God’s Word for You
Luke 24:6-8 Why do you look for the Living One among the dead?
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, July 1, 2019
4 While they were wondering about this, two men suddenly stood by them in dazzling clothing.
It shouldn’t trouble us that the beings in flashing, dazzling clothes are called “men” rather than angels. The Gospel writers who were apostles call them angels (Matthew 28:5, John 20:12), but Mark and Luke both report that the women recalled seeing “men.” Yet they were recognized as angels later on (Luke 24:23). Mark describes one as “a young man dressed in a white robe” (Mark 16:5). In Matthew, the robe is described as “white as snow” and the angel’s appearance was “like lightning” (Matthew 28:3). These are not descriptions of different things, but the same thing described with different words. The bright clothes identified them as angels.
5 The women were terrified and bowed down with their faces toward the ground. The men said to them, “Why do you look for the Living One among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen!
While the women showed respect for the angels by bowing down, the angel’s message cut right to the point: “The Living One.” The use of the definite article in Greek (τὸν ζῶντα) shows that this is not a general reference to “the living,” as if they mean people who are still alive in the world. No, the angels are talking about “the Living One,” the one who was dead but who now lives. Their preparations, their spices, their fear (vs. 5) were unnecessary. Jesus was not dead. He has risen!
The word “risen” appears in connection with Jesus’ resurrection in both the active voice (verse 7) and the passive voice (verse 6). He “was raised by the Father” (Romans 6:4) and he rose by his own power (Mark 9:31). Both are correct, but the use of both show that the distinct persons of the Trinity were at work in concert in Jesus’ resurrection, especially since separate passages teach that both Father and Son accomplished the same thing.
The phrase “He has risen!” in verse 6 is given in the Greek tense called the aorist. This is a tense that usually indicates the past, but sometimes is less connected to time as it is to express a truth (“With you I am well pleased,” Luke 3:22; “Wisdom is proved right by all her children,” Luke 7:35). In this instance, it is so closely connected to the events unfolding that I believe it is an example of the so-called dramatic aorist, which is the oldest identifiable use of the aorist tense in Greek. It was used to express an event “that has just happened.” Robertson gives the example of a traveler on the island of Cos who “had a pleasant shock, on calling for a cup of coffee [in a decade when instant coffee was unknown] to have the waiter cry, Ἔϕθασα! (“I only just made it!,” Robertson’s Greek Grammar p. 842). This leads us toward understanding the angel’s gospel news to be: “He is not here! He just rose!”
Remember how he told you while he was still in Galilee: 7 The Son of Man must be handed over to sinful men and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8 Then they remembered his words.
As Luke tells the Easter story, his emphasis is on how it had been foretold. Here the angel reminds the women; later Jesus will remind the disciples in person on the road to Emmaus. The three elements of Jesus’ prophecy here are: (1) Handed over to sinful men, (2) be crucified, and (3) on the third day rise again. This is the order of the prophecy as Jesus made it in Luke 18:32-33, where “Gentiles” substitutes for “sinful men,” and more of the Lord’s sufferings are recorded (They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, and flog him). The angel’s point is clear and simple logic: Jesus prophesied that he would be handed over, and he was. He prophesied that he would be crucified, and he was. Since he also prophesied that he would rise after three days, what should be expected today, the third day?
The angels pointed the women to believe what Jesus said even above what their own eyes could see. The effectiveness of this sermon is shown in its result: “Then they remembered his words.” The events of the Scriptures lead us to remember the words of God, and this is what delights our Lord. Put your trust in Jesus and in his words, and remember that he also said, “I will come back and take you to be with me” (John 14:3). His resurrection assures us that we will rise, too, just as he has said.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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