The Resurrection of the King

April 9, 2023

Bible Text: Luke 24 |


The Resurrection of the King | Luke 24
Brian Hedges | April 9, 2023

Let’s turn in our Bibles to Luke 24. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central historical event in the Christian faith; it is the central historical event in the history of the world. Without the resurrection, there would be no Christianity. “If Christ has not been raised,” wrote St. Paul, “then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

I’m a Christian because I believe in the resurrection. I’m convinced that after dying a violent death on a Roman cross on a Friday afternoon on 30 A.D. that Jesus of Nazareth came back to life, that he emerged from the tomb on that Sunday morning.

Now, that’s not an easy thing to believe, but if it is true it is the most pivotal event in human history. My aim this morning is to lay out a case for the resurrection, reasons why we should believe this and then the implications of it for our lives if it is true. We’re going to do that by looking at one of the original historical narratives about the resurrection of Jesus, found in the Gospel According to Luke.

This is part of a series that we’ve just begun in the Gospel of Luke, last Sunday looking at the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and then on Friday night we looked at the crucifixion of Jesus the King, and today the resurrection of the King. So we’re in Luke 24.

This is a long chapter; I’m not going to read all of it. What I want to do is read Luke 24:1-12 and then drop down and read verses 37-42. Then in the course of the message I will refer to some other parts of this chapter as well. So, Luke 24, beginning in verse 1.

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.’ And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.”

Drop down to verse 36. Now the disciples are once again assembled together, and it says,

“As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you!’ But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.”

This is God’s word.

What an amazing passage in both its simplicity and its profound implications! This gives us the case for the resurrection, and I want to lay it out for you in four steps: claims, evidence, belief, and implications.

  1. Claims about the Resurrection
  2. Evidence for the Resurrection
  3. Belief in the Resurrection
  4. Implications of the Resurrection

1. Claims about the Resurrection

We can be fairly brief here, but I just want us to clarify what it is we actually claim when we say that Jesus rose from the dead, that the resurrection is true. You have it briefly in those words in verse 6, words from the angel: “He is not here, but has risen.” Those are perhaps the most important words ever uttered in history, telling us that the tomb is empty and that Jesus is alive.

Luke 24 records for us the basic sequence of events that took place following the death of Jesus. He had been buried by a number of women at the end of Luke 23, and then at the beginning of this chapter they come back to the tomb to finish preparing his body for the burial. They’re bringing the spices. They’re not expecting Jesus to be alive, they’re not expecting the tomb to be empty, but they are stunned at the fact that the tomb is empty. It takes the angels announcing that Jesus has risen for them to begin to understand what took place.

The women then go and tell the disciples, and then in the rest of the chapter Jesus appears to his disciples in several different settings, one of which we read together. At the end of the chapter Jesus ascends to heaven.

We know from the book of Acts that all of this took place over a period of forty days. Luke jumps to the ascension here at the end of his Gospel, but in Acts 1:3 we read that he presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

The other Gospel narratives and other places in Scripture certainly confirm this. You might think, for example, of the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15, where he begins to name off the various people to whom Jesus appeared and showed himself alive following his resurrection. This included, of course, James the brother of Jesus, it included Peter, and it included Paul himself, and even 500 people who were gathered together at one time, some of whom were still alive when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians.

That’s the basic historical record, and those facts led the disciples to teach the doctrine of the resurrection. That doctrine claims that the tomb is empty, that Jesus is alive, and that the very physical body of Jesus of Nazareth had come back to life.

It was not simply that they were saying that there was an afterlife. They weren’t simply saying that the spirit of Jesus lived on or that the love of Jesus somehow was still with them even though he had died. They weren’t saying, for example, in the words of the old hymn, You ask me how I know he lives? / He lives within my heart. Now, that’s true, but that’s not the bottom-line meaning of the resurrection. They’re not simply saying that Jesus lives with us and Jesus lives in us; they’re saying something more than that. They’re saying the physical body—the same body that had been nailed to the cross, the same body that had bled and had died and then had been laid as a corpse in the tomb—that body came out of the tomb alive. They’re saying that Jesus physically rose from the dead.

There is an amazing emphasis in this passage on the physicality of the resurrection. You see this in Luke 24:39-43, this passage which I just read where Jesus comes and he appears to his disciples and he shows himself to his disciples. They initially think they’re seeing a ghost! They’re afraid. They think they’re seeing a ghost; they think they’re seeing a spirit. So Jesus says, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” After he’d said that, he showed them his hands and his feet.

Then it says they still disbelieved for joy, and they’re marveling, and then he says, “Have you anything to eat?” and he eats a piece of fish in their presence. It’s just showing the physicality of the resurrection body of Jesus Christ.

That’s the claim. We’re claiming that Jesus of Nazareth, the same Jesus who was crucified and buried, came back to physical life and that Jesus is alive. If you don’t believe that, no matter what else you may believe about Jesus, you’re not a Christian. To be a Christian is to believe that.

The New Atheist Christopher Hitchins was actually right when he said, “If you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re not really a Christian in any meaningful sense.”

That’s exactly right. To be a Christian is to believe this, to confess that Jesus is alive physically. To not believe that is to not be a Christian. That’s the claim.

2. Evidence for the Resurrection

The question then is, what is the evidence for this claim? That leads us to the second point. Let me just say that there is a lot of evidence. We could spend the entire message and even a series of messages just looking at the evidence for the resurrection. If you look at everything that the New Testament says, you look at all of the parallel accounts in the Gospels, you look at all the different appearances of Christ, the evidence is very strong. There are a number of different lines of evidence we could consider.

I want to just focus on two with you briefly this morning, two lines of evidence for the resurrection. I think these are very compelling.

(1) The first is this: the eyewitness testimony that is reported in the Gospels. What’s really interesting when you read this narrative is that it’s clear that neither the women nor the disciples, who later became the apostles, neither believed or were expecting Jesus to rise from the dead. They weren’t expecting this.

This is really clear with the women. They come to complete the burial process; they’re bringing the spices that they had prepared in verse 1. That’s why they come to the tomb. They’re not expecting the tomb to be empty; they’re expecting the body of Jesus to be there. They had taken off for the Sabbath day, and now they’re coming back on Sunday morning to complete this process of embalming the body with the spices.

It says they were perplexed by the empty tomb in verse 4. So they didn’t expect it. It took the angels explaining what had happened for them to believe.

When they go and tell the disciples what had happened, the disciples don’t believe it. It says in verse 11 that “their words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”

It’s really interesting. They weren’t expecting this, and yet they eventually all do believe this, and Luke and the other Gospel writers recorded what they had seen.

Even the way the story is told is instructive, indicating for us the eyewitness detail of their testimony and therefore the authenticity of the evidence. Various scholars have pointed out that the way the story is told shows that it couldn’t be simply a legend. There are a lot of people who want to say, “Well, lots of religions have a legend of a dying and a rising God, so of course Christianity adopted that legend, and they told a similar story about Jesus.”

The problem with that is that the details in this story aren’t details that would surround a legend, the details are very realistic details. You have spices in verse 1; you have the names of specific people, many of whom were still alive when Luke wrote this Gospel, in verse 10; you have very specific actions of individuals, such as Peter running and stooping and looking into the tomb. You have the linens in verse 12. All of these are the kinds of realistic details that wouldn’t have been included in a legend.

There some people who would say, “Well, this is just a fabrication. What happened is a couple of centuries after Jesus lived, when the Christian church began to take off, the leaders of the church, in order to consolidate their base, they fabricated the story that Jesus had come back to life. They basically made it up.”

The problem with that is that the way the story is told is not the way anybody would have fabricated it. This isn’t the way somebody would have made it up; if they were making up a story, they would have made up a better story! In this story, the apostles look bad; they don’t look good. In fact, they tell us that the very first eyewitnesses to the empty tomb—and in other Gospels the first eyewitnesses to Jesus himself—were the women. So the women emerge as the heroes of the story, not the apostles.

But in the ancient world the testimony of women would not have been admitted in court, either a Roman court or a Jewish court. In fact, the first known written critique of Christianity, written in A.D. 175 by a Greek philosopher named Celsus, tries to discredit the resurrection as being witnessed by “hysterical females.” Now, that’s Celsus who said that, not me. They discredited women! They weren’t going to believe the testimony of women. The only reason this would have been written down in this historical context is if this is actually what had happened. If they had fabricated the story, they would have told a much better story.

There are still others who would say, “Well, this really is just realistic fiction. It is including this kind of realistic detail in order to give us a lifelike portrayal of what they supposed had taken place, but it’s not historical in nature.”

The problem with that view is that realistic, novelistic fiction was not even invented yet. Nobody wrote like this. C.S. Lewis, who was a famous apologist for the Christian faith and of course by profession was a professor of renaissance literature in both Cambridge and in Oxford—C.S. Lewis in one of his essays said,

“I have been reading poems, romances, vision literature, legends, and myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know none of them are like this. Of this text [the gospel] there are only two possible views: either this is reportage [that is, eyewitness reportage of a historical event] or else some unknown writer in the second century without known predecessors or successors suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern novelistic, realistic narrative. If it is untrue, it must be narrative of that kind. The reader who doesn’t see this has simply not learned to read.”

That all leads us to this most possible explanation of all, that this is actually history; that what you have recorded in the Gospels are the eyewitness details of those who saw the empty tomb, they saw the angels, they saw the risen Jesus, they saw Jesus himself; they touched him, they talked with him, they believed that he was really alive.

(2) Here’s the second line of evidence. We can be brief with this one, but it is the emergence of the whole Christian movement out of Judaism, out of Jewish monotheism.

Monotheism is a big word, but it simply means a religion in which people only worship one god. Of course, this was central to Judaism. They only believed in one God. Against all the other purported gods of the ancient world, they believed that Yahweh, the God in the Old Testament, this was the one and the only true God. Jewish people would only worship this God; they would never worship a man, they would never worship another person, they would never worship another god. And yet, out of this little nucleus of Jewish followers, of this Jewish man, Jesus of Nazareth, there emerges a whole movement that is centered around the worship and the praise of Jesus. Most of them, of course, died for this.

N.T. Wright is a New Testament scholar who, perhaps more than any other scholar alive today, has looked into the historical records about the resurrection of Jesus within its historical context. He wrote something like an 800-page book on this called The Resurrection of the Son of God.

In his books he shows that there were many different messianic movements around this time in the first century. There were lots of pretended messiahs. There was a Judah, there was a Simon, there were lots of “messiahs,” people who kind of rose to prominence and people thought, “Oh, this might be a messiah.” But none of them founded movements that last until today. In his shorter book Who Was Jesus? he explains why. He says,

“In not one single case do we hear the slightest mention of the disappointed followers claiming that their hero had been raised from the dead. They knew better. Resurrection was not a private event. Jewish revolutionaries whose leader had been executed by the authorities and who managed to escape arrest themselves had two options: give up the revolution or find another leader. Claiming that the original leader was alive again was simply not an option—unless, of course, he was.”

The very fact that Christianity emerged not out of the Greek and Roman polytheism and atheism and paganism and the mystery religions but out of Jewish monotheism, where these people began to worship Jesus the Messiah as the Son of God—the very fact that that happened has to be explained, and the best explanation for it is the resurrection, that Jesus really is alive.

There’s the evidence. The question then is, do we believe it?

3. Belief in the Resurrection

What I find pretty interesting in Luke 24 is the way in which the faith, the belief of the disciples is described. In each one of these stories that are recorded in Luke 24 people initially found it difficult to believe. In fact, they begin with unbelief. They don’t start believing, they don’t anticipate that this is going to take place. They’re filled with doubt.

I want you to see this in each one of these stories. In the first story, Luke 24:1-12, the women coming to the tomb, in verses 2-4 this is what we read: “They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.”

That word “perplexed” carries the idea of being confused, being bewildered, confounded. They were really puzzled; they were disturbed by this. But certainly their initial response is not to think, “Oh yeah, he rose from the dead!” That’s not what they were expecting, that’s not what they were looking for at all.

After it’s been explained to them what has taken place and the women go and share this good news with the disciples, the apostles, in verses 10-11, it says that “these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” “Oh, these women, they have an overactive imagination! They think they’ve seen Jesus,” but they don’t believe it.

There’s another story where Jesus appears to these two disciples who were walking on the road to Emmaus. When Jesus appears to them they are downcast and discouraged, all because of what had happened over the weekend (Jesus being crucified). They don’t recognize Jesus with them. It really takes Jesus revealing himself to them and explaining things to them before their eyes are opened and they really understand. In verse 25 this is what Jesus says to them: “Oh foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” So they’re slow to believe.

Then the same thing in verses 37-41, which we’ve already seen. When Jesus appears to the eleven, they think they’re seeing a ghost, and it takes Jesus showing them his hands, showing them his feet, eating fish in front of them, to convince them that he’s not in fact an apparition, he’s not in fact a ghost, but he is a flesh and blood human being before them.

These episodes I think show the variety of ways that people struggle with unbelief. Not all unbelief is the same; there are lots of ways to not believe.

There are some people who don’t believe because the resurrection is so counter to anything they would expect to be true. That’s the women. They don’t expect it to be true, and they don’t initially believe it.

There are other people who are more firmly skeptical. They don’t believe because the report sounds like an idle tale, just like the initial response of the eleven. So there are some people today who say, “This just doesn’t sound real to me. It sounds like a fantasy. It sounds like fiction. It sounds like something made up. It sounds like Santa Claus, something you would tell your children. It doesn’t sound like reality.”

There are other people who are so depressed and discouraged in their doubt that they are like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and they are slow of heart to believe. It’s a big struggle to get through the doubt and the discouragement and the unbelief.

Then there are some who disbelieve for joy. You have that in this final paragraph, Luke 24:37-43. Here it’s not so much skepticism; their response is something like, “This is too good to be true. I would love it if this is real, but it’s too good to be true! I want to believe it, but I just can’t quite believe it.”

The reason I’m bringing all this out is because it may be that some of you can relate to some of these specific struggles to believe that you find here in this gospel narrative. It may be that you have thought something like this. Maybe you’ve thought, “Maybe I would believe if I could actually see the risen Christ. Maybe if I had a vision, maybe if God spoke to me with an audible voice, maybe if I could see a tangible miracle, then maybe I would believe. But I just haven’t seen it with my own eyes; I don’t think I can believe.” So you find yourself in one of these categories of unbelief.

Listen, I get it. I’m actually kind of a cynical person. That may be surprising to you, as a pastor, but I am. I’m kind of a cynical person. If someone comes to me and tells me that they’ve had a vision of God or Jesus, I’m not sure I’m going to believe it. I may just think he had bad pizza the night before. If someone tells me that they’ve seen a miracle, it would take some work and really trusting the person and knowing the person for me to believe it, because I haven’t seen a miracle. I prayed for fifteen years for the healing of my mom, I prayed for a miracle; I didn’t get it. I want hard evidence in order to believe what I believe.

So I get this, and maybe some of you get this. Maybe you’re like this, too. Faith is difficult.

What is the key to faith? Here’s what we see in this passage: it wasn’t simply the evidence that they saw, because when they’re presented with evidence they don’t believe initially. Even though the evidence was compelling, they don’t initially believe. It takes something more.

What does it take for them to believe? It takes divine revelation, it takes the word of God explaining the event, explaining what took place.

You see this in every single case. You see it in verses 4-7 as the angels explain to the women what has taken place. “He is not here, but he has risen. Why are you seeking the living among the dead?”

You see it on the road to Emmaus with those two disciples. They initially don’t believe; they’re doubtful, they’re discouraged. And Jesus says, “‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

You see it again in Jerusalem in verses 44-45, when Jesus says, “‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”

What does Jesus do? He doesn’t simply show them his hands and his feet, he expounds the word of God to them. It’s called expository preaching; that’s what he’s doing. He’s explaining to them the Scriptures. And perplexity, unbelief, doubt all give way to faith only when these people receive the word of God.

Brothers and sisters, friends, that is still how faith comes. Paul says it in Romans 10:17: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Not, “Faith comes by seeing,” “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” If you’ve ever said, “I would believe if I could just see,” no you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t believe just by seeing unless you hear. You have to receive the word of God. Faith comes by hearing, not by seeing. It comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. That’s encouraging to us, because that’s what we do have. We have the word of God.

You can’t go talk in person with Mary or with Peter or with John and hear from them firsthand what they saw. You have the report recorded in history. It is the same way we have access to the other kinds of history.

Sometimes when somebody asks me, “How can I believe that this is true? How can I believe that this isn’t just made up?” A lot of times I’ll say, “Do you believe that George Washington was the first President of the United States?”


“Did you ever meet George Washington?”

“Well, no.”

“Why do you believe it?”

“Well, because people told me about it, because I read about it.”

Exactly. You believe it because it’s history, and we get the history about Jesus in the same way we get that history. So we have that access to the evidence. But the way faith comes is not just through the evidence, but it is through the word of God that opens blind eyes so that we understand what this evidence is saying.

So, belief in the resurrection.

4. Implications of the Resurrection

That leads to the final question, what are the implications? If this is true, what are the implications of the resurrection for our lives? How should we live? What should we think if this is true? I want to give you very briefly four implications. I’m going to do this in about ten minutes or less.

(1) Implication number one: Jesus is Lord. If the resurrection is true and if Jesus is alive, then it means that Jesus is who he said he was. He is the Son of God, he is the Messiah, he is the true King, he is the Lord of the world, and it means that all of his teaching is true.

Listen, Jesus’ teaching stands or falls on this one basic claim: if he is who he said he is. If he rose from the dead, if Jesus of Nazareth really did conquer death and he really is alive, then he is who he said he is.

Therefore, if you have doubts about Jesus or if you have problems or you struggle with Jesus’ teaching—maybe you’re not comfortable with things that Jesus teaches, maybe you want to reject things that Jesus taught, for example Jesus’ teaching about human sexuality, which runs completely against the grain of everything our culture tells us today—the real question isn’t whether you agree with Jesus on that. The real question is did he rise from the dead? If he rose from the dead then you have to listen to what he said. If he didn’t rise from the dead, forget his teaching! If he didn’t rise from the dead, he was the greatest charlatan in history; he pulled the wool over all of our eyes! We should simply forget everything Jesus said and consign his teachings to the garbage bin of history. Or he was a deranged megalomaniac, because only insane people go around claiming to be God if they’re not God. But if he is who he said he is—if he is the Lord—then you have to reckon with what he said.

Implication number one: Jesus is Lord.

(2) Implication number two: the debt is paid. If Jesus is alive, if means that his gospel is true and that the problem of sin and guilt has been dealt with once and for all. Man, this is good news. This is good news if you’re a sinner, this is good news if you have regrets, this is good news if you carry guilt on your shoulders.

The apostle Paul said if Christ has not been raised your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. But the reverse is true: if Christ has been raised your faith is not futile and you are free from your sins!

Romans 4:25 tells us that Jesus was “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” The resurrection shows us that what Jesus did on the cross to secure our forgiveness, to atone for our sins, to deal with the problem of sin and guilt once and for all, that work is finished and complete and accepted by God, and that it works.

Sam Allberry, in a wonderful book on the resurrection called Lifted, says, “The resurrection shows us that there is nothing we need to add to the death of Jesus to find acceptance with God. By dying and rising for us, Jesus closed the deal. God signed for it, and his signature was the resurrection.”

Do you remember John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, that wonderful allegory? Here’s Christian, and he has this burden on his back; it’s a burden of sin. His one concern is to get free from this burden, the burden of sin, and he’s running from the City of Destruction, running from judgment. He wants to make it to the Celestial City, but he has this burden on his back. How can he get free from the burden of sin? He tries all these different ways to get rid of the burden; the one thing that releases that burden from his shoulders is when he comes to the cross, and then the burden rolls off. It rolls down a hill and it rolls into an empty tomb, and the man sings out, “Blessed cross! Blessed sepulchre! Blessed rather be the man that there was put to shame for me.”

Let me ask you this morning: do you have a burden on your shoulders? Are you carrying around a load of guilt? Do you feel the weight of sin, of your mistakes? Look on your life, think about your life, and think about the things you’ve done. Do you have regrets?

It may be that you are carrying a burden that you have carried for twenty years or fifty years. Maybe it’s a horrible lie somewhere in your past; maybe you stole something, and you know you’re a thief, and you never made that right.

Maybe you committed adultery. Maybe you committed some act of violence against another person and you’re haunted by what you’ve done. I want to tell you that the resurrection tells us that for all who trust in Jesus, the crucified and the risen Lord, the debt is paid.

Now my debt is paid,
It is paid in full,
By the precious blood
That my Jesus spilled.
Now the curse of sin
Has no hold on me;
Whom the Son sets free
Is free indeed.

The resurrection assures us of God’s forgiveness, and it shows us that the burden of our past, our sin, and our guilt has rolled off of our shoulders and is forever buried in his empty tomb.

(3) The third implication: death is defeated. If Jesus is alive, then it means there is an answer to the problems of suffering and death in the world, because in his resurrection Jesus defeated death itself.

You remember Peter’s proclamation on the day of Pentecost? He’s preaching the gospel, and he says that “God raised Jesus from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” He’s saying, essentially, that Jesus slipped through death’s fingers. Death lost its grip on Jesus.

Then in Revelation 1 the risen Christ himself says, “Fear not; I am the first and the last and the living one; I died, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and Hades.”

This is good news! Once you’ve come face to face with your mortality and with the darkness and the suffering and the death that is in this world—I tell you, the longer I live, the older I become, the more the reality of death confronts me. I’ve seen it now. I’ve seen death. I’ve lost close loved ones; I’ve buried a lot of people in this church in twenty years, lost friends. I know that death is coming like a freight train for me and for everybody I love. I see what brings it on, too: the ravages of cancer and of Alzheimer’s and congestive heart failure and all the other different diseases, and the tragedies of car accidents and all the rest. But if Jesus is alive it means that death does not have the final word. If Jesus is alive, it means that death is not the end, and it means that there is hope. It means that Jesus was raised from the dead as the firstfruits of a coming harvest; his resurrection guarantees that all who are in Christ will also be raised into glorious life. That means that someday, after you die, your physical body—the same body you have right now—your body is going to be raised up, transformed, glorified, and you will live an eternal but very physical, material existence.

This is central to the good news. The empty tomb assures us that death is defeated and that sickness and suffering and death does not have the final word.

(4) One more implication. The resurrection also means that we have news to share. If Jesus is alive, then it follows that we who believe in him are now a part of his kingdom and that we’ve been given a mission to complete. In fact, that mission is given to us Luke 24:45-49. It says,

“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 for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’”

This, we might say, is Luke’s version of the Great Commission, and it’s deliberately tied to the resurrection of Jesus. It shows us that the resurrection defines everything about the life and the purpose and the mission of the church. The mission is clear: proclaim the gospel in his name to all the nations. That’s our job! It’s to take the gospel to where Christ has not been named. If we’re not doing it personally then we should be sending people to do it, and we should be sharing the gospel with those around us.

What is our message? The message is the suffering and the resurrection of Christ and repentance and the forgiveness of sins.

Then Jesus tells us that there’s power for this. He talks about the promise of the Father. What’s the promise of the Father? It’s the promise of the Holy Spirit. He says, “Wait in Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high.” That happened on the Day of Pentecost, fifty days later, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church, filled the church and gave them power. Then read the book of Acts and how the people of God, the church, with power and with wind in their sails go and spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.

You and I are called to share that same message in the power of that same Spirit today.

Let me ask you, when was the last time you shared with someone else the good news that all their sins could be forgiven through the death of Jesus Christ and that this Jesus is alive? The debt is paid and death is defeated and there is hope for the world. When have you shared that news with others?

Sometimes people ask me, “What’s your plan for evangelism in the church?” My answer is usually something like this: “The people are the plan.” You’re the plan. You’re the evangelism plan, because every single one of us is charged to share this good news with others.

Who do you need to share the gospel with this week? You’re surrounded by unbelief. You’re surrounded by coworkers, friends, neighbors, family members who do not know Christ, they do not believe. I’m not saying go shove the Bible down their throat, but I’m saying begin gospel conversations, conversations about Jesus, love people, serve people, be salt, be light, sow gospel seeds, and winsomely present the truth of Jesus to the world.

The implications here are clear: Jesus is Lord, the debt is paid, death is defeated, and you and I have news to share. Let me ask you this morning, do you believe this? The evidence is compelling, but have you heard and received the word of God so that you believe? If you believe it, then share it with others. If you’ve never believed, and maybe something has registered in your mind or in your heart this morning, maybe for the first time—the case for the resurrection is clear and something is stirring in you that is saying, “You know, I’m not sure I believe, but I want it to be true,” or maybe there’s conviction in your heart. You’ve known in theory this is true but you’ve never personally entrusted yourself to Christ. If that’s you this morning, I want to encourage you, close with Jesus. Believe in Jesus. Trust in Jesus. Respond to this invitation and these words from the apostle Paul, who initially was an enemy of Jesus—he hated Jesus, he hated Christians, he was throwing Christians into prisons—and then he met the risen Jesus. He was the last of the apostles to see Jesus resurrected. He met the risen Jesus, his life was completely changed, he spent the rest of his life telling people about Jesus, and here’s what he said: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Let’s pray together.

Father, we thank you this morning for this good news. Thank you for the gospel. Thank you that Jesus is alive, that the tomb is empty, that the debt is paid, that death is defeated, and that there is hope for this world of suffering and death. There is a hope of resurrection—not a flimsy wish, but a deep and abiding confidence that your promises are true, that your grace is real, and that the Spirit of the risen Jesus is now working in our hearts, transforming our lives, and sustaining us for that day when Jesus comes again and all things will be made new.

That’s our hope this morning; that’s what we’re hanging onto, that’s why we’re here, it’s why we worship. That’s why we come to the Lord’s table now, and we ask that as we take these emblems of bread and juice, as we remember the death of our Lord Jesus as well as his resurrection, that we would do so with a deep, personal trust in what Jesus has done for us and deep confidence in the promises of your word. We ask you, Lord, to draw near to us and to meet with us through the presence of your Holy Spirit among us. Lord, we worship you, we come to you, and we ask you, Lord, to draw near to us. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.