1 Corinthians 15:4b
Psalm 16:1-11; Hosea 6:1-3; John 2:13-22
It is early in the morning, right about official sunrise. Many struggle with thinking too hard at this time of day, especially before coffee! Know from Mark 16:1 “when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices”. Saturday ended at sunset; the next day (first day of the week) began and ladies made their purchase. Luke 24:1 tells us “very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.” Do you think maybe they stayed up all night preparing the spices and fragrant oils for anointing Jesus’ body?
If they did, I’m certain their conversation and thoughts did not include possibility of finding the tomb empty. Was probably darkest night of their lives – shock of Jesus’ death has worn off, reality beginning to take root, depth of sorrow growing moment by moment. Becoming more real as they think about what their hands are busy with doing – cementing the reality of death in their minds as they carry out final arrangements of a proper burial. As practical-minded as they were, grieving and preparing pushed one detail from their minds until they reached the cemetery: how would they get into the tomb? Who would move the stone for them?
Did it perhaps take a few steps for it to register as they looked up, saw entrance to tomb open, stone off to the side. Totally unprepared for that, not knowing what to expect next, went inside… still probably expecting to find Jesus’ body and carry out task of anointing. Totally confused, unable to process what they are experiencing, now confronted with a question: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” They had “observed the tomb and how His body was laid”, had they gone to wrong tomb? Had Jesus been buried by mistake in wrong tomb, then moved to right one? What did he mean by that – “the living among the dead”?
Gently but firmly instructed, ”He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you?” And they began to grasp what Jesus meant when he said, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” I’m sure they didn’t count on fingers – day one, day two, day three – much more preoccupied with where Jesus was. Yet that phrase – the third day – found 12x in NT alone referring to Lord Jesus.
A. why the third day – to change frame of reference
why not next day? to prove he was really dead?
possible, but was already clear indication of that before end of first day: his cries from the cross (“it is finished”, “into your hands”), pierced side, centurion’s witness, labors of Joseph and Nicodemus
centurion a professional, was not his first execution, knew what the signs were; Joseph and Nicodemus not strangers to death, preparation of a body, like we are – family and friends did work of modern morticians
third day wasn’t necessary to prove reality of Jesus’ death but certainly confirms it
why not seven or twelve or forty? strengthen faith?
7, 12, 40 numbers all have biblical significance; could plausibly defined elapsed time between Jesus’ death and resurrection
might have served that purpose but wise God has chosen other means to strengthen our faith; besides, takes same power to achieve after three as after more days
why precisely third day? fulfill prophecy?
it certainly did that; abundant repetition of how served that purpose, and was absolutely necessary to do so – more on that during morning worship
but… still doesn’t answer “why?” Bible doesn’t explicitly inform us but are some things we can draw together to help, and we need to start with Friday
reason why Jesus died on Friday – the “real” Passover Lamb of God
remember ritual of Passover, especially the first one: Ex. 12:21-23Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb.And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.”
John saw Jesus, said “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 There is the real lamb, the true and final Passover who would do what all previous Passover lambs had symbolized
that significance not lost on apostle Paul: “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” 1 Cor. 5:7
reason why Jesus could not rise on Saturday – would indicate nothing had changed
Passover inseparably connected with Sabbath observance – commentary on fourth commandment Deut. 5:15 “And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”
for Jesus to rise on Sabbath would indicate his people needed to keep remembering their deliverance from temporal slavery and that nothing had exceeded that in importance
Sabbath worship also linked to creation: Ex. 20:11 “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”
for Jesus to rise on Sabbath would indicate his people needed to keep remembering initial creation and Fall, and that nothing had exceeded that in importance
reason why Christian church began meeting Sunday (third day)
historical deliverance under Moses’ leadership from slavery in Egypt was significant – obviously for what it meant to enslaved people, more significant as a type of what God intended to do through his Son Jesus Christ
is our redemptive deliverance from slavery in sin of most importance –Rom. 6:6“our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”
initial week of creation is significant – is only adequate explanation for what exists now; but if first creation is all that is in view, what hope do we have?
old creation is in ruins, our only hope is in new creation – 2 Cor. 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
meeting for worship on Sunday commemorates the accomplishment of all necessary for those in Christ to be new creations set free from slavery to sin
is resurrection of Lord Jesus that displays the Father’s stamp of approval, his acceptance of what Jesus accomplished in our place – see Rom. 4:25
must be looking forward more than backward
yes, history is important; God does not expect us to live in the past – expects we will live in present, pressing on into future
day on which we worship is important move toward future day when we will be entirely new and entirely free
B. which is it – “rose” or “was raised”
translated both ways here, must look elsewhere to see if there is an answer
remember what Jesus said
John 2:19Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
John 10:17-18“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.”
and testimony of early church
Acts 2:23-24“Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”
5 additional times in Acts alone, “God raised“, further reinforcement throughout rest of NT
and the answer is… Yes!
no contradiction there – God the Father raised Jesus from the dead: Jesus who is one with the Father raised himself
like other things relating to God – gets really deep really fast, don’t be shy about staying in safe end; it’s ok to stop where Bible does
C. to loosen our ties to the temporal
must be complete break with past – old life / new life – Rom. 6:4
“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
complete change of values – Col. 3:1
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”
no hope of acceptance with God found in this world – Rom. 4:25
Christ “was raised for our justification” – to be declared right with God, must look to Christ and him alone as means of justification and reconciliation
D. how is this good news?
1 Cor. 15:17 – no resurrection, still in your sins
Reporter quoted as asking religious leader: “If we discovered the tomb of Jesus, and could somehow prove that the remains in the tomb were Jesus’ remains, what would that do to your faith?” The Archbishop (Peter Carnley) replied that it wouldn’t do anything to his faith: Jesus Christ has risen in his heart.
according to Bible, if Jesus has not risen, the Father did not accept his work of redemption – you and I still on the hook
1 Cor. 15:19 – no resurrection, no hope for the future
even if somehow were relieved of penalty for sin, no resurrection means nothing beyond this life
important to note: dependence on Christ not for this life alone, is forever – the glory of heaven and eternal life nothing w/o Christ
Rom. 10:8-9 – key to salvation – “But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach):that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
The good news is: “If this be true, then all is true. Then it is true that he came forth from God; that he died for sin; and that God approved and accepted his work. Then it is true that he ascended to heaven, and is exalted to dominion over the universe, and that he will return to judge the quick and the dead.” Barnes