of these passages Jesus Christ gives to his disciples specific instructions on his death, on his burial and on his resurrection. Where is that truth in the heart of his disciples on
the third day?
You and I, some 2000 years after the fact read the Easter story and wonder how is it that the disciples did not camp out at the grave in great hope and expectation of the Glory of the Son of God!
How can such great men of faith be so disbelieving, and mistrusting of Jesus very words.
Yet you and I that have before us this same Bible that declares to us that
In their disbelief they despair over their circumstances
John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors
were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Disbelief causes fear. Now the reason for their fear, on one hand is credible, there leader had just been run through a mock trial and been proven innocent yet condemned to Die, now they was certain that they were next.
But their fear was grounded in disbelief.
Listen to what happens after they believed.
Acts 2:22Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
When they believed they were moved from despair to hope.
Acts 2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right
hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Let me ask you this morning has you despair been turned to hope?
What changed to give them such hope? It wasn’t their circumstances, Peter made these bold proclamations in the same city where he feared and was is the depths of despair, so what changed, what changed was their belief. How did they believe, they came in contact with the risen savior.
He is Alive!
The persistence of the Savior!
This is Easter and I want to end on a happy note, I want us to see the persistence of the Savior.
We have seen the broken heartedness of the ladies that first came to the tomb
We have seen the disbelief of the disciples
Jesus accomplished exactly what He said that He would and there was initially disbelief. Aren’t you glad this morning that He didn’t just throw His hands up and say well if they won’t believe I will just
give up myself.
Jesus appeared and He appeared and He appeared, He showed His scars, He showed them from scripture how it was and He persisted until they believed.
Aren’t you glad in your life that He persisted? I can’t speak for everyone but I know for myself the first time that I heard as a boy that I could go to Jesus and he would forgive me, I wasn’t sure, I was
afraid and I was uncertain, yet He persisted.
Psalm 86:15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
Isaiah 30:18 And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
So today we have seen the doubt of the women
We have seen the doubt of the disciples
But praise God we have seen the persistence of the Savior
Maybe you are here this morning and the Lord is persisting in your heart, Maybe the Lord is calling to you, come bring me your sins and I will forgive them, come bring me you hurt and I will heal them, come bring me your fears and I will relieve them.
Jesus is the Son of God, He did die that cruel death, but praise God He is alive and He offers to you hope, he offers to you forgiveness and he offers to you salvation
This Easter Morning will you be like the disciples and like the women that first morning and have your disbelief changed into belief, not by the convincing of me, but by the calling of the Spirit of
Give your heart, give your life, give yourself to Christ, repent of your sins and make Him the Lord of Lords the Lord of your life.