Remembering the Resurrection
Text: Luke 24: 1-48
Proposition: They remembered, they returned, they reported.
Introduction: How forgetful are you? Have you ever forgotten birthdays, doctors appointments, the keys that smiled at you from the ignition of a locked car. I remember hearing a story about a fellow whose wife called out to him as he was leaving for work, “Honey, don’t forget what day this is?” It drove him nuts all day, he knew it wasn’t his wedding anniversary but he wasn’t sure about birthdays, or their kids birthdays. To be safe he bought flowers and took her out to dinner only to hear her say, “Sweetheart this has been the best Ground Hog Day ever!” That’s one kind of ‘forgetting’ but there is another kind, the kind of forgetting that fails to put together facts that you’ve already known in order to take the next step. The first is more like an oversight, the second is more like negligence. Forgetting to avoid temptation can put you or others around you at risk. Forgetting to follow directions can lead to being lost in a dangerous place, forgetting the promises made to another can end in heartbreak and confusion. The account in Scripture that we are about to read was like ‘forgetting’ the greatest promises a person could ever hear. It happened on Easter Sunday morning? Read with me the passage of Luke 24: 1-12 as we consider this.
1. To Remember What Jesus Said Requires a Reminder.
Reminders can look like many things, bits of string tied in conspicuous places, sticky notes pasted to the glass, scribbled cryptic notes that combine numbers and letters that are somehow meant to make sense, there’s all kinds of reminders. But Reminders can be persons, not just things. God has sent the Holy Spirit as a great Reminder to all who believe in Christ. God also sends angels to be Reminders, and even sometimes sends people in the same role. Just look at the account we’ve just read. The women are caught up in the upheaval of these last days, their Jesus has been betrayed, beaten, bloodied… buried. Almost in a mindless reflexive response they do what should be done, they come to pay final respects to Him, to anoint His face and hands and leave Him forever in the grip of death.
But they’d forgotten something, they’d forgotten what they’d been told, they’d forgotten what they’d been promised, they’d forgotten what they believed. That’s why the angels say to them in verse 6, “Remember how he spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” These women are such a picture of us aren’t they, for we too forget these same things. We need Reminders, persons who will stand before us and say, ‘Remember what you have heard, remember the promises made to you, remember the presence of God as He met you that day’. Jesus is not dead, He has been given to death because of sinful men, a phrase that describes all mankind. Jesus died because of my sin, your sin. The sin which would forever demand separation from the presence of a holy God, Jesus took that sin to death that now I would no longer be separated from God. He died and then He rose from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is like getting a bill and in a red stamp across the bottom it says, ‘Paid In Full’. He offers pardon from the penalty of sin to all who would receive it, like prisoners on death row receiving the offer of pardon to life. Oh that my pride would not keep me from reaching out for that offer. Oh that the Reminder would not leave me alone but that I would remember. You see that’s what happened to these women, they remembered. But once you’ve remembered, what comes next? Look at verse 8… “And they remembered His words and they returned from the tomb...”
2.To Return is to Go to Those You Know and To Become the Reminder.
To return is a process that really begins deep in your heart first, before you ever take a step with your foot. What do think was going on in their minds, in their conversation with one another as they made their back from the tomb? It was a remembering of fact and statement and truth that began to resonate inside them as belief reawakened. Just look at the rest of this story to see this pattern repeat itself. In verses 13 to 32, a little later that same day, there are two other disciples walking along the road to the town of Emmaus. Jesus Himself comes as the Reminder, He tells them to think about what they’ve known for years about what the Bible said, He helps them to ‘connect the dots’, so to speak. And when they get it what did they do? They returned to where the other disciples were. And what was happening within them as they returned, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” To return is first to experience the return to God in your own heart, to recognize the agreement of your mind and heart with God. I remember the words of a good friend of mine who became a believer in Jesus Christ as a trapper in the isolation of the Yukon. There in his cabin, miles from anyone, after having stayed up all night, he believed in Jesus Christ and paced back and forth in his small cabin. As the sun began to rise he began to say to himself outloud, “It’s true, it’s true, it’s really true.” He didn’t know it at the time, but it was Easter Sunday morning. He hooked up his dogs to his sled and headed out to a small church in Eagle Alaska. To return begins first in you and then it leads to your steps of coming to those close to you. As the women returned, they reported. That’s the third point.
3. To Report Is To Give What You Have That Others Would Know.
As the women come to the disciples they tell them what they had seen and heard and remembered. Look at the reaction of the disciples in verse 11… “And these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe in them.” Peter, James, John, that was how they responded to this. Author Philip Yancey once stated that, ‘Faith requires the possibility of rejection, or it is not faith’. When you see others move with unbelief, when you yourself respond with unbelief, know that the possibility of rejecting the truth is right there even as faith invites you past it. That was the first reaction of these who had heard just days before the words from Christ Himself that on the third day He would rise from the grave. How does God bring people past the reefs of unbelief, how does He awaken in them the remembrance of that which they’ve known for years to now come alive as faith in the risen Christ? He uses many means. For Peter it was all about evidence, he ran to the tomb and saw evidence that demanded a verdict. For John it was not so much evidence as it was the tying together of truth. For others like Thomas it required a dramatic confrontation with Christ that rocked him to his foundations and left him face down on the floor saying, “Jesus, My Lord and my God!” For the two on the road to Emmaus, it was the recognition of Jesus as they did the familiar, the seeing of Jesus face in the everyday actions of life and they remembered and believed and returned and reported. Certainly God uses all these means and more, but the common thread running through all of it is His word. He points people to read what is right there in front of them, to read the Bible with a genuine desire to really know, to be reminded of what I have always known, and then to return in the depths of my heart to Him. Just look at how it points to that, three times in this chapter people are pointed to remember His word, verse 6, 27, 45. There were three different groups of people, three different settings, yet the same method. To move past unbelief requires the action of a Reminder. I’m doing that role right now in front of you, the Word of God is doing that role right now in you. To move past unbelief requires an action of Returning, God gives the facts, He presents the truth, He blesses with the gift of enough faith to move and then He calls us to respond. It is the story of the way God found me, how He taught me about things I couldn’t see, how He invited me to receive the forgiveness of sin through the death of Jesus Christ for me. It’s proof that by your faith in Him you now have eternal life, a life He has called into being by making your spirit alive to Him.
It’s the call of Easter Sunday… to Remember, to Return, to Report.