Hi, today my dad preached on Romans 15, he went to other passages including Luke 24, here is his sermon:
First Scripture reading: Luke 24:15-27 where 2 disciples are walking home from Jerusalem. They are discouraged because Jesus has died. We pick up the story in verse 15: 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Let’s sing together:
Second reading is Luke 24:36-47 where Jesus has now gone to other disciples, who are meeting together in the upper room and talking together. 36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence. 44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Let’s pray together:
Well it’s a historical reality that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. And it is not like some obscure report of a sighting of Elvis, no Jesus’ resurrection is one of the most witnessed events in history. And it’s verifiable. Biblical writers and non-biblical writers testify to the truth of it, so that anyone who wants to know the truth of the matter can easily find it through reading history. In fact, there is more credible evidence for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, than Abraham Lincoln ever existed.
But not only is the resurrection of Jesus a fact of history, it was predicted in the Old Testament; some 40 different authors, over a period of 1600 years wrote about it. And so we might ask the question, with all this evidence, with all these writings beforehand, how did the Jews in Jesus’ day miss it? How did the disciples miss it?
Well do you remember what we just read, how Jesus walked along the road to Emmaus with two people, and the Bible says “they were kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24:16)? Here Jesus was, walking right with them, but God had prevented them from seeing Him for Who He was. And think of that as an object lesson. Here the Jews of that day were reading their Bibles, the Old Testament, they were looking right at the pages of Scripture, yet they couldn’t see Jesus. This was done so that Jesus would be rejected and crucified, so that He might become the Savior of the world. And Jesus had to “open their minds” so that they could finally understand their Bibles.
And the very same thing is true of us today: we might read our Bibles but if God doesn’t open our minds we will miss the whole point—we will miss Jesus and the gospel.
Now the Apostle Paul had his mind opened. We are studying in the Book of Romans, chapter 15 and last week we noticed how Paul quoted the Old Testament, and then he made a beeline for the cross, as he applied the quote to Jesus Christ. Let’s look at it again Romans 15:3 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” Here Paul is quoting from the Old Testament, Psalm 69, and he says, in essence, “this applies to Christ.” On the cross, Christ was insulted and mocked, yet He chose to go to that cross to forgive your sins and to purchase your eternal life, rather than please Himself.
And so Paul has just interpreted the Old Testament the same way that Jesus did. Paul had his mind opened to understand the Bible the right way. And the question is “have we”? Here are three important points about understanding the Bible:
First, we need to see Jesus in our reading. This is what the Jews of missed, it’s what the disciples missed. Oh they saw great moral instruction, doctrine, they interpreted their Bibles literally, but they missed Christ. And we should not; whenever we read our Bibles, either Old Testament or New, we should make it our point to see Jesus, and how He died and rose again to take God’s wrath, and to make us right with God.
Second, seeing Jesus should lead to worshipping Jesus. It’s not enough to merely find Him, we must learn how to savor Him, to worship Him. Remember when Jesus explained the Scriptures to the people on the road to Emmaus, and how they said, “Luke 24:32 “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Their hearts were impacted, they were worshipping.
Thirdly, as we read the Bible we should look for ways to submit to Christ; our lives should conform to Christ, we should be changing into His image. So here is a summary: we see Jesus, we savor Jesus, and we submit to Jesus so that our lives are changed.
And in Romans 15 Paul encourages us to do our own study of the Old Testament and see Jesus for ourselves. He just showed us in verse 3 how the Old Testament points to Jesus’ death and resurrection and now he says in verse 4 Romans 15:4 “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
So let’s take a little journey through the Old Testament, just picking out a few stories, praying that God would open our minds to understand the Scriptures the way they were meant to be understood—by seeing Jesus.
Let’s look at Genesis 1. The first chapter in the Bible, and here we learn that God created the heavens and the earth. The first chapter of the Bible is about God and creation. And creation happened in stages. Notice that in the first stage the earth was in darkness, it was empty, and it was buried in the water. Genesis 1:2 “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep.” And God does some more work of creating, but notice what happened on the third day, Genesis 1:9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. And the rest of the chapter shows us the earth then began producing fruit; there was life, with trees and plants and herbs of all kinds. So notice: that which was in darkness, and empty and buried, on the third day there was a resurrection. The waters were separated and the earth rose up; if you were seeing this from a profile view you would see the waters separate and the earth rise up and then begin producing fruit.
Even so on the cross Jesus emptied Himself to fill you, He was in darkness for 3 solid hours to bring you into the light, and then He was buried in the ground that you might live forever. And on the third day there was a resurrection, He came up out of the ground and is alive right now forevermore.
And we see this foreshadowed in Genesis chapter 1. You see, this was God’s plan from the beginning. Jesus is the “Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Revelation 13:8), before time. You may have heard it said before that in journalism or reporting that sometimes the press will leak the details of a story in advance, and we see God doing that right here in the first chapter of the Bible.
But something else that’s very important, is we not only see Christ, we see how to become a Christian. As unbelievers we are in darkness, we don’t have spiritual light, and we are empty, we don’t have Christ, and we were buried in sin: dead in sins and trespasses. But one day we hear the good news, that Jesus died to save us, and rose to justify us, and when we believe that message, repenting of our sins, we came out of our tomb of unbelief and rebellion against God and we became new creations. We get that from 2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” Meaning, creation is a literal event, but it is also a picture of our salvation. So we’ve seen Christ and our salvation in Genesis chapter 1.
So let’s go to our next story, in Genesis chapter 22. This is the story about a father named Abraham and his promised son Isaac, and God tests Abraham. In vs. 1 it says, Genesis 22:1-2 1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” Talk about a test, for a father to sacrifice his own son, wow. But why did God tell Abraham go to a specific mountain three days away? Why not in his back yard? What does it matter as to where the sacrifice happened? Well if we look on a map of the region we discover something very interesting. The region of Moriah is on the very same ridgeline as a place called Mt. Calvary or Golgotha (the place of the skull), where God the Father took His own Son and offered Him up as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. And so God took Abraham to that same place.
And we find out it was a 3 day journey, in vs. 4 it says “On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.” So the promised son was under the death sentence for 3 days.
And then notice something very interesting in vs. 6: Genesis 22:6 “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife.” Imagine the father laying the wood on his own son, this is the wood that his son would die on. And Abraham carries those instruments of death: the fire for the altar and the knife to kill his own son. Isaiah 53 says “It was the Lord’s will to crush Him (Jesus) and to cause Him to suffer” and “the Lord makes His (Jesus’) life a guilt offering” (verse 10). That is, God made His own Son a sacrifice that removes our guilt and our shame. His Son was declared guilty that we might be declared righteous.
Now imagine the son carrying the very wood that he would die on, on his back, walking up the mountain to the place where he would die. John 19:17 “Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).”—the region of Moriah
Verse 9 says Abraham “bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood” even as Jesus was laid on top of the wood and nailed to the cross for us.
Then in vss. 10-12 God stops the execution, saying in vs. 12: “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.” (Genesis 22:13-14). Ah, God provided a substitute to die instead of his son. That substitute was caught in a thicket, in thorns that were wrapped around its head. And it has always bothered me when critics of the Bible use this story to show that God is a harsh and unloving and spiteful to have a father kill his own son. No he didn’t. God had no intention of Abraham killing his son, rather this was a test of faith, a test of loyalty, to confirm and strengthen Abraham in his faith.
And so we see what a glorious time this is, that Abraham receives his son back. I mean in Abraham’s mind his son has been as good as dead for 3 days and now he gets him back on the third day. Even as God the Father received His own Son back from the dead on the third day.
But notice how this passage closes. It looks to a future event. See that in vs. 14? Genesis 22:14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” Wait a minute, I thought it was provided already. God provided a substitute on that mountain right here, why are we looking to the future when God would provide a substitute on that mountain? Because this is God’s way of saying “I will take my son and offer Him as a substitute for all who would believe, that they might have eternal life.”
And so we see the whole gospel right here, written thousands of years before Jesus was born as a baby in Bethlehem. All things in the past were written to give us hope.
And let’s see just one more and we’ll be done. Turn with me if you would to the book of Jonah. Jonah is a prophet of God who was called to preach to the city of Ninevah, a very large city, but Jonah didn’t want to do that, so he got on a ship heading the other way. And God sent a terrible storm and Jonah and the crew are caught in this fierce hurricane of a storm. And in verse 11 it says Jonah 1:11-12 11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked Jonah, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” 12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” Now consider this: Jonah is volunteering to give up his life to save them. Look at those words, “throw me in and it will become calm for you.”
Well at first they tried to row out of the storm themselves. And sometimes we can hear the good news that Jesus died to save us, but we want to work hard at saving ourselves. Remember the prodigal son, when he spent all he had, hired himself out to work to pay back his father. He didn’t need grace, he could work and pay it back.
Well these sailors couldn’t row themselves out of their mess, and neither can we work off our sins. And in so in vs. 15 “they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.” Well yeah, as far as they knew, the death of that man meant life for them, of course they praised the Lord. Do we really understand that the death of Jesus means life for all who believe? He was thrown into the deep for us, into the deep of our sins to save us and simply by believing we live.
But then in one of the most well-known stories of the Bible verse 17 says Jonah 1:17 “But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.” Now Jesus said Jonah’s story was a sign. The Jews in Jesus’ day asked for a sign that He might do that they could believe in Him. They thought He might call down lightning from heaven or throw a mountain into the sea. But Jesus pointed them to the Bible. And in Matthew 12:39-40 39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” So here in the story of Jonah, God has given a sign to anyone who really wants to believe.
And if you read Jonah chapter 2 you will see the sign of the cross, clearly. In this chapter Jonah is praying from inside the fish, and in vs. 4 he says “I have been banished from your sight” remember Jesus in 3 hours of darkness, the Father having turned His face away…”the engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me, seaweed was wrapped around my head.” Here’s Jonah sinking into the deep with seaweed, a crown of weeds wrapped around his head.
And this is a sign for you to believe in Jesus, for He sunk into the depths, went to hell to pay for your sin, had a crown of thorns wrapped around His head, and then died to save you and was buried. But He didn’t stay dead. Look at Jonah 2 verse 6, “but you brought my life up from the pit” and vs. 10 says “And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” This was the third day. And then Jonah went and preached repentance and forgiveness to the town of Ninevah and they received new life.
So Jonah volunteered to give up his life for the men on the boat, he sunk down to the depths, to the belly of the whale, where he was crowned with thorns, where he remained for 3 days and 3 nights before resurrection. He brought life to the sailors and life to Ninevites. And so we are supposed to see this as a sign for us to believe the gospel. Jesus volunteered to die for us, was crowned with thorns, nailed to a cross, buried in a tomb and rose the third day, that we might believe that message and be forgiven of our sins, be reconciled to God and receive eternal life.
Maybe you’ve wanted to believe and you’ve just needed some evidence. Well here’s all the evidence you need to believe and be saved. Maybe you noticed that each story we read ends with life on the third day. You will see that all over the Bible. We could have chosen literally hundreds of these historical narratives, all designed to show us Christ, how He suffered and rose again for us. And if you believe this message you will receive the following things:
Forgiveness of your sins
Removal of your guilt and shame
Escaping of God’s wrath
Reconciliation with God the Father
Eternal life in heaven
And I just want to close with a call to come to God:
Hosea 6:1-3 1 “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. 2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.
The reality is that all believers were crucified with Christ, in God’s eyes, and we were raised with Him on the third day, and we live in His presence. Let’s pray.
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Grace and truth, Charity Cleveland.