He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?”
He is risen! He is risen, indeed!
It has been almost two thousand years—1,985 years--that the women went to the tomb early on that Sunday and found the tomb empty! They went in, saw the grave clothes lying there but did not see Jesus instead they saw angels. The angels pronounced and proclaimed the greatest news of all time: Jesus is not here! He has risen just like he said!
In all four of the Gospels we are told the resurrection story. Paul includes the resurrection story in his writings. I Corinthians 15 is all about the resurrection. Throughout the different Scripture accounts, we are told different aspects of resurrection. The Gospel writers tell about the resurrection story from their point of view--each account varies with the details but the one remaining truth that is the same is that on the third day--Jesus rose from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead caused even His followers to mistake His identity. At the tomb, Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was the gardener. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus thought Jesus was the only one in Jerusalem who did not know what had happened there.
In the Gospel of Luke, we have three different records of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Dr. Luke painted a tapestry with three different panels. One panel is the story found in Luke 24:1-12 that we read on Easter Sunday. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women go to tomb early in the morning and find the stone is rolled away. They see two men inside glowing like lightning. The two angels say to the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, He has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee. The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” (Luke 24:5-7) Dr. Luke tells us that the women remembered and ran back to tell the disciples the good news. The disciples think that the women are talking nonsense. However, we learn that Peter ran to the tomb after hearing the nonsense-- only to find that the tomb really was empty. Peter walked away wondering, “What in the world has happened?” This is the first panel Dr. Luke has painted for us.
The middle panel would be the story found in Luke 24:13-34. This panel would be painted with Cleopas and possibly Mary, his wife, walking home to Emmaus from Jerusalem. Out of the blue, Jesus was walking alongside of them. As they walked and talked, Jesus opened all of the Scriptures to them--beginning with Moses and the prophets and explained to them all that must happen to the Messiah. Even after all of that, these two still had a case of mistaken identity. It wasn’t until Jesus broke bread with them that their eyes were opened. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
What would it take for our hearts to burn within us? What would it take for us to not have a case of mistaken identity regarding Jesus? What would it take for us to turn around and run seven miles from Emmaus to Jerusalem in order to tell the disciples that we have seen the risen Christ? Why is that we have such a hard time seeing Jesus come alongside us in our lives? Why is it that that we mistake His identity time and time again?
Today we turn to the third panel of Luke’s magnificent tapestry of the resurrection story. May our eyes be opened this morning to see the risen Christ. May our hearts be strangely warmed as we open up God’s Word.
Before we turn to God’s Word, let us come to God in prayer. “God of all grace and truth, we come this morning to have our eyes opened by the living word of God…so that we will not suffer from a case of mistaken identity. May we feel Your love for us. Amen”
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”[i]
Troubled & Doubting
We are told that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women ran back from the tomb and told the disciples that Jesus had risen. We are told that Peter ran to the tomb and came back and told the disciples the same thing: the tomb is empty, Jesus has risen from the tomb. We are told that Cleopas and his companion came running back--seven miles—in order to tell the disciples that their hearts were burning within them because they had seen and talked with Jesus who was risen from the tomb. After all of these encounters and reports, we are told that the disciples and all those gathered in the Upper Room were “troubled and doubting.”
Troubled and doubting. Sometimes it can be the smallest thing that causes trouble, doubt, fear, frustration and disbelief.
On November 9, 1965, at 5:16p.m. events were set in motion that brought New York City to a standstill. A backup relay switch at the Sir Adam Beck power station in Ontario, Canada, was accidently set too low to handle increasing power transmissions, and it tripped. The power cascaded to the next line, which overloaded and transferred to the next line, shutting down the lines, one after the other. In less than five minutes, the entire Northeast power grid was offline. The results were unimaginable. New York City was entirely blacked out within ten minutes. There was no power to provide heat or light, no power to allow them to communicate. There was no power to run pumps, move sewage, or deliver water or gas. The power to run life-support systems at hospitals were cut off. During the evening rush hour an estimated eight hundred thousand people were trapped in subways—can you imagine that? Only half of the one hundred and fifty hospitals had emergency power. At JFK airport, two hundred and fifty flights had to be diverted. [ii]
With no light, no heat, and no communication, thirty million people found themselves encompassed in a dark, silent, frightening world. All because of a ripple effect set in motion by a small, relay switch that was set too low.
The disciples had just experienced a blackout. The Scripture tells us that the entire world experienced a blackout for three hours when Jesus hung on the cross and died. The disciples watched as their hopes were shattered. Jesus was crucified on the cross. Just the night before, all of them had run for cover when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter then denied knowing Jesus—three times. The disciples were troubled and filled with doubt.
Are we a lot like the disciples? Fair weather friends, when trouble and doubt appear, we run for cover? As the disciples were huddled in fear, frustration, doubt and discouragement --- Jesus said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Luke 24:38
Hope Renewed --- Peace and Trust
Look at verse 36. Jesus enters the disciples’ room. Notice the first thing He says --- “Peace be with you!”
When Jesus was born the angels sang --- “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14
After Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples he spoke them and said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:27
When the Word speaks of “peace,” I believe God wants us to build a foundation of hope!
I read a story about the building of the Chase Manhattan Bank. When the building was halfway through construction, they discovered what no builder ever wants to learn, the sixty-story massive skyscraper was not built on rock, but quicksand. At some point, if they didn’t fix it, the building would sink, topple over and destroy part of Manhattan. Something had to be done. Engineers were brought in to try and solve the problem. Then some geologists were brought in and they stated that it would take a million years for the quicksand to solidify. Then someone came up with an innovative idea. They sank pipes deep into the quicksand and forced a solution of sodium silicate and calcium chloride into the quicksand. In a few days, the quicksand turned into solid, watertight sandstone. They were able to finish the building. Injecting the additives was ingenious.[iii]
In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah called Jesus, the Prince of Peace! When Jesus came to earth, he came to bring peace. Not as the world gives peace! Jesus told His disciples to not let their hearts be troubled! Here they were, a mere three days after Jesus was crucified and their hearts are already troubled, their minds are filled with doubts.
Just three days and they are hiding away in the Upper Room. Suddenly, Jesus enters into the midst of their doubts, discouragements, fears, frustrations, disbelief and doubts. What is the first thing that Jesus says? Peace be with you.
The whole reason we gather together each Sunday is so that we can worship God and hear the words of Scripture. Then we listen to how we can apply those words into our lives. Each week, I pray that Jesus walks into the room of our hearts. What’s the first thing He says? PEACE. I really believe that Jesus wants to enter into our troubles, doubts and discouragements and infuse us with His resurrection hope --- peace be with you!
Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Jesus asks the disciples to look at his hands and feet. Jesus asks the disciples to touch Him. He wanted them to have hope! He wanted them to have peace. Jesus is not a ghost! Jesus is not a made-up story to make people feel good! Jesus was crucified just like he said and on the third day he was raised back to life just as he said. Jesus tells his disciples to remember that all of this was predicted. Everything he had said had to be fulfilled. Then he “opened their minds so they could understand!” Wow! What a powerful statement.
In Holman’s Dictionary there are 120 Old Testament Prophecies listed that are fulfilled by Jesus. That’s why Jesus is sharing all of the Scriptures with them! Jesus wanted them to base their hope--not just on the miracle of the resurrection--but to base their hope in the Scriptures.
Jesus concludes His encounter with the disciples in the Upper Room by saying, “You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:48-49
The word “witness” is “martyres.” A “martyres” is one who gives a testimony, shares the evidence or becomes a witness.
Dr. D. James Kennedy, a famous pastor, pointed out in one of his books that despite the church starting with a small band of discouraged, doubting and troubled disciples, the church became the greatest force for good in all of history.
“Among it’s accomplishments, the church brought About, hospitals, universities, literacy for the masses, capitalism, free enterprise, representative government, the separation of political powers, civil liberties,, the abolition of slavery, modern science, discovery of the New world, the elevation of women, the Good Samaritan ethic of charity, high standards of justice, elevation of the common man, the value of human life, the work ethic, the codifying and writing of the world’s languages, the preservation of human life through condemnation of perversion and elevation of heathy lifestyle practices, and a greater development and inspiration for music and art.”[iv]
Every Sunday we gather. The Living Word is rightly preached. Why?
Because we are no different than the first disciples! Just like them, we may be troubled! We have our doubts! We struggle with discouragement! And then we hear the living words of truth, and our foundation of hope is fitted with one more brick.
Think about how that one little relay switch covered an entire city in darkness. It wasn’t anyone’s fault who lived in New York City—but there they were—enveloped in a total blackout. I think we can relate. There have been times when we’ve been covered by darkness. Our world has come to a screeching halt and there we sit and wait. The relay switch of our lives has gone haywire.
The truth is that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead will fix our broken relay. The resurrection will bring light to our darkness.
The year was 1997. I had just graduated from seminary. I was out applying for jobs and going on interviews. I wasn’t able to work as much as I needed to. We lived frugally, and made the house payment, utilities, and whatever other monthly bills we had but the month had arrived when we needed to go pay our house taxes. Jac and I didn’t have the first or the second installment. They let the first installment slide and waited for full payment. Jac and I had taped our tax bill to the vent of our stove—face down. It was our visual reminder to pray for our specific needs. That bill had been taped there for months. With all of the seminary graduation stuff and Jodi’s high school graduation stuff—there was no stuff leftover for the house taxes. That account was empty. The day finally arrived when the overdue tax bill was mailed to the house. Jac and I taped it to the stove vent, too, and we prayed and prayed, “How can we pay this $4,000 bill?” I decided it was time to go down to the county court house and tell them that we needed an extension. Once I had a job, we would sell the house and pay the taxes. I opened the bill. There—across the middle of the bill in big, red, bold letters was a sight I will never forget: PAID IN FULL.
I looked at Jac and said, “There’s been some sort of a mistake. This says our taxes are paid in full.” I had to get up and go to work early the next day, so Jac took the bill and called the office from the Christian Book Store where she worked part time. Jac explained that there had been some sort of a mistake and we wondered how to correct it. The man on the other end of the phone said, “There’s no mistake, Mrs. Peters, your house taxes are paid in full.” Jac was so excited that she drove around town until she found my truck. She came into the new house construction site where I was staining a bannister and said, “Dave! It’s not a mistake. Someone paid our taxes. They are paid in full.”
Twenty years later we still do not know who paid that bill.
Because of the resurrection, Jesus walks into our lives, where we are hiding in doubt and fear. And the LIGHT OF THE WORLD SPEAKS INTO OUR DARKNESS: PEACE.
Here’s your SO WHAT for the week:
The word MARTYRES…sounds more like MARTYR than WITNESS…but for the next 6 weeks until Pentecost—I am praying that YOU will give a witness …a testimony…share evidence…of how Jesus—the light of the world…walked into your life and turned your darkness into PEACE. I know that many of you have a story to tell. Pray about it. Let me know. And let’s be witnesses to each other here at the SEED!
The Seed Christian Fellowship
Rancho Cucamonga, California 91701
April 8, 2018
Pastor Dave Peters
[i] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Lk 24:36–49). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[ii] Staff of the New York Times, The Night the Lights Went Out (New York: Signer Brooks, 1965)
[iii] Norman Vincent Peale, The Amazing Results of Positive Thinking, New Yor; Simon & Schuster, 1959
[iv] D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 1994