Luke 24:1-35 - Christ's Resurrection: the Fulfillment of God's Plan and Purpose
1On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " 8Then they remembered his words. 9When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. 13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him. 17He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?" They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?" 19"What things?" he asked. "About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." 25He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. 28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" 33They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." 35Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. (NIV)
1. Even Christ's disciples are slow to take Him at His word and believe what He says.
a) the women - "they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus (and) they were wondering about this..."(vv. 3-4) They had to be reminded, by the angels, of the words that Jesus spoke earlier about His approaching death. This shows that they had not previously been paying attention to all of his words. Neither, really, had Peter, as evidenced by verse 12: "he went away, wondering to himself what had happened."
b) the eleven remaining disciples - "But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense." We shouldn't think that our age is the only one in which skepticism over miracles is found. And to think this statement came from the disciples themselves, who had already witnessed countless miracles of Christ, not least of which had been the raising of a widow's son (Lk 7:11-17) and the raising of Lazarus (Jn 11:38-43)! The disciples' words towards the women provide a good rebuttal to the ignorant claims of many in our day that the disciples were wishful thinkers who made up the "myth" of Jesus' resurrection because they wanted to believe it, against all reason.
c) the travelers to Emmaus - since Cleopas and his traveler (possibly his wife) were "downcast" - because the events surrounding Jesus did not turn out the way they expected - they were "amazed" when learning of the fact that the women "didn't find his body" (v. 22). As a response, Jesus rebukes them for being "foolish" and "slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken" (v. 25). They, like the women, had not paid attention to God's word - although what is emphasized here is how little they had studied what the Old Testament had said about the coming Messiah. What is especially noteworthy in this account of the Emmaus travelers is how false ideas - and the expectations that arise from them - can greatly injure the faith God wants us to have. It seems as though Cleopas and his companion expected Jesus to be a political Messiah that would free the Jews from the Romans. At very least, they thought He would set up His kingdom right away. The kind of faith that holds to false expectations will be greatly shaken.
So what we find in this passage is something rather alarming: even when the greatest event in human history has occurred, where Jesus is "declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead" (Rom 1:4, compare with verse 3), some of His very own people have trouble believing it. What Luke reports here should be somewhat reassuring to us, because when we flounder in our faith, we tend to contrast our weaknesses with the strengths of the "early church". But in this passage we find that the "early church" was, in some ways, not that different from us at all!Still, we need to take Jesus' displeasure - as expressed in His rebuke to the traveling companions - very seriously, and ask ourselves to what degree we find ourselves in the shoes of these characters. Those who have placed their trust in the Lord are commanded to remember His words (Deut 8:11; Ps 119:141) and believe that He has all power and authority to bring His words to pass (Rom 4:18-21; Isa 55:10-11; Mt 28:6).
Reflection Question 1: What things do we need to be on the alert for, that can hinder our faith in Christ? What kinds of things can strengthen it?
2. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God's design and purpose - as expressed by Jesus Himself, and by Old Testament teaching.
a) by Jesus Himself - "Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'" Indeed, Luke records that Jesus made this prediction four times while in Galilee (Lk 9:22, 44; 17:25; 18:32-33) and one more time in Jerusalem (22:37).
b) by Old Testament teaching - "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them (i.e. the travelers to Emmaus) what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." (v. 27) There may have been many passages that Jesus used from the Old Testament - passages which spoke either clearly or subtly about the coming Messiah. Some of these were likely passages that Luke himself refers to all the way through his gospel account. As
Darrell Bock says:
"Though this passage only gives a general inference to the promises in the Law and the Prophets, the specific texts in view have been noted throughout Luke. Consider Isaiah 40 and its promise of a forerunner (Luke 3:4-6), Isaiah 61 and its proclamation and realization of deliverance (Luke 4:18-19). Psalm 118 and its call to receive one who comes in the Lord's name (Luke 13:35) and its warning that the rejected stone will be exalted (Luke 19:38), Psalm 110 and its promise of a shared rule with God and an exaltation to come (Luke 20:42-43), and Daniel 7 and its picture of the Son of Man coming on the clouds (Luke 21:27)." (Bock, NIV Application Commentary: Luke, p. 616).
Reflection Question 2: What other passages, themes, images, etc. that you know from the Old Testament provide a "preview" of Christ? How do they do so?
Reflection Question 3: In what way does God's plan and purpose for His people resemble His plan and purpose for Christ? How does this affect the way your view your life on this earth?
Other Observations from this passage:
The resurrection is reported by Luke in every bit of a matter-of-fact way as everything else in his gospel account. (There is absolutely no change in tone, or anything else, that would suggest that the resurrection is some fanciful idea that is made up by Luke. And His report of the disciples' initial skepticism only confirms that he is reporting what he has investigated.)
The LORD is with those who talk about Him, even when their understanding is feeble, and they earn a rebuke as a result. (The fact that the LORD walked alongside two people who were discussing Him should remind us of His statement from Matt. 18:20: "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.")
The LORD loves to be entreated by His people. (Jesus is more than willing to accommodate those - such as the travelers to Emmaus - who desire His company. Recall what He says to the Laodicean church in Rev. 3:20: "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.")