Luke 24: The Resurrection of Jesus
Four Ways Followers of Jesus Came to Witness the Resurrection
The resurrection shows God has come to triumph over death, and Jesus is the first one to lead the way into a way of live we can begin now on earth. Here are four ways early followers of Jesus witnessed and learned to live resurrected lives.
From impossible to surprising reality.
The resurrection of Jesus is true and amazing because the first followers of Jesus was totally surprised by it. They had no reason to believe Jesus would rise from the dead. Resurrection is always a surprise! God took the worst day in history and made it the best weekend in history. God took humanity at its worst and did the best thing for humanity.
Nothing in the Jewish way of thinking, nor in pagan ways of thinking would lead us to believe that this idea of a bodily resurrection was a possibility. Disciples expected the crucified Jesus to stay dead. No way did anyone see the resurrection coming. They didn’t even want or expect the death of Jesus, and certainly the disciples didn’t expect Jesus to come alive again.
From sky-gazing to earth-shaking.
Christians today often forget what the disciples knew. The kingdom of heaven has come to the earth, so it’s time to stop gazing at the sky and witness the life of Jesus here on earth, where Jesus came to bring the kingdom.
From fearful to courageous witnesses.
The eleven apostles weren’t expecting Jesus to rise. When the women found the tomb empty and hurried back to tell the other disciples, they thought it was crazy talk, from sleep deprived and grief-crazed women. The stories of their surprise, the first witnesses being women are all points in favor of credibility of the gospel story of the resurrection. How so? If Luke were making this up, he would not have had women as first witnesses. Like it or not (and I don’t like it, mind you), women weren’t the people put up as witnesses in those days. So the true story of the women being first would not be made up as the most credible way to tell the story. Therefore, given the fact that all four gospels put the women first at the tomb, we believe this is true!
When the women went to the tomb, they expected to mourn over Jesus’s body, inside the tomb. That’s why they took spices and perfumes. These helped the mourners more than they helped the dead body, which very soon has a terrible and difficult to bear odor.
Even Herod knew how powerful is. In Oscar Wilde’s story about Herod has him saying to a courtier about Jesus, “I forbid him to raise people from the dead! Find him and stop him. Where is he?” The courtier said, “He is in every place, my lord, but it is hard to find him.”
From confused to resurrection people.
Don’t think we are the only ones who’ve ever been confused about our faith. The resurrection of Jesus is also a mystery. We don’t understand everything. There is also confusion, astonishment, fear of what’s happening when Jesus is nowhere to be found. Peter thought the women were telling an “idle tale” about Jesus’s body being gone from the tomb. He ran to the tomb, stooped, looked in, and saw linen cloths by themselves. He went home, hand on head, amazed at what had happened. He was confused. All the disciples, the whole world was confused.
It’s in this confusion that the amazing story of Emmaus is told. A couple of disciples, and N.T. Wright wonders if it’s actually a married couple, Cleopas and a companion (Mary from John 19:25?). The story is one of the best and beautiful, funny, intriguing, mystifying, and inspiring in the gospels.
As N.T. Wright said, “Resurrection means making a public claim about Jesus that challenges other public constructs of reality, other political as well as spiritual powers."
We are in the business of speaking life over dead things. We are in the business as the church of calling things that are not as if they are. We are in the business in the church of finding the lost. We are in the business as Jesus’ followers of witnessing to the dead being raised. In the words of the father about the prodigal son, “My son was lost, now he’s found. He was dead, and he’s now alive!” When you find someone who is dead or was lost and is now found, this is cause for celebration of the living Lord who raises dead people and breathes new life into them.
Greg Taylor, M.Div.
Greg Taylor is the preacher for The Journey. He holds degrees in Print Journalism from Harding University and a Master of Divinity from Harding School of Theology. Greg is working on his Doctor of Ministry at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where The Journey is located. Greg is married to Jill, who is a math teacher at Broken Arrow High School. They have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob, and of course they are very proud of each of what God has done in each one of their lives. Greg is author of several books you can order from your favorite bookseller.