Unit: Luke (Part 1)
Theme: Perfect Humanity
Lesson Text: Luke 23:44-49; 24:1-12
Supplemental Text: Luke 6:27-36; Ephesians 5:1-2
Aim: Follow Jesus’ example to serve and love others sacrificially.
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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the Study by Mark Scott, Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Michael C. Mack): LOOKOUT_Apr17_2022.
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By Mark Scott
“Holy Week,” as it is called, is a demonstration of perfect love. Even while enduring the cross, sustaining the solemnity of the tomb and experiencing the victory of the resurrection, Jesus continued to love and serve others. Jesus cared for his mother (John 19:27) and the repentant thief (Luke 23:43) while on the cross. He obeyed the Sabbath (Luke 23:56) while in the tomb. And on Easter morning, he tenderly spoke Mary Magdalene’s name (John 20:16).
The first six verses of our text cover three hours. Jesus had withstood six trials (before Annas, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, and then Pilate again). He had been scourged—no small thing. Simon of Cyrene helped him carry his cross to Skull Hill. He wept for the women of Jerusalem, prayed forgiveness over the whole world, and specifically extended pardon to one of the thieves who died at his side. He did all of this before the sixth hour of our text.
Strange Praise on Good Friday (Luke 23:44-49)
David said the heavens and skies praise the Lord (Psalm 19:1-6). On this Good Friday, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. Creation knew what was going on. Luke even recorded that the sun stopped shining.
The temple knew what was going on. The curtain (scholars debate which one—the one at the entrance of the Holy Place or the inner one before the Holy of Holies) was torn in two. In a sermon, James S. Stewart said the torn curtain enabled the love of God to be laid bare.
Jesus certainly knew what was going on. His seventh and final statement from the cross was the “now I lay me down to sleep” psalm of the Jews (Psalm 31:5). He committed his spirit to his Father.
Out of the mouth of a Roman centurion—an oppressor of the Jews—came strange praise and a confession. He affirmed that Jesus was a righteous man. Matthew and Mark said the centurion called him “the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39). Are these things the same? This soldier had a virgin faith, at best. He probably was affirming more than Jesus being a good guy but doing less than fully embracing Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9). Regardless, this backbone of the Roman army who was in charge of 100 soldiers gave praise to God for Jesus.
Even the rogues in the crowd beat their breasts. They understood something big was going on when they witnessed the way Jesus died. Jesus’ followers stood at a distance and took everything in on this strange day. (The loyal women who had followed him for some time were specifically mentioned—Luke 8:1-3.)
Seeming Nonsense on Easter Sunday (Luke 24:1-12)
The resurrection was looked at as comedy (in the classic sense in that the story ends well) during the early centuries of the church. Some still speak of it as a joke on the devil. It does seem nonsensical at first pass. The words of the women—the first witnesses to the resurrection—seemed like nonsense to the Jewish men (v. 11; cf. Acts 12:15).
Jesus was buried between 3 and 6 on Friday afternoon. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus hustled to bury him before “taking Sabbath” at 6 p.m. Everyone, including Jesus, rested the next day. Very early in the morning (Matthew says “toward dawn,” Mark says, “When the sun had risen,” and John said, “While it was still dark”) on Sunday the women came with spices to anoint Jesus’ body. This was not embalming (the Jews did not do that). The spices were to honor the loved one and keep the stench down during the early stages of decomposition.
The women found the stone rolled back, Jesus’ body gone, and two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning (angels) standing by them in the tomb. Jesus did not appear at this point (though Mary Magdalene would circle back to the tomb later, and Jesus would reveal himself to her, John 20:11-18). The angels gave the Easter message to the women: “There is no sense looking for the living among the dead; Jesus is gone because he has risen from the dead as he told you in Galilee; this was all part of God’s plan.” The women remembered this promise.
They went and tried to convince the apostles, but their message was dismissed as nonsense (not believable). But Peter ran to the tomb (evidently with John, cf. John 20:3-10) to check out this seeming nonsense. He saw the same “ridiculous fact” . . . there was no one in the tomb.