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The Resurrection of Jesus the King

April 12, 2020 – Easter Sunday

Introduction

Good morning. Like churches throughout the world we’re again forced to worship in a very unusual way.

We’re trying to continue our ministry as much as possible. Our small group leaders have let us know our groups are talking, connecting, serving, praying for each other.

The church this week gave $1k to Western Wake Crisis Center. This is from fundraisers run by our Side-by-Side ministry.

Speaking of giving to those in need. One of our home group leaders mentioned on a conference call the stimulus checks the government is sending. It’s possible you don’t have a clear need for all this money. If that’s you, you might consider giving it the church alms account. Do that online @ https://onrealm.org/sgcapex.

Thank you for continuing to give your tithes and offerings.

If you want to follow along w/ my notes, @ https://sgcapex.org/live.

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An important life lesson for us is how our sin can blind us to what’s in front of us.

You see that in a marriage conflict. At some point you no longer see the spouse in front of you. Only see an enemy. You interpret everything through that lens.   

It happens to parents and children. Once bitterness settles in the heart, the parent interprets everything w/ the child suspiciously. The child assumes the parent is always scheming against them.

Sin blinds us. Everything is like looking at a distorted mirror. Straight lines look crooked, tall people look short, short people look tall.

Sin blinds us to what’s right in front of us.

The same thing happens with Jesus. Sin blinds us to who Jesus is.  

This morning we’ll see this dramatically through the last chapters of Luke’s gospel where we trace what one book called “the most important week of” “the most important person who ever lived.”[1]

But as this drama unfolds we see the key actors completely miss who Jesus is. At a few points their very blindness is what God uses to accomplish his plan of redemption.

That’s our God. He works in ways we never expected to accomplish things we can hardly imagine.

What they miss is given to us so that we won’t miss it. So that we won’t miss who Jesus is. He’s the King. The Anointed One. The Christ. The One sent from heaven to bring us forgiveness of sins. Even to bring us…paradise.

Prayer

Point One…

I. Welcoming the King

Our first snapshot is from Palm Sunday, a week before Jesus is resurrected. He enters Jerusalem one more time, this time more dramatically than ever. They give him a raucous welcome.

He will ride in with people placing palm branches as a kind of “red carpet.” The shouts show what kind of expectations they shared at this moment.

From Luke 19, their shouts also reveal who exactly was coming into Jerusalem…

As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:37–38)

In some ways they grasped what was happening, but as the week unfolds it’ll be clear they see only partially.

They were right to take up Psalm 118:26, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD,” and right to refer to “the King” who comes in the name of the Lord. They knew that a God of peace was sending this King of peace to them to bring true peace. And they praised God, singing “glory in the highest!”

They were right in so many ways. But they also didn’t fully understand what was happening. Their King was riding into Jerusalem as it was prophesied. But not to overthrow the Romans. He was riding into Jerusalem to be crucified.

God does what we don’t expect to accomplish things we can’t even imagine.

Okay. Let’s fast-forward a few days to Friday of this week. Point Two…

 

II. Crucifying the King

Early Friday morning Jesus was arrested by the Jewish leaders. They didn’t just want him arrested, though. They wanted him killed. The problem is Jerusalem at this time is within the Roman Empire. Only Roman officials can execute someone. So they need to convince Pontius Pilate, the governing Roman official in that area, to condemn Jesus.

The Jewish leaders set up Jesus as a traitor to the Roman Emperor Tiberius. As a rival king. Pilate is looking at Jesus in front of him and hearing this. He doesn’t buy it. This man is no threat to Emperor Tiberius. But Pilate was a political creature. Eventually he condemned Jesus to avoid a riot.

John 19 gives us the moment where Pilate condemns Jesus…

14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. (John 19:14–16a)

These words reveal how far these Jews missed what was happening. In a bitter irony Pilate declares of Jesus before the Jewish leaders, “Behold your King!” Yes! But they respond in complete blindness, “We have no king but Caesar.”

These Jews had waited a thousand years for the King of David to come. A thousand years before this David received the promise that one in his line would reign forever. This was that promised King. These Jews were looking at the fulfillment of the promise!

Instead of bowing in worship they say they “have no king but Caesar.” And then they condemn the very King of David they’ve been waiting for.

Luke 23 shows us more of these ironies. At this point Jesus on the cross:

And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” (Luke 23:32–38)

The Jews had a set of expectations for God’s Christ, God’s Chosen One, the promised King of the Jews. In none of those expectations was the king to die on a Roman cross.

Like a despised criminal. And not just any criminal but the lowest of the low. Crosses weren’t even fit for typical criminals. Such a public and shameful execution didn’t fit their sense of the coming Davidic king.

Their vision from the Old Testament was a Champion that would come with all kinds of military dominance and set up a new throne in the middle of Jerusalem and then rule the nations of the earth. They would all bow before him and the nation of Israel would reign supreme over all other nations. That’s what they imagined with God’s Christ, God’s Anointed King.

They knew history and they understood military conquerors. Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian. Cyrus the Great. Alexander the Great. Julius Caesar. Even David killing Goliath. They knew what a conquering king looked like.

But here was Jesus suspended and helpless on his cross. They knew he couldn’t possibly be the Messiah, the Promised King.

They felt very free to mock him. To try and outdo one another in their insults. When you perceive someone to be a real threat, you don’t treat them this way. They saw no threat in Jesus. To them he was just one more pretender.

In their minds his dying was proof he wasn’t the true Christ, the true promised King.

But that placard above him stood there unmoving. A kind of divine rebuke. Written by Pontius Pilate but true nonetheless. Despite all their mockery and mistreatment and false accusations that sign was fixed and absolutely true: “This is the King of the Jews.”

A few hours later on that Friday afternoon, Jesus died. Jesus’ lifeless body was then removed from the cross and placed in a nearby tomb.

To the Jewish leaders, the Roman soldiers, and Jesus’ followers Jesus was dead and would never be seen alive again. They assumed he was an exceptional person—but still a person. Even though he told them a half-dozen times that he would be beaten, killed, and then rise again three days later, they didn’t get it.

That shouldn’t surprise. Resurrections were no more common in the 1st century than today. If I told you that I was about to die but that I would come back to life three days later, you wouldn’t change your plans to be there when I did. You wouldn’t believe me, you’d pity me.

No one expected Jesus to rise from the dead. No one went to the tomb expecting a living Jesus. The only ones who went to the tomb were “Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them” (Luke 24:10). But the only reason they went to the tomb was to anoint properly the dead body of Jesus for his burial. Because there wasn’t time on Friday when he died.

What they see—and didn’t see—is why today 2 billion people throughout every nation on earth are celebrating Easter. Point Three…

 

III. Seeing the Resurrected King

The first thing these women saw was an empty tomb. The body of Jesus wasn’t there. Luke says they’re “perplexed” (24:3).

In Luke 24 we see their confusion didn’t last long. God sent two angels to let them know what happened. These two angels had a special message:

Two men stood by them in dazzling apparel….The men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:4–6).

Such a great question. As if to say, “Why in the world would you come to a tomb looking for Jesus? You didn’t really think he would be here, did you? What’s wrong with you? You don’t go to a tomb to find “the living”! And then just to make it perfectly clear: “He is not here, but has risen!”

After they see the empty tomb people begin to see Jesus himself…

  • Mary Magdalene first (John 20:11–18).
  • Peter (Luke 24:34).
  • Cleopas and his friend on road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–32).

All this sets us up for his appearance later in Luke 24 to all the disciples as they are gathered in Jerusalem (Luke 24:33):

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 

39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them. (Luke 24:36–43)

Again, resurrections were no more common in the 1st century than today. Seeing Jesus they still didn’t accept what was happening. “Thought they saw a spirit” (24:37). So, he talked to them.

That wasn’t enough. He had them touch his wounds, feel that his body was real and no hallucination.

Well, at this point belief is starting to take over. I love how Luke describes it, “They still disbelieved for joy and were marveling” (24:41). Their hearts were bursting. This is too good to be true.

Jesus gives them one more confirmation. He ate “a piece of broiled fish.” Then it was settled beyond all doubt. My mind can imagine someone in front of me who isn’t there. But it can’t make that hallucination eat a piece of fish.

Now they knew: The King was alive. The Christ wasn’t dead. Jesus was really in front of them. The story didn’t end with Jesus dying as a martyr. He was alive.

Now that they grasped the situation, Jesus had more to say… Point Four…

 

IV. Hearing the Resurrected King

In Luke 24 here Luke records here one of Jesus’ last recorded teachings. This is an excerpt:

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24:45–47)

What he taught them was an Old Testament lesson. He had them open their Bibles. He went over passages they had known since they were children.

Only now Jesus needed to “open their minds to understand” it. It was the same Bible but it was entirely new.

They needed to see who “the Christ” is in all of those OT promises. It’s Jesus. It’s in the OT that we learn “the Christ should suffer.” “On the third day rise from the dead.”

They would have read from Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 11 and Deuteronomy 18. Promises that spoke of the Great Future King’s triumph but also his suffering.

This was always the plan of God. They just didn’t “understand” it.

They had always known the Christ would conquer all nations. They didn’t get that the Christ would conquer only by dying.

Like Brad Hodges said Friday night, “The Way Out is Through.” “The Christ” would not triumph by escaping death or avoiding death. He would triumph only “through death.”

In this OT lesson, Jesus teaches more than just theology. He preaches gospel, “good news.” The fact the Christ died and then rose again is good news to you and me.

Jesus preaches “repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (24:47). Because Jesus the King died and rose again our sins can be forgiven.

To receive true forgiveness of sins you must repent, which means to change how you think of Jesus. Change how you live. Change who you follow as the Lord of your life.

It means you must resign as the lord of your own life. And you must bow before the King of kings as the true Lord of your life.

There is no repentance without first believing in Jesus. But there’s no true believing in Jesus that doesn’t also lead to repentance.

Forgiveness requires this initial act of faith and repentance. But your forgiveness isn’t because of your repentance. Your repentance just puts you in the position to receive the free forgiveness that Jesus the King offers.

Luke 23 gives us one of the great pictures of this faith and repentance in action. This takes place while Jesus was dying on the cross:

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39–43)

Our King is not limited by good intentions. He makes pronouncements that bring change now and into eternity.

Here he gives the thief a radically new identity. Without Jesus he’s a criminal dying in a public and shameful way. A life very few, if any, will miss. Everyone who sees him will assume there’s nothing to him.

But Jesus changes all that. Here, just a few hours before Jesus dies, he gives the thief a new identity. Now he’s an evangelist to every nation and generation on earth. Every time his words are read people hear the gospel preached.

But…Jesus also give him a new destiny.

“Today.” “With me.” “In paradise.” Instead of a wasted life ending in torture and leading to judgment, before the day is completed he’ll be with Jesus in Paradise.

 

Conclusion

All of us are like those thieves hanging on crosses. Apart from Jesus our lives are wasted and our judgment is certain. And all we accomplish makes us no better than a thief on a cross. Because of our sin we all deserve a public and shameful death followed by God’s judgment.

But just like for these two thieves, God’s answer to our greatest problem is right next to us. It’s Jesus.

The question for us is how we’ll respond. Will we look at Jesus like the lost thief who mocked Jesus along with all the others and died in his sins?

Or will we look at Jesus like the saved thief and see Jesus as the Christ coming again with a kingdom who offers forgiveness of sins and paradise when we die?

J.C. Ryle saw in these two thieves a vital lesson:

One thief was saved that no sinner might despair, but only one, that no sinner might presume.
J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels[2]

Let’s be like the “one thief saved.” Acknowledge your sin. Turn to Christ. Receive his forgiveness. Join him in paradise when you die.

Amen.

 

[1] The Final Days of Jesus (Crossway, 2014), 13.

[2] Obtained at https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ryl/luke-23.html.