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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, April 16, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5-6).

Make no mistake about this – Jesus was dead. The agony He bore in the Garden of Gethsemane alone would have killed Him had He not been spared. So great was His suffering in the Garden that

“His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).

If God had not sent an angel to strengthen Him, He would have died from this extremely sorrowful and very heavy condition, of which He said,

“My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death” (Mark 14:34).

But, at the very edge of death in Gethsemane, Jesus prayed

“with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard” (Hebrews 5:7).

Christ came to the very edge of death. In fact He was dying in Gethsemane, and was pulled back from death, in answer to prayer, only at the last moment.

The soldiers then burst into the quietness of the garden and dragged Jesus away, His clothing already stained with bloody sweat, pressed out through the pores of His skin by the weight of human guilt, the wrath of God having already begun to fall on Him to atone for sin, by a holy and just God, who said,

“I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered” (Matthew 26:31).

The Roman soldiers

“laid their hands on him, and took him…and they led Jesus away to the high priest” (Mark 14:46, 53).

“Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him [and beat Him with their fists]; and others smote him [slapped Him] with the palms of their hands” (Matthew 26:67).

Then the priests and a whole crowd of people brought the beaten and bruised Jesus before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Pilate interrogated Him and sent Him to Herod. When Herod had questioned Him, he sent Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate came out onto his porch and cried out to the crowd,

“What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:22-23).

“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him”
     (John 19:1).

Spurgeon asked,

Why scourge him before delivering him to be crucified? Surely this was a superfluity [an excess] of cruelty. The Roman scourging was something which I scarcely care to describe, one of the most terrible punishments to which anyone could be subjected. Yet Pilate…scourged Jesus (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Whole Band Against Christ,” exposition of Matthew 27:22-50, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1975 reprint, volume 39, p. 538).

Matthew Henry adds to this,

Jesus was scourged; this was an ignominious cruel punishment, especially as it was inflicted by the Romans, who were not under the moderation of the Jewish law, which forbade scourgings above forty stripes; this punishment was most unreasonably inflicted on one that was sentenced to die (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996 edition, volume 5, p. 341).

And Dr. Gill adds to this,

Such as were servants, which form Christ had taken, were scourged with whips; to which…were fastened, the huckle bones [hip bones] of beasts, so that this kind of whipping, was very severe and cruel (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 edition, vol. I, page 357).

Moreover, Dr. Gill points out that Jesus seems to have been scourged not once, but twice (ibid.). – one recorded by Luke and the second scourging recorded by John. These scourgings alone often killed a man. And Jesus had already gone through the near-death experience of Gethsemane, and the beating by the priests. But now He was whipped nearly to death, on what seem to be two separate occasions. The whole back of Jesus was by now a mass of wounds, riddled with deep cuts and gashes, His clothing soaked in Blood and gore.

Yet they are not finished with their fiendish cruelty. After He was beaten,

“The soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him [they beat Him] with their hands” (John 19:2-3).

Then Pilate brought Jesus out on the porch before the crowd.

“And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!” (John 19:5).

They had doubtlessly never seen such a repulsive sight. “Behold the man” Jesus, a crown of stinging sharp thorns pressed onto the scalp of His head, blood running down His forehead into His eyes, His body literally chewed to pieces by the scourgings, a ring of blood around the pavement beneath His feet.

Yet they were not finished. The priests and officers cried out again,

“Crucify him, crucify him” (John 19:6).

Then Pilate

“delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him” (John 19:16-18).

Is it any wonder that Jesus fell as He tried to carry His Cross to the place of execution? He had to be helped by a man named Simon of Cyrene, because He was nearly dead already from the series of tortures He had experienced. Joseph Hart described the scene in a thoughtful hymn titled simply, “His Passion.”

See how patient Jesus stands,
Insulted in His lowest case!
Sinners have bound the Almighty hands,
And spit in their Creator’s face.

With thorns His temple gored and gashed
Send streams of blood from every part;
His back’s with knotted scourges lashed,
But sharper scourges tear His heart.

Nailed naked to the accursed wood,
Exposed to earth and heaven above,
A spectacle of wounds and blood,
A prodigy of injured love!

Behold that pale, that [weakened] face,
That drooping head, those [pain-filled] eyes!
Behold in sorrow and disgrace
Our Conquering Hero hangs and dies.
   (“His Passion” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

“And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost” (Luke 23:46).

Yet they were not finished. The soldiers came and looked at the body of Jesus on the Cross.

“But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:33-34).

John the Apostle was there. He tells us that he saw Jesus die and that “his record is true” (John 19:35). John was an eye-witness to the events of Christ’s crucifixion. He was there. He saw it all first-hand.

The friends of Jesus took His body, embalmed it, and

“wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury” (John 19:40).

They put His body in a tomb.

Yet they were not finished. His enemies sent Roman soldiers to set “a watch” (Matthew 27:65), so that no one could steal the body.

Yes, Jesus died. I personally find it incredible that there are some Muslim extremists who do not believe He died! They are not alone, of course. Some liberal scholars in America and Europe have also said He did not die. But I say for a man to live through all that punishment, the scourgings, the beatings, the nails through His hands and feet, the spear piercing to His heart – I say to live through that would require a greater miracle than God raising His body from the dead! Yet that is precisely what God did. On the third day, Jesus rose physically, triumphant over sin, death and Hell! And the angels said to the women who came to His tomb,

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5-6).

Yes, He did die – to pay the penalty for our sins and to experience the wrath of God against sin. But now He has risen, alive again physically from the dead!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
The strife is o’er, the battle done;
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun. Alleluia!

The powers of death have done their worst;
But Christ their legions hath dispersed,
Let shouts of holy joy outburst. Alleluia!

The three sad days have quickly sped;
He rises glorious from the dead:
All glory to our risen Head. Alleluia!

Lord, by Thy stripes which wounded Thee,
From death’s dread sting Thy servants free,
That we may live and sing to Thee. Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
   (“The Strife Is O’er,” translated by Francis Pott, 1832-1909).

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5-6).

The Puritans divided their sermons in two parts. First, they gave the doctrine, and then they gave the application of the doctrine. That is what I am going to do this morning. I have given the doctrine, and now I will give the application of our text,

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5-6).

I. First, do not seek Christ in science.

I am not against science. Not at all. But you will not find Christ through scientific research. Why not? Simply because science deals with material things on earth and in the cosmos. If you have a keen eye, you can find the marks of Christ on His creation. This is now called “intelligent design,” the fact that the creation shows the marks and handiworks of the Creator, Christ. But “marks” and “handiworks” are not Christ Himself! Christ has risen and ascended to the right hand of God in Heaven. He is not here in this dying cosmos or this dying world. Therefore, we are perfectly correct to say to those who study science,

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5-6).

II. Second, do not seek Christ in human philosophy
or man-made religious systems.

I have studied the major philosophical theories. I have studied the major religions. There may even be a spark of truth, but it is hidden in the darkness of human prejudice. No use to look for Jesus in philosophy and man-made religion. You will not find Him in the teachings of Plato, or Socrates, or other lesser philosophers. You will not find Him through the teachings of Confucius, or Buddha, or Mohammed. I respect these men; they were scholars and great thinkers. But they were wrong. Jesus said,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

Those philosophers are now dead. They cannot tell you how to find Christ.

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5-6).

III. Third, do not seek Christ in the materialism of America
and the Western world.

Since this sermon will go on our website and be read by people in seven languages throughout the world, I feel I must apologize to you for the wickedness of America and the West. I pray that you will not be confused by the vile teachings that are given in our American universities. I pray that you will not believe that these Western teachers are Christians, or that they represent Christ in any way. They are not Christians at all! They are antichrists! The Bible says,

“Even now there are many antichrists” (I John 2:18).

The same holds true for the “entertainment industry” in America and the West. They spew out their vile antichrist message across the earth – and then wonder why the Third World doesn’t like them, and doesn’t want their so-called “freedom.” We can send our American imperial armies to crush nations in the Third World, yet we wonder why they don’t want what we have in America and Europe. Well, many of us here in America and the West don’t want that materialistic life style either! I think America should clean up its own house, its own atheistic universities and filthy movies and music, before we send our armies to impose our God-forsaken way of life on others! We have a right to fight terrorism. But there is a tarnish and a cloud over America, which makes me question our right to export our “way of life” as superior to that of the Third World. It also makes me question America’s cultural “superiority” over nations we invade. We tell them that we offer “freedom,” but they see that we have killed a full 15 percent of our children. We have killed 50 million of them by abortion. In Iran all babies have the right to life. In America they do not. Don’t tell me people in the Third World don’t notice that! They notice it, and they think we are hypocrites (as indeed we are) when we talk about giving them “freedom.”

If we were the Christian country we once were, we would be in a better position to take the moral high ground. The older American policy was not to fight all “bad” regimes simply because they were bad, but only to fight against those who attacked us, or were dangerous to us. I think the old way was right and the new way is wrong!

No, you will not find Jesus in the materialism of America or Europe. Our culture is dying in the Western world. Christianity is falling apart in Europe and America. But there is great revival in China, Southeast Asia, parts of Africa and Latin America and other parts of the Third World. We can say that the text has a geographical application. Christianity is dying in the West, but is exploding with life in the Third World. So I ask,

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5-6).

IV. Fourth, do not seek Christ in your own unconverted human nature.

Many people make the mistake of seeking Jesus in their own hearts. But He is not in your unconverted heart! The Bible says,

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Jesus said,

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts…All these evil things come from within”
     (Mark 7:21, 23).

The human heart is

“dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

Therefore, do not look to your own unconverted heart, or your own feelings. Your “feelings” will deceive you. If you look into yourself, and examine your own thoughts and emotions and desires, you will not find Jesus!

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5-6).

You must look away from yourself, away from your religious background, away from your own culture and people, away from your own feelings and thoughts! Look away to Jesus – seated at the right hand of God up in Heaven! If you seek Him there you will find Him there. The Bible says,

“Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).

That’s where Christ is right now! Then, come to Jesus. Trust Him. Be washed clean from your sins by His Blood. Come to Jesus and He will pardon your sin and give you eternal life!

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5-6).

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 24:1-8.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Strife Is O’er” (translated by Francis Pott, 1832-1909).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:5-6).

(Luke 22:44; Mark 14:34; Hebrews 5:7; Matthew 26:31;
Mark 14:46, 53; Matthew 26:67; 27:22-23;
John 19:1, 2-3, 5, 6, 16-18; Luke 23:46;
John 19:33-34, 35, 40; Matthew 27:65)

I.   Do not seek Christ in science, Luke 24:5-6.

II.  Do not seek Christ in human philosophy or man-made religious
systems, John 14:6.

III. Do not seek Christ in the materialism of America and the
Western world, I John 2:18.

IV. Do not seek Christ in your own unconverted human nature,
Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21, 23; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 3:1-2.