Luke 24 - The Resurrected Jesus
A. The resurrection of Jesus is discovered.
1. (1-3) Women followers of Jesus discover the empty tomb of Jesus.
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
a. Came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared: The actual event of Jesus' resurrection is nowhere described, but the discovery of it is recorded in some detail. Here, the women who intended to give Jesus' body a more proper preparation for burial discover that the stone is rolled away from the tomb, and that the body of Jesus is not inside the tomb.
i. A rich man like Joseph of Arimethea would probably have a tomb that was carved into solid rock; this tomb was in a garden near the place of crucifixion (John 19:41). The tomb would have a small entrance and perhaps one or more compartments where bodies were laid out after being somewhat mummified with spices, ointments, and linen strips. Customarily, the Jews left these bodies alone for a few years until they decayed down to the bones, then the bones were placed in a small stone box known as an ossuary. The ossuary remained in the tomb with the remains of other family members.
ii. The door to the tomb would be made of a heavy, circular shaped stone, running in a groove and settled down into a channel, so it could not be moved except by several strong men. This was done to ensure that no one would disturb the remains.
iii. John 19:42 specifically tells us that the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea that Jesus was laid in was close to the place of Jesus' crucifixion (and the each of the two suggested places for Jesus' death and resurrection bear this out). Joseph probably didn't like it that the value of his family tomb decreased because the Romans decided to crucify people nearby - yet it reminds us that the in God's plan, the cross and the power of the resurrection are always permanently and closely connected.
b. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus: Once the women saw the stone rolled away and the tomb empty, their immediate reaction is that they were greatly perplexed (Luke 24:4). They did not expect to find an empty tomb. This shows that the resurrection accounts cannot be the product of wishful thinking; they were not even expecting that it could happen.
i. Matthew 27:65-66 reminds us that there was a guard set round the tomb. The stone could not have been rolled away by the women (they were not strong enough) or by the disciples (even if they were brave enough, they could not overcome the armed guards). No one else would have wanted to roll away the stone, and Matthew 28:2 tells us that it was an angel who rolled it away.
ii. The stone was not rolled away to let Jesus out. John 20:19 tells us that Jesus, in His resurrection body, could pass through material barriers. It was rolled away so that others could see in and be persuaded that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.
2. (4-8) The angelic announcement of the resurrection.
And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still 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.'" And they remembered His words.
a. Two men stood by them in shining garments: Even as angels announced the birth of Jesus, (Luke 2:8-15) so they also announce the resurrection of Jesus. The announcement of His birth was made to a few humble folk, considered unimportant by the world, His resurrection announced by angels to a few women.
i. In Bethlehem, overlooking the Shepherd's fields, you can see the magnificent arena of sky where angels announced the birth of Jesus. While we were there, Israeli fighter jets did a dramatic fly-over to flex their muscle at their domestic enemies - what a contrast between man's style of power and God's!
b. Why do you seek the living among the dead? This is a wonderfully logical question. The angels seem almost surprised that the women are surprised; after all, the angels had heard what Jesus said regarding His resurrection, and they knew the women had heard it also - then why were the women surprised?
i. At the church of the Holy Sepluchre in Jerusalem - the place Emperor Constantine's mother Helena decided was the place of the true cross and the true empty tomb - there is the sense of dead religion and traditionalism. Yet for hundreds and hundreds of years people have flocked to this place reeking of this kind of spiritual deadness in a desperate attempt to find God's kind of life.
ii. We too often look for Jesus in the dead things - religious traditionalism, formalism, man's rules, human effort, substitutes of the flesh. We will never ultimately find Jesus in those things - we find Him only where there is resurrection life, when we worship Him in spirit and in truth.
c. He is not here: These are some of the most beautiful - and important - words ever spoken by an angel to men. One may look all over Jerusalem and see countless thousands of tombs, but one will never find the tomb of Jesus - because He is not here!
i. In Israel, we saw many graves and tombs - there is an ocean of tombs on the Mount of Olives, and vast sea of graves outside the eastern wall of the temple mount. You can see the tomb of Rebekka, the tomb of David, the tomb of Absalom - but you won't find the tomb of Jesus anywhere. He is not here!
d. The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again: To the women, it must have seemed like a long time ago that Jesus said these words. Nevertheless, they needed to remember them and the angels remind them of what Jesus said.
i. Must is the critical word here; just as much as the crucifixion of Jesus was necessary and ordained, so was His resurrection. Jesus would have never come to the place of Calvary unless there was also an empty tomb of resurrection there also.
e. And they remembered His words: The first notes of hope are sounded in the hearts of the women when they are reminded of Jesus' words. The empty tomb, the presence of angels, the words of the angels in and of themselves could not change their hearts - but His words could change and cheer their hearts.
3. (9-11) The women tell the apostles and are not believed.
Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.
a. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest: The women who have seen the evidence of the resurrected Jesus, and who have remembered His words, are excited about what seems to them to be the most wonderful news possible - that Jesus is alive, and has triumphed over death!
i. They would not be excited like this if Jesus had only somehow miraculously survived the ordeal of the cross. These women knew that He had not survived; their own hands provided the hasty preparation of Jesus' body on the day He was crucified. They knew beyond all doubt that He had been dead; so the news that He is alive means so much more to them then perhaps saying Jesus is a survivor; it means He is the conqueror over death; that He is everything they had hoped for, and more.
b. Their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them: Despite their excitement, their testimony was not believed. In fact, to the apostles, it seemed as if the women told idle tales - a medical word used to describe the babbling of a fevered and insane man.
4. (12) The apostles come to believe.
But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.
a. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb: We know from John 20:3-8 that both Peter and John ran to the tomb together. They saw grave clothes, but not as if they had been ripped off after a struggle. They saw the grave clothes of Jesus lying in perfect order, as if a body had just passed out of them (John 20:6-7). When John saw that, he believed, and Peter marveled. They had not seen the risen Jesus, but they knew that something powerful had happened to cause a body to leave behind those grave clothes in such a manner.
b. When Peter and John observed what was in the tomb, they believed. Peter was marveling to himself at what had happened; he knew something spectacular had happened because of the condition of the grave clothes, but he because he had forgotten the words of Jesus (John 20:9), he did not yet understand.
i. You can know that Jesus rose from the dead, but unless you know His words, it won't make sense. Unless you know the life and teachings of Jesus, you don't know that the resurrection means that the payment that Jesus offered on the cross was perfect and complete. You don't know that the cross was the payment and the empty tomb is the receipt. You don't know that death has no hold on redeemed man. You don't know that when God's love and man's hate battled at the cross, God's love won. You don't know that because Jesus was raised from the dead, we can be resurrected in Him.
c. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that God no longer lives in a temple made with hands. In Jerusalem, we saw what remains of the magnificently spectacular temple - stones that were forty feet long, eighteen feet high (too heavy to be lifted with modern cranes), finished with finely carved frames and fitted so perfectly they required no mortar - and this was the retaining wall! But from the time Jesus died and rose again, that temple became just another building - because it was no longer the dwelling place of God.
i. One of the most dramatic things from my Israel trip was that I didn't feel any closer to God there. It was special to be there; and the trip gave me an understanding of the Bible that I couldn't have had until I went there - but God was already close. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, I am the temple of God, and I see temples of God's Holy Spirit all around me today - and every place is the Holy Land.
B. On the road to Emmaus.
1. (13-16) Jesus joins two disciples on a road.
Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
a. Two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus: On this Sunday, these two disciples traveled to Emmaus from Jerusalem. They traveled the way most anyone did in that day: they walked; and as they walked together, it gave them a great opportunity to talk.
b. They conversed and reasoned: As they talked, the spoke of the things that were biggest on their hearts - all of these things which had happened, the things regarding the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus.
i. We don't always talk about the things that are biggest on our hearts, but we always want to - if we have a safe enough opportunity.
c. Jesus Himself drew near and went with them: Jesus came along side these disciples, and went with them for a while. Yet for a time they were miraculously prevented from seeing who Jesus was.
2. (17-24) The disciples explain what they talked about.
And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?" Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?" And He said to them, "What things?" So they said to Him, "The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see."
a. What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad? Jesus opens the conversation by asking them what they had been talking about. From this, we can know that Jesus had walked silently with them for a while, just listening as they carried on the conversation.
i. It was evident in their countenance - and perhaps even in their manner of walking - that they were sad. Jesus knew both what they already knew (that they were sad) and what they did not yet know (that they had no reason to be sad).
b. Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened here in these days? Jesus must have smiled when they said this. He knew pretty well what had happened here in these days.
c. When Jesus asks "What things?" He skillfully plays along, encouraging the men to reveal their hearts. Jesus longs for us to tell Him our hearts, even though He already knows our hearts.
d. What do these men know about Jesus?
i. They know His name and where He was from.
ii. They know He was a Prophet.
iii. They know He was mighty in deed and word.
iv. They know He was crucified.
v. They know He promised to redeem Israel.
vi. They know others had said He rose from the dead.
e. We were hoping: These disciples had a hope they felt was disappointed. Their hope was really not disappointed; but in some ways their hope was misguided (that it was He who was going to redeem Israel). But really, their hope was fulfilled in a greater way than they could have ever dreamed.
f. The only thing these disciples have to go on is the testimony of others, but they were slow to believe. The report of the women meant little to them, and the report of Peter and John who had seen the grave clothes meant little - because Him they did not see.
i. Jesus wants to know from them what He wants to know from us: can we believe without seeing with our own eyes?
3. (25-27) Jesus teaches them why the Messiah had to suffer.
Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
a. Jesus says they were foolish, and slow of heart to believe. We often think the main obstacles to belief are in the head, but they are actually in the heart.
b. Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory? They should have believed what all the prophets have spoken, that the Messiah would suffer first and then be received in glory.
i. The prophets spoke in Isaiah 53:3-5: He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
ii. Isaiah 50:5-7 is another example of what the prophets taught concerning this. The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away. I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed.
iii. Daniel 9:26 shows another prophet regarding these things: The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself.
iv. Zechariah 12:10 is yet another example: They will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
c. And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself: Jesus began to teach them what was surely one of the most spectacular Bible studies ever taught. Beginning in Moses and all the Prophets, He told them all about the Messiah.
i. He told them that the Messiah was:
- The Seed of the Woman, whose heel was bruised.
- The blessing of Abraham to all nations.
- The High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
- The Man who wrestled with Jacob.
- The Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
- The voice from the burning bush.
- The Passover Lamb.
- The Prophet greater than Moses.
- The captain of the Lord's army to Joshua.
- The ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer mentioned in Ruth.
- The son of David who was a King greater than David.
- The suffering Savior of Psalm 22.
- The Good Shepherd of Psalm 23.
- The wisdom of Proverbs and the Lover of the Song of Solomon.
- The Savior described in the prophets and the suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.
- The Princely Messiah of Daniel who would establish a kingdom that would never end.
d. These men must have been amazed at Jesus' ability to teach and understand the Scriptures - even though they did not know who He was yet!
e. Jesus expounded to them in all the Scriptures. The idea of expounding is to simply let the text speak for itself; exactly what a Bible teacher should do his or her best to do.
i. The Greek word for expounded (diermeneuo) has the idea of sticking close to the text. In another passage when Luke uses this word, it is expressed with the word translated (Acts 9:36). Jesus wasn't going off on speculative "bunny trails." He expounded, which means He stuck close to the text.
4. (28-32) Jesus is revealed to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent." And He went in to stay with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?"
a. He indicated that He would have gone farther: Jesus acts as if He might continue on farther, but does not want to force His company on these disciples. But they constrained Him shows that even though they don't know this is Jesus in their midst, they know they want to spend as much time as they can with this man.
i. They thought they were offering hospitality to a stranger; but it was really Jesus they invited into their home.
b. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him: What was it that showed them it was Jesus? It could have been the familiar way that He broke the bread and blessed God for it; perhaps it was only then that they noticed His nail-scarred wrists. Whatever the outward reason, it was only because their eyes were no longer restrained as they were before (Luke 24:16).
i. Jesus can be right in front of you, walking with you and sitting down with you at every meal - and your eyes can be restrained from seeing Him. Pray that God would open your eyes to see Jesus as He is, with you all the time.
c. He vanished from their sight: As soon as their eyes were opened to who Jesus was, He left miraculously and they both said what was on their hearts. Their hearts burned as they heard Him speak and teach.
i. Did not our heart burn within us while He talked: God's word can have this same effect on our heart, even when we don't know that it is Jesus doing that work.
ii. Even when they didn't know it was Jesus, even when they didn't believe He was risen from the dead, their heart still burned because of the ministry of God's Word and of Jesus, the Living Word of God. God's Word has that power, but man's word and wisdom does not - though it can give another kind of "heartburn"!
iii. Neither of them knew they other's heart burned until Jesus left. Now they can have a fellowship of flaming hearts together. One reason Jesus left was so that they would love one another, and minister to one another.
5. (33-35) They tell the good news.
So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, "The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
a. So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem: After a seven mile walk one way, they were so pumped up that they went seven miles back - and probably lot faster this time! They had a passion to tell the great news of Jesus' resurrection.
b. The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon: They had mutual confirmation of the resurrection of Jesus. Though the risen Jesus was not physically in their midst, His resurrection had been confirmed by more than two witnesses.
C. Jesus teaches His disciples and ascends into heaven.
1. (36-43) Jesus appears to the eleven.
Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you." But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, "Have you any food here?" So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence.
a. Peace to you: These were words with new meaning, now that Jesus had risen from the dead. Now, true peace could come between God and man and among men.
b. Handle Me and see: Jesus wanted to assure them that His resurrection body was a real, physical body, though of a different order than our own bodies. He wasn't some ghost or phantom.
i. As a demonstration of this, He ate in their presence. In most of Jesus' resurrection appearances, He eats with the disciples.
c. They still did not believe for joy, and marveled: The disciples were completely convinced that Jesus rose from the dead, but they had a hard time accepting it because it seemed too good to be true. But it was their confirmed belief in the resurrected Jesus that give them power enough to change the world and courage enough to die for their convictions.
2. (44-48) Jesus teaches His disciples.
Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things."
a. These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you: Jesus almost says "I told you so" by reminding them that all this has happened just as He said it would. To help His disciples take it all in, He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
i. It must have been before this that the disciples were actually born again by God's Spirit, when Jesus breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit (John 20:22).
b. It was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day: Jesus wanted them to understand that the cross was not some unfortunate obstacle that had to be hurdled. It was a necessary part of God's redemptive plan for man, and that it would be in the name of a crucified and risen Savior that repentance and remission of sins will be brought to the world.
c. Jesus solemnly tells them that they were witnesses of these things. Not only witnesses of the events surrounding the work of Jesus, but also of the commission itself to spread the gospel. This was a work they were all mutually responsible for.
3. (49-53) The Ascension of Jesus.
"Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.
a. I send the Promise of My Father upon you: They could not do the work Jesus had called them to do unless they were endued with power from on high, and that power would come as the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them.
b. He lifted up His hands and blessed them . . . while He blessed them: Jesus left the earth blessing His Church, and He continues to bless them, as much as His people will receive.
i. Nothing but blessing had ever come from those hands; but now, Jesus stands as the High Priest over His people to bless them.
ii. When Jesus blesses His people, it isn't just a pious wish like "I hope things work out for you" or "I hope you will be feeling better." Instead, the blessing of Jesus has inherent power within it.
iii. "If he has blessed you, you shall be blessed, for there is no power in heaven, or earth, or hell, that can reverse the blessing which He gives." (Spurgeon)
c. Think about those hands raised up in blessing; what do you see upon them? Do you see the scars from the nails that were pounded through Jesus' flesh, and that kept Him bound to the cross? Do you think it strange that such hands of pain should also be hands of blessing?
i. But those nail-scarred hands show the price of your blessing; it is a price you cannot pay, but Jesus already has. What keeps you then from being blessed? All you must do is come to this Jesus and receive that blessing in trusting faith.
d. He was parted from them and carried up into heaven: Why did Jesus have to leave? Jesus had to ascend so that confidence would be put in the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit, not in the geographical presence of Jesus.
e. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God: This shows the wonderful result of the ministry of Jesus in the disciples' lives.
- They worshipped Him: This means they knew that Jesus was God, and they gave Him the honor He deserves.
- They returned to Jerusalem: This means they did just what Jesus told them to do. They were obedient.
- With great joy: This means they really believed Jesus rose from the dead, and let the joy of that fact touch everything in their life.
- Continually in the temple praising and blessing God: This means that they lived as public followers of Jesus, and could not hide their love and worship towards Him.
i. When God does this kind of work in His people, we say "Amen."