Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses thirteen through thirty-four of the twenty-fourth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the entire set of verses dedicated and devoted to a specific event which took place after Jesus rose from the grave. In order to truly understand the events which are recorded in this set of verses it is first necessary to turn and direct our attention back to the preceding chapter within the New Testament gospel of Luke. If we are to truly understand the events which are presented before us in this section of the final chapter of the gospel of Jesus the Christ as written by Luke we must look back to the twenty-third chapter—to the events which took place immediately after Jesus had given up the ghost and died upon the cross. Beginning to read with and from the fiftieth verse of the twenty-third chapter you will find a certain man named Joseph who was of Aerimathaea and came unto Pilate in order that he might take down the body of Jesus from the cross. As you read the words which are found in this portion of the twenty-third chapter you will find it written concerning this man named Joseph how he was a Counseller, and was a good man and just. What’s more, is that the beloved physician Luke goes on to write concerning this man how he had not consented to the counsel and deed of those who not only put Jesus on trial, but who also consented to His being handed over to Pilate and ultimately crucified. This Joseph of Arimathaea was one who was himself a Jew, and who waited for the kingdom of God. This man Joseph went unto Pilate in order that he might beg the body of Jesus so he could properly wrap the body of Jesus in linen cloths and bury him in a proper tomb there outside the city. Consider if you will that which was written by the beloved physician Luke concerning this man—Joseph of Arimathaea—who boldly and confidently went unto Pilate in order that he might beg the body of Jesus that he might properly bury it:
“And, behold, there was a man named Jospeh, a counseller; and he was a good man, and a just: (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. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never a man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on” (Luke 23:50-54).
Immediately following the death of Jesus upon the cross we find this man Joseph of Arimathaea approaching Pilate in order that he might beg the body of Jesus that he might properly bury it rather than leaving it on the cross, or even allowing the Romans to do with the body what they wished and desired. In all reality, I can’t help but wonder if the actions of Joseph of Arimathaea weren’t divinely orchestrated or ordained by the living God in order that the body of His Son might be laid to rest in a safe place after being removed from the cross. We must recognize and understand that while Jesus was still living He emphatically declared and proclaimed that just as the prophet Jonas was three days in the belly of the great fish, so also would the Son of man be three days in the heart of the earth. What is truly unique and interesting when you think about it is that Joseph’s actions not only seem to be divinely orchestrated by the living God to secure the body of Jesus after it was removed from the cross, but I would also dare state that Joseph’s actions were used by the living God to bring about the fulfillment of that which was prophesied and foretold by the prophets, and even Jesus Himself concerning His being laid in the heart of the earth for three days. The actions of Joseph of Arimathaea were undoubtedly used by the living God in order that the body of Jesus might be carefully preserved and protected after it was removed from the cross that nothing might be done to it. If none of Jesus’ bones were broken in order that the prophetic word might be fulfilled, it must therefore be concluded that the Father would not allow and was not willing to let anything happen to the body of Jesus. As I sit here this afternoon I can’t help but think about and wonder what might have happened to the body of Jesus had Joseph of Arimathaea not approached Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. Is it possible that the Romans themselves might have taken the body down and discarded it as the body of any other individual who was crucified upon the cross? Is it possible that had the body of Jesus remained on the cross without one of His disciples or followers coming to handle it properly and with care, the Romans are any else for that matter might have improperly disposed of the body of Jesus the Christ? In all reality, I have to admit that I absolutely love what is written concerning Joseph of Arimathaea and his willingness and boldness to approach Pilate to beg the body of Jesus from off the cross that he might lay it in a proper resting place.
One thing I can’t help but wonder as I sit here this afternoon is whether or not when Joseph of Arimathaea wrapped the lifeless body of Jesus with linen clothes, and laid it in his own tomb, he thought for a single moment that this now lifeless body would and could in fact come to life. As Joseph was wrapping the lifeless body of Jesus the Christ was he thinking within his heart and mind that this lifeless body would not remain in the tomb he was about to lay it in? I am trying to imagine what it was like to be Joseph as he wrapped the body of Jesus in linen clothes, and then laid it in a tomb or sepulcher that was hewn out of stone. Was there ever even a thought within the heart and mind of Joseph that the body of Jesus could and would be brought back to life, and this Jesus would indeed and would in fact rise from the grave as He said He would. Scripture is clear concerning Joseph that he was a good man, and a just, and that he was looking and waiting for the kingdom of heaven, and it is safe to say that this man might very well have been a disciple and follower of Jesus the Christ, and did in fact believe on Him. What’s more is that we know little concerning Joseph other than his actions with the lifeless body of Jesus the Christ, as he not only wrapped it in linen, but also laid it in a sepulcher which was hewn in stone. Did Joseph know that his actions were actually bringing about the fulfillment of that which was prophesied concerning Jesus the Christ in the Law and the prophets? Was Joseph aware of the fact that his actions were divinely orchestrated and ordained by the living God in order that the body of Christ might be positioned for a resurrection? Consider the fact that in order for Jesus to be raised from death to life—not only would the grave clothes have to be removed, but the stone which was rolled before the entrance of the tomb would have had to have been rolled away and removed. In order for Jesus to rise from the grave—not only would the Spirit of the living God need to raise Him from death to life, but the grave clothes would need to be removed, and the stone rolled away before Jesus. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what it was like in the tomb early the third day as the glory and presence of the living God filled that dark cave and brought Jesus the Christ back to life, and even brought Him forth from the grave. What was it like within the tomb behind the rolled stone as the very glory and presence of the living God entered into that dark cave and brought Jesus the Christ back from death and to life once more? Taking this a step further, I can’t help but think of the work that took place within that dark tomb as not only was Christ raised from death to life, but the grave clothes were removed from His physical form and person.
In order to understand the line of thought that is present within my heart and mind, it is worth turning and directing our attention to the scriptural accounts of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ as they were recorded by the gospel authors and writers. I am wonderfully and powerfully convinced there is a very deep and personal work that is involved in resurrection and bringing that which was dead back to life, and bringing those who were dead back to life. I believe that if we are going to understand this wonderful and powerful work of resurrection, we must not only carefully look at the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, but we must also consider them in light of another whose own resurrection was virtually identical to that of Jesus the Christ. If you study the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find that there was another resurrection which took place that was similar in nature to that of Jesus’ own resurrection, and took place before Jesus Himself would ever be crucified upon the cross and buried in the heart of the earth for three days. We will begin first and foremost in the New Testament gospel which the beloved physician Luke wrote, and will then consider that which was written in the three remaining gospels—the gospel written by the apostle Matthew, the gospel written by John Mark, and the gospel written by the apostle John. We will then turn and direct our attention to a second resurrection which would take place within the New Testament gospel of John—one that would be close in nature to that of Jesus’ own resurrection. Consider if you will the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ:
“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed there about, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 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? He is not here, but is risen: remember how He spake unto you when Hew as yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered His words, and returned from the sepulcher, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It 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. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulcher; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass” (Luke 24:1-12).
“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone form the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as He said, Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him; lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them,s axing, All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me” (Matthew 28:1-10).
“And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: He is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall your see Him, as he said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulcher: for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid. Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her, beloved not. After that He appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them” (Mark 16:1-13).
“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher. Then she runners, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciples, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciples, and came to the sepulcher. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciples, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that is was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master” (John 20:1-16).
“When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how He loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, , the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I note unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came froth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:33-44).
I am sitting here this afternoon and I can’t help but wonder what was the first work of resurrection, for did the angel of the Lord descend from heaven first, roll away the stone, and then Jesus was raised from death to life, and the grave clothes were removed from His physical body? Or, is it possible that the Spirit of the living God entered into that dark and cold tomb, raised Jesus from death to life, and caused the grave clothes to be removed from His form before the stone was rolled away? When we consider the resurrection of Jesus the Christ as compared with the resurrection of Lazarus we come face to face with the fact that in the case of Lazarus’ resurrection he emerged from the grave still clothed with the grave clothes which bound him, while in the case of Jesus’ resurrection we find the grave clothes still lying in the tomb where His physical, lifeless body had been laid. When Lazarus emerged from the grave it was man who removed the grave clothes from his physical body and loosed him and let him go, whereas in the case of Jesus the grave clothes were left behind in the tomb. As Jesus emerged from the grave—not only did He emerge very much alive having defeated and triumphed over death, but He also left the grave clothes which bound Him behind in the tomb. Jesus didn’t exit the tomb with grave clothes, but exited the tomb having left that which bound Him in the grave. What’s so incredibly interesting is that Jesus didn’t remove the grave clothes from the tomb and carry them with Him as He instructed those who were healed to take up and carry their mats. Jesus could have very easily taken his grave clothes with Him, and carried them with Him as He began to show Himself alive and reveal Himself, however He chose to leave his grave clothes behind in order that those who would come to the tomb would see the grave clothes as a sign and proof of resurrection. In fact, if you study the four gospels you will find that the only thing Jesus brought forth out of the grave—that which Jesus did not and would not leave behind—were the scars from His death and crucifixion. In fact, you will find that after He was raised from death to life and showed Himself unto His disciples He not only showed the print and scar of the nails in His hands and feet, but He also showed the print and scar of the spear which thrust His side while He hung there upon the cross. How absolutely incredible it is that not only did the scars speak to the suffering and earth which Jesus experienced at Calvary, but it also confirmed that it was Jesus Christ Himself who had raised from death to life. Not only did the scars confirm the death which He faced on the cross of Calvary, but it also proved and demonstrated that He who revealed Himself unto them was in fact the crucified Lord risen from the grave. In all reality, it was the scars and not the grave clothes which demonstrated and proved resurrection in the life of Jesus the Christ.
IT’S THE SCARS AND NOT THE GRAVE CLOTHES WHICH DEMONSTRATE AND PROVE RESURRECTION! I absolutely love what is written concerning Jesus and the scars which He chose to carry with Him after rising from the grave, for not only were those scars used to demonstrate and prove Idenity and resurrection, but those scars were carried unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven. In fact, I am convinced that in order for us to truly understand how incredible this concept of the scars of Jesus’ suffering and death were, we must turn our attention to the twentieth chapter of the New Testament gospel account of His life as written and recorded by the apostle John. If you begin reading with and from the twenty-fourth verse of the twentieth chapter you will find the account of Thomas joining the company of the disciples having not been with them when Christ appeared unto them after rising from the grave. It is within this passage of Scripture where we come face to face with and encounter the tremendous power and purpose in the scars which Jesus chose to carry with Him into death, from death, and even unto the right hand of the Father in heaven. What’s more, is that it is in this chapter where you will find the purpose and power of the scars in the life of Thomas who was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus who walked with and followed Him for three plus years:
“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe. And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas was with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:24-29).
I absolutely love the account of Jesus with Thomas as he was sitting with and among the disciples, but when Jesus appeared among them in their midst He invited Thomas to interact with the scars of His suffering, and with the prints of His death. When Jesus stood before them in their midst and when Jesus demonstrated and proved that He had been raised from death to life, He did not bring and carry with Him the grave clothes, but rather the scars of His suffering and the print of the nails which were used in His death. Interestingly enough it was not the grave clothes which demonstrated and proved resurrection, but rather it was the scars from the suffering and death. I am convinced there is an incredible truth that is found and contained within this reality, for more often than not we seem to think that the scars which we carry with us within and throughout our lives are somehow a nuisance and aren’t at all necessary. When we look at and examine the resurrected life of Jesus Christ we come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that it was the scars which Jesus carried with Him into and from death which not only pointed back to His suffering, but also wonderfully and powerful demonstrated resurrection. It was the scars and the print of the nails which Thomas needed to see in order that He might believe that Jesus had in fact risen from the grave. Please make note of this within your heart and mind, for it was the scars which Jesus chose to carry with Him and use to demonstrate and prove resurrection. What’s more, is that while we read and study how Jesus showed His scars unto Thomas in the midst of the disciples, but can’t help but wonder what it was like when those scars appeared in the courts of heaven. What was it like in heaven when Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father and sat down with those scars still present within His hands, and even the scar and print from the spear in His side? How absolutely wonderful it is to think about the reality that the scars of suffering were brought before and unto the throne of God in heaven, and it was those scars that wonderfully demonstrated and point to the reality of the Lamb which was slain—a Lamb which was slain from before the foundation of the world. It is absolutely necessary that we understand that scars—despite how oftentimes hideous and ugly they might be—wonderfully and demonstrate that which we have gone through and experienced, but also how we have come out on the other side. It was the scars and print of the nails in the physical person and body of Jesus that not only proved and demonstrated that He had in fact been crucified upon the cross, but also that He had risen from the grave and had in fact come through on the other side. It was the scars which Jesus carried with Him and brought forth from the grave that pointed to the awesome and wonderful reality that He had indeed risen from the grave, and that He had triumphed over death, hell and the grave.
What I find to be so incredibly unique about the passage which is before us in the New Testament gospel of Luke is that these two men who were journeying from the city of Jerusalem unto the town of Emmaus had chosen to depart from the city after hearing the tales and report that Jesus had indeed and had in fact been raised from death to life. I happen to find the words from the mouths of these two men to be incredibly intriguing and telling, for of their own volition and based on their own word and testimony, they heard—not only only that there were angels at the tomb, but also that Jesus had indeed risen from the grave. Consider if you will the words which these two men spoke unto Jesus while He walked with them along the way toward Emmaus: “And they said unto Him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and have crucified Him. But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel: and besides all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; and when they found not His body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that He was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but Him they saw not” (Luke 24:19-24). What I find to be so intriguing and telling about that which we find before us within this passage is that despite the account and report of resurrection, these two men who were of the company of the disciples and women still chose to depart from the city of Jerusalem. Here these two men were having heard the account of Jesus rising from the grave on the third day, and yet instead of choosing to remain in Jerusalem with the other disciples, followers of Jesus, and even the women who supported Jesus, they chose to depart from the city and journey to Emmaus. Why? What would cause two men who were of the company of the disciples and women to hear the report of Jesus rising from death to life, and yet still choosing to depart from Jerusalem and journey three times further from Jerusalem than Bethany? It’s worth noting that instead of remaining in the place of resurrection these two men chose to depart from the city of Jerusalem and to make their way toward Emmaus, which was about three score furlong from the city itself. What would cause such men to hear the account of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ from the grave and yet still depart from the city of Jerusalem? Why after hearing a tremendous account of Jesus being raised from death to life would they still choose to depart from the city of Jerusalem and journey away from it?
As I sit here this afternoon I can’t help but think that Jesus not only meeting these two men as they traveled on the road to Emmaus, but also walking with them along the road to Emmaus was in and of itself a wonderful display of mercy and redemption. I can’t help but think within my heart and mind that Jesus choosing to show up among these men as they walked toward Emmaus—and not only showing up with them, but also walking with them—is a wonderful display of redemption, and even a type of resurrection itself, for Jesus sought to redeem and resurrect the hope which they had within their hearts and souls concerning Jesus the Christ and who they thought and believed Him to be. Based on their own words we discover that they hoped and trusted that He would be one which should have redeemed Israel, and yet this one was crucified by the chief priests, scribes and elders of their own people. They heard it reported that Jesus Christ had risen from the grave, and even those from their own company declared that Jesus had risen from the grave, and yet they still choose to depart from Jerusalem rather than remaining within it. Oh how I absolutely love how Luke writes and records Jesus drew near to them, and went with them. In all reality, it was almost as if Jesus sought to walk with and walk among them in their disillusionment, in their confusion, in their doubt, and perhaps even in their hopelessness. Despite the fact that they had heard reports that Jesus had indeed risen from the grave, they still chose to depart from the city of Jerusalem. What’s more, is that Scripture isn’t clear as to why these two men departed from Jerusalem—even after hearing reports of Jesus rising from the grave and appearing unto certain of their own company and fellowship. One thing we do know for certain is that not only did Jesus show up in the midst of their hopelessness and disillusionment, but Jesus also chose to walk with them in the midst of that hopelessness and disillusionment. I would dare say and emphatically declare that Jesus showed up in the midst of their disillusionment and confusion in order that He might restore their hope, and restore their trust and confidence in Himself—even though once they realized and recognized who He was in their midst, He disappeared and vanished from their sight. I am thoroughly convinced that these two men might very well have been present when Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven, and were even present among the one hundred and twenty who were in the upper room. I find Jesus’ willingness to draw near to them on their journey away from Jerusalem as a wonderful act and display of mercy and grace as He sought to restore the hope which they felt was lost and destroyed when Jesus was crucified—this despite the fact that they heard reports of Jesus being raised from death to life. As I close this writing out, I can’t help but ask you who are reading this what areas of hopelessness, trust, and faith need to be resurrected within your own life. Not only did Jesus Christ rise from the grave, but I would also say in His resurrection we find our own resurrection as He seek to resurrect those things within our hearts and souls which might very well have died and been buried. We might be on our own road walking to Emmaus as we are journeying away from the place of resurrection, and yet Jesus desires to draw near unto us, walk with us in our confusion, doubt and uncertainty, and seeks to resurrect and restore our hope, our trust and our confidence.