April 28, 2019

Easter Two, Sunday April 28, 2019 — Luke 23:33-43 — Physical Evidence of the Resurrection

Preacher:
Passage: Luke 23:33-43
Service Type:

Bible Text: Luke 23:33-43 | Preacher: Andrew Schaller | Sermon for the Sunday after Easter – April 28, 2019
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:3–4, NIV84)
Luke 24:33–43 (NKJV)
33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
 
36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
 
40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
  Who rose from death the third day,
     Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –
 
‘Your Honor, I’d like to log in the record as evidence,
 item #32, the murder weapon.”
 
In a court of law every piece of evidence is important.  Since the accused are considered innocent until proven guilty, the goal of the prosecution is to prove – by means of concrete evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt – that the accused committed the crime.  For this reason, the prosecuting attorney will bring forward any and all physical evidence.
However, not all evidence is equal.  Some evidence can be considered ‘circumstantial.’ Some evidence can be interpreted more than one way; for example, the tire tracks leading away from the crime scene may or may not be from the suspect’s vehicle.
Eyewitness Evidence is of more value.  After all, it’s one thing to put together the pieces of a crime scene and deduce what happened…but if someone actually witnessed the event with their own eyes…that’s something different.
But even eyewitness testimony can be called into question.  If the eyewitness has poor eyesight or is found to be a habitual liar and thus unreliable, then even eye-witness testimony can be called into question.
On the other hand, it can be difficult to disprove actual physical evidence.  If the DNA and fingerprints found on the murder weapon and discovered lawfully in the suspect’s possession match the suspect…that’s nearly undisputable proof.
In less than 24 hours, on a single day, evidence began to appear and even pile up suggesting that Jesus of Nazareth had, in fact, arisen from the dead. We’ve already discussed the earliest evidence discovered at the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea: the stone, the linen cloths and the face cloth.  These striking pieces of evidence show that Jesus arose from death.
However, unbelievers and skeptics will dispute this evidence. They will claim that two men – could have – rolled the stone away from the tomb, because the actual witnesses were paid to lie.  They will claim, that the linen cloths and face cloth could have been replaced with others.
Such an argument may seem plausible…until we take this evidence along with all the other evidence; then it is clear that Jesus rose from the dead.  
 
What other evidence, you ask? 
 
Well, there were other eyewitnesses who weren’t paid to lie.  Different people in different places under different circumstances saw Jesus alive and some of them even touched Him!
 
       The Women – on the way back from the tomb (Matthew 28:9-10) not only saw Jesus but actually touched Him.
       Mary Magdalene – saw the risen Jesus at the tomb later that morning (John 20:11-18) and she too touched Him.
       Simon Peter, also called Cephas, saw Jesus alive on that day (Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5) but the circumstances aren’t revealed.
       Emmaus Disciples – Two other disciples walked and talked with Jesus on the way to the village of Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32, Mark 16:12-13) seven miles from Jerusalem.
Today we take a look at still more evidence of the Resurrection, including undeniable physical evidence – the actual body of Jesus once hung on the cross will be presented to us for examination. 
 
Let us begin with prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, my resurrected master, you have redeemed me in both body and soul. In Your Word, I am assured that my soul has been saved eternally through your saving work and that my body, even though it die and decay, will be raised to new life and transformed to be like your glorious resurrected body (Philippians 3:21). For this sure and certain hope, I give you all my thanks and praise. Grant me patience to wait with hope for that day when death will be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26) and sins devastating effects on my body will vanish forever. In Your Name, I pray. Amen.
 
+++++++
 
When they left Jerusalem earlier in the day, the two disciples headed for Emmaus were filled with sorrow and with doubt. Even after hearing about the first pieces of evidence, they left town disappointed, sure that Jesus was still dead, and that the women were just being emotional women.  They must have worn their disappointment on their faces, because when a stranger, headed the same direction came to be walking with them, He asked (Luke 24:17):
“What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”
They explained how their hopes had been dashed by Jesus’ death. They questioned the eyewitness accounts of the women…and left town. But the stranger rebuked them and showed them from the Scriptures (Luke 24:27) that the Christ had to suffer and die.
They invited him to stay for supper.  When He broke the bread, they recognized Him and He suddenly disappeared.  They immediately retraced their steps to Jerusalem…no longer filled with sorrow and doubt…but hope and boundless joy.
33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
This time joy wasn’t met with skepticism.  The remaining disciples, here called the eleven even though Thomas wasn’t present (John 20:24) were gathered together behind locked doors (John 20:19). They told the two from Emmaus that the Lord had truly risen, and appeared to Simon Peter.
The Emmaus Disciples recounted the things that had happened to them but some doubted (Mark 16:13). They didn’t have any time to discuss it, because while they were still speaking, Jesus suddenly appeared before them, alive.
36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.
Surprise!  I guess I don’t have to tell you that the disciples were surprised.
 
What seems surprising to us is the change in the disciples.  One moment they were bubbling over with joy and excitedly talking about Jesus’ Resurrection…and the next moment – when He actually appears – they are overcome with fear!?  In fact, they are so afraid that Luke uses two different words to describe their fear…they were terrified, startled, alarmed and afraid.
 
They are so afraid, that when Jesus greets them with the customary greeting, one they had likely heard from Him many times before…they couldn’t even reply.  Nothing. Zip. Zilch.
 
Why?  They believed Him to be a ghost, a phantom, the shadowy image of a dead Jesus.  It wasn’t the first time that they reacted to the supernatural with superstition.  It happened another time when Jesus did the unthinkable – walking to them on top of the water of the Sea of Galilee, in the middle of a storm. They figured then that only a ghost, and not a tangible man of flesh and blood could walk ON the water.  So here, only a specter could be gone one moment and there the next.
 
We might be tempted to criticize the disciples for their superstitious fears. God’s Word doesn’t tell us that the dead can return as spirits to haunt, but here they believed the same superstition that exists in society today.
 
God’s word forbids (Isaiah 8:19, Deuteronomy 18:9-14) attempting to speak with the dead – not because it’s possible – but because it’s more likely someone else is talking back, someone other than the dead, like the Devil.
We aren’t much different.  We can be taken in by similar foolishness, like believing that our team is winning because of our lucky shirt, or socks.  We may think that we’ve been successful because of a lucky fishing lure.
When human beings are confronted by the miraculous…the response is often fear and unbelief.  Should we really be surprised that they didn’t believe it to be true?  Mary Magdalene didn’t recognize Him. The Emmaus Disciples didn’t recognize him…because they were not permitted to. None of them expected to see Jesus alive again…even though He told them they would in advance.
They were slow to learn…and so are we…aren’t we?  How do we react at death and the grave?  We react with sorrow and grief…which show our weakness of faith and lack of understanding.   When someone dies believing in Jesus, they depart to be with the LORD!  We sorrow for ourselves and our loss.  Our own doubts and fears blind our faith and chase away our joy.
Jesus’ Resurrection is for real…and He wants us to be sure and to believe it…and understand what it means to us.  It means that our sins are paid for; it means that we will rise again; it means we can count on all His promises.  The Resurrection isn’t meant to create fear, but comfort, hope and joy.
 
38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” 40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.
 
It wasn’t just that Jesus could see the fear in their faces…He knew what was going on in their minds.  He knew what was going on between their ears – the were literally ‘shaken’ by His sudden appearance.  All kinds of questions, doubts about who and what He was were bouncing around in their hearts!
 
Jesus didn’t leave them wondering…He did something about it.  Well, he did two things.
 
       He told them to look at his hands and his feet. If they would only look at his hands and his feet, then their eyes should tell them that this was the very same Jesus who was crucified.  If they looked at his hands and his feet, they would see the print of the nails.  The Gospel of John (John 20:20) tells us that He even showed them His side, revealing the place where the spear was thrust by the Roman Soldier (John 19:33-37). The message was simple: “Look and see, I am the same Lord!”
 
       Touch me and see.  He invited them to place their hands upon Him and see that their superstitions fears were wrong, He was no ghost, but a man, a real man, flesh and bones.
 
Jesus offered them physical evidence, absolute proof that He was the same Jesus, having risen from the dead.  Despite this evidence, there are still those who maintain that Jesus didn’t rise physically from the dead in the same body.  The Latter-Day Saints or Mormons claim that Jesus didn’t rise bodily, but returned as a spirit being, the angel Moroni.  Even some liberal Lutherans today claim that this evidence isn’t really evidence, that it’s not necessary that we believe that Jesus arose from the dead physically, bodily.
So, did they take Jesus up on His request?  Did they touch Him? Well, what do you think?  The Apostle John wrote in his first epistle (1 John 1:1,3-4):
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life…that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
Now you have seen the evidence for yourself.  It isn’t just the stone, the linen cloths and facecloth. It isn’t just the accounts of those that saw Him alive.  This isn’t hearsay, but divinely recorded physical evidence proving that He is truly risen from the dead.
How did the disciples take this physical evidence?
 
41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.
 
They did not believe for joy but marveled.  In other words, it was too much to take in…it seemed too good to be true. We understand, for there have been times in our lives when we have marveled at God’s goodness and love to us.  There are times when it seems too good to be true.
Jesus asked for something earthly, tangible…something to eat.  He didn’t do it because he was in need of sustenance.  He did it as one more definitive, physical proof that He was flesh and blood.
 
He ate it before them.  They all watched.
Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Don’t let anyone take away your Easter Joy and replace it with something else, something traditional, emotional or even family related.
The Physical Evidence is indisputable.
Christ is Risen!  Hallelujah!
Amen!

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