This post continues and concludes our last post.
Scripture texts: Luke 24:26, 27, 45-49; John 20:21-23.
3. Luke 24:26, 45-49, The Message Committed to the Churches.
Verse 26 gives us the essence of Gospel preaching. There are many Biblical subjects we can preach and teach on, but the Gospel itself is about the two things in Luke’s text.
a. An Awful Reality, vs. 26,
1). “the sufferings of Christ”.
We pretty much don’t like the idea of suffering. If we have a headache, we take an aspirin. If we have to have surgery, we welcome the anesthesiologist. In every part of our life, we try to be as comfortable as possible. Even typing this, I’m not sitting on a hard, straight-backed chair. We want air-conditioning and heat in our cars, comfortable pews in our churches. We’re pretty spoiled.
Even in our views of Christ, we don’t think a lot about His suffering. I’ve heard preachers describe the agony of crucifixion with the dispassion they might use with some ordinary topic. And, truly, we have no idea what a crucifixion was like. We are concerned in capital cases that the criminal suffer as little as possible and great outcry is made if, by some chance, something goes wrong and he does suffer. I’m not advocating cruelty toward criminals, but the Romans had no qualms about things we cringe at.
Our pictures of His death have been pretty sanitized, as well. One branch of the church even boasts of its “bloodless icons.” But with the beatings, the scourging and the nails in His wrists and ankles, in the words of Isaiah 52:14, His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men. In the common vernacular, He was a bloody mess.
Now, some men and women do have an idea of what physical suffering can be like, with serious injuries and such. But there was more to it than just the physical. Isaiah 53:6 says, The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Paul carried it even further, he made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin…, 2 Corinthians 5:21.
“He made Him to be sin….”
I don’t think we have any idea what that meant to the Lord Jesus. Incarnate holiness to be made imputed sin. That One who had enjoyed eternal fellowship with the Father now turned away and suffering His wrath against sin.
We have no idea….
But He didn’t just die.
2). and that He should rise from the dead.
The Cross isn’t the end of the story. He’s not still hanging there. The crucifix gives a false narrative. There is no grave holding His remains. Yes, it was “necessary for the Christ to suffer,” but something else was necessary, as well. That was for Him to rise from the dead the third day,” Luke 24:45. The Cross is empty. So is the tomb.
The truth of the Resurrection is what distinguishes Christianity from religions of the world. Other religions have holy books, death, angels, “visions,” etc. But none of them has a resurrection, indeed, may even deny the resurrection.
Without the Resurrection, there is no proof that Christ’s death was any different than the deaths of the two men who dies with Him that day. But He did rise from the dead. This also proved His assertion that He was God, Romans 1:4. Some deny that He ever claimed to be God, but that claim was the main reason, humanly speaking, He was crucified, John 19:7. And, further, because He did rise from the dead, then we have –
b. An Individual Applicability, Luke 24:47.
“and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
The announcement of our Lord’s birth to Joseph was that “He will save His people from their sins,” Matthew 1:21. The Cross was the payment that made salvation even possible. The Resurrection was the receipt, if you will, for that payment. We enter into that salvation through two things:
Why didn’t Peter mention “faith”? To hear some preachers, repentance has nothing to do with it. We have only to “believe.” Some even say that repentance is a “Jewish doctrine,” and not applicable to us. Is that true? Why did Peter mention it? – and not faith?
And, yes, just to be sure, we are “saved by faith.” Scripture is very clear about that: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast, Ephesians 2:8, 9, emphasis added.
At the same time and regardless of what men may say about it, our Lord specifically commanded repentance to be preached. In his last remarks to the Ephesian elders, Paul told that he had testified “to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” Acts 20:21.
“Repentance toward God.”
Too many people have the idea that we’re already the children of God and He is our Father. He is indeed our Creator and “in Him we live and move and have our being,” Acts 17:28, but we are not little children wandering from the side of a loving Father. We are traitors and rebels against the God of Heaven and would dethrone Him if we could. Granted, there are different degrees of rebellion, but it is still true that we all go astray. Isaiah 53:11 says, All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way. While that verse refers directly to Israel’s repentance at the Return of our Lord, Romans 3:23 says, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
We have to do with God. “Sin” is not defined by the latest social or cultural ideas. It isn’t determined by “social justice warriors.” Those who can riot and cause the most damage or kill the most people have nothing to say about it. Indeed, such ideas lead only to the filth, violence and perversion we see engulfing our world and our cultures.
To “repent” means to change our mind so that we agree with and obey God, not this world or our own sinful inclinations. It doesn’t mean just to be “sorry” for our sins, which too often just means that we’re sorry about the results of our sin. It doesn’t mean just to “show remorse” at our sins, which just usually means that we got caught. It means to reject our sins, to view them as God views them: as terrible, heinous things deserving of judgment and punishment and ourselves as wicked felons for doing such things and having pleasure in them.
Even the most decent and moral among us have “fallen short” in this matter. Too often we judge ourselves by seeing someone worse that we are. But that person isn’t the standard. God’s Law is. The Lord Jesus is the human example of what that looks like.
We have sinned, we have “fallen short.” This brings us to the second thing our Lord mentioned:
2). remission of sin.
In the words of Paul, faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
He didn’t come to this world just to give us a reason to give each other presents or to dye eggs. He came into this world to be a substitute, to be a sacrifice.
He came to take care of our sins.
That is why He lived and died:
to save His people from their sins.
It took the death of the incarnate God to pay for sin. Money can’t do it. Our “good works” can’t do it. A few “Hail Marys” or “Our Fathers” can’t do anything about our sins. Indeed such things, the good works or trying to “bribe” God in some way, only add to our sin. No “priest,” no human effort or idea, can cause “remission of sin.” There is nothing and no one in this world that can forgive sin. Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, even the very best we could possibly do is sin. Apart from Him, there is no hope, no salvation. He Himself said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me,” John 14:6.
And “to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” isn’t some physical thing: walking an aisle, “saying a prayer,” “raising a hand for salvation.” It isn’t baptism or communion. It isn’t about some ritual or ceremony.
It is to have a “death grip,” as it were, on Him as the Only One who can rescue us from our sin.
4. John 20:21-23, The Means Given to the Churches.
a. His promise, v. 21.
The Lord is not saying that He is sending out His disciples in the same way that the Father sent Him. There are two words translated “send” in this verse. The word translated “send” as it pertains to the disciples is more general than the other word. Some translate the verse so as to indicate that even though the disciples are being sent out, it is still the Lord who is responsible for their mission. This is a great blessing. We have enough on our plates to think about without having to worry, as some think, about the results of our faithfulness. It is the Lord’s mission and it will accomplish what He wants it to, cf. 1 Corinthians 3:6-8.
b. His power, vs. 22, 23.
Many think that the disciples didn’t receive the Spirit until the Day of Pentecost. However, John indicates that they received Him here. They received the power of the Spirit at Pentecost.
Verse 23 presents a great difficulty. The KJV and some other translations seem to indicate that the loosing and remitting of sin is done by the disciples. A more correct translation indicates that these actions have already been done, and the disciples, through the Holy Spirit, are merely confirming what has already taken place, as people either receive or reject the message.
This is solemn. It is time to quit “playing church.” We are dealing with eternity-bound men and women. We are eternity-bound men and women. How little do we really act as if we realize that we will soon stand before God and give an account of our lives. The Word of God is all that really matters in this sin-cursed world. Only the Lord Jesus is able to make “life” what it’s supposed to be.