Sermon #188 Luke Sermons
Title: Risen — But Still the Same
Text: Luke 24:36-53
Subject: Blessings from the Risen Christ
Date: Sunday Evening — April 1, 2007
Tape # Z-22b
Readings: Darvin Pruitt and James Jordan
We generally assume that what a person has been he is and will be. With men that is sometimes a mistake. Men do change and are changed. But, with regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, that is neither an assumption nor a mistake. He does not change and cannot be changed. What he has been he is now, and he shall forever be. Our Lord Jesus Christ is “the same, yesterday, and today, and forever.” He declares, “I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” It is he alone of whom it can be said, he “is, and was, and is to come.”
If you will turn with me to Luke 24:36-53, I want to talk to you tonight about our risen Savior and the blessings that are ours by him. The Title of my message is — Risen — But Still the Same.
The two disciples who had walked with our risen Savior along the Emmaus road, after the Lord Jesus made himself known to them, were so overwhelmed with joy that they seem to have forgotten why they had come to Emmaus. They immediately returned to Jerusalem to tell their brethren the good news.
(Luke 24:33) “And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,”
(Luke 24:35) “And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.”
Then, in verse 36, we read, “And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them.” The disciples were gathered together, probably in the same large, upper room in which the Lord Jesus had instituted the Lord’s Supper. How troubled and perplexed they were. Then, “as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them.” — How I pray that he will repeat that deed of grace tonight! Obviously, our blessed Savior loves to meet with his saints when they are gathered together. He delights in revealing himself to us when we most need him.
In verses 36-53 Luke gives us a brief summary of those forty days between the resurrection and the ascension of our Redeemer. During those forty days, “he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me” (Acts 1:3-4).
Let’s look at the first appearance of our risen Lord in the midst of his assembled church described in verses 36-43. “Jesus himself stood in the midst of them,” uninvited, unexpected, undeserved, but most welcome! Jesus stood in the center to be near to them all. He appeared in the midst of them to bestow peace upon them all.
(Luke 24:36-43) “And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. (37) But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. (38) And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? (39) Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. (40) And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet. (41) And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? (42) And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. (43) And he took it, and did eat before them.”
The Lord Jesus had now finished his blessed work of redemption. He had entered in once into the holy place. He had, with his own blood, obtained eternal redemption for them. And, now, he appeared in the midst of them in exactly the same character and nature in which he had walked with them before, to bestow exactly the same blessing he had bestowed upon them in the days of his earthly ministry. Our risen Redeemer is the same in his person and grace as he has ever been. — “Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” (See John 14:27.)
(John 14:27) “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
This is particularly blessed when we remember the men to whom these words were addressed. Our Lord Jesus spoke these words to those very same disciples, who three days before had shamefully forsaken him and fled. They had broken their promises. They had forgotten their professed readiness to die with him. They had been scattered, “every man to his own,” and left him to die alone. One of them had even denied him three times.
They were all “backsliding children” (Jeremiah 3:22). But the Lord Jesus had promised, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely” (Hosea 14:4). Therefore, “Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” Not a word of rebuke is spoken. Not a single sharp reproof fell from his lips. Calmly and quietly he appeared in the midst of them, and spoke peace. — “Peace be unto you!”
How free his love must be! Truly, his is love that passes knowledge! It is his glory to pass over iniquity, transgression and sin! He “delighteth in mercy.” He is far more willing to forgive than we are to be forgiven, and far more ready to pardon than we are to be pardoned. There is in his great, almighty, infinite heart an infinite forgiveness! Though our sins have been as scarlet he makes them as white as snow. He has blotted them out, cast them behind his back, has buried them in the depths of the sea, and remembers them no more.
Though, like these poor disciples, we are constantly stumbling and falling, constantly “backsliding children” his forgiveness is free, full and undeserved forgiveness! The peace and forgiveness he speaks to our troubled hearts is the same peace he spoke to them. It is peace obtained by the blood of his cross, flowing from our crucified, risen Savior, the peace of complete redemption, perfect atonement and absolute forgiveness! He speaks peace to our souls, saying, “I have blotted out thy sins!...Fury is not in me!”
· Christ is the Savior who gives peace to needy sinners.
· In his pierced hands there is mercy enough and to spare!
· He raises the dead, revives the languishing, restores the fallen, and heals the wounded!
· There is forgiveness with him, that he may be feared (Psalm 130:4).
· How slow we are to believe! — Example: Peter
Though he spoke peace, these poor souls were still incapable of enjoying it. — “They were terrified and affrighted” (v. 37). Then our blessed Savior gave these poor, troubled souls undeniable proof of his accomplished redemption, by which he assured their hearts, causing them to experience the peace he spoke (vv. 38-43).
It is one thing to hear the words, “Peace be unto you;” but it is something else to experience peace in your soul. And our Savior causes his own to experience the peace he gives. He doesn’t just say, “Have peace.” He causes us to know his peace in the blessed experience of grace, in the sweet experience of knowing him. — He gives us peace!
(Luke 24:38-43) “And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? (39) Behold (Literally – You shall behold!) my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see (Literally – you shall see!); for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. (40) And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet. (41) And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? (42) And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. (43) And he took it, and did eat before them.”
He said, “Behold my hands and feet…touch me and see.” He stood before them, stretched out his nail pierced hands, and pointed to his wounded feet, through which the nails had passed, by which his body had been fastened to the cursed tree. Then he took “a piece of broiled fish and of an honeycomb…and did eat before them.” By these things, the Lord Jesus removed all their doubt and all their fear. So it is with us. We enjoy the sweet peace of redemption, forgiveness and everlasting salvation as we handle our Savior personally by faith in the sweet experience of his grace (1 John 1:1-3).
(1 John 1:1-3) “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (2) (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) (3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
Those very same wounds with which our Redeemer gave peace to these disciples, convincing them of his accomplished redemption and of his triumph over death by his resurrection, are the wounds he perpetually and everlastingly spreads before our Father in heaven for us. There, as our mighty Advocate and Great High Priest, or Savior pleads the merit of his sin-atoning blood and substitutionary death, for our everlasting salvation.
Yes, the crucified, risen Christ has returned to heaven, “to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24). His blood speaks to God for us (Hebrews 12:24). There he stands forever the “Lamb which had been slain” (Revelation 5:6). Christ is our Great High Priest before the mercy-seat. He has our names engraved upon his heart as he stands before God, making intercession for us (Exodus 28:29-30). That which the saints of old passionately desired and looked for has come to fruition in the intercession of our mighty Advocate. He has set us as a seal upon his heart, as a seal upon his arm, because of his love that is stronger than death (Song of Solomon 8:6).
What a blessed encouragement this is to me, in times of spiritual barrenness and leanness of soul! — There is One whose pierced hands and side plead for me, when I have no power to plead for myself. — “If any man sin, we have John, an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1-2).
Our Lord might have commanded his disciples to believe that he had risen. He might have sharply reproved their unbelief. Instead, in great mercy, he stooped to their need. He stooped to their weakness; and said, “Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold (Literally – You shall behold!) my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see (Literally – You shall see!); for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (vv. 38-39)
What a great example our Savior is to us in all things. When we dealing with one another, let us ever remember his gracious dealings with us. Weak disciples are disciples still. Weak brethren are brethren still. They need to be taught and led with patience, not upbraided and handled roughly. To the weak, let us become as weak, that we might win the weak (1 Corinthians 9:22).
Christ in the Midst
Verses 36-43 describe our Lord’s first appearance to his assembled church after the resurrection. Here we see the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of his brethren, assembled with his saints. He appeared in their midst, he visited his church when…
· They had acted very shamefully, fleeing from him at his betrayal and deserting him at his trial.
· They were unprepared and unbelieving, doubting his promise and refusing the testimony of his messengers.
· They greatly needed him, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.
· Yet, they had come together in his name, as his disciples, in loving memory of him.
· They lamented his absence and greatly desired him.
· Some among them testified that they had been with him and told others what they saw, experienced and heard him speak.
When he appeared in their midst, he spoke peace to his disciples, showed himself to them, permitted each of them to handle him, and proved himself to them again.
· Are not we in the same condition as these disciples?
· May we not hopefully look for our Lord Jesus to appear in our midst?
This is what we miss when we absent ourselves from the assembly of his saints. — There was one disciple, a true disciple, a true believer, who was not present at this assembly. Thomas was not with his brethren in the house of God. We are not told why he was not present; but he was not there (John 20:24). Perhaps he thought he had something more important to do. Perhaps he was overcome with unbelief. Perhaps he was in a very low condition. We do not know. But this we do know: — When his Redeemer appeared in the midst of his brethren, Thomas was not there. I do not know, but I doubt Thomas ever missed another service. When you absent yourself from the house of God you absent yourself from…
· The Ministry of the Word
· The Fellowship of Your Family.
· And you may absent yourself from the blessedness of Christ’s manifest presence, — From the indescribable privilege of seeing him, hearing him, handling him, and feasting with him!
In the next paragraph (Luke 24:44-48) our Lord Jesus gave his disciples a summary of his doctrine. He summarized everything he had taught them while he walked with them in the flesh.
(Luke 24:44-48) “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. (45) Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, (46) And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: (47) And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (48) And ye are witnesses of these things.”
First, in summarizing everything he had taught, the Lord Jesus now showed these disciples the meaning and message of the Old Testament Scriptures. The risen Savior is the same in his doctrine as he has ever been (v. 44).
(Luke 24:44) “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.”
A bare casual reading of the Gospel narratives makes it clear that these men knew the Old Testament very well. They knew how it was written by inspiration of God. They knew how it was compiled and preserved by divine providence. They knew its history and knew its letter. But its meaning and its message was hidden from their eyes, until the Savior said, “Everything that you have read in the Old Testament, all the law, all the prophecies, all the types and ceremonies, all the rituals and sacrifices, and all the Psalms and Proverbs are about me.”
Yet, even then, they did not understand his words. But…
(Luke 24:45) “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.”
The fact is, no human being can understand this Book except as God himself gives him understanding. Spiritual discernment is the gift of God the Holy Spirit. A man can study Greek and Hebrew, learn everything there is to know about grammar, ancient biblical history, archaeology, philosophy, theology, hermeneutics, exegesis and rhetoric, and still have absolutely no knowledge of this blessed Book. The Book of God is a Book of Divine Revelation that cannot be understood without divine illumination. Only God himself can take the things of God and show them to a man (1 Corinthians 2:9-15).
(1 Corinthians 2:9-15) “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (10) But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (11) For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. (12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (15) But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”
Can you imagine what it must have been like to have been present, to have heard that sermon, and to have received that blessed enlightenment? What a moment it must have been! What awe the disciples must have felt! How differently the Savior’s words must sounded! How majestic, how heavenly, how powerful! They now heard him as their risen Redeemer, coming from the other world to open their understanding. Now, for the first time, they understood all that he had taught them. Now, for the first time, they understood the vast, infinite importance of his mission in coming into the world. Now, for the first time, they began to know the meaning of his infinite grace, everlasting love and immutable mercy as the Christ of God, their God, their Redeemer, their Savior and their Lord and King!
Then, the Lord Jesus spoke to his disciples about his death on the cross. He had done so many, many times before (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19; Mark 8:31-32; 9:31; 10:33-34; Luke 18:31-33). He did not speak of his death as an unhappy misfortune, or as a thing to be lamented, but as a necessity (v. 46).
(Luke 24:46) “And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.”
There are three things revealed here that must be understood. These three things are vital. No one understands the Bible who does not understand these three things.
1. The death of Christ was according to the will and purpose of God.
He was delivered to death “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). He died in our place and room, as our Substitute, by the sovereign will and eternal decree of God, because “it pleased the Lord to bruise him.”
2. The death of God’s darling Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, was necessary for our salvation.
Without the death of Christ, God’s law could never have been fulfilled, — divine justice could never have been satisfied, — sin could never have been put away, — sinners could never have been pardoned, forgiven, justified and made righteous before God, — God could never have shown mercy. The cross of Christ was the only solution of a mighty difficulty, the only answer to that ancient question, “How can a man be just with God?” (Job 9:2). The cross untied the knot. It is the death of Christ upon the cursed tree that makes it possible for our God to be “a just God and a Savior” (Isaiah 45:20). Because Christ once died, the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, God is “just, and the Justifier” of the ungodly (Romans 3:26)
It is only by the blood of Christ crucified that sinners can draw near to God with boldness, with full assurance of faith, in confident hope of eternal life. Christ, by suffering and dying as our Substitute, in our stead, the just for the unjust, has made a way by which we can draw near to God. — And his death guarantees that all for whom he suffered and died shall come to God by him!
3. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-3).
(1 Corinthians 15:1-3) “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.”
How did Christ die?
· Voluntarily — “I lay down my life…The Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”
· Vicariously — For His Elect (2 Corinthians 5:21).
· Victoriously — (Galatians 3:13) — “It is finished!”
(1 Corinthians 2:2) “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
(Galatians 6:14) “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
The cross of Christ is all our hope, all our peace, all our salvation. The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is the cancellation of all our debt, the restoration of all our loss, the redemption of all God’s elect.
Upon the cross I see him bleed,
And by the sight from guilt am freed;
Christ crucified removed my sin,
And by His grace I’m born again.
To see my Savior as He rose
Assures my faith, disarms my foes;
Satan’s assaults I overcome,
By pointing to my Savior’s tomb.
Exalted on His glorious throne,
My Savior makes my cause His own;
No good can I now be denied,
For Jesus lives, and will provide.
He looks, with tender pity down,
And holds for me the conqu’ror’s crown;
Though pressed with griefs and cares before,
My soul revives, nor asks no more.
By faith I see the day at hand
When in His presence I shall stand;
Then it shall be my endless bliss,
To see Him where, and as he is.
Repentance and Remission
In verse 47 our Lord Jesus goes on to tell us that he died as our sin-atoning Substitute “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
Notice that our Savior did not say that he died so that we could tell sinners to repent. Rather, he tells us that he died that we might proclaim repentance. There is a difference. When God commands all men everywhere to repent, he commands them to turn to him. But when our Savior, by virtue of his death on the cross, commands us to preach repentance, that is to proclaim the turning of sinners to him. By virtue of his sin-atoning sacrifice, we proclaim liberty to the captives (Isaiah 61:1-3; Zechariah 9:11-12).
(Isaiah 61:1-3) “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; (2) To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; (3) To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
(Zechariah 9:11-12) “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. (12) Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee.”
The word repentance basically means “reversal.” And the gospel we preach proclaims a complete reversal.
· A Reversal Accomplished.
· A Reversal Commanded.
· The repentance accomplished for us, the repentance we proclaim in the gospel is a reversal of all things for us by Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
· The repentance commanded is a reversal of our thoughts, minds and attitudes about how sins are remitted.
This proclamation of reversal is the blessed proclamation of the remission of sins. Everything has been reversed for us, because he has put away (remitted) our sins! His prisoners are sent forth out of their prison because he has remitted their sins. “And ye,” you who have been turned to him by hearing him declare that he has put away your sins “are witnesses of these things” (v. 48). Every redeemed sinner is, in his place, Christ’s missionary, his witness.
· Of His Accomplishments
· Of His Forgiveness
· Of His Grace
Now, notice this. — Our Savior commanded his disciples to preach the gospel everywhere, to all men, among all nations; and he said, “beginning at Jerusalem.”
“Those Jerusalem-sinners, whose hearts were to be called by sovereign grace on the then approaching day of Pentecost, were there; many of whom had joined the Scribes and Elders in his crucifixion, and were now triumphing in having shed his blood. Yet, to this Jerusalem, this slaughter-house of his Prophets, and himself also, Jesus will have the first proclamation of mercy in his death made! Oh! the riches of his grace! Oh! the boundless love of Christ, which passeth knowledge!”
None are beyond the reach of grace. None are beyond the reach of omnipotent mercy. It is the glory of our Great Physician, that he heals incurable cases. The things that are impossible to men are possible with Christ.
In the last paragraph of our text (Luke 24:50-53), Luke gives us a very brief description of our Savior’s glorious end. Here, he takes one giant step, moving from the Lord’s resurrection to his ascension, forty days later. Here he shows us, in simple language, the blessed, triumphant climax of our Redeemer’s work on this earth. Our risen Christ is the same in his glory as he has ever been (John 17:5).
(Luke 24:50-53) “And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. (51) And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. (52) And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: (53) And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.”
“He lifted up His hands and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them.” — He left them when in the very act of blessing them. The High Priest in the Old Testament typified Christ in the lifting up of his hands to bless the people. He, however, prayed for it. The Lord Jesus commands it. Our Great High Priest ascended, while blessing, as if to say that his blessing is forever. And, as in the instance of Manoah, he did wondrously, ascending in the sweet incense of his own sacrifice (Judges 13:19-20).
The Lord Jesus was carried up to heaven upon the merit of his own blood and righteousness…
· As the Lamb of God slain for our sins, and accepted.
· As our Forerunner.
· To be the Anchor of our souls.
· To be our Advocate with the Father.
· To assure us of our indestructible, everlasting salvation, security and blessedness (Romans 8:32-39).
(Romans 8:32-39) “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (33) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When they saw him ascend, after hearing his words and receiving his blessing (his perpetual, unceasing, everlasting blessing) the redeemed of the Lord worshipped him and went away with great joy, because he had “opened their understanding.” Oh, may he do the same for you and me! If he will give us a conscious interest in his salvation, causing us to hear the word of the truth of the gospel of our salvation, we will go away from this place worshipping him with great joy and put our own “Amen” to his blessed name and work.
(Acts 1:10-11) “And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; (11) Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
The day will soon come when this same Jesus shall return from heaven, in like manner as he ascended. He will come forth, like the Jewish high priest of old, to bless his people, to gather his saints together, and to restore all things (Leviticus 9:23; Acts 3:21). For that day let us wait, “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Until that day, let us love and adore him, trust and serve him, as his “witnesses of these things” to the praise of his glory.
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