Easter! Why Do You Look for the Living Among The Dead?! #Resurrection #HeisRisen! #105
Happy Resurrection day, friends! On this day, and every day, let us rejoice and celebrate the most significant event that has ever happened – the day death was defeated. Shoutout to the guy in the Greensboro/High Point North Carolina area who downloaded 95 episodes of the show yesterday. I don’t see who downloads the show, of course, but when somebody downloads 95 episodes in one day, it jumps out on the stats, and I always look where they are from. 95 episodes of this show would equate to well over 50 hours of content. I’ll be praying for you, brother or sister. 😉
Whether you are quarantined in your house, or somehow able to gather with other believers – nothing diminishes the glory and joy of the resurrection of Jesus! If you don’t have an online church to worship with, allow me to invite you to join the livestream of Valley Baptist church today at 11AM pacific. Just go to Facebook and type in VBC Salinas, and join us!
On almost every episode of the show so far, we have focused on the Bible passages we read for the day, and we will continue in that vein, by and large. Today is an exception. Today, we briefly focus on the glorious resurrection of Jesus! Our Bible passages will include: Leviticus 16, Psalms 19, Proverbs 30 and 1 Timothy 1. Our focus question comes from Luke 24:
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 They went in but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. 5 So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground. “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. 6 “He is not here, but he has risen! Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘It is necessary that the Son of Man be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’?” 8 And they remembered his words.Luke 24:1-8
Why, indeed, were the women coming to the tomb to embalm the body of Jesus? Hadn’t He told them that He would be raised from the dead on the third day?! In answering that question, I’d like to read you a portion from my book Easter Fact or Fiction, which is available on Amazon, and when you buy a copy, you can get out of one hour of purgatory. Okay, that’s probably not true.
I know it is old school and quite dated, but I love the song “He’s Alive” by Don Francisco. That old hippie can sing, and every time I hear the song, I cry tears of gratitude. If you aren’t familiar with the song, here is the first part of the lyrics:
The gates and doors were barred And all the windows fastened down I spent the night in sleeplessness And rose at every sound Half in hope of sorrow And half in fear the day Would find the soldiers breakin’ through To drag us all away And just before the sunrise I heard something at the wall The gate began to rattle And a voice began to call I hurried to the window Looked down into the street Expecting swords and torches And the sound of soldiers’ feet But there was no one there but Mary So I went down to let her in John stood there beside me As she told me where she’d been She said they’ve moved Him in the night And none of us know where The stone’s been rolled away And now His body isn’t there We both ran towards the garden Then John ran on ahead We found the stone and empty tomb Just the way that Mary said But the winding sheet they wrapped Him in Was just an empty shell And how or where they’d taken Him Was more than I could tell Oh something strange had happened there Just what I did not know John believed a miracle But I just turned to go Circumstance and speculation Couldn’t lift me very high ‘Cause I’d seen them crucify Him Then I saw Him die. (He’s Alive – Don Francisco)
I’m getting teary-eyed just reading the lyrics!
The truth that Francisco’s song captures so well is the fact that the disciples DID NOT EXPECT JESUS TO RETURN FROM DEATH! Even though He had told them multiple times that He would rise again on the third day, they either didn’t understand, or take Him seriously at all, despite the fact that, according to Matthew, He plainly told the disciples THREE times, at least, that He would die and be raised up again. In fact, Matthew 27:63 notes that even the chief priests and the Pharisees knew that Jesus had said He would rise again; that is why they requested a guard to prevent anybody from rolling the stone away from the tomb! So, of course, since Jesus told them that He would rise again on the third day, the disciples made a field trip to the graveyard that Sunday to wait, right? Right?! This is something I have never really understood about those guys. I don’t know that I would have believed that Jesus could come back from such a terrible and bloody death as the one represented by His crucifixion, but I do think I would have made the walk over to the cemetery Sunday morning just to see if something might happen, wouldn’t you have at least done that?
The fact that NONE of the disciples of Jesus went to the grave that Sunday morning clearly demonstrates that they were not slack-jawed yokels that would believe anything
because they were so primitive and dumb. They knew death was final just like people in 2017 know that death is final. In fact, due to most deaths occurring in and around homes (and not in hospitals) they were probably more exposed to death than most moderns are, and thus more confronted regularly by its hostility and finality.
C.S. Lewis calls the view that the ancients were dumb, primitive and uninformed, “chronological snobbery.” While it is true that they didn’t have iPhones, and they couldn’t call an Uber to get around to places, the fact is that they were actually quite intelligent, not jaded, and fully aware of the finality of death.
While the disciples didn’t show up at the tomb of Jesus on the third day. The faithful women certainly did surely they would be waiting with eager joy to see the promised return of their messiah, right? Actually, the women didn’t come to greet a resurrected Jesus, they came laden with burial spices, wondering who would roll away the tomb door. They came to prepare the corpse of Jesus for eons of rotting in a tomb. Even the faithful women did not believe that Jesus would be bodily resurrected.Not only that, but even when Jesus appeared to the disciples in person
after the Resurrection, the Bible states that “some doubted.” We might assume that first century people were much more likely to believe that somebody could rise from the dead, than we moderns would be, but the evidence shows that they would be just as incredulous – if not more so – than modern, scientifically oriented people. That they had a prompt change of heart about the possibility of resurrection demonstrates and gives some level of proof that something happened to change their mind and take away their doubts.One more bit of evidence to the idea that the disciples and followers of Jesus were not expecting a resurrection. As noted in the Scripture quoted at the beginning of this chapter, a follower named Cleopas and his unnamed friend were walking on the Emmaus road on the first Easter Sunday. Despite the fact that Jesus had been raised from the dead, and had already appeared to the women at the tomb, Cleopas and the other disciple were discouraged and arguing. Surely they must have been discouraged because they hadn’t heard Jesus was raised from the dead yet, correct? Unfortunately, that is not the case. According to Luke 24, Cleopas and friend had indeed been told that the women had seen the resurrected Jesus in the flesh! Why were they discouraged? Because they DID NOT believe the women! They were so certain of the finality of death that, despite Jesus’ multiple statements that He would rise after death, and despite hearing about the women’s claims to have seen Jesus, they still didn’t believe. This clearly demonstrates that the majority of the disciples and followers of Jesus fully expected Him to stay dead, and also demonstrates the high unlikelihood of their being involved in some sort of resurrection scam.