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LUKE CHAPTER 24
Luke 24:1-11 Christ’s resurrection is declared by two angels to the women that came to the sepulchre, who report it to others, but are not believed.
Luke 24:12 Peter visiteth the sepulchre.
Luke 24:13-35 Christ appeareth to two disciples going to Emmaus,
Luke 24:36-48 and to the apostles, eating before them, and explaining the Scriptures concerning himself.
Luke 24:49 He promises them the Holy Ghost,
Luke 24:50-53 and ascendeth into heaven.
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were the two women that took up their seat right over against the sepulchre, to see where Christ was laid, Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47. They had bought spices some time of that day after they knew he must die, or else they bought them immediately after his burial, as they went home, for they rested on the sabbath day. They had now got some others into their society, and came very early upon the first day of the week,
(See Poole on "Matthew 28:1", as to the particular time), intending to show their last act of love to their friend by embalming his body.
The stone which Joseph had rolled to the mouth of the sepulchre, when he had laid in the body, Matthew 27:60, and the Jews had sealed, Matthew 27:66, and which, as they came walking, they were so troubled about, how they should get it removed, Mark 16:3. How it came to be rolled away Matthew telleth us, Matthew 28:2.
Probably when they entered in they saw no angels, for one may reasonably suppose, that if they had they would hardly have adventured to enter in; but at their coming out, being satisfied that the body was not there, the angels made themselves visible to them; for it followeth, (see Luke 24:4-8).
These two men were two angels in human shape. See Poole on "Matthew 28:5" and following verses to Matthew 28:7.
See Poole on "Matthew 28:8", and following verses to Matthew 28:10, but more fully, See Poole on "John 20:2", and following verses to John 20:9, who repeateth this piece of history more largely than the rest. It is plain that scarce any of the disciples gave credit to the first relation of the women; but yet, it being near the city, Peter and John thought it worth the while to go and see. For though Peter alone be mentioned here, yet John is mentioned, John 20:3-5, under the notion of that other disciple; and he is said to have outrun Peter, and to have come first to the sepulchre. But concerning that part of the history relating to the resurrection, we shall reserve ourselves till we come to John 20:1-31. We now pass on to a piece of history relating to the evidencing of Christ’s resurrection, which is neither touched by Matthew nor by Luke. Mark toucheth it shortly, Mark 16:12,Mark 16:13, After that he appeared in another form to two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue; neither believed they them. We shall now hear Luke giving us a more full and perfect account.
Who those two were is variously guessed; that the name of the one was Cleopas, appeareth from Luke 24:18. Some will have the other to have been Luke, but he in the beginning of his Gospel distinguishes himself from eyewitnesses, Luke 1:2. Some will have it to have been Nathanael; others will have it to have been Simon, from Luke 24:34, and 1 Corinthians 15:5. But these things are so uncertain, that all the instruction we can learn from them is the vanity and uncertainty of traditions. This Emmaus was from Jerusalem about sixty furlongs, which make seven miles and a half, according to our computation.
There is nothing more ordinary, than for persons walking and riding upon roads to make the present news of the time. The subject of their discourse. There had great things happened in Jerusalem, the death of our Saviour was such; and those things which attended his death were very extraordinary; and it is not at all to be wondered that a discourse of them should fill every mouth, especially every disciple’s mouth.
He overtook them upon the way, and joined himself to their company. It is a good thing to be discoursing of Christ, it is the way to have his presence and company with us.
God by his providence restrained their eyes, that though they saw a man, yet they could not discern who he was. We may learn from hence that the form or figure of Christ’s body after his resurrection was not changed. His body had the same dimensions, the same quantity, colour, and figure, and was in itself a proper object for human eyes; for otherwise there had been no need for their eyes to be held. From hence also we may learn the influence which God hath upon all our members and senses, and how much we depend upon God for a daily power to exercise our natural faculties. Our Lord had no mind that these two disciples should at first discern who he was, that he might draw out their following discourses, and from them take occasion to prove from Scripture the certainty of his resurrection. From this text we may gather, how hard the Lutherans are put to it to maintain the real presence of the body of Christ, wherever the sacrament of the Lord’s supper is administered; for this they must maintain, that although the body of Christ after his resurrection was the same that was crucified, and so obvious to sense, yet he had not only a power to make it insensible and invisible, which we grant, but that he hath also a power to multiply it, and make it in one and the same instant to be in so many places as his supper is administered in; and also that he willeth it at the same time to be imperceptible by any human senses in all those places: for it is apparent from hence, that it was not at all times imperceptible; it might at this time have been seen, had not the disciples eyes been held, that they could not know him.
Not that he, from whom the secrets of no hearts are hidden, did not know what they were discoursing about, but that he had a mind to hear them repeated from them, that from their repetition of them he might take the better advantage to instruct them.
The things which had lately happened in Jerusalem were so many, and so unusual, that the disciples wonder that any one coming from Jerusalem should ask, What things? They therefore ask him if he were a mere stranger in Jerusalem, coming from some other country, or from some remoter parts of Judea or Galilee? Or, if he were the only man who had been unconcerned in what was the common discourse both of the town and country? Still our Saviour draws out the discourse from them, by asking them,
What things? They tell him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a Prophet mighty in deed and word; in which phrase Stephen celebrated Moses, Acts 7:22; that is, one who did not only in an extraordinary manner reveal the will of God unto men, but also did many great and mighty works, and lived a most holy and most exemplary life and conversation, so as that he was not only highly favoured of God, but in great repute and estimation also amongst the people.
It is from hence evident, that as yet they neither had a true notion of Christ as God man in one person, nor yet of the Messiah, but still remained in an opinion of a temporal deliverance to be effected for the Jews by the Messiah, when he should come. The words also showed a great weakness in the disciples’ faith as to Christ; they speak as if they were quite out of breath, and their faith began to fail. We were, say they, once of the mind, and maintained some hope, that this Jesus of Nazareth had been he whom God had designed for the Messiah, and now it is
the third day since these things were done. This mention of the third day is a good argument to prove that these were some old disciples of Christ, who had taken notice of his promise, or prophecy, that he should rise again the third day, Luke 18:33. They ought to have had patience till night, and to have considered, that though the third day were begun, yet it was not yet past.
It is plain from the relation of these two disciples, that they had whatsoever might conduce to a moral persuasion. They had the revelation of the word, from the mouth of Christ himself. They had evidences from the women, from the apparition of angels, from some among themselves, that his body was not there. The angels said he was risen. Why do they hesitate then? Why do they not believe? Is the fault in the perverseness of their wills? Had they no mind to believe, that the thing they had hoped, longed, waited for, was true? Certainly there was nothing they more desired. Let the patrons of the power of man’s will to believe, or perform any actions spiritually good, tell us (if they can) what could hinder these disciples actual believing the resurrection of Christ, but the impotency of their wills, God not yet pleasing to influence and assist their wills actually to believe what they had the greatest propensions and inclinations imaginable to have believed.
By our Saviour’s form of reprehending his disciples, we may both learn:
1. That it is not every saying, Thou fool, but a saying of it from a root of hatred, malice, and anger, which our Saviour makes to be a breach of the sixth commandment, Matthew 5:21,Matthew 5:22. Our Saviour’s reprehension of them was out of a principle of love, and a root of good will to them.
2. That the best of us are very slow of heart to believe what cometh to us upon the mere credit of a Divine revelation. It is also observable from what we have, Luke 24:27, that Moses and the prophets are not to be rejected by Christians; they also have much concerning Christ; out of them Christ instructs these two disciples in the things concerning himself.
I do not understand how some conclude from hence the lawfulness of dissembling, or telling a lie, in some cases, because the evangelist saith our Saviour
made as though he would have gone further, and did not; for without doubt our Saviour had gone further if the disciples had not been urgent with him to have staid: nor did he stay long there, as we shall hear by and by.
Some would have this bread to be sacramental bread, as if our Lord at this time celebrated his supper; and some of the papists are mightily zealous for that interpretation, thinking that they have in it a mighty argument to justify their lame administration of it in one kind (for here is no mention of the cup at all); but they do not consider, that this text will prove (if it be taken with relation to the supper) more than they would have it; as,
1. That priests may consecrate without wine, which themselves will not grant, though they say that, both elements being consecrated, the people sufficiently partake if they share but in one.
2. It will also prove that a priest may consecrate without using those substantial words, This is my body. But it is a most improbable thing, that our Saviour coming just out of his journey should fall upon his administration of this ordinance.
The text is certainly to be meant of bodily bread, which our Saviour never took without a previous blessing of it, Matthew 14:19. How their eyes were opened the evangelist tells us. Some think they knew him by his form of blessing. It is a wonder then they did not know him before by his style in three or four hours discourse by the way. Others think they knew him by taking upon him the office of the master of the feast, to bless the table, and to carve to the guests. But all this is vain. He withdrew the veil from their eyes, which alone hindered their discerning him before, for the object was visible, only the medium of their sight was indisposed.
And he vanished out of their sight. Our Saviour had now obtained his end, viz. to satisfy them that he was indeed risen; now he disappears, for that he had a power to make his body imperceptible to the disciples’ senses is out of doubt.
There was a mighty difference, no doubt, between Christ’s preaching and his ministers’: he preached as one who had authority, not as the scribes, not as ordinary ministers, but with more majesty and power; but as to the saving efficacy of his words, that depended upon his will; where he pleased to put forth such efficacious grace, there his words became effectual; where he did not, they were not so: Christ preached in the hearing of hundreds, who yet continued unbelievers, and perished in their unbelief. There is a great deal of difference also between one minister’s preaching and another’s; some kind of preaching of itself makes men’s hearts to freeze, others make them to burn; but where preaching makes our heart to burn within us, Christ throws in the coal, which the best preacher doth but blow up: only the Spirit of God is pleased to work (as Erasmus saith) secundum quod nactus est organon, according to the instrument it worketh by, and to concur with rational and spiritual means in order to rational and spiritual ends. But wherever any soul is baptized with fire at hearing a sermon, it is also baptized with the Holy Ghost. Christ will not always cure blind eyes with clay and spittle, though he did it once. These were disciples before the fire was kindled in their hearts; Christ’s preaching did but blow it up. We ought so to speak in our preaching, so to open and apply the Scriptures, as our discourses may have a rational tendency to make the hearts of our hearers to burn within them, not so as to make them dead, and sleepy, and cold, or lukewarm; and then to know that it must be Christ’s work to inflame them, when we have said all that we can say.
Luke 24:34, compared with 1 Corinthians 15:5, makes some great authors think, that Simon was one of the two, and that Cleopus (who was the other) spake this. They make no stay at Emmaus, but come presently to Jerusalem, and acquaint the disciples, that for certain Christ was risen, and that he had appeared to them in the way, and was known of them at their breaking of bread.
Spirits sometimes (by God’s permission or direction) assumed human shapes. They seeing a human shape, and not able on the sudden to conceive how a human body should come into the midst among them, without any more noise or notice taken of it, were affrighted, as we usually are at the sight of apprehended apparitions. From hence we may conclude, that either the world, and the best men in it, have been in all ages deceived, and a few atheists have been wiser than them all, or there are such beings as spirits.
If either the papists or the Lutherans could show us Christ’s hands or feet, while they impose upon us to believe that Christ’s body is really present at or in the Lord’s supper, they would not so fright us, nor make so many thoughts arise in us, as they do, about their apprehensions of the nature of a body. But while the papists allow us to handle and to taste the bread, and we find no such things, and the Lutherans suffer our eyes to be open, and we can see no such things, we cannot but conclude, that the body of Christ which they talk of must certainly be a spirit, which (according to our Saviour’s notion) is a substance which hath neither flesh nor bones, as we see the body they would have us to believe hath not; that is to say, that the body they talk of is no body. Our Saviour here proveth that it was his true body, which appeared to them, because,
1. It had integral parts, hands and feet.
2. Because it might be seen.
3. It might be handled.
4. It had flesh and bones, which a spirit hath not.
Then he shows them his hands and feet. So then our Saviour did not think that the judgment of our senses was to be rejected, concerning the nature of bodies, and his body in particular, and that in its state of exaltation, when it was raised from the dead; Do any of them say that Christ’s body here came through the door, or it could not have been here? How shall that be proved? We can easily tell them how his body might be in the midst of them, though it were not discerned while he was there; even as the eyes of the two disciples were held, Luke 24:16, that they could not discern Christ, so the eyes of the disciples might be held now, till he was in the midst amongst them.
Believed not for joy; yet if they had not now believed, they doubtless would not have rejoiced, but their faith was the cause of their joy; yet the excess of their joy was the hinderance of their faith; so dangerous are the excessive motions of our affections. Christ here gives them another evidence of the truth of his body, he
did eat before them, though very ordinary country diet, a piece of broiled fish, and of a honey comb; such a meal as we read of that he had at the lake of Tiberius, John 21:9. He did not eat to uphold, but only to testify, his life. Thus when he had raised the daughter of Jairus, Luke 8:55, he bid them give her something to eat; and for this end Lazarus sat at meat with the rest, John 12:2 and Peter proves the resurrection of Christ from their eating and drinking with him, Acts 10:41. Let not profane wits seek knots in bulrushes, inquiring what became of this meat? &c. Let them first tell us what became of the meat the angels did eat with Abraham, Genesis 18:8, and learn to believe, that it was easy with the power of God to annihilate again that meat, which was not necessary for the sustentation of the body of Christ, now freed from all the cravings of natural appetite, though he did eat it to satisfy them that he was truly risen from the dead.
The Jews ordinarily divided the Old Testament into the law, the prophets, and the holy writings, which they called the Hagiographa. The Book of Psalms was one of the last sort, and one of the most noted amongst them. So as by these three terms our Saviour understands all the Scriptures of the Old Testament. He tells them, that he had before his death, while he conversed with them, told them that all things (which were very many) which were found in any of these books concerning him must be fulfilled: he had told them so, Luke 18:31; Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:22; Matthew 20:18; Mark 9:31; Mark 10:34.
He did not open their understanding without the Scriptures, he sends them thither; and he knew the Scriptures would not sufficiently give them a knowledge of him, and the things of God, without the influence and illumination of his Spirit: they are truly taught of God, who are taught by his Spirit to understand the Scriptures. Christ gives a great honour to the Scriptures. The devil cheats those souls whom he persuades to cast away the Scriptures in expectation of a teaching by the Spirit. The Spirit teacheth by, not without, not contrary to, the Holy Scriptures.
All the Divine predictions are certain and infallible. The Jews did maliciously and freely prosecute our Saviour to death, and God did certainly foresee how their wills would be determined, and the event was accomplished accordingly.
The few words in Luke 24:47 are comprehensive of the great duty of the apostles:
1. To preach repentance and remission of sins.
2. In Christ’s name.
3. To all nations.
4. Beginning at Jerusalem.
They were to preach repentance, that is, a turning from sinful courses into a course of life consonant to the will of God; and remission of sins, that is, upon repentance; this they were to preach in his name, which may refer either to their preaching; then our Saviour lets them know that they were to be his ministers, and to preach by his authority, to be ambassadors for Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:20, stewards of his mysteries. Or else it may refer to repentance and remission of sins, which are to be preached in his name, for the sake of merits and satisfaction. They were to preach this among all nations. This was prophesied of plentifully, Psalms 2:8; Isaiah 49:6; Daniel 7:14; Hosea 2:23; Joel 2:32. This was a piece of Divine revelation which Christ had till this time concealed in a great measure; when he sent out the twelve, Matthew 5:5, he commanded them not to go to the Gentiles. Beginning at Jerusalem, that is, amongst the Jews. He was prophesied of under the notion of a King, to be set upon the Lord’s holy hill of Zion, Psalms 2:6. So Psalms 110:2; Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 28:16; Isaiah 45:1. In pursuance of this, we shall find the apostles preaching only in Judea, till they had judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life, then they, turned to the Gentiles, Acts 13:38,Acts 13:46.
It is questioned by none, but by the promise of the Father our Lord meaneth the promise of the Spirit, as it came down in the days of Pentecost. This effusion of the Spirit was promised under the Old Testament, Isaiah 44:3; Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:27; most eminently, Joel 2:28, the apostle himself interpreting this prophecy, Acts 2:16-18. See also Acts 1:8, where the fulfilling of this promise of the Father, as it is called Acts 1:4, is put before—and ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in Judea and in Samaria; and is also expounded by, But ye shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon you. Our Lord also had said, I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever. John 14:16. In this text he saith, that he will send him; so also John 15:26; John 16:7; thereby confirming his disciples in this, that he was equal with the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was sent by the Father and him, yet sent by the Father upon the prayer of the Son, and in his name, John 14:16,John 14:26. This Holy Spirit is also called, power from on high; the power of the Highest, Luke 1:35. But here the gifts of the Holy Ghost may be understood, as also in Acts 1:8, where it is said this power should be received after that the Holy Ghost should come upon them: until this time should come, which was in the days of Pentecost, Acts 2:1, the disciples were bound to stay at Jerusalem, which accordingly they did. And we may from hence conclude, that these words of our Saviour were spoken to his disciples after his appearance to them in Galilee, (of which Luke saith nothing), which was the place where (as most think) he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once, 1 Corinthians 15:6.
This must be understood to have happened forty days after our Saviour’s resurrection, for so Luke himself tells us, Acts 1:3.
And he led them out as far as Bethany; not the village Bethany, but that part of the mount of Olives which belonged to Bethany. Our Saviour had been often there praying; from thence he now ascendeth into heaven.
And he lifted up his hands and blessed them: some think that by blessing here is meant praying, and the lifting up of his hands was accommodated to that religious action. Others think that blessing here signifieth a more authoritative act; and that his lifting up of his hands was a stretching out of his hands, as a sign of that effectual blessing of them.
While he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven; that is, he moved upward as if he had been carried, for it is certain that our Saviour ascended by his own power. Luke saith, Acts 1:9, He was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. As Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind, 2 Kings 2:11, so Christ went up in a cloud; but with this difference, Christ ascended by his own power, Elijah could not without the help of an angel.
We never before read of any act of adoration which the disciples performed to Christ. Their faith was now come to the highest pitch. They did no longer look upon him only as one sent of God, a great Prophet, nor only as the Son of David, the promised Messiah; in the mean time not rightly taking the notion of the Messiah, but looking upon him as one who should be a temporal saviour, and deliverer of his people; they now believe him to be the eternal Son of God, being so manifested by his resurrection from the dead, and ascension into heaven before their eyes. According to his commandment, they return to Jerusalem, full of joy:
and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. It is said, Acts 1:13,Acts 1:14, that being returned they went into an upper room, and continued in prayer and supplication. Some think that this upper room was appendant to the temple. But continually here may reasonably be interpreted often, or ordinarily, or at temple hours of prayer; as the morning and evening sacrifice are called the continual burnt offering, Exodus 29:42; Numbers 28:3. Their work was to praise and bless God. It is not said for what, but easily understood: as for other mercies, so more especially for his sending the Messiah for our redemption, and the confirmation and perfecting their faith in him.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 24". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34