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The Resurrection

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
September 10, 2023 12:01 am

The Resurrection

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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September 10, 2023 12:01 am

Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried. But the grave could not contain the holy Son of God. Continuing his expositional series in the gospel of Luke, today R.C. Sproul preaches on the bedrock foundation of our hope: Christ's resurrection in victory over sin and death.

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Normally we think the major point of transition between humiliation and exaltation is between the nadir of crucifixion and suffering on the cross to the manifest glory seen in resurrection.

No, no, no, no. That is not the point of transition. The moment that marks this change from dreadful humiliation to exaltation is not the resurrection. It's the burial of Jesus. All too often when we talk about what Christ has accomplished for His people, we move right from the death of Christ to His resurrection, skipping over the significance of His burial.

Welcome to the Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind as R.C. Sproul is preaching his way through the Gospel of Luke. The resurrection of Christ was a marvellous event. The Apostle Paul even tells us that if it hadn't happened, our faith would be in vain. But before Dr. Sproul gets to that moment in this sermon on the resurrection, he takes time to reflect on Christ's burial.

Here's Dr. Sproul. So this morning I'll be reading from Luke 23 verse 50 through 24 verse 12. I don't ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man who had not consented to their decision and action, and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid Him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how the body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandments. But on the first day of the week at early dawn they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared, and they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. But when they went in, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And while they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by in dazzling apparel, and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen.

Remember how He told you while He was still in Galilee that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and on the third day rise. And they remembered His words. And returning from the tomb, they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now there was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. These words were seen to them idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb, stooping and looking in.

He saw the linen cloths by themselves, and he went home marveling at what had happened. This is the inspired Word of Almighty God, giving to us a record of supreme importance for each one of us for the day in which our Savior was raised from the dead. Please be seated. Let us pray. Again, our Father and our God, we are overwhelmed by the wonder of these things that we have just read that have been supervised by your Holy Spirit. We ask now that that same Holy Spirit would condescend to our weakness and fragility, that you would give us assistance to understand these words and their significance and importance and use them, change the hardness of our hearts with the glory of Christ and for His gospel. Amen.

R.C. Sproul, Jr. Before I look at this text that I've just read to you this morning, I'd like to take a brief excursion to the Old Testament to a short passage from the book of the prophet Isaiah, from chapter 53 of Isaiah, which of course is probably his most famous passage because it reads just like an eyewitness of the crucifixion. But I'll be reading there from chapter 53, verse 7 and following. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth. Like a lamb that has led to the slaughter like a sheep, that before His shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away. And as for His generation, who considered that He was cut out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of My people?

And they made His grave with the wicked and with the rich man in His death, since He had done no violence and there had been no deceit in His mouth. Now the reason why I wanted to look briefly at Isaiah chapter 53, before I looked at this portion of Luke's gospel, is that in the history of theology we notice that in the progress of the life of Jesus as it is recorded in sacred Scripture, there is a pattern that we see relevant to Jesus passing through periods of profound humiliation and then also at other times manifesting supreme exaltation. And so the pendulum swings between humiliation and exaltation. But it's not as if that this is a consistent plane where Jesus starts with humiliation and drops to the nadir of that humiliation and then moves gradually into a process of exaltation. Rather, it's a mixed measure where there are times where in the midst of humiliation there'll be a sudden glimpse, a momentary breakthrough of glory and of exaltation. Probably one of the least read books that I've ever written was on the glory of Christ, where I focused my attention in that book on those vignettes, those moments where the glory of Christ broke through the veil and His exaltation was vividly perceived.

Again, nobody reads the book, but I certainly enjoyed writing it. You think back to the birth of Jesus, which was recorded in Luke's gospel of course. Such emphasis was on humiliation, where He was born in the lowly conditions of servanthood. But yet at the very moment of the depth of that humiliation, just down the path outside the fields of Bethlehem, there was a sight and sound show of majestic glory as God with the Shekinah manifested Himself to the peasants announcing the birth of their King.

And so we see this pattern. And normally when we think of the change from humiliation to exaltation, we think that the major hinge, the major point of transition between humiliation and exaltation is between the nadir of crucifixion and suffering on the cross to the manifest glory seen in resurrection. No, no, no, no. That is not the point of transition. The moment that marks this change from dreadful humiliation to exaltation is not the resurrection. It's the burial of Jesus. You recall when Isaiah described the ignominy of the suffering servants' passion and death. He said He was numbered with the wicked, and yet it was with the rich He was buried in the tomb. Under normal circumstances, those who were crucified were not buried in rich men's tombs. I've preached many times in the past about what happens to those bodies of crucified victims, and I was under the misinformation for years that how the bodies were usually disposed of antiquity is that there was in the Valley of Hinnom outside the city of Jerusalem a garbage dump that was in flames daily and never went out as the worm wouldn't die and the flames were never quenched because the refuge of garbage from the city was daily transferred for disposal in Ghana.

That was a rich metaphor for hell itself, but then I learned recently from the latest scholarship that probably that garbage dump wasn't put there until centuries later, and that I've been telling you falsehoods all this time based upon misunderstanding. So the normal report that we hear is that if a person was crucified for various crimes, their families could claim the body afterwards and afford them a decent burial, except in the case of sedition. Those who were executed as traitors were not allowed to be buried by their families but were rather taken out into the fields and to be left to the vultures to come pluck their eyes out, eat their skin and muscles, and reduce them to skeletons. And since Jesus was numbered among those who were condemned as traitors, what would have been expected of the disposal of His body would be that it would be left to the vultures of so much carrion to be devoured.

But God said no. We read in the last text before this one how the last words of Jesus while He was dying at His last breath was strong enough to shout in a loud voice heavenward, saying, Father, into Thy hands I commit My Spirit. Then He breathed His last and gave up the ghost. And we remarked about how ironic that was that after the sun had just gone through the unimaginable ghastly torment of being totally cursed by the Father, that like Job before Him, though a thousand times greater when Job said, Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Here the dying Son of God had committed His Spirit and soul to the very Father who had cursed Him.

But it was a double commitment. As the Son committed His Spirit, His soul to the Father, so the Father had committed already the care of the body of His Son. His Word had said He would not allow a bone of His body to be broken. And in Acts we read in the Word of God that He would not allow His Holy One to see corruption, let other traders be fed to the vultures, but not so with the Son of Man.

God would have none of it. And so we read here in this text that there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea about 20 miles north of Jerusalem, from which historically Samuel the Old Testament giant came. And we're told he was a member of the council, a member of the Sanhedrin, who was obviously not present on the day the fateful decision was made by the conspirators of those who despised Jesus, and that Joseph did not consent to the death of Christ. He was a secret disciple, the Scriptures tell us, along with another secret disciple who was also a member of the Sanhedrin. The other disciple's name was Nicodemus, who came to Jesus at night, and Jesus told him that he must be born again.

And evidently he was. He heard the word of the Lord and was converted to Jesus, along with Joseph of Arimathea. And so we're told he was a member of the council, a good and righteous man. You know, we're all depraved in sin, and it's a rare thing in sacred Scripture when God the Holy Spirit reveals that somebody was good and righteous. This is one of these extraordinary exceptions where Joseph was described as a righteous man, a good man, a man who was looking for the kingdom of God, but a secret disciple. And then we're told he went to Pontius Pilate.

What? Can you imagine the terror beating in the heart of Joseph of Arimathea when he goes and knocks at the door of the imperial palace there, saying, I'd like to talk to the governor, and I'd like to talk to Pontius Pilate. It would have been like Moses in the Old Testament going to Pharaoh and saying, I have a message to you from God, and God says, Let My people go. You remember how when Pilate sentenced Jesus to death, he made sure that a sign was posted above the cross in three languages that announced that Jesus was the King of the Jews, and that offended the Jews.

Pilate hated the Jews in any case. And so they intervened, and they said, Please take that sign down. It's offensive to us.

It's politically incorrect to advertise this dying criminal as the King of the Jews. And Pilate said, Oh, I'm so sorry to have offended you. Let me get a ladder and climb up there and take that notice down myself.

No, no, no. Arrogantly and pompously, Pilate replied, What I have written, I have written. Don't touch that sign.

You leave it right there. And now here comes Joseph probably shaking in his boots saying, Pilate, Mr. Proctor, you're here. Could I please have the body of Jesus? Expecting Pilate to say, You know the rules.

He goes to the vultures. No burial for him. Please, Mr. Pilate, let me take him down from the cross and put him in my own tomb, a large tomb cut out of the rock where no one has ever been laid. There was no scent or hint of corruption in that tomb, no lingering odor, no vestigial remains of death. And through the providence of God, whose hand was on the heart of Pilate, Pilate acceded to this request and said, Fine, take him down.

Give him a proper burial. So then he took it down, presumably aided by Joseph of Maramathaea. It wasn't a job for one man, and wrapped it in a linen shroud. He had to remove the spikes from the hands of Jesus that he could be taken from the cross and then carried reverently and tenderly to the rich man's tomb, which was the beginning of his exaltation. So he took it down, and he wrapped it in a linen shroud and wrapped from head to toe around the torso and arms and legs of Jesus.

It was laid in this tomb cut in stone where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. And the women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw where the tomb was, but then they returned so that they could also prepare spices and ointments. And we read elsewhere in the Scriptures that Joseph of Maramathaea and Nicodemus anointed the body of Jesus with precious ointment and spices that weighed a hundred pounds.

I can't even begin to guess how valuable those spices were in today's economy. But it was lavish treatment for a hundred pounds of spices and precious ointments to be used for the burial of Christ. Then the women, we are told, after spying out the spot where Jesus was laid, went back and rested on the Sabbath according to the commandments. And then after that time had passed, we read in chapter 24, on the first day of the week at early dawn, they left while it was still dark and as dawn was breaking, and they came to the tomb taking the spices they had prepared elsewhere.

The gospel writers tell us the thing that most concerned them as they were moving on their way with these spices to anoint the body of Jesus, their overwhelming concern was how are we going to do it? How are we going to get into the tomb? This giant stone, like a giant millstone, was placed in front of the tomb, and the authority of Rome put a seal upon it saying no one was permitted to come inside this tomb.

So the ladies on their little pilgrimage were talking among themselves. They said, how are we going to get in there? Who's going to move the stone? But when they came, here's what they found. The Bible says they found that the stone was rolled away. Here's what they didn't find. They didn't find Jesus. They didn't find His body.

It was gone. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling apparel, and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, let's ask you a question. What are you doing here? What are you looking for? Why are you seeking the living among the dead?

Don't you understand? This is a cemetery here. He's not here. He has risen. You know, we don't just celebrate this on Easter. Every single Sunday Sunday morning we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus because He was raised on the Lord's day. It was on the Lord's day that the words were first spoken. He is risen. I can't hear you.

Thank you very much. He is risen indeed. Don't you remember what He said to you while He was still there in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise? He did say that, didn't He? But it went right over our heads.

We didn't grasp any of that. All we heard was that He was going to go and be tortured and tormented and killed. Yes, now that you say it, He did say that He would rise on the third day, but so returning from the tomb. They told these things to the eleven and to all the rest, and it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. But these words seemed as an idle tale, old wives tale. They didn't believe it for a second.

They said, What's wrong with you silly women? We saw the body. We know He died, and now you're coming and telling us that suddenly He's gone. Where were the guards? When we went there, the guards were gone, and the rest of the Scripture tells us that there had been a violent earthquake, and the stone had been moved, and the angels had appeared, and the guards of Rome looked at this. They felt the earth tremble in violence. They saw the rock started to teeter and then move away, and then two heavenly beings in dazzling garments like lightning, we are told, appeared, and those brave Roman soldiers ran for their lives.

Let's get out of here. So they didn't believe them. But listen to this footnote. But Peter rose, thought about it for a second. He said, I know it's crazy talk, but any possibility that what they're saying could be true, no, no, no, no, no, no.

It's impossible. The dead don't rise. Peter's theology had not yet developed to the point where he understood that it was impossible for death to hold him.

That was the impossibility. Death is reserved for sinners. And though the sins of people were imputed to Jesus, inherently he was sinless. So death had no claim. It had no title to Christ. And so the Word said it was impossible for death to hold him. And Peter's musing, and maybe he just begins to think as he walked, casually and slowly strolled in the direction of the garden. That's not what the Bible said.

Oh, no. When he heard this, he got up, and he ran as fast as his feet could carry him to the tomb, stooping. And he looks in, no garden, no Jesus, just perfectly arranged gravecloths. Nobody took the body away. Jesus walked out on His own, free and alive. And when Peter saw these lonely claws, he went home astonished, marveling at what had taken place. This was probably the most marvelous event in all of human history.

Do you join Him in your soul and in your heart in the marvel of that moment? As Dr. Sproul reminded us, we don't merely celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior on Easter, but every single Lord's Day. That was R.C. Sproul on this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind. And you heard a sermon that R.C. Sproul preached to the congregation at St. Andrew's Chapel in Central Florida.

As Dr. Sproul preached through entire books of the Bible, those sermons became the foundation for his expositional commentaries. If you'd like to study Luke's Gospel further, perhaps use it as your daily devotional reading, or maybe read it with your family. You can get the ebook edition for a donation of any amount at Your gifts fuel the reach of Ligonier Ministries and ensures that this outreach, Renewing Your Mind, remains free and that there's new podcast episodes available seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Give your donation today at and we'll grant you lifetime digital access to R.C. Sproul's commentary on Luke's Gospel. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to many people, including two men on the road to Emmaus. We'll meet them and hear about their encounter with the risen Lord next Sunday, here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-29 23:20:08 / 2023-10-29 23:29:13 / 9

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