Pastor’s Note: Road to the Empty Tomb

Lord Jesus!

The account of the resurrection in Luke 24:1-12 contains several early witnesses and confessions.  The first responders and believers to the tomb are several women, including Mary Magdalene (Luke 24:10), closely followed by Peter (Luke 24:12). But it is Luke, the writer, who has first dibs when he calls Jesus, “Lord Jesus” (Luke 24:3)  This is the first and only time Jesus is called “Lord Jesus” in Luke. In Acts, also written by Luke, the designation occurs 15 times and becomes one of the ways Jesus is known as the Risen Lord (see for example Stephen’s confession as he is about to enter heaven himself, Acts 7:59).

So even the youngest among ourselves (whether in age or at heart) can make this simple but profound confession: “Lord Jesus!”  Paul brings the cookie tray down to our level in Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believes in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” It doesn’t get any simpler than to say, “Lord Jesus” but it has to come from the heart.

For Further Reflection:

The second confession comes from heaven itself through the mouth of the two men, a.k.a angels: “why do you look for the living (literally the Living One) among the dead (plural, Luke 24:5)? “He is not here but has risen (Luke 24:6).  The confession, “He has risen” is picked up in the famous declaration  by Paul in Romans 4:25, “He was raised for our justification.”  There lies the power of the Gospel (Read Romans 4 for the context of resurrection, especially toward the end): we believe that he came back from the dead and lives. This confidence becomes the basis for our right standing before God, regardless of our sins and failures of the past, present and future!  Now this is great news for all of us! Easter is for those who have garnered quite the extensive record of shortcomings as well as those who are just beginning this walk with Jesus. When we say He has risen, we are declaring from our heart the heart of the Gospel: Jesus was delivered up from our trespasses and raised for our justification (Romans 4:25)

The third confession comes from the women, who famously ‘got it’  before the “apostles” did (see Luke 24:11).  They are prompted by the angels to recall what Jesus had said all along: He would be delivered up and raised on the third day (Luke 24:6; see Luke 9:44; Luke 18:32-34).  In response, the women “remembered his words” (Luke 24:8). To remember what Jesus did is to understand and to believe.  They quickly processed the information and became the first herald of the good news to the “apostles” (Luke 24:10). Unfortunately, the disciples will need a personal training session with the Risen Lord Himself to finally get it (see the rest of Luke 24).  But here also lies the good news.  To remember His words in our hearts becomes a profound confession of faith.  And even if we view it as an “idle tale” and do not “believe” at first, Jesus is patient and will come alongside us to help us.  Easter faith is about remembering what He has done.

During this time of death, destruction and deep uncertainty, the message of Easter takes on a powerful meaning even for the most skeptic among us.  He has been raised therefore by faith in the Risen Lord, our sins are forgiven (past present and future). Even if we don’t get all the nuance (and who does?), we can all say, whether young or old: “Lord Jesus!” This was, is and will be our hope until the Day when Christ returns to receive His Kingdom and finally conquer death forever (1 Corinthians 15:23-26)