Jesus Lives Forever
Explore the Bible Series
February 27, 2005
Background Passage: Luke 24:1-53
Lesson Passage: Luke 24:22-36, 50-53
Introduction: The veracity of the gospel turns on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This is the defining concern of the Christian faith. All other issues, as important as they might be, must yield to the centrality of the resurrection. Even the glorious truths related to the cross find their great significance in the empty tomb. Christians believe that Jesus’ death atoned for the sins of men; however, if Jesus remained in the grave, the crucifixion was merely a sad story of a misguided man with a messianic complex. The significance of the cross comes to light only as set against the greater backdrop of the resurrection. A dead Savior never saved anyone.
As we complete our study of the Gospel of Luke, I trust we will find great encouragement in this decisive and victorious chapter. These verses lend perspective to the entire Gospel. Without this last chapter, the Gospel of Luke is reduced to the story of a notable teacher and miracle worker in first-century Palestine. This wondrous conclusion of Luke helps us to maintain an eternal, heavenly viewpoint on the person and work of Christ. The last two verses of the chapter record the worship and joy of the disciples when they observed the ascension of the resurrected Christ. May our hearts fill with exactly this same kind of joy as we complete our study.
I. The Resurrection of Christ from the Dead (Luke 24:1-12)
A. The Galilean women prepared spices to anoint the body of Jesus (v.1). This verse, of course, continues the materials from the previous chapter. Since Joseph of Arimathea and the women had to bury Jesus hurriedly, they did not finish the complex preparation of the body for entombment; therefore, after the Sabbath Day, the women returned to the sepulcher very early in the morning (Based on the Matthean and Marcan accounts, the women must have begun their journey to the tomb at about the moment the sun rose)
B. The women found the tomb empty (vv. 2-3). Apparently, an earthquake had occurred, and an angel moved the stone from the mouth of the tomb before the women arrived (See Matthew 28:1-2). Luke, with characteristic simplicity, observed that the women found the stone removed and the tomb empty.
C. The angel’s discourse with the women (vv. 3-8). Matthew and Mark mentioned only one angel, and Luke identifies two. Luke simply gives the greater detail on this matter. The other gospel writers did not deny the presence of a second angel; rather, they simply highlighted the activity of the angel that spoke to the women. Understandably, the presence of the angels struck fear in the hearts of these faithful women. As they trembled before the angels, the women heard the angelic reminder of the Lord’s promise that he would rise on the third day (See vv. 7-8).
D. The women reported the resurrection to the disciples (vv. 9-12). A few of the women (most notably Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James) rushed to the apostles to tell them the remarkable news. The men regarded their report as “idle tales.” This word, in the original language, denotes the fevered ravings of a seriously ill person. Nevertheless, Peter quickly made his way to the tomb, and found, just as the women had reported, that the body was gone from the tomb.
II. The Disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)
A. Two disciples of Jesus traveled to Emmaus (vv. 13-14). We discover little about the identity of these two men. Luke tells us that one man was named Cleopus, but he provides no other details about him. The other man remains unnamed. On Sunday, these men left Jerusalem and walked the seven miles to Emmaus. Even the location of this town remains a mystery to modern Bible students. As they walked, they of the events of the last few days in Jerusalem, and, in the course of their journey, Jesus joined them on the road.
B. The encounter of the disciples with Jesus (vv. 15-27): The disciples continued their conversation about Jesus, but they did not realize that the Master had joined them. Scripture tells us their eyes were restrained from seeing the mysterious stranger’s identity (See v. 16). The two men gave a good account of the recent events, but they clearly did not understand the real nature of Christ’s work. They still labored under the impression that the Messiah intended to build an earthly kingdom (See v. 21). Interestingly, the men had some information about the women finding the tomb empty, but their curiosity about the women’s report did not convince them to remain in Jerusalem! Perhaps their insistence on leaving the city reveals the unbelief in their hearts. Jesus sharply rebuked them, and beginning with Moses, he expounded the Scriptures to them.
C. Jesus ate with the two disciples in Emmaus (vv.28-32). As the little band approached the village of Emmaus the two men persuaded Jesus to stay with them for the night. When they ate the evening meal the Lord blessed and broke the bread, and the men recognized him immediately. Some have speculated that the breaking of the bread reminded the disciples of the Last Supper. This seems unlikely because Scripture makes clear that only the Twelve ate the Supper with Jesus. It is, of course, possible, that they had heard the apostles speak of the Supper, but it seems more plausible that the Lord simply revealed himself at this moment. The text indicates that he, in some sense, concealed himself from them; then, at his time and place, he allowed them to perceive who he was. As soon as they recognized him, the Lord disappeared from their midst. On further reflection, they understood who he was by the unusual effect his teaching had on them (“…our heart burned within us…”).
D. The two men immediately returned to Jerusalem and reported their experience to the apostles (vv. 33-35). Apparently, Jesus had also appeared to Simon Peter, and the disciples (minus Thomas) were talking about the Lord’s resurrection when the two men arrived from Emmaus.
III. Jesus Appeared to the Disciples (Luke 24:36-49)
A. While the two men from Emmaus spoke with the disciples, the Lord Jesus suddenly and unexpectedly appeared in their midst and spoke to them (v. 36-43). His appearance startled the men, and, in their confused condition, they concluded that they had seen a spirit. Jesus calmed their troubled hearts by assuring them that he had resurrected from the dead. He showed them his hands and feet and encouraged them to touch his flesh. Apparently, the men emerged from their unbelief gradually. Verse forty-one recalls that they still did not believe, but their doubts arose from their stunned joy at the marvelous appearance of the Lord. Perhaps Jesus ate with them as a concrete affirmation of the reality of his resurrection from the dead.
B. The Lord taught his disciples about his death and resurrection (vv. 44-49). Interestingly, Jesus did not teach his disciples anything new at this time. He restated things he had taught them for months (perhaps years), and he made a new application of his teaching. Finally, they seemed to hear the Master’s words. The Lord appointed these men to serve as his witnesses (v.48) and pledged that he would endue them with power from on high. This was, of course, a promise of the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Conclusion (Luke 24:50-53): The risen Lord must accomplish one other task. The glorious ascension of Christ into heaven would mark the beginning of his heavenly intercession for his people. This remarkable event occurred in the town of Bethany, just a few miles east of Jerusalem. We owe a great debt to Dr. Luke because he provided this information on the ascension (See also the Acts of the Apostles 1:9-11).