He saw him alive! How could it be? That guy was as dead as dead could be! There just couldn’t be any possibility of a mistake!
He had touched and felt the cold, dead corpse. He and several others had removed the already stiffening form from the position in which it had died.
He had helped bury that lifeless man and had stood with others at the completed grave.
But now, recently, he had caught several glimpses of the one he had previously buried. He attempted to write it off as some sort of psychological trick of the mind. Dead men just don’t show up alive again a bit later.
But something undeniable was happening.
Soon after, a moment came, when surrounded by evil men who threatened to kill him, the undeniable form of the deceased one appeared, and by the thunder of his voice and the grand authority of his presence he scattered those wicked men and sent them fleeing.
It was clearly him! He was alive! How could it be? But yes; it was he who had been buried!
It was Curly!! And he was back from the dead to rescue Mitch (Billy Crystal) and his City Slickers brother and friend.
No, even Hollywood could not credibly pull off a resurrection from the dead. The storyline in City Slickers 2: The Legend of Curly’s Gold required Curly (who was buried in the prequel) to have a twin brother to make a sequel possible with the same crusty and beloved character. That’s because dead people just don’t rise again!
But we can relate to Billy Crystal’s struggle in City Slickers 2 … to believe against the facts of reality that a dead person was alive again. And such was the struggle of those contemporaries of Jesus Christ – such as the 11 remaining disciples – as they struggled to come to grips with the reality of His resurrection.
The travelers on the road to Emmaus had Jesus travel with them, open the Scriptures and open their minds and eyes to see that it was He Himself. They went to the 11 disciples to report all that they had seen and heard. The two women who had also been to the grave and found it empty had reported earlier to the 11, but the disciples largely wrote them off as being a bit crazy.
So the disciples were terribly confused about all that was going on around them. Imagine their struggle. Peter had denied Christ three times. But remember that he (and maybe John) was the only one close enough to the action to commit such a failure. The others were nowhere nearby. All of them must have been dealing with their shame, while also wondering what the past three years of their lives had been about. Only a week before they had seen the crowds cheer and honor Jesus as a coming king.
And now the Emmaus Road travelers shared words and accounts with the disciples that validated the report of the women. And then Jesus stands there with them!
Imagine the inner emotions of the 11, wanting to believe that the obvious truth was the real truth. They had all seen amazing things over the past three years, but this was beyond anything else. It was a twist and turn in the story they could have never imagined. It was real; it was all now coming into focus as to what had just happened in the days immediately past.
Christ’s resurrection gave reality to their present struggle, and it also gave an explanation for their past experience and knowledge.
Being good Jewish men who had likely been reared in the intense teachings of the synagogue system – along with all of the teachings of Jesus they had heard – there was a great deal about the ancient writings that did not make complete sense. We know even from the later words of Peter that the prophets who wrote these messianic words and predictions did not understand clearly what they were writing and predicting. But now, even this too was coming into focus for them – passages like from …
MOSES – Deut. 18:15 … The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.
THE PROPHETS – Isaiah 53:3-5 … He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 61:1 … The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners
PSALMS – 16:10 … because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
22:14-18 … I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
Many truths had indeed been given to the disciples and taught them, but it took a work of God to open their minds to fully understand the Scriptures. And this was now happening, as Christ made it possible for them to see and truly comprehend it all for the first time.
Christ’s resurrection also now gave purpose for their future lives.
Surely the disciples had found themselves sitting around those first few days wondering what was coming next in their lives. How much danger might they be in? Three intense years now looked wasted without their leader to follow.
But the resurrection changes this completely. Their lives are now changed and defined. They have a story to tell and they have a commission to tell it. But this is not something they are to do in their own strength. They are to wait for the power that will enable their success. We know this to be the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost – the distinctive mark of the church age.
Imagine history and human life without this truth. It is simply meaningless, a mere existence that is only unique in that it is the highest and most advanced form of mere animal existence. But the grand story is that at the center of history is the person of Christ, who comes to correct the error of sin and evil and give life – a purposeful life here, and an eternal life there. That changes everything.
But the resurrection story is not merely something that changed life for the disciples and the contemporaries of Jesus. No. The resurrection is something that gives reality to our present struggle in this world, gives explanation for our past experience and all of history preceding us, and gives us purpose for our future lives.
Just as the resurrection brought into focus for the disciples what was happening around them and how it fit with all that preceded them, it does the same for us. We see now the big picture. We understand that sin made a mess, and we experience that mess with our own physical frailty and by seeing the broken condition of the world around us with wars and conflicts and life problems that never really end, no matter how much science advances.
Remember Curly’s great line in City Slikers – about how life is about finding the ONE THING? That’s actually pretty good theology, though Curly wasn’t thinking that way at all. The ONE THING is the gospel; the person of the gospel is Jesus; and the life-giving guarantee of the gospel is the resurrection.
When you come to accept and trust in the gospel, it is the ONE THING in life that changes and gives perspective to …
- Your present situation – the mixed bag of life… of its good and happy gifts, yet also its challenges and difficulties that we all experience. We understand that we are still creatures prone to sin and living in a sinful world.
- Your past and the history that led to it. You understand the flow of history, seeing how it has affected you and your family of origin.
- Your future – you have a guarantee of eternal life, with a resource for the current life and a purpose for living that is bigger than just animal survival. You’re not just living for yourself, you are serving God as you serve and help others.
Yes, the resurrection changes everything.
< Thank you for reading these 97 devotionals on Luke’s gospel. Our next series is on the book of Ecclesiastes, and the first devotional writing will be on Monday, April 23 – the day after the first of six messages in that series called “Life Under the Sun.” >
Luke 24:36 – 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 Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the 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.”
50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.