You see an eyelid flicker.
Brainwaves begin to move. Blood begins to flow and circulate through his veins. He stood up, and he walked out of that tomb. and speak about our faith, we're very quick to state that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, because of course he did. But what happened between Good Friday and Easter Sunday?
And why did God raise him from the dead? Well, today we're featuring a special Easter message that R.C. Sproul preached at St. Andrew's Chapel as he considers those very questions.
Here's Dr. Sproul. Alright, this morning we're going to look at Romans chapter 4, verses 13 through 25, and I'm going to ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath.
For where there is no law, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all. As it is written, I have made you a father of many nations, in the presence of him whom he believed, God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did, who contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations.
According to what was spoken, so shall your descendants be. And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body already dead since he was about 100 years old and the deadness of Sarah's womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God and being fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to perform. Therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses and was raised because of our justification. You've just heard the unvarnished Word of God. May God in His grace cause you to receive it into your hearts.
Please be seated. Let us pray. Father, again on this Easter morning, we pray that the Holy Spirit who inspired this Word and who raised Jesus from the dead may visit us here in our weakness, in our need, in our struggling faith, that we, like Abraham, may believe your promises. For we ask it in Jesus' name.
Amen. I'm going to depart from my normal custom of preaching by which I try to involve myself expositionally in the text of the morning, going through it word for word, line upon line, precept upon precept, which is my normal custom. Instead, today, I just want to consider one portion of the lengthy text that I read, and that's the last portion of it, where we read with respect to Jesus, who was raised from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses and was raised because of our justification.
That's the portion of the text that I want to focus in a little bit. But first, I want to consider something that's been on my mind this entire week, as we have observed once more, Holy Week, beginning last Sunday with our celebration of Palm Sunday and the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. And then we came together for worship on Thursday night for our Maundy Thursday service, and then again night before last on Good Friday night to consider anew the death of our Lord. And so Holy Week then ends traditionally on Easter Sunday. But we started with Sunday, we went to Thursday, we went to Friday, and here it is Sunday again, but the question that's been on my mind all week is this one. Jesus was crucified on Friday. He was buried the same day, and He was raised from the dead on Easter Sunday. But my question is this, what was happening, what was going on between Friday and Sunday? What was happening in the tomb?
And as I thought about this, I had several questions come to my mind, and the first one was this. Who was at the tomb on Saturday? Well, the first instance we know from Scripture that at least this much that there were soldiers positioned at the tomb, not in the tomb but outside the tomb, because after Jesus had been crucified and His friends made a special request of Pontius Pilate that His body not be taken and thrown into the perpetually burning garbage dump outside of Jerusalem called Gehenna, but that His body may be given a proper Jewish burial. And we know that Pilate acceded to that request and turned the body of Christ over to the followers of Jesus, including Nicodemus, and to Joseph of Arimathea, who gave his burial tomb for the purpose of a suitable grave for our Lord. Also, that was to fulfill the Scriptures that we read on Friday night that He would make His grave with the rich because there was no deceit in His lips or any violence in His life, and also to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy that not a single bone of His body would be broken so that when He died, exact care and tenderness was given to the disposal of His body. It was not burned but carefully laid in this grave only after being wrapped in strips of linen and after being anointed with a hundred pounds of spices on His body. And when He was laid to rest in the tomb, Mary Magdalene and her friends stood vigil outside the tomb to make sure they knew where He was laid so that they could visit Him after the Jewish Sabbath and continue with even more anointing of Jesus' corpse. And so even though Pilate was kind enough to allow the body to be given a suitable burial, nevertheless, he ordered that the grave be sealed by a gigantic rock, not just placed in front of the tomb but sealed in front of the tomb, and then he posted the guards there to make sure that no one disturbed that tomb. So we know the guards were there.
Who else was there? Who was inside or what was inside the tomb? I'm sure that if you were to walk into the tomb on Saturday night, you would have been overwhelmed by the silence.
You would have been overwhelmed by the presence of death, by the presence of darkness, and the cold, dank crypt in which the Lord of glory's body had been placed. But I've always wondered in terms of our understanding of the mystery of the incarnation that what happened when Jesus was born into this world that God, the Logos, the second person in the Trinity, took upon Himself a human body in the incarnation. Now what happened at the death of Jesus? Was that perfect union of the divine nature and the human nature split asunder?
I don't think so. Certainly the union in the human nature of Jesus between His body and His soul, that was torn asunder. Just like when we die, our souls will be separated from our bodies. And you remember that among the last words that Jesus spoke when He was on the cross was He said to the Father, "'Into Your hands I commend My Spirit.'" So we know that at death, Jesus' soul left His body and went to be with the Father. Now at that time, what happened to the incarnation? Well, I'm convinced that the divine nature of Jesus, the Logos, was still united with Jesus' soul. And the divine nature, of course, can be at many places at the same time beyond the limits of the physical body, which can only be at one place at one time. So it's not hard for me to imagine that the divine nature was still united with the soul of Christ in heaven, but that He abandoned the body?
I don't think so. I think that the divine Logos was still united to the human body of Jesus even though that body was dead. And if that's correct, then that would mean that the second person of the Trinity, the divine Logos, was in that tomb, still united to the human nature of Jesus. Well, who else was there?
And now I have to engage in a little bit of speculation because I can't be sure of this. But we know that when the women came on Sunday morning, that they were shocked to see that the stone had been rolled away because they were worried about it and said among themselves, who can we find to move that stone so we can go in and finish this preparation of the body? And when they got there, they saw the stone rolled away and an angel sitting on top of the stone.
Where were the guards? The Bible tells us that before the stone rolled away, God struck the garden there with an earthquake and sent an angel from heaven who descended and moved that stone out of the way and moved the guards out of the way because the guards became as dead men. So when the women come, they come to see the corpse of Jesus. Instead, they see these guards lying on the ground as dead, an angel sitting on the rock.
But when they looked in the tomb, Jesus was gone. But there were angels in the tomb, one at the head of where the body had laid and the other one at the foot. So I don't know how many angels were involved in this whole enterprise, whether one of the ones that they saw inside was the same one they saw sitting on the rock. I don't know. The Bible doesn't tell us that. But I have to ask, what in the world were those angels doing in there on the resurrection morning, and when did they arrive? Here's what I think. I think they were there Saturday night. I think they were there Friday night.
Now, why do I think that? Well, Pilate had his guards on the outside, and God posted His guards on the inside of the tomb. Remember, the very first function that we see of the angels in the Old Testament is after Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden. God sends an angel standing there by the entrance with a flaming sword in his hand, standing there posted as a sentinel, not to allow anybody back into paradise. Not only that, we see that through the whole life of Jesus, it is attended by the presence of angels.
At the beginning of the incarnation, when Jesus is born in Bethlehem, the angels come with a heavenly chorus outside the fields of Bethlehem announcing the birth of Jesus. When Jesus is sent into the wilderness to be tempted forty days by Satan, one of the temptations, you remember, was this. The devil said to Jesus, the Bible says that God will give His angels charge over you lest you dash your foot against a stone.
So let's see if that's true. Let me take you up to the pinnacle of the temple, and there you jump and see if the angels catch you. Jesus looked at Satan and He said, hey, the Bible also says, thou shalt not tempt the Lord your God. I don't have to jump off the top of the temple to know that the angels are looking after me.
And then what happened? As soon as Satan left Jesus in the wilderness, the angels appeared and ministered to Him. Now that's another time where I scratch my head and I think, did the angels just come into the wilderness when Satan was leaving the wilderness or had they been there the whole time? Well, if it's true that the Father had said that He was going to give His angels charge over the Son, I suspect they never left Him. And maybe the devil couldn't see Him.
Maybe in His humanity Jesus couldn't either, but I suspect He would be probably more like Elisha in the Old Testament at Dothan when Elisha and his servant were surrounded by the armies of the enemy king. And when the servant of Elisha got up in the morning and he looked out the window, he saw all these chariots and all these soldiers about to destroy them. And he goes over and he wakes up Elisha. He says, Elisha, do something. We're going to perish.
We're surrounded. Elisha looks out and he sees all the chariots of the enemy and he comforts his servant. He says, don't worry. He said, those that are with us are more than are out there. And the servant says, have you lost your mind?
Can't you count? I look out there and there are ten thousand soldiers out there. I look around here. I see you. I see me.
What's wrong with this picture? And Elisha prayed, Lord, open his eyes that he might see. And behold, the Lord opened the servant's eyes and he saw myriads of angels round about Elisha, the heavenly host, ten thousand times ten thousand, who immediately sent the enemy's chariots in desperate retreat. I don't think that Jesus had a guardian angel. I think he had ten thousand times ten thousand guardian angels. I don't know how many were posted that day, but I can't imagine that the corpse of Jesus was left alone or to the machinations of Pontius Pilate. I don't know who was there.
Gabriel, maybe? But there were some high level angels in that tomb on Saturday night watching in a vigil, a death vigil. I don't know how much they knew as to what would happen next, but their job in the meantime is to protect that body. And then at some point, Saturday night, early Sunday morning, sometime after darkness had fallen, somebody else was there. But we know when it was because the ladies that came to anoint Jesus came at the crack of dawn.
The darkness was receding, but it hadn't totally dissipated. There was still darkness hovering near the tomb as they approached it, even though the dawn had just broken. But by that time, Jesus had already been raised.
So my guess is it was late Saturday night, probably early Sunday morning, in the darkness of the night that one other visitor came to the tomb. Also sent there and directed there by God the Father and probably by God the Son as well. We know that Jesus did not rise on His own power, but the Bible tells us that He was raised from the dead by God the Holy Spirit.
Now what's significant about that? Where do we first encounter the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament? In the very opening verses of the Bible, we read, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, the earth was without form, void empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep. And then in the incredible act of creation of the universe, the Spirit of God hovered over the waters, and out of the formlessness came the form of the universe. Out of the emptiness the world was filled, and out of the darkness God spoke light.
That was the power of God the Holy Spirit. Fast forward, if you will, millennia later, and there's this young peasant Jewish girl who is terrified and astonished when she is visited by an angel from heaven. And this angel has what to her is a bizarre, unbelievable message. She says to her, My name is Gabriel, I've been sent by God to tell you that you are going to conceive and bring forth a child. And His name shall be called Jesus because He will save His people from their sin.
And this young maiden said, What? You must have the wrong address. How can this be? I have never known a man.
This is impossible. The angel spoke to the Virgin Mary, and he said it will be like this. The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you and will overshadow you. It's the same language, the same imagery that the Bible speaks of God's work of creation in the first place. If God can create a whole universe out of nothing, don't you think He can create an infant in the womb of this little girl? And He said, Mary, with God all things are possible. And the Virgin conceived and brought forth her son. And she pondered these things in her heart. She heard the prophecy that a sword would pierce her own side. Did she think of that sword? Did she feel the sword when she stood at the bottom of the cross and looked up at her son on the cross? She had pondered this for over 30 years, and she watches him die. But the same Spirit that caused her to conceive that son in her womb visited his grave that night.
Wouldn't you have loved to have seen it? I see in my own mind, I see a body laid in a tomb with a shroud of linen around it and this anchor chip on its head, and then all of a sudden I see the Spirit of God coming into that place and hovering over this body. And you see an eyelid flicker, brain waves begin to move, blood begins to flow and circulate through His veins. And I don't know how He got out of that shroud, whether He burst it or whether the Spirit took it off of Him or the angels, I don't know. But He stood up and He walked out of that tomb. He left the shroud, He quit the grave cloths, left them behind.
The napkin that was on His head was folded neatly in the tomb, and He walked out. Now we've looked at the question of who was there, why were they there, what were they doing on Saturday. The last question I want us to consider briefly is this on this Easter Sunday, is why?
Why in the world was He raised? You know, you look in the Old Testament and you see in the Day of Atonement when atonement is made for the sins of the people that the bulls and the goats and the sheep, they're slaughtered and their blood is sprinkled on the mercy seat. But when those animals are killed, they stay dead. The scapegoat is sent out into the outer darkness and we never hear from Him again. So why didn't God just leave it at that? Why didn't God after He took our sins and transferred them to the back of His Son and sent them to the cross as the ultimate sacrifice, as the ultimate atonement, wasn't that enough? Why not just leave Him dead and leave Him buried? Well, there are a couple reasons why God wasn't interested in leaving Him dead and leaving Him buried.
The first one is this. He was sinless and death had no claim on Him. If He hadn't willingly accepted the imputation of our sins upon Him, He could never have died. But in and of Himself, there was no sin and it was impossible for death to hold Him.
You know, that's what drives me crazy. When you talk to people in the secular world today about the resurrection, they say, how can you believe that? That's impossible. I say, how can you not believe it? It's impossible that death could hold Him. You live a perfect life and see if death can hold you.
I'll wait a long time for you to do that. Secondly, Paul said to the Greeks and Athens that the former days God has overlooked patiently, but now He commands all men everywhere to repent because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world, by that one whom He has appointed to be the judge and demonstrated to be His Son by the resurrection from the dead. Let me be just for a moment completely politically incorrect and give you some news, latest breaking news. Mohammed is dead. Buddha is dead.
Confucius is dead. Moses is dead. Only one has been raised from the dead because God has only one mediator between Himself and human beings. He has one, His only begotten Son, and He has demonstrated to the world whom He has appointed to be the judge of all the earth by raising Him from the dead, which He didn't do for Mohammed. But also, Paul tells us in the text that I read that He was raised for our justification. Well, in one sense He was raised for His justification because by the resurrection God is declaring to the world, this is my Son, and all the charges brought against Him for which He was executed are false. And so He is vindicated by the resurrection. But again, what God is doing here is not simply vindicating Jesus and justifying Jesus. He is raised for my justification. He is raised for your justification. Why?
How can that be? Because in the resurrection God is declaring not only that Jesus is the one whom He has appointed to be the judge, but God is saying to the world, I accept the sacrifice that He has offered, that He has given His body to satisfy the demands of God's justice and the demands of God's righteousness. And when God sees this sacrifice of His Son on the cross, He allows His Son to go through a period of forsakenness, but that time of forsakenness cannot endure until God says, you will see the travail of your soul and be satisfied, Jesus, because I am satisfied.
You've done it, and I am pleased with you. And to show you and the world that I have accepted your perfect sacrifice given once and for all, I'm going to raise you from the dead, and I'm going to exalt you to my right hand as the King of Kings, as the Lord of Lords, and the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords is not dead. He's alive. That's why on Easter Sunday we come together as His followers, as His servants, as His disciples, as His friends, and we look to each other, and what do we say? He is risen.
I can't hear you. He is risen. Happy Easter. He is risen indeed.
That was R.C. Sproul from an Easter sermon he preached in 2009 at St. Andrew's Chapel. And while he served there, he preached through entire books of the Bible, and those sermon series became the foundation for his commentary series through those particular books. Today's text was from Romans, so we're making the hardcover edition of his Romans commentary available to you for your donation of any amount. When you give your gift today at renewingyourmind.org, not only will we send you that hardcover edition, you'll receive digital access to the e-book edition of that commentary as well. So make your gift at renewingyourmind.org. Your support helps ensure that the message of the risen Christ continues to be proclaimed not only through Renewing Your Mind, but through all of the outreaches of Ligonier Ministries. So thank you for your generosity. Next week, I hope you'll join us as we return to Luke's Gospel, because we'll be featuring a sermon that R.C. Sproul said was perhaps the most important sermon he ever preached. So join us Sunday here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-09 02:45:39 / 2023-04-09 02:55:39 / 10