Rev. VanOverloop is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.
“The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.”
The two travelers to Emmaus had seen the risen Lord Jesus. At first Cleopas and his companion did not know it was Jesus. He appeared to them as a stranger. He had talked with them for most of the seven miles to Emmaus and they did not know Him. But as soon as their eyes were opened and they identified Him, they immediately returned to Jerusalem in order to tell the eleven.
And there they found their story confirmed. For even as they rushed into the room to tell the eleven and others of their experience in seeing and talking with the Lord, they were told that Jesus had risen indeed. And Jesus’ appearance to Simon confirmed that the women had not just seen a vision early that morning, but had actually seen the Lord Himself.
There was only one conclusion: “The Lord is risen indeed.”
You can feel their excitement! “The Lord is risen indeed.” Earlier the women had been doubted. But not anymore. It is a reality. Now they know for sure that He is risen.
The fact and reality of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is uppermost in the minds of the disciples. Jesus did really arise from the dead. They believed it because of everything they had heard that day, climaxing in Peter’s testimony that the risen Lord had spoken with him. First, it was the women who told of the stone rolled away from the entrance of His tomb, and of the fact that there was no body left in the grave—just the grave-clothing, and that lying undisturbed in such a way as if His body just passed through them. The women also told of the words of the angels, “Why seek ye the living One among the dead? He is not here, but is 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” (5-7). And the women told the disciples that they did remember Him saying this (8, 9). Then John and Peter had gone to the site of Jesus’ burial, and they came back confirming the story of the women that the tomb was indeed empty and that the grave clothes were lying there so uniquely. Later Mary Magalene told of her seeing the risen Lord Jesus, and then the other women reported His appearance also to them. And now Simon Peter told them that Jesus had come and spoken to him. The fact and reality of their Lord’s resurrection could not be denied.
They observed that Jesus’ resurrection was unique—unlike the resurrection of those whom Jesus had raised from the dead. A couple of things make Jesus’ resurrection different. First, no one saw Jesus arise and could be a witness of the actual event. (Later, when they would understand the resurrection better, they would say that no human eye could have seen it.) And second, Jesus arose changed. He did not return to them the same as He had been. Mary Magdalene told them of her Master’s words. And the report of all those who saw Him was that, while He truly had arisen from the dead, there was a change—a change that they all recognized, but could not well describe. At this point, the disciples were not yet able to grasp the otherness of His resurrection.
The church today has the fact of Jesus’ resurrection well established. The fact of it is established by strong evidence and by hundreds of witnesses, all of which can now be put together. The evidence is found in the empty grave, and the positioning of the linen grave clothes. The fact is also established in the words of the angels. And the fact of Jesus’ resurrection is established by Jesus’ appearances, one of them being to over 500 at one time (I Cor. 15:5-8). Additionally, the fact of Jesus’ resurrection is established by the gospel preaching recorded in Scripture, which over and over presented the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. There are at least seven different instances recorded in the book of Acts where the apostles spoke of Jesus’ resurrection. And then there are many times that the apostles’ epistles present the resurrection of Jesus as an established fact: Romans 1:4; 4:25; 10:9; I Corinthians 15;Ephesians 1:20; I Thessalonians 4:14; I Peter 1:3.
The fact of Jesus’ resurrection must be well established because it is the heart of the gospel. Consider the familiar words of Paul, “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (I Cor. 15:14, 17). And then all believers who “are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (I Cor. 15:18). Without the resurrection, the cross of 315
Christ is without value, and there would be no salvation. Then we would be without hope. The church of Christ must be able to say, “The Lord is risen indeed!”
There is great and beautiful significance in the fact of Jesus’ certain resurrection.
As the fact of creation reveals the Creator, so the resurrection of Jesus reveals God as having power to make alive the dead. To understand this, we must have a correct understanding of Christ’s death. His death was and is the revelation of God’s holy wrath against sin. The wages of the sins of all of the elect is what caused Jesus’ death. He was delivered unto death on account of our transgressions (Rom. 4:25a). Then Jesus’ resurrection declares that He who kills also makes alive. The holy Punisher of sin is completely satisfied with the punishment having been completely borne, so that divine justice is perfectly satisfied. Then we can understand that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself (II Cor. 5:19). God had sent His Son and laid on Him the iniquity of all His people. For that iniquity Christ had died. And God raised Him from the dead because the price for that iniquity had been fully paid, all of the offenses were covered (Rom. 4:25b).
There is something about Jesus’ personal appearance to Peter that makes abundantly and amazingly clear the truth that the resurrection of Jesus declares sinners to be forgiven and justified. When the disciples excitedly told Cleopas and his companion that the Lord is risen indeed, they added (as if giving the best proof): “and hath appeared to Simon.” Notice which name they deliberately used. They did not use the name “Peter,” that is, rock. They all knew of Peter’s denials of Jesus. It was as if that sin deposed him from office. He was no longer Peter. He was just Simon—what he was before he met Jesus. “Simon” is the name his parents gave to him—it is the name of his natural face (James 1:23). When he denied Jesus, he forfeited his right to the name Peter. But it is very significant that while the disciples identified him as Simon, earlier that very morning the angels had instructed the women to “tell his disciples and Peter” about His resurrection (Mark 16:7). And now, later in the day, the crucified and risen Savior appeared personally to Simon Peter. Although we do not know the details of this appearance, we may believe that Peter learned that Jesus had forgiven him. His sin of denying his Lord had weighed heavily on the disciple. He had wept bitterly. His Lord knew that he needed to be assured that all his sins were forgiven. And we may know that as Simon was forgiven, so we may be assured that all our sins are also forgiven.
The disciples were excited. Their sorrow was turned to joy! “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.”
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is God’s testimony of our salvation. He who was delivered to death because of our sins was raised from the dead. His resurrection clearly and powerfully indicates that the sins for which He died are gone. The sinners for whom He died are justified. Simon Peter needed to know this! So do we. God’s raising Jesus from the dead was a putting of His approval on Jesus’ cross. We may know that the punishment we deserve was fully endured and that our righteousness was completely earned. Jesus overcame death (our death), so that we may experience already a resurrection to new life in Christ (in our regeneration), so that we may know of our justification, and so that we may have hope of the resurrection of our bodies and of life everlasting.
While the disciples did not yet grasp it completely, they did have a sense that Jesus’ resurrection was different from the other resurrections they had observed. Jesus did not come back to the earthly. He passed through locked doors. This is because He went through death to glory. He made a way out of the grave, which the physical eye cannot see. It is the way to a glory that eye hath not seen. It is grasped only by faith. He is truly risen.
The Lord’s resurrection is a cause for great joy. We may rejoice and be glad. The Lord is risen indeed! Let us rejoice in the Lord! Now and always!