Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 April 17, 2022
“Jesus’ Resurrection and Instruction”
Beloved, Jesus Christ is risen—He is risen indeed. This is the fundamental fact of our faith. Once, again, let’s hear it witnessed, and let’s hear right teaching predicated upon it, as we hear this portion of God’s Word read and proclaimed in this place.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
The first paragraph of today’s text (36-43), both in English and in Greek, testify to the incontrovertible fact that Jesus is alive. We have before us a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus, but it is not the first one. Very early in the day, He appeared to the women at the tomb and en route from it (Matthew 28:9, cf. John 20:11-17). In the afternoon, He appeared incognito to two on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), and very late in the afternoon He revealed Himself plainly to those two. Jesus also, sometime during the day, revealed Himself to Simon Peter (cf. Luke 24:34). Now Jesus appears in Jerusalem to His own.
Jesus’ physical presence proves and displays His resurrection. The two, Cleopas and an unnamed disciples, arrive once again in Jerusalem from Emmaus. Likely they reach Jerusalem in the early evening, and they testify both to Jesus in their midst as they walked and dined and to His appearance to Peter (supra). Somehow, perhaps despite locked doors to that Jerusalem room (cf. John 20:19-23), Jesus presents Himself in their midst. His presence, and the manner in which He presented Himself, both startled and frightened the assembled host. His appearing also rendered them joyful, struggling to believe, and marveling—and these reveal that Jesus’ disciples, despite His prior repeated teaching on the subject, had no sense that He would rise from the dead.
Not only does Jesus’ appearing testify to His resurrection, but His words testify to the fact as well. He greets them, “Peace to you,” (you is plural here)—both to assuage their fears and to assure them that all is well. Then he introduces hard evidence into the situation. “See My hands and My feet,” Jesus commands, in order both to assuage their doubts and to embolden their faith—for spirits have not flesh and blood. By touching Jesus, the disciples will know that He appears to them not as mere spirit, but as flesh and blood—risen from Joseph of Arimathea’s borrowed tomb. Finally, Jesus asks, “Have ye anything here to eat?” This further banishes the disciples’ doubts, and this further testifies to Jesus’ resurrected humanity—for, again, spirits have no need of physical food. Jesus, in partaking of broiled fish, nourished Himself, as to His manhood, after the completion of His atoning work. These are proofs beyond refutation that Jesus lived—and lives.
Jesus, alive forevermore, then instructs His disciples. He opens their minds (or explains), so they, at long last, understand His teaching. All that follows in this morning’s text, Jesus spoke to them while still with them—while still discharging His public ministry. He tells the assembled group, and us, that everything written of Him—in the Law, Prophets, and Psalms—must be fulfilled. In other words, everything written in the Old Testament must be filled—and, in Jesus’ Person and work, it is.
Let’s turn now to the content of Jesus’ instruction. It is written, Jesus says, that the Christ should suffer and then rise on the third day. Because of these facts, and the victory which these actions entail, Jesus has authority to declare that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His Name. This charge has limit only at the ends of the earth: Jesus’ disciples shall preach said repentance and forgiveness to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Moreover, Jesus’ disciples, both in that room that night and ever since in every place, are witnesses (Greek martus [martuV]) of these things. In the case of those assembled that night, many would seal their testimony by being killed for their faith; of Jesus’ twelve disciples, only the Apostle John lived to be an old man to die of apparently natural causes. Hence, in many cases, they quite literally were martyrs. Finally, to empower their testimony, Jesus sends the promise of the Father—namely, the presence, and attendant power, of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14:16). Jesus’ parting injunction enjoins the Eleven, and others with them, to stay in the city until clothed with power from on high—until they receive the Person and work of the Holy Spirit within them each and all.
Jesus, just three nights before the night in our text, told His disciples, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19b). What is it to live, abundantly and eternally in union with Christ, by grace, through faith? Think along three lines for a partial answer. First, we have, in this life, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, increase of grace, and perseverance in that grace until the end of earthly life.1 Second, we have, at physical death, immediate perfection in holiness and immediate entrance into Glory—while our bodies, yet united with Christ, rest in their graves until the great resurrection.2 Third, we have, at Christ’s Second Coming, acknowledgment from the Lord that we are His, acquittal in the day of judgment, and perfect blessing in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity.3 Now this is life—real life, abundant life, eternal life—by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ. Receive it this moment, or continue receiving it—and enjoy it every day to endless days.
1 The Westminster Shorter Catechism, answer 36.
2 Ibid, answer 37.
3 Ibid, answer 38.