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Resurrection and Mission

Sermon by J. Ligon Duncan on Apr 12, 2009

Luke 24:45-48

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The Lord's Day Morning

April 12, 2009

EASTER SUNDAY

Luke 24:45-48

“Resurrection and Mission”

Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III

CALL TO WORSHIP (Dr. Duncan): The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Let us worship God.

~~~

Dr. Thomas: Now let's look to the Lord in prayer. Let us all pray.

Lord our God, as we come now again this Lord's Day, but especially this Easter morning, into Your presence, we want to come with joy and praise and thanksgiving and gladness in our hearts for the truth, the undeniable truth, that the tomb on that Easter morning was truly empty; that Jesus rose from the dead, not just as an idea, not just as a memory lingering in the minds of disciples and others, but that He rose physically and corporeally from the dead; that as Peter — as only Peter could — ran into that tomb and saw the linen cloths (and one in particular folded in a place by itself) showing that He rose from a power within himself as the Son of God made flesh; that death could not hold Him forever; that He had indeed died; that soldiers had pierced His side, and blood and water had come out. They had seen Him in a state of death and buried Him in that state. And yet, O Lord, on that Easter morning He rose again in the power of an endless life.

We thank You this morning as we come before You for the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ: that His body was transformed by resurrection; that He could appear and disappear, and appear in one location and then in another location. We thank You, O Lord, that in that glorious truth lies the certainty of the forgiveness of our sins, lies the certainty of our justification and our right standing with You; that You, as it were, confirmed His mission and confirmed His finished work, and confirmed His substitutionary satisfactory death on behalf of sinners on the cross by raising Him from the dead. It is a confirmation to us of the reality of who He claimed to be. As a consequence of the resurrection we can believe every word that He ever spoke. As a consequence of the resurrection we may be assured that it is but a foretaste of our own resurrection; that we too on that day when Jesus will come again on the clouds of heaven…that we too shall rise.

Lord, we bless You this morning as we come before You for the certainty and conviction that we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet — when the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised imperishable and we shall all be changed: for this perishable will put on that which is imperishable, and this mortal will put on that which is immortal; and when this perishable shall put on the imperishable and this mortal shall put on that which is immortal, then shall come to pass what is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory; O death, where is your victory? O grave, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law, but thanks be unto God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. We bless You, O Lord our God, as we come before You this morning, that there lives now One in a physical form, in a body like ours yet now glorified at Your right hand, and He ever lives to intercede for us.

We pray for those among us this morning with doubts; for those this morning beset by all manner of trials and difficulties; for those this morning conscious of the loss of a loved one; for those this morning conscious that in and of ourselves we cannot endure and we cannot persevere. We bless You, Lord, for the truth that in Jesus Christ we have the victory — a victory which is counter-cultural, a victory which is counter to the agnosticism and atheism and tyranny of the world of unbelief. Everything about the resurrection challenges every thought process and every world view and every epistemology. We thank You that in Jesus Christ we are indeed a new creation, and spiritually we have already been raised — raised with Christ. We sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, and yet, O Lord, we await a glorious morning, a resurrection morning when graves all over this world shall give up their dead and they shall rise, and those who died in Christ shall rise to meet the Lord in the air, and so forever be with the Lord.

Lord, bless these truths to us today. Give us this day, this afternoon as we spend time with friends and family…give us this afternoon that peace that passes all understanding, that joy that only the Lord's people know and experience, and grant it to us we pray for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

~~~

Dr. Duncan: Amen. If you have your Bibles, I'd invite you to turn with me to the Gospel of Luke, the twenty-fourth chapter. We’re going to look especially at verses 45-48, but I'd invite you to allow your eyes to roam all over the twenty-fourth chapter of Luke and notice some of the details that Luke draws your attention to there, and notice some of the details that John told you about in John 20 which Luke does not highlight. John actually fills in some interesting things for you about the events of resurrection morning.

And as you turn there, as you look at that passage in Luke 24, I want to draw your attention to the fact that the Gospel narratives in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all reveal things to us about the disciples that you would never ever admit if you were making this up. If this is a fabrication, a piece of pious fiction as some of the great liberal commentators have alleged that it is, you just wouldn't have written the story this way. You look throughout these passages, and the disciples, both before and after they hear about the empty tomb and both before and after they meet Jesus personally on the day of resurrection, they are characterized by perplexity, fear, doubt, worry, ignorance, and unbelief. Have you noticed already in Luke, for instance, as you work your way through that passage that once the angels and twice Jesus…first on the road to Emmaus and then later back in Jerusalem where the disciples are gathered…first the angels and then (twice) Jesus have to say to doubting disciples, ‘Haven't you read your Bible? Didn't you know that this is how things had to happen in order for Scripture to be fulfilled?’ And so you find at the very core of the Christian church these stumbling, sinning disciples who are paralyzed by unbelief. Now you just wouldn't have written the story that way if you were making it up. The only reason that would be recorded is if that's what happened.

I want to say to you again, those of you who are doubting today, no atheist who ever lived experienced the depth of doubt that these disciples experienced. You can see it. You can see the defeat and the woe in their hearts by their actions and by their words. And we're told by Luke that even when Jesus comes to them himself (look at verse 41)…“They still disbelieved for joy,” Luke tells you. Even when Jesus comes to them in Jerusalem, they still disbelieve for joy. They were overwhelmed by this all.

Well, what's going on here? What's Luke showing us in this passage? He's showing us a lot of things. The thing I want us to zero in on today is the fact that Luke connects the resurrection of Jesus Christ with our mission, our purpose in life. There are three things that I want you to be on the lookout for as we look at Luke 24:45-48. I want you to see how Luke draws attention to the forgiveness that we have through Jesus the Messiah; then, I want you to see how Luke draws attention to the suffering of Jesus the Messiah as the means of our forgiveness; then, I want you to see how Luke draws attention to the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah as the vindication of His person and work on our behalf; and then, fourth, I want you to see how Luke connects the resurrection of Jesus to our mission, our purpose in life. [All of the Gospels make these connections, by the way. This afternoon, go take a look again at John 20:21; at Matthew 28:18-20; at Mark 16:7, 8, and also verses 14, 15. All of the Gospel resurrection accounts connect the resurrection of Jesus Christ with the great commission.] Now that ought to tell us something about the Christian life, and indeed it does.

So before we read God's word, let's ask for His help and blessing as we read it.

Heavenly Father, this is Your word. For all those who are gathered under it this morning in this place, I pray that You would open their eyes to see the glorious truth that You are revealing to us in this Scripture, in the same way that You opened the disciples’ eyes to see Jesus as He taught the Scriptures and broke bread with them. This we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

This is the word of God, Luke 24, and beginning in verse 45:

“Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.’”

Amen. And thus ends this reading of God's holy, inspired, and inerrant word. May He write its eternal truth upon all our hearts.

It is the first day of the week in Jerusalem. The women have gone out to the tomb to properly anoint Jesus’ body for burial. There was not time for them to do this on the Sabbath's eve when He was taken down. His lifeless body was taken down from the cross and transported to the garden tomb, and so it was their intention as an act of love towards Him and in the fulfillment of their normal customs to go and prepare the body properly, anointing it with the various spices and perfumes that were used. Imagine the practicality of that — the decomposing body is not a pleasant smell, and the anointing of that body with these kinds of ointments and perfumes was an act of care for a human body that believers believed was the very image of God. God created us in His image, and therefore the body is to be treated with dignity and respect, and in view of the hope of the resurrection. Good Jewish people would have looked for a resurrection.

When they get there, Jesus is not there. Angels address the ladies who made their way to the tomb. The ladies make their way back to the disciples where they are gathered, and Mary Magdalene makes the announcement: ‘The Lord's not there, and angels tell me that He's alive.’

The disciples do not believe it. They think that the women are crazy. They think that the women have made up a tale. Peter (and we’ll reflect on this in a little bit)…Peter doesn't wait there. He runs! Now you think about that. The last time Peter had seen His Lord, he was busy denying Him. And when he hears that his Lord may be alive, he's got to see it with his own eyes and he runs there. Now it fascinates me that John adds in this little detail: “Oh, I ran, too! I beat him there.”

Now every man in this room knows how this works, you know? For the rest of their life this is how this conversation went: Peter's telling someone, ‘And then after Mary Magdalene told us this, I ran to the tomb.’ And John's going, ‘Yeah. I beat you there!’ And Peter says, ‘Yeah, but I went in!’ But you understand, you know, as soon as John gets there he peeks in and it's just like Mary told him that it was. Peter's not staying outside. He's going in. And they come back, and they tell the disciples it's just like the women said: ‘They’re not making this up. He's not there! But we didn't see Him.’

The disciples are still doubting. These are not people that are looking for some excuse to believe. These are not people that are grasping at straws and grabbing hold of any piece of flimsy evidence so that they can go on hoping against hope. These are people who are thoroughly captured by unbelief.

And then Luke changes the scene. He takes you out onto a highway that's leaving Jerusalem on the way to the little town of Emmaus, and there are two discouraged disciples. And they’re walking down the road and they’re talking about all the things that have happened in Jerusalem over the last three days, and they’re thoroughly discouraged. You know how the story goes. Jesus shows up but they don't know it's Jesus. And He walks with them for a while, and finally He says, ‘What are you talking about? What's all this conversation about?’ And they turn to Him and they say, ‘You have got to be kidding! You haven't heard what's been going on in Jerusalem the last three days?’ And He says, ‘Well, tell Me. What? What exactly has happened?’ [It's highly ironic!] And they tell Him about Jesus and they say, ‘You know, we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel, but now all our hopes have vanished.’

And you remember what Luke tells you. Jesus says, ‘Haven't you read your Bibles?’ And then, all the way to Emmaus He gives them what must have been the greatest small group Bible study in the history of the world, and He shows them from the Scripture what the Scripture said about the suffering, death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah. And then they get to their house and they say, ‘Look, you've got to come in and eat with us.’ And He says, ‘Sure.’ And He goes in and He sits down, and He breaks bread. And for the first time it dawns upon them who this is. This is Jesus! Immediately He vanishes. They don't wait! They get up, they get dressed, and they leave in the middle of the night to go back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples. And right after they've told the disciples what happened to them, guess who shows up? Jesus! And then it's all happy, right? Everybody believes, right? No. No. Luke tells you that even when Jesus arrives there are disciples who are still doubting.

You see, these people are gripped with unbelief. But something dramatically changes them, friends. Something dramatically changes them from Peter — who three days before has been denying to even know who Jesus is — and these disciples who are gripped with doubt even on resurrection Sunday after the testimony of the women, after the testimony of the disciples from Emmaus, and after Jesus’ personal presence with them. They are still gripped with unbelief. Something changes their lives so that every single one of this inner circle will die for Jesus except one: John. He’ll die in his old age in exile on an island. Every single one of them will give up their life for Jesus. What happened?

What happened, my friends, is that God by His Holy Spirit worked resurrection power in their hearts so that what they initially could not comprehend and did not believe, they came to understand. And they came to believe it more than life and breath and food. And I want you to see what Luke teaches us about that today, because every single one of us needs this resurrection power in our lives.

Luke connects their life, their mission, their purpose, their witness, their motivation for their life, their mission, their purpose and their witness to Jesus’ resurrection. They need the power of Jesus’ resurrection in their life if they are to complete their mission, their purpose, in life. Luke makes that so clear here. He's telling us that we have to have a resurrection-driven life. It's the resurrection that enables us to live the Christian life. It's the resurrection that motivates us to live the Christian life. It's the resurrection that supplies us with the capacity to fulfill our mission and to bear witness as servants of Jesus Christ to His resurrection.

And Luke tells us four things in this passage about that. He points us first to the Messiah's forgiveness, then the Messiah's suffering, then the Messiah's resurrection, and then the Messiah's mission. Let's look at these things together.

I. The Messiah's forgiveness.

First of all, Luke points us to the Messiah's forgiveness. Listen to what Jesus says when He's with the disciples:

“He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’”

Do you see how Luke is saying there that it is essential? If you are going to have resurrection power in your life, it is essential for you to understand your need of the forgiveness of sins. If you don't know that you need to be forgiven, you will not be overjoyed at the provision of forgiveness of sins that comes through the life and death of Jesus Christ. Today will not be a joyful Easter Sunday for anyone who doesn't think that he or she needs to be forgiven.

Now it's just possible that there are a few people here today who are not here because your heart is overflowing with gratitude for the salvation which has been given to you freely in Jesus Christ through His costly death, through the love of the Father, through His substitutionary atonement. It's possible that some of you are here against your wills. You know, it's Easter Sunday…families get together…you’re from out of town (or you’re from in town), and you get together at least on this one afternoon a year and you try and survive one another…eat a big meal. And you’re here because it's family tradition for everybody to worship together in church on Easter Sunday, but your heart's not in it.

And it's just possible that some of you are here and your heart's not in it because you don't think that you need to be forgiven of sins. And this is not a joyful day for people who don't think that they need to be forgiven of sins. The joy of this day is all tied up with the knowledge that we need to be forgiven of sins.

Let me ask you a question. Why do you think that Peter went into that tomb? I tell you that man was a man who was profoundly aware of his own sins, and I imagine the thought had crossed his mind that for the rest of his life he was going to remember that the last thing he ever said about Jesus before his Lord died was that he did not even know Him, and when he heard that his Lord was not in that tomb, he had to see it with his own eyes. And even though John beat him there, he was going into that tomb. There was no power on earth that was going to keep Peter out of that tomb because he was a man who knew that he needed the forgiveness of sins, and it had just dawned on him that there may be a glimmer of hope. And so he was going in that tomb.

Well, my friends, if you don't have that sense of your need like Peter had a sense of his need this will not be a day of joy for you. This day became a day of deep joy for Peter that he never ever forgot as he spent himself for Jesus for the rest of his life. But it won't be a deep joy for you if you don't realize your need for forgiveness of sins.

Thomas Boston, the great Scottish pastor, once said, “If people knew my heart, I wouldn't have four friends left in Scotland.” He was a man simply being honest about the sins of his own heart. In each of our hearts there are ugly things. There are things that we’d rather no one else know about. There are things that we know separate us from God, but there are some of us that work very hard to try and pretend like we don't have anything to be forgiven of. Some of us are so torn up about the sins that others have committed against us that we have not thought about the sins that we have committed against God that need to be forgiven. It's those who know that they need to be forgiven for whom this day is a day of joy. Luke begins by pointing us to our need for repentance and the forgiveness of sins. He points us to preaching the gospel, the Messiah who forgives.

II. How forgiveness is accomplished.

Secondly, he points us to the way in which our forgiveness is accomplished. And you see this again as he points to Jesus’ suffering. Look at verse 46: “Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer….”

Now, friends, you understand that this suffering is something that He underwent for us throughout the whole course of His life but it culminates at the cross, and on the cross He suffers in the bearing of our sins. In other words, Jesus was punished and paid the penalty for sins that He did not commit — your sins which were imputed to Him, which were charged to His account, which were reckoned to Him, which were credited to Him. That is, for everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ, your sins are charged to His account and He hangs on the tree for your sins though He was sinless. This is what it means for Jesus to bear sins.

Let me paint a picture for you. Suppose you picked up the newspaper sometime in the last several weeks and you've seen any number of horrendous crimes committed. You may have read of a husband who had been abusing his wife and his children for many, many years. You may have read of a child who had been molested and killed…put in a suitcase and dropped into a drainage pond. You may have read of a man who committed a gross act of financial misconduct against his partners in which he left them in dire straits because of his own evil deeds. You may have read of a lie about someone who ruined their reputation, and on and on and on it goes. Well, picture this. It's the day of the court and the sentencing. All of the perpetrators of those crimes and all of the victims of those crimes — and you can add in a billion more crimes just like them… all of the perpetrators and all of the victims of the crimes are lined up, and as the judge hands out the sentences, the victims of the crime are sentenced with the punishment due to the perpetrator, so that the abused wife and children are sentenced with the punishment due to the abuser; so that the child who was the victim of molestation is sentenced with the sentence of the perpetrator; so that the financial cheat is not sentenced, but his victim bears his sentence; so that the one whose reputation was ruined by untruth is sentenced with the sentence of the one who had done this crime against him.

Do you understand that this is exactly what happened to Jesus on the cross? David tells us in Psalm 51…even after he’d sinned against Uriah and against Bathsheba and against the child that was born of that unholy union, he says to the Lord, “Against You and You only have I sinned.” Do you understand that every sin that has ever been committed has been committed against Jesus, and on the cross He steps in and He says, ‘Those sins that have been done to Me, I will gladly bear them so that you might be set free, so that you might be forgiven’? Your way to forgiveness, your way to life is not through God sweeping those sins under the carpet, not by God saying, ‘Well, I'm just going to forget about those,’ but by God visiting on His own Son the penalty for every sin that had ever been committed against Him by those who trust in Him. It is a mind-boggling burden.

You understand that on the cross God is not canceling your sin. He is liquidating your sin. You understand that on the cross Jesus is not offering something in the place of what your sins deserve. He is offering what your sins deserve. He is bearing what your sins deserve. He is absorbing what your sins deserve so that when He is through absorbing it there is nothing left! That's how your sins are forgiven. And Luke wants that told to the ends of the earth.

III. The resurrection of Jesus.

And then he points us to the resurrection of Jesus. Notice it's not just that Christ's suffering and death should be proclaimed to the ends of the earth, but look again at verse 46:

“…And on the third day rise from the dead.” The resurrection of Christ must be proclaimed. Why? Well, for a lot of reasons, but Paul tells you at the end of Romans 4 here's one really important reason why Jesus’ resurrection must be proclaimed. Because, Paul says, you are justified by Jesus’ resurrection. You are acquitted of your sin by Jesus’ resurrection. How does Paul put it? “He was raised for our justification.” That's what he says.

In other words, in resurrection the heavenly Father is vindicating His Son and He is saying, ‘My Son is innocent for every crime for which He has suffered, and the dictates of My justice demand that He be raised to newness of life in vindication of the perfection of His life which He has lived on behalf of His people.’ And Jesus’ vindication by His Father is our justification in anticipation that on the last day we're going to stand before God, and if we trust in Jesus Christ we are going to be pronounced “not guilty” in the final judgment. And the reason that we're going to be pronounced “not guilty” is because Jesus has borne those sins and been buried and been raised again, and been vindicated by God.

IV. Our mission — our responsibility — our purpose in life.

Now what does that have to do with living our purpose for life, with fulfilling our mission in life? Well, that's the fourth thing that Luke draws our attention to in verse 47-48. This is going to be proclaimed to all the nations, beginning with Jerusalem. And then here's what he says (verse 48): “You are witnesses of these things.” In other words, Luke directly connects the resurrection of Jesus Christ with the great commission.

Missions is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our mission in life is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation of our mission in this life. And have you noticed how the Apostle Paul draws attention to that? Turn in your Bibles to Philippians 3:10. Paul says in Philippians 3, in the midst of saying that he counts all things loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Jesus Christ and that he wants to be found in Christ not having a righteousness of his own, but a righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith…. Look at Philippians 3:10. What else does he want to know? “I want to know Him and the power of His resurrection.” What does he mean when he wants to know the power of Jesus’ resurrection? Well, turn back to Ephesians 1 and notice what he prays. Look at verses 18-19. He says:

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”

So he wants us to know the surpassing greatness of His power, and then he illustrates that power. In fact he does more than that. He defines that power. In fact, he does more than that. He defines that power. Look at what he says in verses 19-23:

“These….”

[What are the “these”? The hope of the calling, the riches of His glory, the surpassing greatness of His power.]

“These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might, which He brought about in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.”

Now what's Paul saying? Paul is saying that he wants every believer to experience the same power at work in us which raised Jesus Christ from the dead.

Flip over to Ephesians 3. He prays this same thing again in verse 16:

“I pray that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”

So it's the Holy Spirit strengthening us in our inmost being. With what? The power of the resurrection Why? Because you cannot live the Christian life without the power of Christ's resurrection at work in you. I mean, look at Peter. What changed him from a cringing coward in the garden who could not answer a servant girl as to his relationship with Jesus Christ, into a man who would eventually die because of the resurrection of Jesus? The power of the resurrection in his heart. Peter came to understand how the resurrection of Jesus Christ had forgiven his sins, and it changed his life. And he was ready to undergo any trial, to endure any persecution, to face any foe because of the forgiveness that he had in Jesus Christ through His resurrection. And, my friends, that is the power that is at work in the heart of every believer.

Now, it is possible that you are here today and you do not sense this resurrection power at work in you. There are at least two possibilities. One may be that you don't know Jesus Christ savingly. You haven't trusted in Him. You haven't put your hope and your faith in Him as He is offered in the gospel, and because of that there is no resurrection power at work in your life. The other may be that though you have trusted in Jesus Christ there are things in your heart and life that you desire more than Jesus and that compete with your love for and your loyalty for Him, and which rob you of the joy, the treasure that He alone is — because He is a matchless treasure — and because you have been pursuing baubles rather than permanent treasures, you have not experienced the reality of tasting and seeing that the Lord is good and the resurrection power as you ought to. Either way, Luke wants us to know that if we are going to live life as it is meant to be lived — if we are going to live life with purpose, if we are going to fulfill the mission that God has put us here for, then it will be because of resurrection power in our hearts. We cannot look within and find the resources we need to live a life of purpose. That must be supplied by Christ alone.

Let's pray.

Heavenly Father, we ask that You would show us the Messiah who suffered for our forgiveness and was raised for our justification, and through resurrection power equip us for the living of these days for Your glory and our eternal good. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

Would you take your hymnals out and we’ll stand and sing No. 273, Jesus Christ Is Risen Today.

[Congregation sings.]

Peace be with you.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

A GUIDE TO THE MORNING SERVICE

Happy Easter

What is more natural and amazing than for Christians to gather together on

the first day of the week to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord? Natural

because Christians have been celebrating (and anticipating) the resurrection

every Lord's day for nearly two millennia; amazing because by His resurrection,

Jesus demonstrated that He was the sinless Son of God and Savior

of sinners, destroying death and guaranteeing a resurrection of the body on

the last day. Normal and amazing!

If you are a visitor with us this morning, we are glad that you are here,

and trust you will know something of the resurrected Lord's presence.

Thoughts on the Resurrection

The cross has, in many ways, become the symbol of Christianity. Crosses are

worn as jewelry and they decorate our homes. You find them in Christian

art, atop church steeples, and letterhead. Even the architecture of this sanctuary

is intentionally reminiscent of the shape of the cross (looking down on

the sanctuary from above). When you drive through the southern countryside

and see three wooden structures grouped together that otherwise

would seem out of place, you immediately recognize them not as agricultural

instruments, but as symbols that point to the crucifixion of our Savior

(and the two thieves that died with Him that day). The cross is the symbol

of Christianity.

But in many ways, the symbol of the Christian faith could be something

else–an empty tomb. Paul, in a discourse on the reality and implications of

the resurrection, tells the Corinthians, “and if Christ has not been raised,

then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” If the tomb is still occupied,

all the preaching and faith are of no use. If Christ's work ceased the

moment He died, then our hope is not secure. We, of all people, are to be

pitied. The gospel is more than the wooden cross; it must include an empty

tomb!

Jesus’ Resurrection Body

Jesus’ resurrection, which was a divine act involving all three Persons of the

Godhead (John 10:17-18; Acts 13:30-35; Rom. 1:4), was not just a resuscitation

of the ruined physical frame that was taken down from the cross for

burial. It was, rather, a transformation of Jesus’ humanity that enabled Him

to appear, vanish, and move unseen from one location to another (Luke

24:31, 36). It was the creative renewing of His original body, the body that is

now fully glorified and deathless (Phil. 3:21; Heb. 7:16, 24).

The Son of God in heaven still lives in and through that body, and will do

so forever. In 1 Corinthians 15:50-54, Paul envisages that Christians who are alive

on earth at the moment of Christ's return will undergo a similar transformation,

though in 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 he shows himself aware that Christians who

die before the Second Coming will be “clothed” with their new body (the

“eternal house in heaven”) as a distinct event, at or after the time of the old

body's return to dust (Gen. 3:19).

The Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

This joyful and exuberant song is one of the most popular Easter hymns in

the English language. Leonard Payton, music director at Redeemer PCA in

Austin, Texas, says: “I think I've sung this every Easter Sunday of my life;

and I hope my grandchildren will be singing it, too. It deals with the third

and fourth articles of the gospel (see 1 Cor. 15:1-4) while treating the second

article (He was buried) briefly and the first article (Christ died for our sins)

only obliquely.” The music comes from the Lyra Davidica (London, 1708).

Wesley's words were written for use at the first worship service at the

Wesleyan Chapel in London. The chapel, on the site of a former iron

foundry, became known as the Foundry Meeting House, and this hymn was

included in the Foundry Collection.

© First Presbyterian Church.

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