“Jesus’ Resurrection Proclaims Victory!”

(Luke 24:1-11 – Easter – April 17, 2022)

Luke 24:1-11 – 1Now 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. 2But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ” 8And they remembered His words. 9Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.

Dear Redeemed in the name of Christ, who is risen from the dead:

Have you ever been surprised by victory? Your team is in the final game. The whole season everyone has given it their all and played their best. Hopes are high. But now in the game that means everything, you don’t know how it happened, but all seems lost. The other team seems unbeatable and the score shows it. Fans are already leaving, giving up hope. But then somehow, your team comes from behind, critical plays are made, and out of the jaws of defeat your team wins the victory, and there is the championship trophy to show it.

If you have been surprised by victory, you can understand what it was like that first Easter. But it was on a much greater scale, and so much more was at stake. Hanging in the balance was not merely a win or loss of a game, or which team would take away an earthly trophy. Rather, hanging in the balance was a world of sinners, and the eternal fate of human souls. Would there be victory in the salvation Jesus had come to win for us over sin, Satan, and death; or would the evil foe gain the victory in dragging sinners down with himself in eternal death and hell?

Jesus’ disciples had followed Him with high hopes. The last few years, they had seen Him give His all, pouring His heart into preaching the good news of His kingdom and the salvation. He had proven His power to deliver sinners from Satan by casting out demons. He had proven His authority to forgive sins and heal the soul, by performing outward healings with His Word. He had proven His power to give eternal life by raising the dead. Jesus had done all things perfectly as the Son of God. The disciples’ hopes were high for the coming of His Kingdom.

But then, just when victory had seemed so close, now all seemed lost. The disciples did not know how it happened, but Jesus’ opponents had managed to get Him arrested and crucified. Evil seemed to be winning the day as Jesus hung on the cross, His enemies taunting His loss. Already, many disciples had left the scene, giving up all hope. That Friday, when Jesus bowed His head in death, it seemed like victory was swallowed up in the jaws of defeat.

Yet on that first Easter Sunday, the disciples were surprised by victory! Jesus was no longer in the grave; but He was risen, as the ultimate proof that He had won the victory over Satan, sin, and death. Today we continue to celebrate with them the fact that: “Jesus’ Resurrection Proclaims Victory!” 1) A victory at first not realized, 2) A victory now gloriously revealed.

1) A victory at first not realized

Our text takes us to that first Easter Sunday morning, when as yet there was no victory in sight. Jesus’ body had been laid in the tomb on Friday with hasty preparations; for the Sabbath soon began, when no one could work. Then, there had been nothing for the disciples to do but hide in fear of enemies, grieving their loss. The women who had served Jesus faithfully those years, thought of the only thing they could do; and at the crack of dawn on Sunday, they did: “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” (vs. 1). In that dark hour of grief, all they could think of was anointing Jesus’ body before decay set in.

Haven’t we all been there? We have felt the ups and downs in victory and loss, joys and griefs, high hopes and despair. And it is no game; so much is at stake in life. It is so clear when, like these women, we stare death in the face. All the memories come flooding in, all the good times we shared; and all the tears come pouring forth. Does it all end in this grievous task, laying the lifeless form of a loved one in a grave? It would if Jesus were still dead in the grave.

It is not only in death that we feel grief. How often we feel that darkness of sin that overshadows our life. Sin has brought death. Sin has brought division where it should not be. How painful it is to face that enemy of sin within. We have high hopes of living a good life, doing what is right in our relationships, doing what is right in the eyes of God. But then that fallen nature within overcomes us, again. And there we are feeling the hurt, the shame, the guilt, and the fear of judgment. Does it all end in this? It would if Jesus were still dead in the grave.

As we grieve sin and death, Satan, who tempted from the beginning, laughs to see the destruction he has brought to fallen humanity. We see the effects of his evil work in wars that devastate lives, in fighting that divides homes, in lies that lead souls to hell. We face the evil foe in temptations to doubt and despair, when we find ourselves asking: Is this just a life in which evil so often seems to triumph over good? It would be if Jesus were still dead in the grave.

But He is not. That is what the women found that morning: “But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” (vs. 2-3). Already, as the Gospel accounts tell us, an angel had come and flung that heavy stone aside which had covered the mouth of the tomb so that it lay on its side, and the angel had sat on it.

But that is not how Jesus had left the tomb. The Lord of Life needs no one to open the door out of death for Him. Even before that, Jesus had departed through those stone walls of His tomb in His glorified state. Here Scripture alone reveals what was unseen to human eyes.

When Jesus bowed His head in death on the cross, He committed His soul into His Father’s hands (Luke 23:46); and as the Son of God and Son of Man He lived on. Though His body was laid in the grave, He was made alive in a spiritual state, a glorified state. And what was the first thing our living Savior did? 1 Peter 3:18-19 tells us: He was put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison.” That is, He descended into hell. It was not to suffer for our sin; that was done as He shouted on the cross: “It is finished!” (John 19:30). But He descended into hell to proclaim His victory over Satan.

It was the victory Jesus had won for you and me, of all places, on the cross. For there, Jesus released us from the power of Satan and from sharing his judgment. For the only claim Satan had on us was through sin. But at the cross, Jesus took it all away. This is what it tells us in Colossians 2:13-15; that at the cross, He took all that stood against us in judgment; “having forgiven you all trespasses…  And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” In this Satan was unwittingly surprised by victory. For in the very place where he thought he had won the victory, Jesus crushed his head to save us (Genesis 3:15).

Therefore, even as Jesus’ disciples were grieving His death, Jesus was declaring His victory in unseen realms. Christ’s descent into hell was a victory parade over every evil foe that stood against us. In His cross is triumph! Satan is defeated, and he no longer has power over us. Sin is forgiven, and there is now no condemnation for us who are in Christ. And the last enemy, death itself, is conquered; for in the empty tomb, now we see that Jesus lives to grant us eternal life.

2) A victory now gloriously revealed

It was a victory gloriously revealed that first Easter morning. As the women came to the tomb expecting to anoint the dead, they were surprised by victory in the glorious announcement of the angels: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still 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'” (vs. 5-7).

The angels quoted words Jesus had spoken to His disciples ahead of time about His arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection. These women also had accompanied the Lord all along: “And they remembered His words” (vs. 8). And in remembering, their tears of grief were turned to joy. It was no time to anoint a dead body and nurse dead hopes; it was time to go forth with a living hope, and a new purpose in life. It was time to go and share the glorious good news.

It says: “Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest” (vs. 9). At first, when the apostles heard their words, they reacted as you might expect those who have just heard of an impossible come-from-behind victory: “Their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them” (vs. 11). But that disbelief was quickly cured; for as we read in the Gospel accounts, Jesus would appear to all of them. In His glorified body, He would pass through walls where they were hiding, and show them His nail-pierced hands and feet and spear-pierced side (John 20:19-20); and their fear and grief would be turned to peace and joy. Over the next 40 days, He would appear to them with many proofs that He was alive, speaking about the kingdom of God, until the day He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:3).

The apostles’ lives were changed by Christ’s resurrection. Emboldened by His victory, they would leave their hiding and go forth at the risk their lives, even giving their lives, to proclaim the truth of salvation and eternal life for sinners through faith the crucified and risen Christ.

That victory parade, which began with our Savior’s triumph at the cross and empty tomb, continues today. In the proclamation of His Church, Jesus parades His glorious victory to the ends of the earth. He sends forth His Gospel announcing the salvation He has won for all people from sin, Satan, and death. It is the Good News by which He has brought us to faith and into His Kingdom. It is the Good News we can share with others that they may believe and be saved.

To the one who grieves over sin, feeling shame and regret for a life gone wrong, feeling fear of coming in judgment before God, we can share the glorious victory Christ won for them. We can proclaim in His name: “Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you” (Matthew 9:2). For on the cross Jesus suffered all judgment; and by His divine blood He cleanses you from all sin.

To the one who grieves over evils in a world overshadowed by Satan and sin, living in fear of heartbreaking news, we can share the victory Christ won for them. For despite the worst evils Satan and the world could bring against Jesus, He overcame all. Now as our living and reigning Savior, all His enemies have been placed under His feet. He is governing all things for the good of His Church (Ephesians 1:22), until He delivers us from every evil in His heavenly Kingdom.

To the one grieving in the face of death, crying out sorrow and hopelessness, we can share the glorious victory Christ won for them. For He who gave His life unto death has overcome that last enemy. Just as Jesus came forth from the tomb in power, so He promises: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).

Jesus lives! The victory’s won! Out of the jaws of defeat, He has come forth in triumph! He has won for us no earthy trophy that perishes, but a heavenly crown of glory that does not fade (1 Peter 5:4). When He brings us there to share His victory, what a glorious surprise it will be; for what we now know by faith we will know by sight – inexpressible glories in the presence of our God and Savior. For when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). In His presence, we will be perfect even as He is perfect. With glorified bodies like His, we will experience no more sickness, suffering, or death; but we will enjoy perfect health, pleasures, and life. And we will the great victory song of praise to our God and Savior:

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.