R. W. Dale was pastor of
Carr's Lane Chapel in Birmingham, England for many
years. He was studying the resurrection of Jesus for
a length of time. He rose from his chair,
pacing back and forth in his study declaring over
and over again, "He's alive! He's alive! He's
Alive!" "I want my people to know Jesus Christ is
alive!" From that Sunday on through the rest of his
great ministry R. W. Dale's congregation sang at
least one song on the resurrection every Sunday.
Indeed, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the
center of history.
The Gospel writer Luke,
who gives the most complete account of the
resurrection day, simply gives us the evidence on
the first day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
When we study the New Testament and early church
history it is evident that belief in the
resurrection of Jesus did not evolve over a period
of time. Three days after He was crucified
Jesus appeared to both men and women. Then He kept
it up for 40 days, appearing and disappearing to His
disciples in public settings, even to over 500 on
The scholar Volkmar said:
"It is one of the most certain
facts in the history of humanity, that shortly
after His death on the
cross, Jesus appeared to the
apostles, risen from the dead. . . which is without
analogy in history."
For six months before He
was delivered over to be crucified, Jesus repeatedly
taught His disciples that He would be crucified,
buried and rise again after three days.
Jesus was buried shortly
before sunset on Friday afternoon, lay in the tomb
through Saturday, and rose from the dead sometime
before sunrise on Sunday morning.
Women go to the Tomb at
sunrise on the First Day of the Week (Luke 24:1-5)
"On the first day of the
week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing
the spices which they had prepared" (Luke 24:1,
NASB95). All Scripture is from the New American
Standard Bible 1995 Update unless otherwise noted.
The Sabbath was the
seventh day of the week, therefore "the first day of
the week" was our Sunday. According to Jewish
reckoning the Sabbath would have ended at sunset on
the Saturday or the first sign of light of a star in
the sky. Ray Summers suggests, "If Jesus had been
buried any day except the day before the Sabbath,
further anointing would have been done on the next
day. The Sabbath prevented that."
The resurrection act
itself is not described in the Gospels. The focus is
on the Risen One, the Lord Jesus Christ who is seen
alive after His crucifixion. The evangelists bear
witness of Him.
The resurrection of Jesus
Christ is a historical event that took place on a
certain day and a specific time and place. It was on
"the first day of the week," at "early dawn" at "the
tomb." In order to continue the burial process
on Sunday the women probably made their final
preparations of the spices on Saturday night. The
women rose early on Sunday morning, and went as soon
as possible to the tomb. It was probably still dark
when they started out from their homes that Sunday
morning, and by the time they arrived at the tomb
the sun had risen (Mark 16:1-2; Matt. 28:1; Luke
24:1; John 20:1). "They came to the tomb bringing
the spices which they had prepared." They will
continue this process of coming to the tomb and
applying the spices and ointments for several days.
Verses five and ten make it clear that the "women"
are the ones who went to the tomb. They were Mary
Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James.
There may also have been others.
Who rolled the
stone rolled away? (Luke 24:2)
The Gospel writer Mark
tells us as the women walked along the way to the
tomb they wondered how they would roll back the
heavy stone door guarding the entrance (Mark 16:3).
When the women arrived at
the tomb "just after sunrise" "they found the stone
rolled away from the tomb." The heavy stone disk
shaped door had been rolled across the entrance of
the tomb into place sealing it to keep trespassers
and animals out of the tomb by Nicodemus and Joseph
of Arimathea on Friday afternoon. It would have
taken several men to push the heavy stone disk back
to allow the women to enter.
Matthew tells us "a
severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the
Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away
the stone and sat upon it" (Matthew 28:2).
No body is in the
tomb (Luke 24:3)
After going into the
chamber of the tomb the women "did not find the body
of the Lord Jesus." This basic fact never varies.
They do not find a body in the tomb. Jesus is not
there. The simple fact of the empty tomb never
changes. It is a matter of fact.
Later in the days two men
walking along the road to Emaus discussing the
events of these women who "did not find His body,
they came, saying that they had also seen a vision
of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those
who were with us went to the tomb and found it just
exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did
not see" (Luke 24:23-24). The body had vanished. It
was no longer there. They found the stone rolled
away, but they did not find the body of the Lord
As an aside, it is
interesting to observe that the expression "Lord
Jesus" is found only here in Luke, but after the
resurrection it is the common title of Christ in the
book of Acts.
The women are "perplexed"
as they gaze into the empty tomb. They "were at a
loss," "in doubt" or "uncertain" as to what to make
of the empty tomb. The term suggests a high state of
confusion and anxiety.
Suddenly two men stood
near them in dazzling, bright shining clothing.
Their white garments "gleamed like lightening"
"While they were
perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood
near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women
were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground,
the men said to them, 'Why do you seek the living
One among the dead? He is not here, but He has
risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was
still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be
delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be
crucified, and the third day rise again'" (Luke
The sudden visitors were
men in appearance, but with angelic raiment.
Now in addition to their
heightened anxiety they are now "terrified" (v. 5).
The present tense describes the attitude of the
women at the moment the angels begin to speak.
Perhaps in an attitude of respect to the angelic
hosts or to avoid the bright resplendent light from
the angels the women bow their heads.
The message of the
angels (Luke 24:5-6)
"Why do you seek the
living One among the dead? (Luke 24:5)
Almost with surprise or
mild criticism the angels ask, "Why do you seek the
living one among the dead?" This is not where you
would expect to find the risen Christ. They have
come to the wrong place. Jesus is not to be sought
among the dead. The simple message is Jesus is
alive; He is no longer among the dead. Jesus is
alive, so why do you look for the living among the
He is "the living One."
He is not in the tomb. Living people are not to be
found in tombs. Since Jesus is "the Life" He could
never be imprisoned by the chains of death.
"He is not here, He
has risen" (Luke 24:6)
Jesus is the living One.
The angels have no hesitation about His
resurrection. The living One has risen.
"He is not here, for He
has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place
where He was lying." (Matthew 28:6). An angel
dressed in a white robe he said to the women, "Do
not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the
Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He
is not here; behold, here is the place where they
laid Him" (Mark 16:6).
Some references to the
resurrection of Jesus in the New Testament refer to
Jesus rising from the dead as if in His own power.
Other passages refer to God raising Him from the
dead. Others simply state "He is risen."
Jesus has been raised.
Scholars refer to the passive voice here as a
"divine passive," pointing to the fact that God
raised Jesus from the dead. The verb is "has risen"
is an aorist passive and implies that God is
responsible for Jesus' resurrection.
Peter declares in Acts
3:15 "but put to death the Prince of life, the one
whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we
are witnesses" (Acts 3:15). God is the main
character. Literally, "whom God raised from the
dead." Acts 4:10, "by the name of Jesus Christ the
Nazarene whom God raised from the dead." Acts
5:30-31, "God of our forefathers raised up Jesus . .
. God exalted Him to His right hand as leader and
Savior . . ." Acts 13:30, "God raised Him from the
dead." Acts 13:37, "the One whom God raised up did
not experience decay."
The ascension of Jesus is
also referred to as a divine passive. "While He was
blessing them, He parted from them and was carried
up into heaven" (Luke 24:51). Acts 1:11, the angels
said to the disciples, "Men of Galilee, why do you
stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been
taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the
same way as you have watched Him go into heaven"
The angels tell the
women, "Keep in mind" or "call to mind" o "remember"
what Jesus said while He was still in Galilee? (v.
"The Son of Man must be
delivered into the hands of sinful men" (Luke 24:7).
The Greek word, dei,
"must" denotes the divine must, the divine
compulsion. God is at work in the delivery,
crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Luke says
God's eternal plan of redemption is promised in the
Old Testament Scriptures and worked out in the life
Wicked, evil sinful men
are the ones who deliver Him up to crucifixion. "Men
of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the
Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles
and wonders and signs which God performed through
Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know this
Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and
foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the
hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God
raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of
death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in
its power" (Acts 2:22-24).
The Son of Man must
"be crucified" (v. 7)
Jesus foretold His own
death and resurrection right after Peter's great
confession of faith and Jesus' transfiguration in
Matthew 17. "And while they were gathering together
in Galilee, Jesus said to them, 'The Son of Man is
going to be delivered into the hands of men; and
they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the
third day.' And they were deeply grieved."
(Matthew 17:22-23). "From there they went out and
began to go through Galilee, and He did not want
anyone to know about it. For He was teaching His
disciples and telling them, 'The Son of Man is to be
delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill
Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three
days later" (Mark 9:30-31).
The Son of Man must
"on the third day rise" (v. 7)
The Gospel records show
that seven times Jesus said He would rise from the
dead "on the third day." The method of calculating
time among the Romans, Greeks and Jews would make
"three days in the tomb" mean one whole day and any
part of each of the two other days, similar to the
way we calculate time in our culture as well. It
does not mean seventy-two hours.
You would think, how in
the world could they forget? None of the disciples
should have been caught by surprise. In spite of all
the teaching of Jesus regarding His death and
resurrection, no one was waiting at the tomb
expecting Him to rise from the dead. They were all
caught by surprise. That fact leads to the
authenticity of the historical record of the
resurrection. Another fact is women were the first
to report the empty tomb, and the first appearance
of the resurrected Jesus was to women. In the first
century the testimony of women was not held in
esteem. If the story was made up the writers would
not have put the emphasis on the testimony of women.
Culturally the first century church would never have
created a resurrection story whose main witnesses
were women. The Jewish people would never have
accepted their witness.
Go and tell (Luke
The resurrection caught
the disciples by surprise. They were skeptical.
The women excitedly run
to tell the disciples about the empty tomb. They
kept telling or repeatedly announcing to the
disciples the events at the tomb. Since the
disciples repeatedly met the women's testimony with
continuous disbelief, the women kept telling the
apostles these things. There is a lot of excited
conversation between the two groups. The women
trying repeatedly to convince the disciples about
the empty tomb, and the disciples responding with
repeated disbelief. The disciples refused to
believe. The imperfect tense expresses continuous
disbelief. The disciples responded to the women as
idle talk, nonsense, humbug, empty talk. They
received it as "sheer nonsense." The wild talk of
the women did not make sense to them. Therefore,
they refused to believe.
"And they remembered His
words, and returned from the tomb and reported all
these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now
they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the
mother of James; also the other women with them were
telling these things to the apostles. But these
words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would
not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the
tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen
wrappings only; and he went away to his home,
marveling at what had happened" (Luke 24:8-12).
Peter finally responded
to the women's message by running to the tomb. We
know from the Gospel of John that the apostle John
outran Peter to the tomb (John 20:1-10). How did
they interpret the prophecy of Jesus regarding His
death and resurrection? Now they understand His
teachings in light of the empty tomb. The empty tomb
and the linen wrappings that had been around the
body of Jesus are the first evidences of the
marvelous event at the tomb. Peter and John saw the
grave-clothes without the body. These linen burial
cloths had been wrapped around the body of Jesus
with spices and myrrh. Now, the body was not in
them. Peter and John saw the linen cloths with their
hundred pounds of spices and myrrh gum lying as they
had been wrapped around the body, still in the form
of the body, but without the body in them. The body
simply was not there. It had disappeared from the
wrappings. Peter went away "marveling at that which
had happened," but the apostle John "saw and
believed" (Luke 24:12; John 20:8). Peter went home
"marveling" (thaumazo) "wondering," "amazed,"
"full of amazement," "astonished." At this point
Peter is processing the facts. The sight of the
empty grave cloths causes John to believe that Jesus
is alive, but for Peter it creates wonder. It
provokes him to think further about the facts. He
has not as yet reached his conclusion, but he is
working it out in his mind. Peter "went away to or
by himself, wondering." The body had not been robbed
or carried off because the cloths would have been
carried off also. The body was not in the deflated
wrappings in the tomb. What conclusion do you arrive
at considering such evidence? Peter does not come to
full conviction of faith until Jesus appeared to him
later in the day (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5).
Luke informs us that
later in the day Jesus revealed Himself to two
disciples in their home at Emmaus a few miles
outside Jerusalem. As they walked along they did not
immediately recognize Jesus, perhaps because Jesus'
resurrection body was of a heavenly nature.
"And they approached the
village where they were going, and He acted as
though He were going farther. But they urged Him,
saying, 'Stay with us, for it is getting toward
evening, and the day is now nearly over.' So He went
in to stay with them. When He had reclined at the
table with them, He took the bread and blessed it,
and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then
their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and
He vanished from their sight. They said to one
another, 'Were not our hearts burning within us
while He was speaking to us on the road, while He
was explaining the Scriptures to us?' And they got
up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and
found gathered together the eleven and those who
were with them, saying, 'The Lord has really risen
and has appeared to Simon.' They began to relate
their experiences on the road and how He was
recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.
While they were telling these things, He Himself
stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be to
you'" (Luke 24:28-36).
Godet reminds us, "The
sudden disappearance of Jesus has a supernatural
character. . . . the miracle consisted rather
in His appearing than in His disappearing."
Jesus vanished from their sight. He will no longer
be with them physically as before His crucifixion.
We now have communion with Him as our risen Lord and
Savior who ascended to heaven in glory. One day we,
too, will arise from physical death and be clothed
with celestial, glorified bodies and live with Him
for all eternity. His presence is a living reality.
William Barclay wrote on
the reality of the resurrection: "The risen Lord was
no phantom or hallucination. He was real. The Jesus
who died was in truth the Christ who rose again.
Christianity is not founded on the dreams of men's
disordered minds or the visions of their fevered
eyes, but on one who in actual historical fact faced
and fought and conquered death and rose again" (DBS,
Luke, p. 297).
Tragically, in our day
many people still look for Jesus among the dead.
Yes, Jesus is alive! He
is alive! He is alive! Go out and proclaim it.
"If you confess with your
mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that
God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for
with the heart a person believes, resulting in
righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses,
resulting in salvation. . . . for 'Whoever will call
on the name of the Lord will be saved'" (Romans
Title: Luke 24:1-12
He is Not Here He is Risen!
Series: Life of