The Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus
Christ's Resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is vital to Christianity because it is the proof that our sins are gone, and that God is satisfied with the work of Calvary. The Lord rose bodily from the dead, not merely in spirit, as some have taught through the ages. When Paul summed up the gospel that he preached, he said that he preached Christ who died, was buried, and had risen from the dead; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 17, Romans 10:9. When comparing Christianity to other religions we should ask ourselves: where is Confucius? Where is Buddha? Where is Muhammad? They are all dead. We have a Savior who was raised from among the dead - His tomb is empty. Christ's suffering and death was the payment of our debt, but His resurrection is the receipt that proves our debt was paid; “raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Not only is the resurrection critical to justification, but Paul shows that it is also critical to the resurrection of believers, because Christ is "risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Cor. 15:20). It is really a cornerstone of the Christian faith; "but if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (1 Cor. 15:17). What would we have for our faith if the gospels said nothing of Christ's resurrection?
The Empty Tomb (24:1-12)
A Synopsis of Events. By comparing all four gospels, we get a comprehensive outline of the events that unfolded surrounding the resurrection of Christ, the angelic appearances, and the appearances of Christ. Often these passages are picked at by infidel scoffers to undermine faith in the Divine record. When we study it, all the details fit together perfectly, and yet each gospel maintains its own slant. Following is a brief synopsis. On what was our Saturday evening, at "the dusk of the next day after sabbath", the two Marys came to the sepulchre, and then went home (Matt. 28:1). Apparently, they brought spices with them (Mark 16:1), and left them there. Early the next morning "when it was still dark" (John 20:1), Mary Magdalene came and saw the stone removed and the body gone. She ran to tell Peter and John. Peter and John came to the tomb to investigate, but did not know the scripture, and therefore remained dumbfounded. They returned home. However, Mary remained by the tomb weeping. She stooped down to look in and saw two angels, one at the head and the other at the foot of where the Lord had lain (John 20:12). This was a special vision, which only Mary Magdalene saw. The two angels asked her why she was weeping. Then the Lord appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden (although she didn't recognize Him at first), and told her to go to the disciples and declare that He was about to ascend to His Father and their Father, to His God and their God. Mark 16:10 makes it clear that Jesus "appeared first to Mary of Magdala". Then, after "the rising of the sun", the other Mary and Salome arrived (the three are grouped together in the synoptic gospels). One angel was outside the tomb, which Matthew notes as saying "Come, see the place where the Lord lay." Mark speaks of the other angel (called a man) sitting at the right side of the place, who says "Behold the place where they laid him". Both angels are accounted for. Mary the wife of Cleopas and Salome (Joanna) get a different message from Mary Magdalene; "But go, tell his disciples and Peter, he goes before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him, as he said to you" (Mark 16:7). Then other women arrived who had travelled from Galilee, grouped with the former three, but called "the others with them" (Luke 24:10). These women apparently brought more spices in addition to those brought by the women on the previous evening (Luke 24:1). These ones also stood dumbfounded for a moment, and then "two men suddenly stood by them in shining raiment" (Luke 24:4). It would be the same two angels, now together again. These other women receive still yet a different message; more of a rebuke for their not believing the Lord's words. All the women went together to the eleven apostles (Luke 24:10). At first, they ran with the mixed emotions of fear and joy. But then Jesus met them on the way, saying "Hail" (rejoice), and "fear not" (Matt. 28:8-10). The women delivered their respective messages, but the eleven refused to believe them (Mark 16:11). Peter rose up, and perhaps a few others with him (Luke 24:24), and went to the tomb again, but was still bewildered; i.e. he "wondered at these things" (Luke 24:12). When Peter returned from his second visit, the Lord met him and had a private interview (Luke 24:34). After that, the Lord appeared to the two on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13-35), and then "that same day at evening" to the apostles gathered behind closed doors (John 20:19).
1 But on the morrow of the sabbath, very early indeed in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the aromatic spices which they had prepared. v.1 The first day of the week is unique to Christianity, and is later referred to as “the Lord’s day” (rev.1). It is not the christian’s sabbath because the sabbath was never given to gentiles. We find in Acts 20 that believers met together on the first day of the week to remember the Lord in the breaking of bread.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. v.2 Why was the stone rolled away? it wasn’t so that Jesus could come out, because his glorified body was not subject to physical hindrances (John 20:19)… rather it was so that we would see that he had risen!
3 And when they had entered they found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it came to pass as they were in perplexity about it, that behold, two men suddenly stood by them in shining raiment. 5 And as they were filled with fear and bowed their faces to the ground, they said to them, Why seek ye the living one among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spoke to you, being yet in Galilee, vv.5-6 Often we are found looking for satisfaction among dead things… seeking the living among the dead. The object of our faith is risen, “he is not here”. We need get our minds on things above the graveyard of this world if we want to have our hearts satisfied. god wants to take us to his world.
How many angels were there? By comparing all four gospels we see that there were two angels. The soldiers saw only one angel in the night. Mary Magdalene saw two angels "while it was yet dark" (John 20:1). After sunrise, the other Mary and Salome saw one angel outside the tomb saying "Come, see the place..." (Matt. 28:6) and another inside saying "Behold the place" (Mark 16:6). The other women saw two angels after they arrived (Luke 24:4). How many angels were there? Two. However, the two are not always mentioned together.
7 saying, The Son of man must be delivered up into the hands of sinners, and be crucified, and rise the third day. 8 And they remembered his words; 9 and, returning from the sepulchre, related all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary of Magdala, and Johanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the others with them, who told these things to the apostles. v.10 Mary of Bethany pictures to us intelligence in divine things, while Mary of Magdala pictures devotion to and affection for Christ. God wants both from us. Mary of Bethany wasn’t at the tomb because she was intelligent about Christ’s resurrection.
11 And their words appeared in their eyes as an idle tale, and they disbelieved them. v.11 it is a sad thing when the revelation of what God has done in christ does not have an effect on our heart.
12 But Peter, rising up, ran to the sepulchre, and stooping down he sees the linen clothes lying there alone, and went away home, wondering at what had happened.
The Two on the Road to Emmaus (24:13-35)
Their Unbelief. We might wonder why it was so hard for the disciples to believe that Jesus was actually risen from the dead. We need to remember that nothing like this had ever happened before (a person rising from the dead by his/her own power), and also they did not yet have the Spirit of God indwelling them.
Discouragement comes when we are disappointed, when something that we had hoped for doesn’t happen. A truly humble believer is never discouraged. THE LORD HERE PERFECTLY DEMONSTRATES THE GIFT OF A PASTOR.
13 And behold, two of them were going on the same day to a village distant sixty stadia from Jerusalem, called Emmaus; v.13 As these two were walking away from the place where the other disciples were gathered together, the Lord drew near to them individually. It is a much different thing when they get back to Jerusalem and find the eleven – He came to be with them again – but that time He was “in the midst”.
14 and they conversed with one another about all these things which had taken place. 15 And it came to pass as they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus himself drawing nigh, went with them; 16 but their eyes were holden so as not to know him. v.16 the Lord could have revealed himself to them immediately, but he choses to reveal himself to them through the scriptures, because the scriptures are what they would have when the Lord was ascended.
17 And he said to them, What discourses are these which pass between you as ye walk, and are downcast? vv.17-24 notice that the lord limits his participation to questions intended to draw out the hearts of these two disciples. his listens for a long time, only stopping them to as “what things: in v.19. pastors need to follow this example… listening closely to the needs of the sheep.
18 And one of them, named Cleopas, answering said to him, Thou sojournest alone in Jerusalem, and dost not know what has taken place in it in these days? 19 And he said to them, What things? And they said to him, The things concerning Jesus the Nazaraean, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people; 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him up to the judgment of death and crucified him. 21 But “we” had hoped that “he” was the one who is about to redeem Israel. But then, besides all these things, it is now, to-day, the third day since these things took place. 22 And withal, certain women from amongst us astonished us, having been very early at the sepulchre, 23 and, not having found his body, came, saying that they also had seen a vision of angels, who say that he is living. 24 And some of those with us went to the sepulchre, and found it so, as the women also had said, but him they saw not.
25 And “he” said to them, O senseless and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory? 27 And having begun from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 And they drew near to the village where they were going, and “he” made as though he would go farther. 29 And they constrained him, saying, Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is declining. And he entered in to stay with them.
30 And it came to pass as he was at table with them, having taken the bread, he blessed, and having broken it, gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognised him. And he disappeared from them. 32 And they said to one another, Was not our heart burning in us as he spoke to us on the way, and as he opened the scriptures to us? 33 And rising up the same hour, they returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven, and those with them, gathered together, 34 saying, The Lord is indeed risen and has appeared to Simon. 35 And they related what had happened on the way, and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.
The Lord Appears to the Disciples (24:36-49)
36 And as they were saying these things, he himself stood in their midst, and says to them, Peace be unto you. 37 But they, being confounded and being frightened, supposed they beheld a spirit. 38 And he said to them, Why are ye troubled? and why are thoughts rising in your hearts? 39 behold my hands and my feet, that it is “I” myself. Handle me and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones as ye see me having. 40 And having said this he shewed them his hands and his feet. 41 But while they yet did not believe for joy, and were wondering, he said to them, Have ye anything here to eat? 42 And they gave him part of a broiled fish and of a honeycomb; 43 and he took it and ate before them. 44 And he said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all that is written concerning me in the law of Moses and prophets and psalms must be fulfilled. 45 Then he opened their understanding to understand the scriptures, 46 and said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved the Christ to suffer, and to rise from among the dead the third day; 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And “ye” are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but do ye remain in the city till ye be clothed with power from on high.
The Ascension of Jesus (24:50-53)
50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and having lifted up his hands, he blessed them. 51 And it came to pass as he was blessing them, he was separated from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And “they”, having done him homage, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God.