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The Resurrection of Christ.
The women at the grave:
v. 1. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
v. 2. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher.
v. 3. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
v. 4. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments;
v. 5. and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
v. 6. He is not here, but is risen; remember how He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee,
v. 7. saying, The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
See Matthew 28:1-2 Samuel :; Mark 16:1-Ruth :. On the first day of the week according to Christian reckoning, which Luke employs on account of his readers, very early in the morning, literally at deep dawn, when the dawn was just giving way to the brightness of the morning, at just about the time of sunrise, the women that were mentioned in the last chapter were on their way to the sepulcher. They brought the spices and ointments which they had prepared before and after the Jewish Sabbath, for their purpose was to anoint the body of Jesus. But in the meantime wonderful things had happened at the sepulcher. A great earthquake had shaken the garden and the surrounding country; an angel of the Lord had come down from heaven; he had rolled away the stone from the doorway tomb, where it fitted securely into a groove, and had sat down upon it. The women, therefore, who had been apprehensive about the stone, since they were unable to move it, could enter into the tomb. But as they did so, thy did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. The empty grave had been a surprise, the absence of the Lord's body was a greater surprise. At the time of His burial they had noted expressly in just what way He had been laid into the tomb, and now He was not there. But while they were standing there in doubt and hesitation, all dazed by the unexpected turn of events, suddenly two men in shining, lightning-white raiment, two angels, came upon them, appeared to them. Stricken with overpowering fear in the presence of these beings from the realms of glory, they, the poor sinful human beings, could not lift up their eyes to look upon that glory, but bowed their faces to the ground. But the angels had a reassuring, a cheering message for them, destined to take away all fear out of their hearts. A wonderful Easter-message it is: Why seek ye the Living One among the dead? Jesus is the Living One; He is the source and incarnation of all life, John 1:4. And therefore this Jesus of Nazareth, who had been crucified, had arisen from the dead. He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened on the third day by the Spirit; He had entered also according to His body into a new, spiritual, divine life. Then He had gone and preached to the spirits in prison, He had shown Himself to the devil and all his angels, and also to the souls of the damned as the Conqueror of death and hell, 1 Peter 1:18-Psalms :. That was the beginning of His exaltation. Now we know with the certainty of faith grounded in the Word of eternal truth that Christ, our Champion, has destroyed the power of hell and has taken away the might of the devil. He was no longer in the tomb; He had risen. And the angels remind the women how, in what words, Jesus had spoken to the disciples, probably in the presence of these women, that it was necessary for the Son of Man, that the obligation rested upon Him, according to the purpose of His incarnation, to be delivered into the hands of sinful men and to be crucified, but that He had also given them the glorious promise that He would arise on the third day. All these express prophecies, which at the time had not entered into their consciousness and understanding, had been fulfilled before their eyes. All this was irrefutable evidence for the resurrection of the Master.
Belief of the women, unbelief of the apostles:
v. 8. And they remembered His words,
v. 9. and returned from the sepulcher, and told all these things unto the Eleven and to all the rest.
v. 10. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
v. 11. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
v. 12. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulcher; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
As the angels delivered their message, the women recalled the saying of Jesus perfectly. And there was no longer doubt in their minds, nor any uncertainty, but joyful trust and belief in the resurrection of their Lord. Christ was risen from the dead; God had raised His Child Jesus. The Master of life had taken His life out of death. He had reared up the temple of His body, which the Jews had destroyed, in three days. And thus He has been declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead, Romans 1:4. And therefore He has also been proved to be the Savior of the world. He has torn asunder the fetters of death, He has destroyed the power of death. There is no need for the believers to fear death, for they may gladly say: Grave, where is thy victory? Death, where is thy sting? 1 Corinthians 15:55-Philemon :. Death has been conquered, and the sting of death, sin, has been taken away, 1 Corinthians 15:18-Proverbs :. Christ was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification, Romans 4:25. All these gifts belonged to the believing women by faith on that first great Easter morning. But this same faith caused them to turn back from the grave, to return to the city, not all together, but in different groups, and to bring the message of all these wonderful things to the eleven apostles first of all, but also to the other disciples. There had been a considerable number of women at the grave, not only the three Marys, Mark 16:1, but also Joanna, Luke 8:3, and others. And they all, although at first almost stunned by the joyful news, proclaimed it to the followers of the Master. But on that morning the apostles were still too deep in the misery of their disappointment and in their grief at the death of Jesus. The words of the women seemed to them as idle tales, as nonsense and superstitious gossip, as foolish talk, which must not be taken seriously. Only Peter (and John, John 20:1-Obadiah :: determined to see for himself just what the meaning of all this talk was. He arose and ran with all speed to the tomb. There he bent his body forward, without entering into the sepulcher, and saw the linen grave-clothes carefully laid away by themselves. The evidence was all against grave-robbery and the application of force. The situation was such as to set Peter thinking seriously and to wonder about what had really happened as he slowly returned to the city. The speech of the women and the evidence of the tomb spoke strongly in favor of the resurrection, but he was not quite ready yet to believe. Note: The resurrection of Jesus is the basis of the Christian's hope and faith, but it is very hard for the Christian to put his trust in this glorious truth at all times. It means simple, childlike reliance upon the Word of God under all circumstances, and that is a gift of God, for which we must daily plead in importunate prayer.
The Emmaus Disciples.
The walk to Emmaus:
v. 13. And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
v. 14. And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
v. 15. And it came to pass that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.
v. 16. But their eyes were holden that they should not know Him.
"Two of them," not of the apostles, but of the larger body of the disciples. Most commentators agree in stating that Luke himself was one of the two men, and that he here tells his own experience in such graphic detail. Emmaus was a village lying to the northwest of Jerusalem, now generally identified with Kalonieh. sixty stadia from Jerusalem, each stadium being six hundred feet in length, and the total distance being between six and seven miles. The two men were conversing together on all the things which had taken place in Jerusalem in the last few days, on all the happenings that had transpired there. The discussion at times waxed lively, being carried on almost with some heat. It may be that one was skeptical about the reported resurrection, while the other was strongly inclined to believe. And while they were thus traveling along, all oblivious to their surroundings, a third wanderer joined them, Jesus Himself having chosen to walk with them. But their eyes were restrained, were held from recognizing their Master, in order that they might not know Him for the time being. Jesus had His own reasons for dealing with them thus; He wanted to give them a lesson in believing the Word. "And behold, with what great diligence He shows His interest in these two men of weak faith and does everything to help their weakness and to strengthen their faith! Since He sees and knows that they, in their affliction and grief, have gone away from the apostles and know neither what to think or what to hope for, He does not want to leave them in such doubt and disturbance, but comes to help them out and becomes their partner on the way; He even lets the other apostles sit all alone, although they also were in deep grief and weak enough in their faith."
v. 17. And He said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another as ye walk, and are sad?
v. 18. And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering, said unto Him, Art Thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
v. 19. And He said unto them, What things? And they said unto Him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people;
v. 20. and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and have crucified Him.
v. 21. But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel; and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done.
v. 22. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulcher;
v. 23. and when they found not His body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that He was alive.
v. 24. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulcher, and found it even so as the women had said; but Him they saw not.
The two disciples saw in Jesus only a companion by the way, and His entire manner tended to confirm this idea. He inquired of them, after the manner of a casual acquaintance, as to the matters concerning which they were exchanging ideas as they were walking along, about which they were so excited. What He already knows He wishes to hear from their own mouths, and His tone is one of genuine, sympathetic interest. The two men were deeply touched by the stranger's kindly interest. They stood still to face the newcomer, and their faces registered the deep grief which was filling their hearts. As they thereupon resumed their journey, with Jesus in their company, one of the two, whose name was Cleopas, took it upon himself to explain to the stranger the questions which were agitating their minds. His first words express his great surprise that here was a pilgrim, probably the only one in that class, that did not know what had happened in Jerusalem during the last days. And when Jesus, to draw them out still further, interjected a surprised "What things?" both of the men eagerly explained to Him the cause of all their anxious conversation. The entire speech is true to life, as if people speaking under the stress of great excitement. They refer to important points, but do not explain them; they mix up their own hopes and fears into the narration; and the entire presentation savored of the confusion which was then prevailing in both their hearts. The facts concerning Jesus of Nazareth were making them feel so sad. For that Man had become in their midst a Prophet mighty in both word and deed, irresistibly eloquent in His preaching and incontrovertible in His miracles. Both before God and before all the people this testimony must stand. This Man the high priests and the rulers of the people had delivered to the sentence of a shameful death on the cross. He was dead; so much was certain. And here the dam of restraint almost gave way. They, the disciples, with the apostles in the lead, had cherished the fond hope, the eager expectation, that He would be the one to bring salvation to Israel, that He would deliver His people, the children of Israel, from the bondage of the Romans, and establish a temporal kingdom in Jerusalem. But now, in addition to all their shattered hopes, there is the further hard fact that this is the third day since His death. And there was another disquieting fact. Certain women from the circle of the disciples had greatly disturbed them all, had filled them with anxiety and fear, for they had been at His tomb at the break of day, and, not finding His body, they had come to the city with the news that they had seen a vision of angels, who told them that Jesus was living. Several men out of their midst had then gone out to verify the news, if possible, and they had found things just as the women had said; but Him, their Lord, they had not found. It was a sad tale of woe which the two men, with Cleopas taking the lead in the conversation, poured out into the sympathetic ears of the Savior. It showed how pitifully weak their faith still was in many respects, that their minds were even now filled with the Jewish dreams of an earthly Messiah, and that the many intimate talks, the long discourses of Jesus, had not had the proper effect. And the experience of these two disciples is repeated over and over again in our days. We Christians indeed believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. But this our faith and hope is often subject to vacillations and uncertainties. Hours of weakness, of trouble and tribulation will come, when all the things which we have learned from Scripture seem no more than a pious dream. Then it seems to us as though Jesus were dead, as though we had lost Him and His salvation out of our hearts.
Jesus, the kind Instructor:
v. 25. Then He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
v. 26. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?
v. 27. And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
v. 28. And they drew nigh unto the village whither they went; and He made as though He would have gone further.
v. 29. But they constrained Him, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And He went in to tarry with them.
v. 30. And it came to pass, as He sat at meat with them, He took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
v. 31. And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight.
The two, Emmaus pilgrims had opened their hearts to the Lord, for out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh. It was such a full and free confession as they would not have thought of making in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred. But the kind sympathy of this stranger invited, almost compelled, confidences, and so they had opened to Him their whole heart. The first words of the Lord in commenting upon the information He had received were a firm reproof, not unmixed with gentleness. Foolish men He calls them and slow of heart to trust and believe in all things that the prophets had spoken. They had not properly attended to the description of the Messiah as given by the prophets, and they had not looked upon His own teaching and miracles with enlightened eyes. It was a necessity for Christ, for the Master in whose company they had been all these long months; it was an obligation resting upon Him which He could not evade. First the Passion, then the glory; through cross to crown. At all times there is much sin, foolishness, lack of faith mixed with the weakness and grief of the believers. And this must be pointed out without hesitation. For that will open the way to a better understanding, in this case. The Lord deliberately began with the books of Moses and then continued through the books of the prophets; He interpreted to these two disciples the passages concerning His person and work, He compared prophecy and fulfillment; He pointed out the meaning of passages which to them had been hidden treasure-chests; He took His time to explain every word thoroughly, in order that their eyes might finally be opened. It was a long discourse, and from the mouth of the greatest Teacher of all times. Would that we had its exact contents today! But probably it has purposely not been preserved, in order that we may search the Scriptures of the Old Testament all the more diligently. Meanwhile, the two or two and one-half hours needed for a slow journey to Emmaus had brought them to the village, and Jesus purposely assumed the air of one that intended to go farther. He wanted to see whether His explanation of the Scripture and its application had made such an impression upon them that they would want to remain in His company. Happy they that have Christ with them thus! His plan succeeded beautifully, for both of the disciples urged Him with earnest pleading: Abide, remain with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is drawing to a close. Their real reason was, of course, that their hearts had been so touched and overwhelmed with the beauty and power of His explanation that they wanted to hear more of this charming and edifying conversation. Note: This is ever the effect of the doctrine of the Gospel: wherever it is felt, its Author, the ever-blessed Jesus, is earnestly entreated to dwell in the heart. And so Jesus went in to tarry, to remain, with them for the evening meal, at least. But when He reclined at the table with them, He thought the time fitting to reveal Himself to them. Accordingly, He took the bread, gave thanks over it, broke it, and gave it to them. At this act their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. This stranger was no one else than their Friend and Master, the same who had so often, in His capacity as the Head of the little band, performed this customary work. But in the same moment when their faces lighted up in joyful recognition, Jesus became invisible before them, He vanished out of their sight; He departed from them in that invisible manner. Though He was still their Master and Friend, they could no longer enjoy His intimate company as in the days before His suffering. They should no longer be bound by His visible presence, but learn to place their trust in the word of His Gospel which He has left for all men.
The Obligation Of The Work Of Atonement
There is no fact in Gospel history more consoling or more conducive to the strengthening of the Christian's faith than that of the readiness and willingness of Jesus in carrying out God's plan of salvation. If the Redeemer had faltered at any time, if the weakness of His human nature had at any time caused an unwillingness to carry out the work of atonement, the Gospel history would be worthless, and the comfort of a Christian in relying upon the satisfaction of Christ's vicarious suffering would be vain.
It had been prophesied concerning the Messiah: "Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the Book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God," Psalms 40:7-Ruth :. This delight in doing the will of God, in carrying out the plan and counsel of God for the salvation of man, is a prominent and necessary feature of Christ's Ministry. He had a clear and full conception of the extent and of the obligation of the work which He had come to perform, Hebrews 10:5-2 Samuel :. He knew exactly wherein the will of His heavenly Father consisted. "This is the Father's will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that everyone which seeth the Son and believeth on Him may have everlasting life. " John 6:39-Matthew :.
In accordance with this situation and the full understanding of its nature and scope, Jesus at all times kept the work of redemption foremost in His mind, to seek and save that which was lost, Luke 19:10. Even at the age of twelve years He was fully conscious of the obligation resting upon Him, when He told His mother: "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" Luke 2:49. To His disciples, who asked about the man that had been born blind, He briefly and succinctly stated His conception of His ministry: "I must work the works of Him that sent Me while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work," John 9:4. To the eager Zacchaeus He calls out: "Today I must abide at thy house," Luke 19:5. That was a part of His work, of the ministry of saving souls, which He therefore could not neglect.
When the time came that He should enter into the glory of His Father through the way of suffering and death, He did not falter or waver, but set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem, Luke 9:51; Mark 10:32-Micah :. He told His disciples: "The Son of Man must suffer many things," Luke 9:22; Matthew 16:22. He was perfectly aware of the fate that was awaiting Him at Jerusalem, and yet He announces: "I must walk today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. " Luke 13:33.
This being the case, namely, that the chief aim and purpose of Jesus in coming into the world was to work the redemption of mankind by the shedding of His blood as an atonement for the guilt of all, He emphasized this one point to the exclusion of everything else. He tells His disciples on the evening before His death: "This that is written must yet be accomplished in Me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors; for the things concerning Me have an end," Luke 22:37. And in the garden He rebukes the impulsive Peter: "How, then, shall the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be?" Matthew 26:54. The same truth is emphasized so strongly in His discourses on the afternoon and evening of the resurrection day, as well as by the angels in their first announcement of the Easter miracle. "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms concerning Me. Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer," Luke 24:7. and these words were echoed by peter in the interval between Christ's ascension and the Day of Pentecost: "Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled," Acts 1:16.
Upon the basis of these authoritative utterances we condemn all attempts to make the work of Christ seem of a nature concerning this world only. In the face of the blasphemous efforts of the millennial dreamers we hold firmly to the teaching, preaching, and confessing of Christ's work: "Who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned sinner, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil... with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death."
Mutual expressions of joy:
v. 32. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?
v. 33. And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the Eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
v. 34. saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
v. 35. And they told what things were done in the way, and how He was known of them in breaking of bread.
The vanishing of Christ did not fill the hearts of these two men with new sorrow and fear. They had the blessed remembrance of the words of Jesus which He had spoken to them on the way. Full of eager happiness they exchanged confidences on their experience. It is an expressive word: their hearts had been burning within them. "Their heart began to burn while the Stranger expounded Scripture, and kept burning, and burning up into ever clearer flame, as He went on. " In His discourse on the way the Lord had thoroughly opened to them the Scriptures. They now realized that the prophecies of old had been to them a sealed and hidden book. But now it had been opened to them, now they comprehended some of its wonderful treasures and beauties. This is always the effect of the words of Christ. When we are sad and weak, when we are longing for consolation and thereupon hear the Word of the Lord with all eagerness, then our heart will be warmed with the comfort of the salvation and the forgiveness of sins, and our faith, which was at the point of extinction, is once more enlivened to the brightness of a rich flame. For the risen Christ is in and with His Word. It is the living Christ who impresses the Word of the Gospel into our hearts and seals the comfort of the atonement through the blood of Christ in our hearts. The joy of these men did not permit them to rest at Emmaus. Though it must have been after six o'clock then, they arose from their meal at once; they hurried back to Jerusalem; they felt constrained to bring the good news to the others. And for the moment they found everybody happy. The apostles and disciples were all gathered together into one place, and they were met with the information that the Lord had risen indeed and had appeared to Simon. Sometime in the course of the day Jesus had met Peter, probably to reassure the deeply penitent apostle of His forgiveness. But the two disciples from Emmaus were not sorry that someone had forestalled them in bringing the happy news. For this would prove a welcome confirmation of their own experience, and the others would be only too glad to hear their story and thus to receive further assurance. It was unfortunate that the old doubts soon returned into the hearts of most of the disciples, as Mark is obliged to state. Christians must not depend too strongly upon moments of exaltation in their spiritual life. We cannot always be on the mountain peaks in our Christian experience, but must now and then descend into the valleys. But His Word is with us even in the valley of the shadow of death.
The Last Appearances of Christ.
v. 36. And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them and saith unto them, Peace be unto you!
v. 37. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
v. 38. And He said unto them, Why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
v. 39. Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have.
v. 40. And when He had thus spoken, He showed them His hands and His feet.
While the Emmaus disciples were still recounting the happenings of the afternoon, Jesus Himself suddenly stood in the midst of the assembly, His appearance here being as unexpected as His departure from Emmaus had been few hours before. He greeted them with the greeting of peace, which should have reassured them at once. His resurrection, as it had been announced through a number of witnesses in the course of the day, was a fact. He was now standing before the eyes of His disciples, alive and well. True, there was a difference. His body now partook of the nature of a spirit. With it He had passed through the sealed tomb and through the locked doors. It was no longer subject to the natural laws governing time and place. And He brought them the wonderful gift of peace, peace in the highest and best sense of the term. He has made peace through the blood of His cross, Colossians 1:20. The wrath of God was satisfied through His suffering and death. And by the resurrection of Christ this peace is sealed to all believers. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Strange to say, this sudden appearance of Christ under such unusual circumstances filled the disciples with the greatest fear and terror. Whereas a few minutes ago they had mutually congratulated themselves that He was risen indeed, they now had the idea that they were looking upon a ghost. Jesus therefore rebukes them kindly, but earnestly for their unbelief. They should not be so utterly disturbed, nor should thoughts of such a nature arise in their hearts. He invited them to look closely at His hands and feet, with the marks of His crucifixion plainly showing. And if the evidence of one sense did not suffice, they should take their fingers and pass over His body and convince themselves that there was no ghost before them, but their old true Friend and Master. That same Jesus of Nazareth that was born of the Virgin Mary, that suffered under Pontius Pilate, that was crucified and died, He stood before them. This Christ is also in the state of exaltation true man according to body and soul, our flesh and blood, our Brother in all eternity. Only His is a glorified body. In and with this body He is our Savior and Redeemer, as the nail-wounds in His hands and feet showed. And this is incidentally our guarantee that He will change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body; Php_3:21 . But with spiritism this appearance had nothing whatever to do. "Therefore we should know that all false ghosts and visions that permit themselves to be seen and heard, especially with rattling and blustering, are not the souls of men, but certainly devils, that thus have their sport, in order either to deceive people with false pretense and lies, or to terrorize and plague them in vain. This I say that we may be sensible and not let ourselves be deceived with respect to such frauds and lies, as the devil till now has deceived and fooled, under the name of spirits, even fine people"
Further proof of the Risen Savior's reality:
v. 41. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, He said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
v. 42. And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
v. 43. And He took it and did eat before them.
v. 44. And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me.
v. 45. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures,
v. 46. and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day;
v. 47. and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
v. 48. And ye are witnesses of these things.
v. 49. And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.
Unbelievers from joy: lifted out of the depths of despair, doubt, suspicion, and fear to the very pinnacle of glorious assurance, the reaction proves too much for the weakness of the disciples. They stood there huddled together in wonder and amazement, not knowing whether they dared credit the evidence of their senses or not. Just as a great light which suddenly bursts upon a person in the depths of a dark dungeon blinds him for some time, makes him unable to use his eyes, so it was with the disciples at this time. And therefore Jesus makes use of all patient kindness toward them, giving them time, above all, to get their bearings, and to let the truth gradually penetrate into their understanding. He asked them whether they had anything eatable at hand, and they brought Him a piece of cooked or broiled fish and of a honeycomb. The fact of His eating before them restored the former sense of nearness to them, and they were now ready to listen to Him. Jesus now repeated the sermon of the afternoon, telling them that His suffering and death was in full accord with the words that He had told them while He was with them, while the old relation obtained between them. Not once, but repeatedly He had pointed to the nearness of His Passion, emphasizing incidentally that this was taking place in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, which were to be found not only in the books of Moses, but also in those of the prophets and in the Psalms. The entire Old Testament points forward to the work of Jesus in the redemption of the world. And Jesus was not satisfied with a general statement, but proceeded to open up their mind and understanding, thus enabling them to get the meaning of Scriptures. Once more He emphasized the necessity of the Passion and of the resurrection in accordance with the Scriptures. They had had some idea of the light before, they had believed the Scriptures to be the true Word of God, and they knew that the Messiah was therein promised; but they now learned to apply the Scriptures to their Lord and Master, they understood the work of the Messiah; they made the proper application of the words of the Old Testament to the facts before them. And that was only the first part of the Messiah's office, that was His personal activity by which He procured redemption for all men. This salvation must now also be brought to men by means of the preaching of repentance and remission of sins. First must come the acknowledgment, the free and full confession of sins; then comes the full and free forgiveness of sins. And this preaching should be done, by God's will and according to His prophecy, among all nations. Beginning at Jerusalem indeed, in the midst of God's chosen people, but going out from there, the preaching of the Gospel should reach all nations, it should cover the earth. To bear witness to these facts, to testify of the things that they had seen and heard, that was the special office with which He entrusted them. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the basis of all Christian preaching; without these topics as a foundation there can be no real Gospel proclamation. But this ministry, which was thus once more solemnly given into their care, cannot be carried on properly in, a man's own strength; and this was true above all in those early days of Gospel-teaching. For that reason Jesus gives the apostles the assurance that He will send the promise of the Father upon them, that He will carry out the prophecies which expressly refer to the sending of the Spirit, Isaiah 44:1; Joel 2:28. But until that time would come, until the special pouring out of the Spirit upon them would take place, they should quietly and patiently remain at Jerusalem. For they would surely be clothed, be invested, with power from on high. They would receive strength in such unusual measure that they could and should wear it like an armor in doing the Lord's will and in waging His battles. It is a consolation which should serve for the comfort also of the faithful preachers of the Gospel in our days. The Spirit is in the Word which they proclaim, and that Spirit will both give them strength and exert His power through the Word.
v. 50. And He led them out as far as to Bethany. And He lifted up His hands and blessed them.
v. 51. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
v. 52. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy;
v. 53. and were continually in the Temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. Luke here, in concluding his gospel, summarizes, giving a brief account of the ascension which took place forty days later.
On that day the Lord, having assembled His disciples for the last time, led them out to Mount Olivet, until they were over against, in plain view of, Bethany. The place of the ascension was probably near the summit of the mount, on the southeastern slope. Here, for the last time in visible form, the Lord lifted up His hands over His disciples to bless them. But while He was still in the act of blessing them, He was separated from them, slowly rising up into the air before their astonished gaze. Thus He ascended to heaven. But the disciples did not grieve on account of the removal of His visible presence from their midst. Having worshiped Him as their Lord and God, they returned to Jerusalem full of joy, the joy of men convinced that their Lord was truly risen from the dead and had been taken up into glory. And therefore they were continually, so long as the Temple was open for worshipers, in some part of that great building, probably in some of the halls, praising and blessing God for all the manifestations of His mercy and love which they had experienced, and knowing that great events were impending in connection with the promise of the Spirit. Thus the believers in Christ, by placing their trust in the promises of their Master, are able at all times to have hearts filled with a joy that surpasses the understanding of the children of this world. The visible presence of the Lord is removed, but He is still present with them that are His with His good gifts in the Word and with His Spirit, Matthew 18:20; Matthew 28:20.
Summary. The resurrection of Jesus, testified to by the open grave and by the word of angels, is not believed by the apostles, but Jesus appears to the Emmaus disciples and then to the eleven apostles, convincing them of His having risen from the dead, commissioning them to be His ministers for the preaching of the Gospel, and finally ascending before them from the Mount of Olives.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Luke 24". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent