LUKE 24:1-12

The Days & Nights of His Passion, vol.2
LUKE 24:1-12
Intro: What is the Gospel? The Gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ: His life, His death, His Resurrection. The Gospel promises that if we believe in Jesus, we will become children of the Most Holy God, no longer the objects of His wrath against sin. We will then live with God forever after we die. Jesus is the center of everything that happens in the book of Luke. He calls disciples, He teaches in parables, He rebukes religious leaders, He calms storms, He delivers from demons, He heals diseases, He feeds multitudes. Then, in the final week of His life, Jesus is betrayed, arrested, tried, condemned, and crucified. His living presence dominates every page of Luke’s gospel, until we get to ch.24. At the beginning of ch.24, Jesus is conspicuously absent. It is now the third day since He was crucified, dead, and buried – the day He promised He would rise from death. But in the opening verses of Luke 24, Jesus is nowhere to be found – at least not in bodily form. Why not? To understand why Jesus seems to be missing, we must see what the women found when they went to the tomb, and we must hear what the angels said to them. We begin with the small group of women who were the last to leave the cross and the first to arrive at the tomb. At the end of ch.23, they had some unfinished business to attend to. 

Luke 23:55 And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid.
Luke 23:56 Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.

They saw where Jesus was buried and observed His body in the tomb. The spices and oils were to prepare His body – an ancient form of embalming. But it required some time to do the work, and they were out of time. 

It was late in the day on Friday, and Sabbath began at sundown. So they oriented themselves about the location and position of Jesus’ body, and then they returned home to keep the Sabbath. 

They planned to return as soon as possible to serve Jesus one more time. But they never finished their task.

Luke 24:1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 
Luke 24:2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 
Luke 24:3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 
Luke 24:4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 

Three mistakes to avoid concerning the Resurrection of Jesus:

(a)    stone moved
(b)    body missing

The women expected to find the dead body of Jesus. When they last saw Him, He was as dead as can be. So, they assumed that His death marked the natural end of His earthly existence. That empty tomb confused them. 

“…they were greatly perplexed about this…”

They simply did not understand. What they saw was clear. What it meant was not. They were at a total loss.

Why was His body not where it was supposed to be? 

They saw two obvious pieces of evidence but did not know how to process that information.

The very fact of the empty tomb is evidence that demands a verdict. The body of Jesus was dead, having been crucified. Then it disappeared from the very tomb where it was buried. 

This was widely known and accepted in the days after Christ was crucified. Even His enemies admitted there was no body in the tomb after Sunday morning. (That’s why they made up the story that someone stole the body)

No one could say that Jesus was still in the grave because the grave was vacant. Furthermore, the body that disappeared was the very corpse that was crucified. 

But what about these strange visitors in brilliant clothing at the tomb?

Angels are the holy messengers of God. When they appear to humans, they are typically robed in radiant splendor. Here, they were resplendent in white and shining robes – what Luke calls “shining garments.”

Luke 24:5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 

This was the angels’ gentle way of saying the women were operating on a defective assumption. They assumed Jesus was dead, which is why they were at the tomb so early carrying oils and spices for embalming.

But they ought to have known that He, who is the Life, would never have remained imprisoned by the bonds of death.

Why would you look for someone where He is not supposed to be?

As one writer noted, “they were on the wrong premises because they had the wrong premise!”


illus: song clip “Lookin’ For Love”

So many look for love in romantic relationships, or significance in work or raising children, or security in material possessions. 

Love, significance, and security are good things. And while romance, work, child-rearing and financial resources are good things – they are poor substitutes for a relationship with God. 

It is not that you cannot find love in a romantic partner or significance in your career or security with enough money. It is that you cannot find the best love or the most significance or unrivaled security in those things.

God loved the world so much that He gave His Son to make a way to reconcile us with His holiness. Once we become children of God, there is no greater significance anywhere. He gives us eternal life which is the ultimate security ever imagined.

Let us no longer seek the greater among the lesser. It is a miscalculation. Hear the words of the angels to the women at the tomb.

Instead of making an intellectual argument, the angels simply told those women to remember what Jesus said.

Luke 24:6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 
Luke 24:7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”
Luke 24:8 And they remembered His words. 

Someone has called the women’s discovery of an empty tomb a “marvelous disappointment.”

Rising from the dead was such an unheard-of thing and seemed so impossible after they had seen their Master dying that cruel death on the cross, that His words in which He assured them that He would rise again on the third day never entered their minds.

God sent the angels to say: Jesus is alive!

Because the Father knew that the women would be in the wrong place on the first Easter morning, looking for the living among the dead, He graciously sent messengers to tell them the good news of the Gospel!

God does this often: even when we go to the wrong place, He is there ahead of us, pointing us back in the right direction. 

Which words did they remember?

Luke 18:31 Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. 
Luke 18:32 For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. 
Luke 18:33 They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”

How did the angels seek to convince the women at the empty tomb?

They did not try to reason on account of the physical evidence. Nor did they make the case for Christ by refuting alternative explanations for what happened to the missing body.

The angels did not say to the women, “As soon as you see Jesus walking around, that should cause you to believe the Resurrection.”

Instead, the angels said to the ladies, “You should understand why this tomb is empty because of what Jesus said to you already.”

Everything happened just the way Jesus said. The words of His prophecies all came true. He was crucified, dead, and buried. Now it was the third day – the day He must rise from the grave for His promises to be true.

Therefore, when the women saw that the tomb was empty, they should have immediately known that Jesus was alive. The reason they were perplexed was that they did not believe what Jesus had said.

This is often the case: unless and until we believe in the Word of God, life is all too confusing – difficult to understand. But when we do believe, everything begins to fall into place. 

Faith is not built by visible evidence. Faith comes by hearing the Word of the Lord.

“Remember how He spoke to you…”

How did the people respond to this saving message of the Gospel?

The women responded in faith…

Luke 24:9 Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 
Luke 24:10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 

This was the best of all possible news!

It meant that they would see Jesus again. It meant that God had won the total victory over sin and death. It meant that when they died, they would live again with God. This is the kind of news that was impossible to keep to themselves.

Immediately they went and found the remaining disciples of Jesus, telling them what they had seen and heard. The first preachers of the Resurrection of Jesus were these devoted ladies!

This is the proper way to respond to the Resurrection of Jesus: (a) by remembering what Christ said (b) by believing what He did (c) and then by telling others about it.

Did you know that at first, Jesus’ closest friends (apostles) did not believe a word of it?

Luke 24:11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 

Though the women are convinced, the rest are not. They come to belief slowly. Many of the disciples are originally skeptics about resurrection.

What the women said about the empty tomb and about Jesus rising from the dead sounding like utter nonsense to the apostles.

“idle tales” = delirious babbling after medical treatment  

illus: video clip of Leeza after wisdom teeth surgery…

The disciples thought the women were out of their minds – that their emotional responses to the death of Jesus had overpowered their reason. They simply did not believe that Jesus had risen.

The same thing still happens today. 

Many think that the Bible is an unreliable set of fairy tales that cannot be trusted. It is a book compiled by religious conservatives who hated life and fun and wanted everyone else to be miserable like them. 




You might think it would be easier to believe in Jesus if you could go back and see the empty tomb for yourself. 

But the men/women who did see the empty tomb struggled with spiritual doubt as much as anyone. They did not believe at first, but their hearts were opened later. 

When they did believe, it was because they received the same words of Jesus that we have been given. It all comes back to what Jesus has already said. 

According to the word of the Gospel, Jesus is not among the dead but among the living. He was crucified to reconcile sinners to God. 

His sacrifice has been accepted by His Father. He is now risen from the grave. Death is not the end for us, but by faith we have the free gift of eternal life.