The Risen Christ

image  I think this is the fifteenth sermon in this series, and the last.

Earlier in Luke 24 we discover an empty tomb and the reality of the resurrection. But now ow we no longer merely have a claim to resurrection, we have a appearance of the risen Lord. Such experiences moved the disciples from sceptic to convinced.

Perhaps the major challenge of this text in our modern world is the believability of such an event.Yet those to whom Jesus appears seem just as sceptical about the possibility of a dead person reappearing alive again as any modern person. The announcement of an empty tomb was not enough to convince them.

1. Only visible evidence that Jesus has been raised will prove convincing.
The reaction of Cleopas and his friend , hesitant to embrace the resurrection, even to the point of being subject to a rebuke by Jesus, helps prove that what is related here really happened.  After all, would Luke create stories that make Jesus’ followers lack faith? Here are two disciples who felt that the cross meant the end of the hope Jesus brought. Only Jesus himself can change their minds.

The resurrection is the basis for our being able to receive the many blessings of grace that God gives his children (1 Peter 1:3-6):

forgiveness of sins,
the Holy Spirit,
and eternal life.

1 Corinthians 15 explains exactly how the resurrection achieves this hope by calling Jesus’ resurrection the "first fruits" (v. 20), with more resurrections (ours!) to come.

In addition, Jesus is now in glory. That Jesus is seated at the right hand of God forms part of the oldest creeds of the church (e.g., the Apostles’ Creed). The central truths of the Christian life are bound up in this fact.  Jesus’ place at the right hand of God means that he possesses authority over all those forces that stand opposed to humanity, both in this age and in the age to come (Eph. 1:19-23). Such authority stands behind his ability to give us new birth (Eph. 2:1-10).

This aspect of resurrection hope is important, since we often feel that our sin or the devil is more powerful than we are. Yet in the context of Jesus’ power obtained through his resurrection, we have access to the one who enables us to overcome whatever obstacles Satan places in our path. The call of disciples is to follow the leading of the Lord and to draw on the spiritual resources he makes available to us.

2. God’s Word is entirely trustworthy.
Jesus tells us that the twofold division of suffering followed by glory is the messianic portrait of the Old Testament. This is a fresh understanding of the Jewish Scriptures.   In the Gospels and in Acts, Jesus claimed that the Old Testament promise was unified in him.

He was the prophet like Moses,
the Son of David,
the Suffering Servant,
the Messiah,
and the Son of Man all wrapped together in one person. His career involved both suffering and triumph. The bridge between the two stages was the resurrection.

This is why Jesus claimed to be teaching what the whole Scriptures taught. Only this understanding of who he was made sense of the various strands of promise in the Scriptures. When Luke 24 describes Jesus as prophet and Messiah, it underscores how the promise only makes sense when it is combined with Jesus.

Though this passage only gives a general reference to the promises in the Law and the Prophets, the specific texts in view have been noted throughout Luke.

Consider Isaiah 40 and its promise of a forerunner (Luke 3:4-6),
Isaiah 61 and its proclamation and realization of deliverance (Luke 4:IK 19),
Psalm 118 and its call to receive one who comes in the Lords name (Luke 13:35) and its warning that the rejected stone will be exalted (Luke 19:38),
Psalm 110 and its promise of a shared rule with God and an exaltation to come (Luke 20:42-43), and Daniel 7 and its picture of the Son of Man coming on the clouds (Luke 21:27).

The resurrection and the Word of God combine to illustrate the breadth of God’s promises. At the one end stands the revealed Word. As revelation of God, it is to be embraced and believed, something the disciples were slow to grasp. This is why the church has always emphasised that people be taught the Word, for here is found the way and wisdom of God.

At the other end stands the risen Lord Jesus when he returns.  Then he will finish what he has started (Acts 3:21). So the resurrection is a bridge into new life and the first step of glory that leads to the fulfilment of all God’s promises.

3. Jesus is revealed as he sits having table fellowship.
The table was the place for fellowship in the ancient world. Here family and friends gathered to share time with each other. Luke has underscored the importance of meal scenes throughout his Gospel. The table was a place where Jesus was heard and where his present came across most intimately.

Jesus reveals himself the midst of the basic moments of life. He is at home in the midst our everyday activity.

The image replayed in communion, which affirms the Lord’s presence. Yes, he is raised and serving alongside the Father. As we partake of that meal we look for the day of his return to sit at the final banquet table in full celebration of his salvation.

There is perhaps no better commentary on this passage than Hebrews 1:1-4.

God has spoken to us in his Son, who, as heir of all things, has sat down at the right hand of the Father, having made purification for sins and become superior to the angels, reflecting in the process the name, nature, and role of Son.

There is no greater privilege than knowing the Son of God. He is known only through the recognition that God raised him from the dead to become the centrepiece of his promise and plan.

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