Summary: This talks about the role that angels played on the first Resurrection day. God used them because He wanted to, not because He had to. It’s the same with His servants today.
Luke 24:1-8 – Calling All Angels
Tonight we are continuing to look at various angles of the resurrection and what it means for us today. Tonight’s message is a thought I have never preached on before, and I hope that it speaks to your heart. I’m talking about angels. Let’s read Luke 24:1-7.
I know it’s been over 4 years, and a lot has happened since, but do you remember the commercial that was running just before, and during the 2002 Olympics? It featured snapshots of different people playing or watching hockey throughout the country. Everybody yells out, “He shoots, he scores!” And the tag line at the end is, “If we all shout it loud enough, they’ll hear us in Salt Lake.”
Although hockey isn’t something I care about, generally speaking, we Canadians can get pretty excited about a hockey game. We even go wild about one shot on net. Well, Luke 15:10 says that the angels get really excited about one person becoming a Christian. I don’t suppose they yell, “He shoots, he scores!” But Luke does say that there is rejoicing – there’s a party in heaven – in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. People get excited over a game; angels get excited over people.
That first Easter Sunday was something to get excited over. It was good news. Let’s look at what role angels played on that Resurrection Day.
First, we have to paint the picture. It was early Sunday morning when the women headed out to the garden where Jesus was buried. Who was there? There was Mary Magdalene, from whom Jesus had cast out demons. She became one of Jesus’ closest followers. There was also another Mary – Matthew calls her “the other Mary”. She was the mother of James the disciple, and the wife of Alpheus, also known as Clopas. This Mary was likely the sister of Jesus’ mother, of course also named Mary.
There was also a woman named Joanna, who was the wife of Chuza, who was a steward to Herod Antipas. This Herod presided over one of Jesus’ trials. And there was also a woman named Salome, the wife of Zebedee, and the mother of James and John. It was this woman who had wanted her sons to sit at either side of Jesus when He began ruling His kingdom. I would say that she matured over time of following Jesus, from wanting to rule to wanting to serve.
I have one study book that says 14 women went to the tomb that morning to anoint Jesus’ body with perfume and spices. Only 4 are named specifically in the Gospels, but our passage today in v10 names 3 and then says “the others”. It may indeed have been 14. At any rate, these women headed to the tomb, and wondered along the way how they would move the stone blocking the tomb itself.
Here’s the first part that an angel plays in the day’s events. Matthew tells us that an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled the stone away. Then he sat down on it. This frightened the guards so much that we read that they shook and became like dead men – that is, they began shaking and eventually passed out because of fear. This was pretty important. The women were not going to be able to roll the stone away, so an angel took care of it. And the women were not going to be able to get to Jesus’ body because of the guards, and an angel took care of that too. An angel made the way for the women.
Now, here’s where the story gets a little messy. I believe all 4 accounts of the Resurrection story, so at this point you have to be a little creative to make them all fit together. Mark and Luke say that the women went into the tomb, and that’s where they actually saw something. Mark says one young man dressed in white, who was obviously an angel, spoke to the women. Luke says it was 2 men in clothes that were as bright as lightning, again with the idea that they were angels. My guess is that there were 2 angels there, but only one spoke to the women. They started by sitting, and then rose to present the women with the news.
The news that the angel spoke was more than good – it was wonderful: “Don’t be afraid or alarmed. I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. But why are you looking for the living among the dead?”
I can imagine a twinkle in the angel’s eyes as he asked that question. Why are you looking for a living person in a grave? What would a living person be doing in a tomb?