Volume. XXIII, No. 42
Sunday, 12 April 2009


The Resurrection of Christ and the Elements of Godly Worship (Luke 24:1-6)


Each year Christians around the world gather to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. The doctrine of resurrection is at the core of Christian belief, for if Christ be not risen our faith is also vain (1 Cor 15:14). The twenty-fourth chapter of the gospel of Luke has not only given us one of the most important accounts of Christ’s resurrection, but it has also provided us with some reasons why Christians should worship Him in love, in hope, in spirit and in faith in view of His resurrection.

Worship Him in Love (v.1)

The sceptics often argue that the resurrection account is the result of the whims and fancies of the disciples of Jesus. Arguably, this theory cannot be substantiated – because, in the first place, most disciples of Jesus did not expect to find an empty tomb themselves because of lack of faith on their part (Lk 24:11; Mk 16:13,14). This is why when the women disciples arrived at the tomb of Jesus early Sunday morning, they came with spices, ointments and linen strips expected to perform a proper burial by somewhat mummifying the body of Jesus (v.1) – obviously they did not expect to find the tomb to be empty. Customarily, the Jews left these bodies alone for a few years until they decayed down to the bones, then the bones were placed in a small stone box known as an ossuary. At any rate, the women disciples of Jesus came to the tomb with much love and affection even though most disciples of His were plagued with much fear and apprehension of the Jews (Jn 19:38, 20:19). Yet, risking their lives and safety, these women exhibited exceptional love and adoration toward their Master.

Similarly, as we gather to worship the Lord on Easter Sunday, or as a matter of fact every Sunday, what do you bring with you to church when you worship Him? Although the women disciples of Jesus brought spices, ointments and linen cloth for burial, it shows how much they love Jesus and their love is transformed into actions. If we indeed love our Lord, may we come prepared every Sunday and transform our love for Him into action by bringing genuine sacrifices of praise in a heartfelt worship ready to render our utmost devotion to our beloved and blessed Lord.

Worship Him in Hope (vv.2-4a)

Having witnessed the tomb stone being rolled away (v.2), the women found Jesus was not in the tomb (v.3) and were greatly perplexed because they supposed that someone must have taken or stolen the body away (Jn 20:2,13), therefore they were perplexed (v.4a) and helpless to render their ‘last’ devotion, respect and love for their beloved Master.

The sceptics of Jesus’ resurrection argue that the disciples must have stolen the body of Jesus at night while the guards were asleep. However, this is totally unsubstantiated and unscholarly absurd for two reasons. Firstly, the Roman guards used sophisticated methods. A Roman guard detail varied in size from four to sixteen men. It is highly possible that more than 16 men were employed for the task because the Jewish leaders requested Pilate “that the sepulchre be made sure” (Mt 27:64) not just requesting for a common watch. Suppose that if only sixteen participated in overnight duty, each quaternion (group of four men) would have taken the watch for about three hours (Acts 12:4), so that four men were awake at all times, this would be the meaning of having a ‘watch’ (Mt 27:65). The four on guard stood at the object to be secured, while the other twelve slept in a semicircle with their heads pointed inward. Each soldier was armed with a six-foot pike, a sword, and a dagger. Even if all eleven disciples of Jesus, plus the women disciples, attempted to retrieve Jesus’ body by force, they would have been no match for the highly disciplined and trained Roman soldiers and possibly along with some Jewish temple guards.  Secondly, the stone could not have been rolled away by tomb thieves undetected even if tomb guards were asleep (Mt 28:12,13). For the mouth of the tomb was shut by a stone hewn in the shape of a wheel. The stone was a far greater barrier than any ordinary door. If it covered an entrance about 1.5 meters high, it must have weighed 1500 to 2000 kilograms. Some scholars believe that it rested in a trench. If they are correct, as many as ten men were required to move it. Thus, it is hugely absurd to suppose that the Roman soldiers guarding Jesus\' tomb ‘slept peacefully’ while the disciples stole His body.

In fact, Matthew 28:2 tells us that it required an angel to roll it away. At any rate, it is important to note that the tomb stone was rolled away not to let Jesus out of the tomb for there is no need for that. John 20:19 tells us that Jesus, in His resurrected body, could pass through physical barriers and appear and disappear in a twinkling of an eye. The tomb stone was rolled away so that His disciples could be persuaded that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and that they could have hope in Him, which is a much needed assurance and encouragement to the dispirited and disheartened disciples of Jesus. Christ left us an empty tomb so that we can know that He indeed resurrected from the grave and those who believe in Him will also have hope of resurrection. Therefore, whenever we come to worship Him, we must worship Him with the Hope that one day we will see Him face to face in our resurrected and glorified body because Christ has risen from the dead.

Worship Him in Spirit (vv.4-5)

Verse 4b says, “…two men stood by them in shining garments.” Why were there two angels and what were their names? We were not told. They could be Michael and Gabriel or two unnamed angels, but what they said to the women disciples deserves more of the reader’s attention. Verse 5 says, “…Why seek ye the living among the dead?” This was a wonderfully logical question. The angels seemed almost surprised that the women were looking for Jesus’ body in his tomb. At the church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem - the place Emperor Constantine’s mother Helena decided was the place of the true cross and the true empty tomb - there is the powerful sense of dead religion and traditionalism. Yet for hundreds and hundreds of years people have flocked to this place reeking of this kind of spiritual deadness in a desperate attempt to find worship a living Saviour among the dead.

Along this analogy, Christians today should not channel their devotion to Christ through spiritual deadness of religious formalism or outward religiosity. Jesus is alive and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:24). To worship God in spirit means to worship him with the truly spiritual worship of faith, love, and holiness, animating all our tempers, thoughts, words, and actions (John Wesley), not just going through the motions or simply fulfilling a religious duty.

Worship Him in Faith (v.6,7)

Having been astonished by the sudden appearance of angels, the women were told these comforting words in verses 6 and 7: He is not here, but 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. This saying is perhaps one of the most important statements made by the angels to mankind. This reveals to us that our basis of belief for Christ’s resurrection must be based on what He said but not based on what we see as in the case of most disciples of Jesus. In fact, our Lord said, “…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” after chiding the doubting Thomas.    

It is important to realize that our faith is founded upon the infallible and inerrant Word of God which is also the most reliable testimony and evidence of Christ’s resurrection. Essentially and technically speaking, there is no practical necessity for a Christian to attempt to prove that the Bible is God’s Word, during or before the presentation of the gospel to unbelievers, because the Word of God proves itself as God’s infallible, inerrant and authoritative Word. For, ultimately the inferior fallen human mind, corrupted human logic and imperfect human reasoning could neither prove nor disprove the superior, infallible, inerrant and authoritative Truth as the Word of God. In other words, a finite being does not possess and cannot acquire the capacity nor the prerogative to substantiate the infinite truth of God by his finiteness – God Himself alone is the ultimate Witness of His Word. 1 Jn 5:8,9 says, “8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.This is what our Reformed fathers called “the secret (or internal) Witness of the Holy Spirit”. John Calvin says, “Spirit alone brings about the certainty of scriptural inspiration and its divine authority; God alone bears direct witness to God, and he alone can authenticate his own presence in Scripture in the hearts of believers. Calvin calls this the secret (or internal) testimony of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, as God’s people gather for another Easter Sunday worship, let us firmly establish our faith upon His eternal, infallible and inerrant Revelation and not be wavered by any attack of sceptics who may attempt to undermine the doctrine of the Resurrection. God’s Word proves that Christ is alive today and sits on the right hand of His Father, interceding for us, and He is coming again to judge both the quick and the dead as the Lord of lords and King of kings!  

Pastor Weng 

 


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Announcements

Kitchen Rosters - Caleb Team (Dn Edwin D’Mello)

Session wishes all worshippers a Blessed Easter.

Anyone seeking Baptism, Reaffirmation or Transfer of Membership on 31 May 2009, please see Pastor Weng or Elder Michael D. Lee.

RPG and Daily Manna (limited copies) for this quarter available on the literature table.

Basic Bible Knowledge Class commences next Lord’s Day. If interested, please see Pastor Weng or Elder Michael D Lee.

 

Looking Ahead

Baptism, Transfer of Membership & The Lord’s Supper, 31 May 2009 (Pastor Ki).

23rd Anniversary Thanksgiving Service on 28 June. Speaker: Pastor Ki.

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Rev Dr & Mrs Patrick Tan; Dn David Yeo; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson (Adl); Ps & Sis Weng & Lizzie (Melb); Dn Tony & Sis Sally Law (B’kok); Sis Mariam Atijatuporn & Jayden (Udon Thani); Mr & Mrs Fan; Mrs Phoebe & Sis Joy Wong (S’pore); Sisters Wendy Gong (Adl) & Corinne Teng (Syd); &  all others who have arrived safely.

Church activities: Bible Conference; Ladies’ Fellowship Share & Prayer; Shorter Catechism Class; Wed Prayer Meeting & Bible Study; YAF E-Street Evangelism.

Ministry of Rev Dr & Mrs Patrick Tan in Hope BPC.

Ministry of Ps & Sis Ki in USA.

Ministry of Ps & Sis Weng in Ebenezer BPC (Melb)

 

Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev John & Mrs Christine McKenzie; Rev Stephen Khoo, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Tommy Brooks, Colin Creaser, S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam, & Hans Ziegelmann; Mr Swee Liang Ng, Mr Yeom; Grandpa Ki; Auntie Oei; Sisters Mabella Booth, Lai Kheng Cheong, Nita Chong, Annie D’Mello, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Fiona Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson; Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden, & others in affliction.

Missions - Cambodia (Preacher Zhang’s ministry in Kampot & Sihanoukville), Pastors & believers in Laos, Pakistan & India; Kuching Ministry (Teo family).

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim

Pastor & Sis Ki - ministry in churches in USA; future ministry in New Life BPC, London; UK visa application.

Journey mercies: Ps & Sis Weng & Lizzie (Adl); Dn David & Sis Giok Yeo & Audrey; Rev & Mrs Patrick Tan; Bro David Lim & Sis Rosalie Gan(Melb); Sisters Wendy Gong (Perth) & Corinne Teng (Belgium) & all others who are travelling.

Pastor & Sis Weng: Ministry in Ebenezer BPC today.

Job - Bro Cong Pham; Sisters Marion Chan, Tabitha Heah, Judy Li & Corinne Teng.

Sister B-P Churches in Australia: Unity in doctrine & fellowship.

God’s care - Mrs Win Hooper in ‘Life Care Aged Care Home’: Mrs Anne Clements & family.

Bro Max Opaskiatikul serving the Lord in MV Doulos

Sis Suzane Lim in Acheh, Indonesia - God’s guidance

Sis Corinne Teng - with the Unley Concert Band on ANZAC tour in Europe.

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063