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LUKE - Christ, the Savior of the World
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to Luke


13. The Empty Tomb (Luke 24:1-12)

LUKE 24:1-3
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. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

The strange thing is that the first witnesses of Christ’s resurrection were not men, but women. The disciples had closed their rooms for fear of the Jews. But the women overcame all their fears out of their love for Christ, and sacrificed a great part of their money to buy spices and ointments. Now very early in the morning they brought spices and perfumes, and came together to the tomb, which had been sealed with a large circular stone.

The women were perplexed about how they could roll away the large stone from the tomb, which was sealed by the authorities. Their love prompted them, in spite of all hardships, to render the last service of love to the dear one who was asleep. Yet when they arrived they were greatly astonished, for the tomb was opened, and the large stone was rolled away. Then they became confused, and wondered how he was not left in peace even in death: “Did they do anything to his body? Did they steal it?”

They were not afraid of entering the opened tomb. But they saw with great surprise that the tomb was empty. His grave-clothes were folded neatly and placed within the tomb. But the body was not there, for Christ had risen. Later, he appeared to his disciples in closed rooms, passing through the walls.

No one saw Christ’s resurrection except the angels. No human being witnessed this event at all. Therefore the Lord calls all his followers to believe boldly in the miracle of his resurrection, for seeing comes after, and not before, believing. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

LUKE 24:4-7
4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 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? 6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”

The women became disturbed and frightened when they did not see the body of Christ. They did not know what to do. Probably one of them prayed to God, and suddenly two men stood by them in shining garments, with their faces as the shining sun. Now the women were spellbound and motionless. Some of them began to draw back, while others bowed down to honor the strange forms from the invisible world. Those two angels were sent by Christ in his love for the bewildered women, to explain the impossible fact that the dead Christ is in fact living. They called Christ “the living” and gave him the very attribute of God, testifying the greatness that dwelt in Christ and became evident in his resurrection. They asked the women why they did not believe that the Prince of peace is immortal, and living forever, for everlasting life never dies, even if the weak body decays.

The two angels testified to the motionless hearing women that God personally raised his Son, just as a father awakes his child from sleep.

Those two messengers of heaven commanded the women to remember and grasp the meaning of Christ’s words that he spoke before his crucifixion, saying thrice with all clarity that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful people, and be crucified, and the third day rise again triumphantly.

The word “must”, which Christ said when his death was imminent, was not understood by his followers, for they did not understand the redemptive plan of God. They did not know the requirement, or the necessity of Christ’s death on the cross to reconcile men with God. Nor did they recognize resurrection as a required proof of Jesus’ holiness and divinity, for only he who is sinless can defeat death, which is the wages and consequence of sin. As Jesus continued sinless even to the last moment of his life, death had no power over him, and thus he rose from the dead triumphantly.

Jesus’ resurrection is the evident proof of his prevailing over all the temptations of sin in his body. It is an incontrovertible evidence of the failure of Satan who could not cause the Just to fall into hatred, unbelief and despair. Christ’s resurrection is also a proof of the weakness of death with relation to God’s life. After all, the most important thing is that God raised his Son, proving that he was pleased with his death as the Lamb of God sacrificed for all men. Thus we see in Christ’s resurrection the identifying mark of divine triumph, and the manifestation of complete salvation. In our day, there is still a church in Russia whose members meet on the Day of the Passover and laugh, according to their rites, at sin, death, Satan, and the power defeated by him who rose from the dead. We are completely delivered, and this is the reason for our joy.

PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, we worship, glorify, praise you, and rejoice, for you are living and not dead. You hear our prayer, and draw us to your life. Teach us to be certain at all times of your presence with us, and of your care for us. Amen.

LUKE 24:8-12
8 And they remembered His words. 9 Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

Man’s mind soon forgets. It is superficially centered on its own particular thoughts. We often hear the word of God and fail to understand correctly what the Lord wants to say by his word. When the two angels with the power of their divine rays, reminded the women that Jesus had spoken several times before his death about his resurrection, the women began to realize that they would be witnesses of a supernatural event which would change the world. They gradually grasped the meaning of the word that Jesus would truly rise.

When the surprising influence faded away, and they came back to consciousness. They ran back joyfully to the disciples, believing the words of the angels, and certain of Christ’s prophetic promises. They had believed several months ago in Jesus as the true Christ, left their houses and families, and followed the Lord from Galilee to Judea. Now he is rewarding them and choosing them as first witnesses of his resurrection from the dead.

The evangelist Luke tells us exactly who those chosen bringers of good news were. He announces their names clearly: First, Mary of Magdalene who had already been demon-possessed and the Lord had cast out seven demons from her. She could not live without her Savior, and the Lord assured her he was not dead but truly living.

The second chosen woman was Joanna, who was most probably the wife of a steward of King Herod. Joanna regarded her own position as less than the shame of Christ’s cross. She was one of the women who stood near the cross on the Good Friday, and continued in deep sorrow. Now she had the privilege of being among the first witnesses to the glory of the Lord’s resurrection (Mark 15:40).

As for the mother of James, we do not know if she were Salome, the mother of John and James, son of Zebedee, or the mother of James and Joses. Maybe they were both present, for in addition to the three women mentioned there were others of Christ’s followers who had the privilege of seeing to see the angel and learning about the resurrection.

The women, who were commissioned by the angel to carry the good news of the triumph of him who was raised from the dead, went back to the disciples and told them all these things with great joy. But the disciples laughed at them, and regarded their words as nonsense, and fancies of women. Men are usually slower to believe. They seek proof, logic, scientific laws, and experience, and want to put things to the test. They want to see and touch him who was raised before they would believe in his resurrection. That was the reason for their unbelief, which originated in their blind minds and hard hearts. The disciples and the men who followed Jesus did not only leave him and flee away on Thursday evening, but also did not believe the angelic message addressed to them on Sunday morning about the resurrection of the Son of God, as told by the women. They were desperate and sorrowful, for all their hope of the establishment of the kingdom of God had ended. At the same time, they deemed it shameful to derive their information from women. They were not ready to believe the first story they heard, which was beyond their understandings, for they did not remember Christ’s promise regarding this. Thus they altogether opposed the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Yet, Peter who was crushed, feeble, and trusting neither himself, nor his logic, nor his experience, after his denial of Jesus, arose at last and ran to the tomb, giving no attention to the guards and the chief priests, for he sensed the possibility of the impossible thing. Peter bowed down before God when he entered the tomb. He looked into the tomb, and noticed how the linen clothes in which Christ was wrapped were folded up, and laid by themselves, but the body gone. Peter’s heart quivered and throbbed and his mind thrilled at the miracle. Yet the leap to courageous belief in the truth of resurrection did not enter his heart, for he saw himself rejected because he had denied his Lord.

PRAYER: O Lord who is raised from the dead, thank you for you commissioned the women who followed you to hear the words of the angels, and to declare them. We worship you for you are living and reigning with the Father in one essence. Give us life, and make us messengers of your resurrection that we may live in your life and kindness, and testify to men with great patience that you are truly living and present.

QUESTION 143: Why did the apostles not believe the good news of Christ’s resurrection?


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