Jump Start # 2989
Luke 24:21 “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, beside all this, it is the third day since these things happened.”
This week we are counting down. The children are excited about Christmas coming. Parents are trying to squeeze everything that needs to be done in what few days remain. Counting down. Growing up in the ‘60’s I vividly remember America’s big push into space. It started with the Mercury program. Then two man space shots, called Gemini. That quickly moved to Apollo and the race for the moon. I loved those early astronauts. I knew their names and followed their quests into space. I don’t know how many space launches I watched on TV. They always had that famous “countdown.” Three. Two. One. LIFT OFF. That was exciting for a kid like me.
Long before that, there was a greater countdown—THREE, TWO, ONE. But instead of a rocket blasting off into space, there was a stone that rolled away and our Lord came out of that tomb. Most didn’t get it, not at first. Our passage today comes from that long, slow walk to Emmaus. Two disciples were walking home. They were sad. They were disappointed. Things didn’t turn out like they thought it would.
You and I know that walk. It’s a slow walk. It’s a walk in which a person looks down at the ground. The coach places a list of all the people that made the team. You were hoping that your name was on that list. But it wasn’t. A long walk home. The school play, and you didn’t make that either. A job you didn’t get. A date that never happened. A baby that was never born. A medical tests that wasn’t favorable. An insurance claim denied. A promotion that went to someone else. A vacation cancelled because of Covid. A house sold before you could put an offer in. Disappointments. You and I have tasted that many times in life.
For the two heading home to Emmaus, they were hoping that this Jesus would turn things around for the Jewish people. Redeem Israel was their words. No more oppressive nations. No more having to walk carefully through Roman lines. No more Caesars. No more Roman taxes. Independent. Free. Just like the days of David. They were hoping, but now they were walking home. Walking home sadly.
Within our verse is found the element of a countdown. “It is the third day since these things happened.” They knew that day three was to be special. They weren’t waiting for next week. It wasn’t the next day. It was three days. Jesus had promised that in three days He would be raised. In John’s gospel, He put it this way, “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Maybe these two sad fellows thought that Jesus was talking about the temple literally. They must have thought in three days, there would be some kind of show of force against Rome. It was the third day. They saw nothing. They gave up. They were going home. It was over, they thought. This was a a huge failure.
Where was Jesus for those three days?
First, His body was in the grave. That’s where Joseph and Nicodemus put it. It was in the new grave belonging to Joseph. What came out of the grave was His resurrected body. See my hands, is what the Lord would tell Thomas. There was something to see.
Second, the soul of Jesus went to hades. That’s what Peter tells us in Acts. Hades is not just for bad people. We know that because Jesus went there. The penitent went with Jesus. He was promised to be where Jesus was. The Gospels tell us that they would be in paradise. In the account of the rich man and Lazarus, the poor Lazarus, went to Abraham’s bosom. Hades is where the souls go at death.
What happened to Jesus is an illustration and a definition of death. The soul and the body separate. James tells us that the body without the spirit is dead. Death is the separation of the body and soul. Resurrection is the uniting of the body and the soul.
What did Jesus do while in Hades? Many believe, based upon a passage in Peter, that Jesus went and preached to the wicked souls in torment. But that idea raises multiple questions. Peter refers to the dead in Noah’s day. What about all the others since then? Did they not count? And, what was the purpose, if Jesus really did that? Was He offering a second chance? That’s against Biblical wisdom. Was it just to say, “I told you so.” Or, maybe, Jesus didn’t go and preach to them. The Peter passage has Noah preaching. Noah preached and built the ark.
So, what did Jesus do while in Hades? We are not told. Was He comforted like Lazarus? Was He resting from His labors, like what we read in Revelation? Was He counting down the days until He would be resurrected? Your guess is as good as mine.
Third, that third day came and early in the morning, Jesus came forth. Up from the grave He arose! His resurrection was the crushing defeat of Satan. There was nothing left in Satan’s arsenal. He delivered his strongest punch—death. And, three days later, just as Jesus had said He would, that stone rolled and Jesus came out. The world might have held it’s breath, wondering. Satan likely had his eyes on that stone to see if it would move. But Jesus knew. He always knew. He was sure. That stone rolled and out came Jesus.
That resurrection is proclaimed every Sunday as we take the Lord’s Supper. That resurrection was THE NUMBER ONE point in demonstrating just who Jesus was. He was declared to be the Son of God by the Resurrection, is what the Romans were told.
Counting down…three, two, one!