Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Resurrection of the King (Easter)

International Sunday School Lesson
Study Notes

Lesson Text: Hosea 6:1-3; Luke 24:1-12
Lesson Title: The Resurrection of the King (Easter)

Introduction

The connecting link between our two passages of study in Hosea and Luke are the words "the third day" (Hosea 6:2; Luke 24:7). The words "the third day" are used over fifty times in the Bible. In the Old Testament "the third day" is often used in reference to a new beginning or a new start (Genesis 22:4; Exodus 19:11; Esther 5:1-3; Hosea 6:3). In the New Testament "the third day" is used twelve times in reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Believing that every word in the Bible is inspired by God, the devoted student of scripture automatically thinks of resurrection when the number "three" or "third" appears. Commenting on the number "three," Doctor John Phillips writes, "Three is an important number. God Himself is revealed as existing in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christ has three offices: Prophet, Priest, and King. And Christ's resurrection took place on the "third day." (from Bible Explorers Guide, Copyright, Loizeaux Brothers, John Phillips, 1987).

One could also think of something coming to pass rather quickly when the number "three" is mentioned. It was after "three days" came to pass that Joshua led the children of Israel across the Jordan River (Joshua 3:1-3). "Three days" is not that long to wait in most cases. For Hosea's generation, hearing that a reviving would come on the "third day" must have been encouraging. For the women at Jesus' tomb, hearing the angels say, "and the third day" Jesus would "rise again" stirred their hearts and minds to remember His promise to rise from the dead.

The Third Day and Israel's Revival (Hosea 6:1-3)

The prophet Hosea lived and prophesied in a very dangerous and sinful time. He began his ministry to Israel during the final days of Jeroboam II, under whose guidance Israel was enjoying both political peace and material prosperity. However, moral corruption and spiritual bankruptcy was conquering God's people. The people were characterized by stubbornness and rebellion (Hosea 4:1-5). Instead of turning to the Lord when her sin was exposed, Israel turned to Assyria for help (Hosea 5:14). Turning to Assyria would provide no help since the Lord was using Assyria to punish Israel for her disobedience and sin.

Hosea is best known as the prophet who lived what the nation of Israel was experiencing. In the first three chapters of Hosea, the prophet was called to marry "a wife of whoredoms" (Hosea 1:2) to illustrate God's covenant with idolatrous Israel. Likewise, he was called upon to love and purchase his adulterous wife from the auction block. His humble actions demonstrated God's love for Israel. Hosea's love for his wife paralleled God's love for Israel.

Because of Israel's sin, the Lord said, "I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early" (Hosea 5:15). God was saying, "I'm not going to deal with them any more until they come to their senses and truly repent." With that position taken by the Lord, a serious of calls for repentance began in chapter 6 and continue throughout the book.

Verse 1

"Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up."

The prophet Hosea issues a call for repentance. He says, "Come, and let us return unto the LORD..." Hosea also recognizes the fact that it was "he," God, who had "torn" the nation in allowing the Assyrians to punish them for their sin. Hosea includes himself in all of this when he says, "us." He himself was a part of this sinfulness. It was God who had "torn" and "smitten" and it would be God who would "heal" and restore the nation.

Verse 2

"After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight."

Building on the promise of God to "heal" and "bind up" the nation, in verse 2, Hosea uses language that suggests new life and a future. "Revive, raise us up, and live" are all words that create thoughts about resurrection. And that is precisely what the future held for the nation of Israel.

Although the words and language remind us of Christ's resurrection, "after two days" and "in the third day" is not a prophetic reference of Jesus' resurrection. These words are a reference to the quickness and shortness of time that will transpire once the nation is brought to true genuine repentance. A great example of how quickly things can revive is recorded in the story of "Ezekiel's bones" in Ezekiel 37.

"We shall live in his sight" is a prophetic reference as Hosea looks beyond the Assyrian and Babylonian captivity to the ultimate day when Israel as a nation will be truly converted and able to enjoy the "life" God has promised them (Jeremiah 31:33-34). Remember, God had withdrawn His "face" from the nation in Hosea 5:15. But a day of revival and resurrection is coming when the nation will once again turn unto the Lord and find the open smile of Divine favor.

Verse 3

"Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth."

Just as the disciples knew the Lord on the Emmaus Road after Jesus' resurrection, so the nation of Israel will one day "know the LORD" if they continue to "follow on." "Follow" means "to press on, pursue or chase." This word suggests that the nation will only experience genuine revival and new life if they demonstrate devotion and resolve to "know the LORD." Because of all their sins the people had forgotten who the Lord was. They were no longer acquainted with Him in an intimate loving way. But they will "know" again at a future day of restoration.

"His going forth is prepared as the morning..." means they will begin to recognize the Lord and be restored to Him as the sun rises or a morning dawn. "He shall come unto us as the rain..." indicates a freshness and liveliness that the nation had been long without. In reference to their sinful relationship with the Lord, He had previously been toward them "...as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness" (Hosea 5:12). While in their unrepentant state God had been destructive toward them. But now, God will be refreshing!

Hosea's reference to "the latter and former rain" means God will once again be to Israel everything she needs in the appropriate seasons and at the times most needed. In Israel, the two rainy seasons here referred to were most necessary and precious. The "former rain," which fell in October, preceded the seedtime, and prepared the earth for cultivation. The "latter rain," fell in April and filled the ears before harvest, and matured and perfected the fruit. Now, God shall come to Israel in the last days as he comes to his people in every age by his Holy Spirit, "as the rain."

The Third Day and Jesus' Resurrection (Luke 24:1-12)

The Gospel of Luke is the longest book in the New Testament. Written by Luke the physician (Colossians 4:14) the life of Christ is detailed with divine order and eyewitness accounts. Human interest stories abound in Luke's Gospel. And there is none more fascinating and encouraging than the women and the apostles at the tomb on resurrection morning.

Verse 1

"Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them."

Luke tells us the resurrection of Jesus took place "upon the first day of the week," which was Sunday. Sunday, "the first day of the week" is when Christians worship and celebrate our risen Lord. There are no more Sabbaths. Paul says to the Colossians, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ" (Colossians 2:16-17). The Saturday between our Lord's death and the Sunday morning He arose was the last legitimate authorized, authentic Sabbath. From His resurrection on, Sunday becomes the Lord's Day (Revelation 1:10). The church, in Acts 20:7, meets on the first day of the week. First Corinthians 16:2 says, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." So if you go to church on Saturday you need to come back on Sunday to bring your offering! So the very day that the Lord said He would rise, "the third day," is the first day of the week. The "first day of the week" becomes the day of worship for the church.

"They" referring to the women, "came unto the sepulcher." The "women" refer to the women who followed Jesus and cared for His needs (Luke 8:2-3; 23:49). The "certain others with them" is probably a reference to about a dozen women who witnessed the crucifixion (Luke 23:55). They came "unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared." The reason the women are "bringing the spices" is because when Joseph of Arimathaea took the body of Jesus down from the cross, all he did was "wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher" (Luke 23:53). Nicodemus, the man who came to Jesus in John 3, brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes to anoint the body, but time was running short.

Jesus died on a Friday afternoon. Jews referred to the day before a Sabbath as the "day of preparation." Since no work could be done on the Sabbath, anything needed on Saturday had to be prepared on Friday before sundown. With nightfall looming, Joseph and Nicodemus didn't have time to properly anoint the body of Jesus. Normally, the body of the deceased would have been anointed with an estimated seventy-five to one hundred pounds of scented "spices." These "spices" were applied to dead bodies to offset the smell of decomposition. That's why Lazarus' sister said to Jesus, "he stinketh" (John 11:39).

Note: The soldiers had carried out their orders to crucify Jesus and they did what they did out of duty and obligation. These women who are preparing Jesus body for burial and return on "the first day of the week" are doing what they are doing out of devotion. They loved the Lord.

Verse 2

"And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre."

Matthew tells us "when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed" (Matthew 27:59-60). The "stone" was placed at the entrance of the tomb for security. No one wanted the remains of their loved one disturbed by grave robbers or animals. To gain access to a previously sealed tomb, several strong men were required. They used levers to roll the massive stone away from the opening. For a once sealed tomb to be found opened signified something planned had taken place.

Each gospel writer gives us different accounts and details of Jesus' resurrection. At lot of things have taken place at the tomb since these women were there on Friday. Soldiers and guards had been placed there to guard the tomb (Matthew 27:64-66). But when the women arrive, no mention is made of the guards. The women had discussed how they would roll the stone away when they arrived at that tomb (Mark 16:3). By the time the women arrive and find "the stone rolled away from the sepulcher," an earthquake has already taken place and the guards have been scarred away (Matthew 28:2-4).

There was no possible way these women could have removed the "stone" from the entrance of the tomb. The Lord had it removed when they arrived so they, the disciples and the world could see that He had indeed risen!

Verse 3

"And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus."

Upon entering the opened tomb, the women found no body inside. John tells us, "The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him" (John 20:1-2). Apparently, the other women with Mary Magdalene remained behind while she ran to tell Peter and John.

Verse 4-5

"And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

Luke describes the women as "perplexed thereabout." The words mean they could not think of a credible or possible explanation for this mystery. Grave robbers often stole valuables inside a tomb but rarely if ever did they steal the body. How could you hide a decaying body? The "stone" had been "rolled away" so animals could not have been the culprits. Animals were not powerful enough to roll away a stone. One can only imagine all the thoughts and ideas that must have been going through their minds as they looked into the empty tomb.

As they stood there dumbstruck, "two men stood by them in shining garments." Their response to the appearance of these "two men" was that they were "afraid and bowed down their faces to the earth." This must have been even more terrifying for the women. Luke doesn't call these "two men" angels until verse 23, but his description is clear enough for us to know these were heavenly messengers. They wore "shinning garments" or "dazzling" clothes which is consistent with biblical descriptions of angelic appearances (Luke 2:9).

The angels asked the women, "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" The question suggests the women should have known better than to look for Jesus in a tomb! If you're looking for a baseball game, go to the ballpark. If you're looking for a place to swim, go to the ocean, a lake, or an aquatic center. If you're looking for a book to read, go to the book store or a library. If you're looking for Jesus, don't go to the graveyard. He's not there!

Note: It is impossible to find eternal life "among the dead." You can't find the life of Christ in dead religion, ritual, or legalistic Christianity. There is no hope in the works of your flesh.

Verse 6-7

"He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again."

The declaration, "He is not here, but is risen" literally means "He has been raised." It implies that God has done the raising! These women may has speculated and let their minds run away from them in the fear and anxiousness of the moment. However, seven powerful words from the lips of an angel declares that what is happening here is of God! They need not worry about thieves, animals, soldiers, or a hundred other possibilities. God has raised His Son from the dead!

The angels want to assure the women that what they are declaring is not new. They call upon the women to "remember" what Jesus said to them "when he was yet in Galilee." Luke records the actual words Jesus told them in Galilee. "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day" (Luke 9:22). "Suffer" is a reference to His suffering as God's Servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). "Rejected" means Christ would be cast aside (Psalm 118:22; Luke 20:17). "Be slain" refers to His crucifixion at the hands of the religious establishment. "And be raised the third day" implies that God would not let what man did to Jesus be the end.

Everything that occurred leading up to our Lord's death had not only been predicted, it was a "must." The "Son of man must be delivered..." All of this had to happen in order for sinful man to be saved by grace.

Verse 8-9

"And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest."

By the help of God through the angelic messengers, the women connected what they saw and what they "remembered" and "told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest." So now the women have seen the empty tomb. They've heard the angel's message. And according to Matthew's account, Jesus meets them before they meet Peter and John and says, "All hail...Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me" (Matthew 28:9-10). So, they've also seen the risen Christ. Now they are going to tell "the eleven, and all the rest" that Jesus is alive. The "eleven" is the official title for the Apostles.

Verse 10

"It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles."

These women are first mentioned in Luke 8:1-3, "And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance." They were there at the beginning of Jesus' earthly ministry and they were there at the end. They kept telling "these things unto the apostles." They were bearing testimony to what they had seen and been told by the angels.

Verse 11

"And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not."

What the women shared with the apostles "seemed to them as idle tales," or nonsense. The Greek word for "idle tales" is leros {lay'-ros} and was a medical term describing the verbal ramblings of a feverish or delirious patient. Just like you and I would say someone is talking out of their head, that is the conclusion of the eleven to the testimony of the women. They "believed them not." They didn't trust what the women were saying. The apostles thought it was nothing more than wishful thinking.

Verse 12

"Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass."

According to John's gospel, both Peter and John heard the news first from Mary Magdalene, who had not yet seen the angels or the risen Lord. So Peter arrives, enters the "sepulcher" to investigate what has happened to the body of the Lord. Luke tells us Peter "ran" and that he was "stooping down." He bent over for the purpose of satisfying his curiosity and verifying what he had been told. He also studied the scene for clues trying to take it all end and comprehend what had might have happened.

Luke said, "He beheld the line clothes laid by themselves..." Author, Doctor Merrill Tenney, in his book, "John: the Gospel of Belief" concludes, "The wrappings were in position where the body had lain, and the head cloth was where the head had been, separated from the others by the distance from the armpits to the neck. The shape of the body was still apparent in them, but the flesh and bone had disappeared." If Doctor Tenney is accurate, and that certainly seems to be the case, then Peter saw the strange appearance of a hollow linen wrapping still in the shape of a body suggesting that Jesus' body had vanished from within. What Peter say was sort of an undisturbed cocoon shell.

Peter "departed" the tomb "wondering in himself at that which was come to pass." "Wondering" is the Greek word thaumazo {thou-mad'-zo} meaning, "admiring" but not necessarily convinced. While the other disciples dismissed the women's report, Peter at least considered their claims but he wasn't yet convinced Jesus was alive. Peter "departed," or, "went away home" with a lot of questions in his mind.

Conclusion

Before we judge the people of Hosea's day for their sinfulness and the women and apostles of Jesus' day for their lack of faith, we should ask ourselves how we would have responded to such truth. If we heard that revival would come on the "third day" would we be sincere in our repentance or would we be like the people in Hosea's day and never get beyond the surface of our real problems? If we were the women and apostles at the tomb on the "third day" would we have immediately believed?

Like so many of us today who have heard the resurrection story from God's Word, the women and the apostles never stopped to think that Jesus meant exactly what He said. Maybe you are there today when it comes to Easter and the resurrection of Christ. Maybe you have never really believed. Well, be encouraged. Peter didn't believe at first. But he believed enough to stoop down and consider the evidence. And while he saw the empty tomb and the linen clothes, he was miles away from an Easter faith. But what he saw took root and it wouldn't be long until Peter stood and said, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it" (Acts 2:22-24).

It may or may not be possible for you to see the empty tomb in which Jesus once laid. It is not possible for you to physically meet the risen Lord in person as did the women, the apostles, the men on the Emmaus Road, the above five hundred brethren (1 Corinthians 15:6) and the Apostle Paul. But it is possible for you to believe the word of God: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Amen.

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