He’s alive! Death is not the end of Jesus, he overcame the grave. We can place our faith in Him and know death is not the end for us either; we can be alive in Christ and with Christ. Thank you Jesus! Today watch Him walk among His disciples, He still does… Watch Him encourage His disciples…He still does. Watch him challenge his disciples to greater things… He still does!
Jesus Rises from the Dead / 24:1-12
Jesus’ awful death on the cross was not the end of the story. Within three days, Jesus rose from the tomb. Even though Jesus had predicted his own resurrection (9:22; 18:32-33), no one believed it would happen.
Today Jesus still lives, at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 2:33). The Resurrection still stands as the foundation of the Christian faith. Believers can have complete confidence that Christ is alive, guiding the church and individual Believers through the Holy Spirit. His own resurrection is a guarantee of the future resurrection; death has already been conquered. Moreover, the same power that brought Christ’s body back from the dead is available to every Christian today, bringing each spiritually dead person back to life (1 Corinthians 15:12-28).
24:1-2 In the Jewish reckoning of time, a “day” included any part of a day; thus, Friday was the first day, Saturday was the second day, and Sunday was the third day. When the women arrived at daybreak, Jesus had already risen. Jesus had died on Friday; Joseph had taken his body and had prepared it for burial just before the Sabbath began at sundown on Friday. The Sabbath had ended at sunset on Saturday; so the women ventured out very early on Sunday morning. They brought spices to the tomb, just as people today would bring flowers—as a sign of love and respect. When they arrived, they found that the stone covering the entrance had been rolled aside (see Matthew 28:2). The stone was not rolled away so that Jesus could get out, for he was already gone. It was rolled aside so others could get in and see for themselves that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, just as he had said he would.
24:3 The stone had been rolled back, and the women went in expecting to accomplish their task with the spices. Many tombs were large enough to walk into, so these women went into the tomb, but they couldn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. Of course, the body was not there because Jesus had been raised, just as he said. But Jesus’ followers did not expect this. They had been told at least three times, but they had not come to truly believe (9:21-27, 44-45; 18:31-34).
- LIFE APPLICATION – HE LIVES!
- The two angels (appearing as “men in clothes that gleamed like lightning”) asked the women why they were looking in a tomb for someone who was alive. People often look for God among the dead. They study the Bible as a mere historical document and go to church as if going to a memorial service. But Jesus is not among the dead—he lives! He reigns in the hearts of Christians, and he is the head of his church. Do you look for Jesus among the living? Do you expect him to be active in the world and in the church? Look for signs of his power—they are all around you.
24:4-7 Matthew and John reveal that these two men in dazzling robes were angels. When angels appeared to people, they looked like humans. These men at the tomb surprised the women, and their dazzling appearance frightened them. The women reacted in humility, bowing before these men. The angel asked the obvious question, “Why are you looking in a tomb for someone who is alive?” Then one angel spoke the words that have thrilled every believer since that first resurrection morning, “He isn’t here! He has risen from the dead!” The angels then reminded the women that Jesus had accurately predicted all that had happened to him.
- LIFE APPLICATION- HE REALLY IS ALIVE
- People who hear about the Resurrection for the first time may need time before they can comprehend this amazing story. Like the disciples, they may pass through four stages of belief. (1) At first, they may think it is a fairy tale, impossible to believe. (2) Like Peter, they may check out the facts but still be puzzled about what happened. (3) Only when they encounter Jesus personally will they be able to accept the fact of the Resurrection. (4) Then, as they commit themselves to Jesus and devote their lives to serving him, they will begin fully to understand the reality of his presence with them. As you witness, accept people’s need to think through. Allow them time to wonder.
24:8-9 These women must have been among Jesus’ faithful followers and had heard Jesus’ predictions of his death, for Luke says they remembered that Jesus had said those things, and suddenly everything came together. Everything had occurred just as Jesus had said. So these women left the tomb and rushed back to tell his eleven disciples (disciples, minus Judas Iscariot) and everyone else among Jesus’ followers who may have been in hiding since the Crucifixion. Matthew and Mark say that the angel told them to go and tell the disciples what had happened. The women obeyed, running with the great news to the sorrowing and bewildered disciples.
24:10-11 The women are named here, probably because some of the later believers may have known them or about them. Mary Magdalene had been a loyal follower—Jesus had cast seven demons out of her (8:2). All the Gospels place her at the cross and at the tomb. Jesus’ first appearance to any human after his resurrection was to this woman (Mark 16:9; John 20:11-16). Joanna was previously mentioned among the women who followed Jesus (8:3). Mary the mother of James is also mentioned in Mark 15:40; 16:1 (she may be “the other Mary” of Matthew 28:1). The several others includes Salome (Mark 16:1) and other unnamed persons—all women.
They brought their story back to the apostles—giving them the message that the angel had told them. The fact that the message was carried by women gives credibility and persuasive force to Luke’s account. No ancient person making up such a story would have women as the official witnesses. By Jewish law, women could not do so.
Amazingly, the disciples did not believe it—the story sounded like nonsense. Apparently Jesus’ words about dying and rising again had gone past all of them. Many skeptics have tried to write off the Resurrection as a story made up by a group of overzealous disciples. But here the opposite occurred. The disciples were not anxiously looking for any reason to believe that Jesus had risen; in fact, they were not anticipating it. When told of the Resurrection, they refused to believe without concrete evidence. Even a missing body was not enough to convince them.
- LIFE APPLICATION – A PRESENT DARKNESS
- Have you ever had an experience, or maybe even a series of experiences, that at the time seemed to make no sense and, in fact, seemed contrary to God’s will? That was certainly the case with the men on the way to Emmaus. They had hoped for Jesus to be the promised Messiah, the one who would save his people, but he had died a horrible, public death, thus putting an end to their hopes and dreams. Or so it seemed . . . until Jesus himself came to them as they walked and opened their hearts and minds to the truth. If you are going through a dark time when nothing seems to make sense, and right and wrong seem to have changed jerseys—hold on. Keep walking faithfully, and wait for God to open your heart and mind. He will. Then you will perhaps understand the purpose of the darkness.
24:12 John 20:3-4 reveals that another disciple ran to the tomb with Peter. That other disciple was almost certainly John, the author of the fourth Gospel. When Peter arrived at the tomb, he bent over and peered in. He saw the empty linen wrappings. Peter went away, wondering what had happened.
Jesus Appears to Two Believers Traveling on the Road / 24:13-34
Luke was the only Gospel writer who described in detail Jesus’ encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Mark briefly mentioned this encounter in Mark 16:12-13).
24:13-14 This event occurred on Sunday, the same day as the Resurrection. Two followers of Jesus were leaving Jerusalem and walking the seven miles to the village of Emmaus. Little is known of these disciples; one was named Cleopas (24:18), and the other was not one of the eleven disciples, as noted by 24:33. During their walk, they were talking about everything that had happened.
- LIFE APPLICATION – AMONG US
- The two disciples returning to Emmaus at first missed the significance of history’s greatest event because they were too focused on their disappointments and problems. In fact, they didn’t recognize Jesus when he was walking beside them. To compound the problem, they were walking in the wrong direction—away from the fellowship of believers in Jerusalem. Christians are likely to miss Jesus and withdraw from the strength found in other believers when they become preoccupied with their dashed hopes and frustrated plans. Only when looking for Jesus in their midst will believers experience the power and help he can bring. Be alert to his presence in every aspect of daily living.
24:15-16 The two men were deep in discussion as they walked along. Apparently a man walking in the same direction drew up beside them (they knew he had been in Jerusalem, 24:18). This man was Jesus himself, but they were kept from recognizing him. In other appearances after the Resurrection, Jesus was also not recognized at first (John 20:14; 21:4). Here, God prevented these men from seeing Jesus until Jesus was ready to reveal himself to them (24:30-31). God’s divine sovereignty kept them from understanding until the full reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus could be understood.
24:17 Jesus, who had walked up behind these men during their deep discussion, asked what they were so concerned about. At Jesus’ question, they stopped short in their sadness. Apparently, in their discussion they had been unable to come to any understanding, so they were still sad and upset about what had occurred.
- LIFE APPLICATION – HOPE LOST AND REGAINED
- God seems to specialize in allowing our dreams to die, only to bring them back around again in rather surprising ways. Job’s fortunes and even his family were restored to him many times over. Abraham and Sarah were blessed with a child long after nature would have made that impossible. And the ultimate example is the death and resurrection of Jesus himself. The hopes of many, including the two dejected pilgrims on the way to Emmaus, seemed to have died on the cross with him. Little did they understand that even the Cross was all part of God’s sovereign plan to make a way of salvation for everyone. Have you lost hope in God’s deliverance and even his goodness? Learn a lesson from these two believers: Wait for the Lord to redeem your situation and give you hope once more.
24:18 Jesus had apparently walked up behind these men, so they assumed that he too was a pilgrim traveling home from Jerusalem. If he had been in Jerusalem, how could he not have known what had happened there?
- LIFE APPLICATION – LIVING WITNESS
- These disciples knew that the tomb was empty, but they didn’t understand that Jesus had risen, and they were filled with sadness. Despite the women’s witness, which was verified by other disciples, and despite the biblical prophecies of this very event, they still didn’t believe. Today the Resurrection still catches people by surprise. In spite of two thousand years of evidence and witness, many people refuse to believe. What more will it take? For these disciples it took the living, breathing Jesus in their midst. For many people today, it takes the presence of living, breathing Christians. Are you willing to be that witness to others?
24:19 Jesus asked what things had occurred. They answered that much had happened to a man named Jesus. The two followers described him as a prophet who did wonderful miracles and a mighty teacher. They had heard Jesus teach and had seen him perform miracles of healing; but, as far as they knew, he had died like all the other prophets before him.
24:20 The telling item in this statement is that these two disciples knew who was responsible for Jesus’ death. The Romans may have actually done the executing, but the Jews’ (they said our) leading priests and other religious leaders arrested him and handed him over. If all of Jerusalem knew what had happened, then the religious leaders’ plan to try to blame the execution on the Romans had failed. Everyone knew the leaders’ role in Jesus’ death.
24:21 The disciples from Emmaus had thought that Jesus could rescue Israel. Most Jews believed that the Old Testament prophecies pointed to a military and political Messiah who would free the nation from Roman tyranny. Jesus had come to redeem, however, and had indeed paid a huge price—his life. No one comprehended this yet. They didn’t realize that the Messiah had come to redeem people from slavery to sin. When Jesus died, therefore, they lost all hope. Their report that that all happened three days ago reveals a bit of expectation at Jesus’ promises regarding the “third day” after his death. As far as they knew, however, nothing had changed.
24:22-24 Another insight found in this statement is that these two men had left Jerusalem, hopeless and downcast, after having heard an amazing report. The women who had been to the tomb and heard the angels’ words said that Jesus’ body was missing and that angels had said Jesus is alive. Then some men (Peter and John, 24:12; John 20:3-4) verified what the women had said. Yet there was still gloom, as noted by these disciples who had all this information, but had left the city still believing that all their hopes in Jesus had been dashed.
- LIFE APPLICATION – PUZZLED?
- After the two disciples had explained their sadness and confusion, Jesus responded by going to Scripture and applying it to his ministry. When you are puzzled by questions or problems, you too can go to Scripture to find authoritative help. If you, like these two disciples, do not understand what the Bible means, you can turn to other believers who know the Bible and have the wisdom to apply it to your situation.
24:25-27 Why did Jesus call these disciples foolish? Even though they well knew all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures, they failed to understand that Christ’s suffering was his path to glory. The prophets had said that Christ would have to suffer before entering his time of glory. Beginning with the writings of Moses and then moving through all the prophets, Jesus explained to these bewildered disciples what all the Scriptures said about himself. Jesus pointed out all the Scriptures and how what had happened to Jesus had fulfilled everything that had been prophesied regarding the Messiah.
24:28-29 They approached Emmaus and the journey’s end for the two travelers. Jesus would not have stayed with them if he had not been invited. But they were impressed with all that Jesus had been telling them—probably answering many of the questions the two of them had been discussing before this man had joined them. They wanted to talk further, so they invited Jesus to stay.
24:30-31 At the meal, Jesus took bread, asked God’s blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. When he did so, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. These two disciples had not been at the Last Supper, so this was not what sparked recognition. This was the exact time God wanted them to recognize Jesus. God had kept them from understanding (24:16), and now he opened their eyes through the teaching of the word (24:27) and the breaking of the bread. His mission accomplished with these two disciples, Jesus disappeared.
- LIFE APPLICATION – JESUS’ STYLE OF WITNESSING
- Christians can learn better ways to reach friends and neighbors with the gospel by studying the Lord’s methods on the road to Emmaus. (1) Jesus walked with them, joining them in their activity and context. (2) Jesus talked with them, inquiring about their discussion. (3) Jesus utilized the truth of Scripture to deal with their unbelief. (4) Jesus shared a meal with them for the sake of friendship.
24:32 Jesus had vanished as quickly as he had come, and the two disciples were left to discuss how their hearts were stirred as Jesus had talked with them and had opened the Scriptures to them. Jesus’ presence had almost imperceptibly changed their mood from despair to hearts feeling strangely warm. Their hope had been confirmed; their doubts dispelled.
- LIFE APPLICATION – HEARTS AFLAME
- One of the marks of true conversion is the way a person’s heart is changed by the indwelling Christ. Truth and events that once seemed unimportant or even irrelevant take on new significance, new meaning. A cold, dead heart that was completely wrapped up in self-centered pursuits begins to thaw and warm to the realities of the Spirit and the needs of others. John Wesley described it by saying his heart was “strangely warmed”; the Emmaus-bound disciples asked, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” Does your heart burn for the realities of God? Has it grown cold due to neglect or sin? Only by spending time in the presence of the living Christ can you reverse the cooling process. Make a commitment to spend some time with him—today.
24:33-34 Evening may have been coming on (24:29), but their news was too exciting to wait until morning. Within the hour the two disciples were on their way back to Jerusalem. When they got there, they found that Jesus had already appeared to Peter. Paul also mentioned that Jesus appeared to Peter alone (1 Corinthians 15:5). This appearance is not further described in the Gospels. Jesus showed individual concern for Peter because Peter felt completely unworthy after denying his Lord. But Peter repented, and Jesus approached him and forgave him. Soon God would use Peter in building Christ’s church (see the first half of the book of Acts).
Jesus Appears to His Disciples / 24:35-43
The disciples, who had gathered in Jerusalem, were already talking with excitement about what had occurred. The tomb was empty. Jesus had appeared to Peter and to two of them on the way to Emmaus (24:33-35). In the excitement and confusion of it all, Jesus appeared in the room, wishing them “peace.”
24:35 The two disciples then told their story of how Jesus had appeared and talked to them and how they had recognized him. Why Jesus chose certain people to whom to appear at first and not others is unknown. Peter apparently needed an extra personal encounter; Mary Magdalene’s love and devotion accorded her the opportunity to see Jesus first. Whatever the reason for Jesus to have spent a lengthy time with these two disappointed followers on the road to Emmaus, the story stands as a beautiful treasure of Jesus’ compassion and love for those who, when discouraged and confused, needed his presence and wisdom to comfort them.
24:36 As Jesus’ followers discussed his recent appearances, suddenly Jesus himself was standing there among them. He appeared among them behind locked doors (John 20:19). Jesus could do this because his resurrection and glorification had altered his bodily form. In this new body he was able to transcend all physical barriers.
Jesus’ first words to the group of disbelieving and bewildered followers and disciples, all of whom had deserted him in his time of greatest need were: “Peace be with you.” This was a standard Hebrew greeting, but here it was filled with greater meaning. Jesus brought a greeting of peace, and his presence brought peace.
- LIFE APPLICATION – PEACE
- People everywhere search for peace. Some seek it through artificial means like alcohol and other chemicals; some through temporary thrills like sex or diversions like shopping; and some through self-improvement schemes like transcendental meditation or positive-thinking techniques. Sooner or later—usually sooner—the inadequacy and spiritual bankruptcy of all these things show through, leaving the seeker more troubled and less hopeful than before. Where can peace be found? Jesus said, “Peace be with you.” How could Jesus pronounce peace in what had to be an excruciatingly turbulent time? Simply because he was there. As the old saying goes, “Know Jesus, know peace; no Jesus, no peace.” If you would have peace, you must know Jesus. In his presence you find the calm, quiet assurance that he is in fact working all things together for your good (Romans 8:28). Have you spent time with him lately?
24:37-39 These people in the locked room were still wrestling with the fact that Jesus’ body was missing, and then they heard amazing stories of his appearances to several people of their group. Jesus appeared among them suddenly, and they were frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus’ body wasn’t a figment of the imagination; they weren’t seeing a ghost. Jesus encouraged them to look and touch. He had flesh and bones and could even eat food (24:43). On the other hand, his body wasn’t a restored human body like Lazarus’s (John 11)—he was able to appear and disappear. Jesus’ resurrected body was glorified and immortal.
- LIFE APPLICATION – LET JESUS TEACH YOU
- Jesus opened these people’s minds to understand the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit does this in believers’ lives today as they study the Bible. Have you ever wondered how to understand a difficult Bible passage? Besides reading surrounding passages, asking other people, and consulting reference works, pray that the Holy Spirit will open your mind to understand, giving you the needed insight to put God’s Word into action in your life.
24:40-43 Jesus showed them his hands and his feet so as to reveal the wounds inflicted by the nails that had held him to the cross (see John 20:25). His resurrected body still bore these wounds as a testimony to his followers that this was the same man whom they had loved, followed, and seen die. This was too good to be true—and they experienced the conflicting emotions of disbelief, doubt, joy, and wonder that any person would have when a most desired, but seemingly most impossible, wish actually comes true. Jesus stood there among them, alive, even eating a piece of broiled fish to show that he was not a ghost. He was real; he came back to life just as he had told them he would.
Jesus Appears to the Disciples in Jerusalem / 24:44-49
Jesus did not come back to Jerusalem after his resurrection to provide a spectacular show or to seek revenge on his enemies. Instead, he returned to teach his disciples. He had already instructed them while he was with them, but they had not completely understood him (see 9:45; 18:34). During his final days, he taught them again. This time, he opened their minds, so that they could understand the truth: his life, death, and resurrection all fulfilled Scripture. He taught them so they could teach others, telling what they had seen Jesus do and heard him say. They were to be Jesus’ witnesses (a theme Luke continued in the book of Acts, see Acts 1:4-5, 7-8).
24:44-45 Many days may have elapsed between 24:43 and 24:44 because Jesus and his followers traveled to Galilee and back before he returned to heaven (Matthew 28:16; John 21). Acts, Luke’s second book, reveals that Jesus spent forty days with his disciples between his resurrection and ascension.
As he had already done with the two men on the road to Emmaus, Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and explained how everything that had been written about the coming Messiah had been fulfilled in him. Writings of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms encompass the entire Old Testament. In other words, the entire Old Testament points to the Messiah.
24:46-48 Not only had the Old Testament Scriptures been fulfilled in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, but the Old Testament went much further—speaking of repentance and forgiveness of sins. Luke was writing to the Greek-speaking world. He wanted them to know that Christ’s message of God’s love and forgiveness should go to all the nations—and that this had been God’s plan from the very beginning. Christ’s gospel has a worldwide scope. God wants all the world to hear the Good News of salvation. They would begin right where they were—in Jerusalem and then be witnesses of all these things throughout the world (see Acts 1:8).
- LIFE APPLICATION – WAITING FOR THE POWER
- Trying to drive a car without the keys, operating a power tool without electricity, a hydroelectric plant without any water source—all of these futile actions make as much sense as trying to minister to others without the power of the Holy Spirit. Believers can do nothing good without his power, yet how often they try!
24:49 This task of being witnesses was not to be carried out in the disciples’ own strength. Obviously these followers, hiding behind locked doors in fear of the Jews right there in Jerusalem, hardly seemed like the kind of people who could take the message across the world. But Jesus was not expecting them to do it on their own—he would send what his Father had promised—the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-27; 16:5-15). Jesus instructed them to stay in the city (that is, in Jerusalem) until they were filled with power from heaven. Jesus promised them the power (the Spirit in them) which would enable them to be witnesses (Acts 1:8). After his exaltation at his ascension, the power would be given to them (Acts 2:1-4).
Jesus Ascends into Heaven / 24:50-53
Luke concluded his Gospel with a brief account of Jesus’ ascension. In Acts, he provided a more complete description of it (see Acts 1:6-11). After watching Jesus ascend into heaven, the disciples returned to Jerusalem to praise God, the only appropriate response to Jesus’ glorious life and his message of salvation.
24:50 Jesus took his followers out of Jerusalem to Bethany, the village only a couple of miles away on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. Jesus lifted his hands and blessed his followers. At this time, he would leave them, never to return until the time of the Second Coming. They would never be able to walk and talk with him physically as they had done during those three years of ministry. But they would soon receive the Holy Spirit who would fill them and be with them always.
24:51 In the act of blessing his followers, Jesus left them and was taken up to heaven. Jesus’ physical presence left the disciples (Acts 1:9), but the Holy Spirit soon came to comfort them and empower them to spread the gospel of salvation (Acts 2:1-4). Today Jesus’ work of salvation is completed, and he is sitting at God’s right hand, where he has authority over heaven and earth.
- LIFE APPLICATION – THIS SAME JESUS
- As the disciples stood and watched, Jesus began rising into the air, and soon he disappeared into heaven. Seeing Jesus leave must have been frightening, but the disciples knew that he would keep his promise to be with them through the Holy Spirit. This same Jesus, who lived with the disciples, who died and was buried, and who rose from the dead, loves you and promises to be with you always. You can get to know him better through studying the Scriptures, praying, and allowing the Holy Spirit to make you more like Jesus.
24:52-53 The sight of Jesus returning to glory in heaven called for a response of worship from those who watched. Then they returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. As yet, they did not separate themselves from their Jewish roots, but spent all of their time in the Temple, praising God. There were no more closed and locked doors for these followers. Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem, so they did. Acts 1 gives some idea of their activity as they awaited the promised Holy Spirit. But they openly went to the Temple to praise God for all that he had done.
Luke’s Gospel portrays Jesus as the perfect example of a life lived according to God’s plan. The Greeks had a difficult time understanding the spiritual importance of the physical world. To them, the spiritual was always more important than the physical. To help them understand the God-man who united the spiritual and the physical, Luke emphasized that Jesus was not a phantom human but a real human being who healed people and fed them because he was concerned with their physical health as well as the state of their souls.
Believers today, living according to God’s plan, should obey their Lord in every detail as they seek to restore people’s bodies and souls to the health and salvation God has in store for them. To know how to live a perfect life, look to Jesus as the perfect example.
What an amazing journey. Thanks so much for being a part of 24. I pray your life has been changed. Mine has. Keep reading God’s word, its alive and active. May we do this again soon, until then, Darrell
Sources: Life Application Bible Commentary, Life Application Concise New Testament Commentary
For more about The Ridge Fellowship go to www.ridgefellowship.com