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Luke 24:1. Very early in the morning.—Rather, “at early dawn” (R.V.); lit. “deep dawn.” And certain others with them.—Omit these words; omitted in R.V. Probably a harmonistic insertion.
Luke 24:4. Two men.—I.e., men in appearance. Shining garments.—Rather, “dazzling apparel” (R.V.); the word “shining” literally meaning “flashing.”
Luke 24:5. The living.—The ground of the rebuke lies in the designation applied to our Lord, “the Living One” (absolutely)—He who hath life in Himself (John 5:26), and of whom it is elsewhere said, that God raised Him up; “having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be holden of it.”—Speaker’s Commentary.
Luke 24:6. Yet in Galilee.—These were women from Galilee to whom the angels spoke (see chap. Luke 23:55).
Luke 24:7. Sinful men.—The Gentiles (chap. Luke 18:32).
Luke 24:11. Idle tales.—R.V. “idle talk.”
Luke 24:12. Then arose Peter, etc.—This verse is omitted by one of the great uncial MSS., D., but is no doubt genuine. Departed, wondering in Himself.—Rather, “departed to his home, wondering,” etc. The change arises from connecting the phrase translated “in himself” with “departed” and not with “wondering,” and rendering it by “to his home.”
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luke 24:1-12
The Empty Tomb.—None of the evangelists describe the rising of Jesus from the dead, but all of them assign it to an hour early in the morning of the first day of the week, before the visit of the women to the tomb where He had lain. They came to the place as the day began to dawn, but Jesus had already left the tomb. The rising of the Sun of Righteousness anticipated the dawn of the natural day. Three classes of persons are here mentioned as having relationship with Christ, each possessing special characteristics—the women, the angels, and the apostles.
I. The love of the women.—As soon as the Sabbath was past and the darkness of the night was about to give way to the coming day, the band of holy women assembled together and set out for the tomb, carrying the spices with which they proposed to anoint the body of their Lord. Love to Him made them regardless of their own comfort, and generous in their gifts to Him, and drew them together into holy fellowship one with another. Bountiful provision had been made by others already for embalming the body of Jesus, but they will not be satisfied unless they are allowed to join in showing this last mark of affection for Him. It is the motive that animates us that gives value to the offerings we make to God or the services we seek to render to our fellows. Love to Christ is the one strong emotion that distinguishes these women all through the incident here recorded, but in the course of the strange experience through which they passed many other emotions and feelings rose to the surface. On their way to the tomb they were anxious about being able to carry through the work on which they were bent. The stone that sealed the tomb was large, and they wondered who would roll it away for them. Yet, after all, the obstacle existed only in their imaginations, for when they reached the tomb the stone was rolled away. In like manner many of the obstacles that our imaginations conjure up as likely to hinder our service of Christ or of our fellows disappear of themselves if we press on resolutely in the path of duty. Feelings of surprise, perplexity, and fear filled their minds when they came to the tomb and found it open and empty, and had a vision of angels; but these feelings were succeeded by great joy as they realised the fact that He whose lifeless body they had come to embalm had risen from the dead, in accordance with the prophetic words He had spoken in Galilee, but which they had been unable to understand. Love to Jesus kept alive a spark of faith within their hearts, and they gradually attained to that spirituality of mind which enabled them to grasp spiritual truths and to understand the deep significance both of Christ’s death and of His resurrection. In obedience to a very natural impulse they hastened to convey the news of the resurrection to their fellow-disciples. Yet, as often afterwards in the experience of those who proclaim the gospel, their message did not win immediate credence; the faith which filled their hearts did not find entrance to those of others, and the tidings they brought seemed as idle tales. In their disappointment the words of the prophet may well have recurred to their minds, “Lord, who hath believed our report?”
II. The kindly ministrations of the angels.—As angels heralded the birth of the Saviour, so was it fitting that they should herald His rising from the dead. On the one occasion their message was that He who was Lord of all had deigned to assume our nature and appear in fashion as a man; now they proclaim Him as the conqueror of death, and as having entered into a glorified existence and delivered from the weaknesses and limitations of the condition which he had for a time accepted. They appear as guardians of the tomb where He had lain, and reveal, by their words and manner, their deep interest in the mystery of the redemption of the human race by the sufferings and death of their Divine Lord. They can scarcely understand the slowness of these disciples in comprehending the great fact of the resurrection, and their words are almost a reproof—“How could it be thought that the Living One could remain among the dead, or could be long holden of the bands of death?” Very beautiful and tender is the way in which the minds of the disciples are gradually prepared to receive the assurance that Christ had indeed risen. Had He appeared to them at once in living form, as they journeyed to the tomb, or had He presented Himself to them at the instant they stood by it and found it empty, the sudden shock of wonder and joy might have been too great for them; but in His love He caused the truth to distil slowly into their minds. First, the sight of the empty tomb prepared them for some great event that had happened, and then the message of the angel filled their hearts with wonder, joy, and hope. It is as we are able to bear it that spiritual truth is communicated to us.
III. The unbelief of the apostles.—Blameworthy as was the reception which the apostles gave to the first tidings of the resurrection, their unbelief shows us that nothing but the actual fact of Christ’s having risen from the dead could have produced the change in them which they subsequently underwent. Men whose minds were so unprepared for the event were not likely to have been the subjects of hallucination. Their doubt tends to “the more confirmation of our faith.” One indication of incredulity is that the apostles did not go at once and in a body to verify the reports which the women had brought them. St. Luke speaks merely of St. Peter as setting out to visit the tomb, while the fourth evangelist tells us that he himself was the only one who accompanied him. The intensity of feeling which animated him is indicated in his “running” to the tomb. He who had sinned so grievously against his Master is not afraid at the thought of the possibility of meeting Him, for his mind is cleansed and strengthened, and his love quickened, by the genuineness of his repentance. He saw that the tomb was empty, and that the grave-clothes were carefully folded up and laid aside. It cannot be that enemies have violated the sanctity of the grave and taken away the body. Can it be after all that the tidings the women brought are true, and that these signs of deliberation and care indicate that the Lord, come to life again, has divested Himself of the habiliments of the grave, as no longer fit for Him? Yet a little while and the wonder which this sight has aroused will be dissolved in joy, as the penitent apostle again beholds the face of his Master. The last time he saw Jesus was at the moment when he was strenuously denying that He knew the Man;—then “Jesus turned and looked on Peter.” The circumstances and emotions of this first interview between the disciple and the Lord after the resurrection are not revealed to us; they are a secret, known only to them. Holy reticence concerning the most sacred moments of our lives is not inconsistent with full and open testimony to the Saviour.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luke 24:1-12
I. The love and devotion manifested by these holy women.—
(1) In their visiting the tomb at early dawn; and
(2) in the preparations they had made for embalming the body of their Lord.
II. Their surprise and distress at finding the tomb open and the body of the Lord Jesus no longer in it.—That which should have given them encouragement and hope was only a ground of anxiety and sorrow.
Luke 24:4. “Much perplexed.”—Parallel between the announcement of the Nativity and that of the Resurrection.
1. On both occasions heavenly visitants speak words of encouragement and hope to anxious, expectant souls.
2. On both occasions attendant circumstances are related at length, but a veil of mystery hangs over the beginning of the Incarnation and of the Resurrection of the Lord.
“Two men.”—The supposed discrepancies in the number of the angels seen near the sepulchre of Jesus are effectively dealt with in the well-known words of Lessing: “The evangelists do not count the angels. The whole grave, the whole region round about the grave, was invisibly swarming with angels. There were not only two angels, like a pair of grenadiers who are left behind in front of the quarters of the departed general; there were millions of them. They appeared, not always one and the same, not always the same two; sometimes this one appears, sometimes that; sometimes at this place, sometimes at that; sometimes alone, sometimes in company; sometimes they said this, sometimes they said that.”
Luke 24:5-6. The Living not Among the Dead—
1. A gentle remonstrance.
2. The announcement of a fact.
Luke 24:5. “The living.”—The Living One and the Cause of life, for He said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25).
The Living Sought Among the Dead.—Who comes under these words of rebuke, and does this now?
I. It is done, in the worst sense, by those whom Scripture calls “the children of this world.”
II. The same question has its application to formalism in religion.
III. We approach more nearly to its first meaning when we speak of its bearing upon the case of doubters.
IV. Upon those Christians who never advance beyond the cross and the grave into the clear light and full glory of a risen Saviour.—Vaughan.
Luke 24:6. “Is risen.”—The Resurrection is
(1) a restoration of the broken bond between soul and body;
(2) a continuation of the previous life (cf. Luke 24:39); and
(3) a glorification of the former existence.
Luke 24:7. “Sinful men.”—According to Jewish phraseology the Gentiles are denoted by this epithet. The sins of the Jews themselves are recalled by the word “delivered.”
Luke 24:8. “They remembered His words.”—By which we are taught that, though they had made little proficiency in the doctrine of Christ, still, it was not lost, but was choked up, until in due time it yielded fruit.—Calvin.
Luke 24:9. “Told all these things.”—Compare their journey to the sepulchre with their return from it. Then their hearts so heavy with sorrow; now “anointed with the oil of gladness above their fellows.”
Luke 24:10. “And other women.”—Among them was Salome, the mother of James and John (Mark 16:1), and perhaps also Susanna, mentioned by St. Luke in connection with Joanna in Luke 8:3.
Luke 24:11. “They believed them not.”—The verb is in the imperfect and implies persistent incredulity. “They disbelieved them.”—Farrar.
Luke 24:12. “Wondering.”—The sight which produced merely wonder, in the case of St. Peter, produced belief in the case of St. John (John 20:8).
Luke 24:13. Two of them.—It is evident from Luke 24:33 that neither of them were apostles. The name of one of them is given in Luke 24:18, Cleopas (i.e., an abbreviation of Cleopatros), a different name from Cleopas of John 19:25. Conjectures as to the name of the other are futile. Went.—Rather, “were going” (R.V.). Emmaus.—Mentioned in Josephus, B.J., VII. Luke 6:6. Omit “about”; omitted in R.V.
Luke 24:14. They talked.—Rather, “communed” (R.V.); the same word as in Luke 24:15.
Luke 24:15. Reasoned.—Rather, “questioned together.” (R.V.).
Luke 24:16. Their eyes were holden.—A certain change had passed over Jesus, so that He was not instantly recognised in all cases by the disciples after His resurrection (see Luke 24:37; Matthew 28:17; John 20:14; John 21:4). In the present instance St. Mark refers to this in saying that He appeared to these two disciples “in another form.” St. Luke, however, speaks here of a subjective impediment to recognition in the disciples themselves: perhaps their absorption in grief. A supernatural restraint may possibly be indicated: cf. Luke 24:31.
Luke 24:17. What manner? etc.—Lit., “What words are these that ye exchange one with another?” As ye walk and are sad.—A better reading is, “and they stood still, looking sad” (R.V.).
Luke 24:18. Art thou only? etc.—Rather, “Dost thou alone sojourn in Jerusalem?” (R.V.) or “Dost thou sojourn alone in Jerusalem?” (R.V. margin). “Cleopas thought that the supposed stranger was one of the numerous persons who had come up to sojourn at Jerusalem during the period of the paschal feast, and expressed his surprise at his being there without having heard of the death of Jesus of Nazareth; he assumes that no other person could have been in Jerusalem at the time without hearing of it” (Speaker’s Commentary).
Luke 24:19. A prophet, etc.—See a similar description in Acts 2:22.
Luke 24:20. Our rulers.—This shows that the speakers were Jews. Delivered him.—I.e., to Pilate.
Luke 24:21. We trusted.—Rather, “we hoped” (R.V); “a word of weakened trust, and shrinking from the avowal that they ‘believed’ this” (Alford). Is the third day.—The expression in the original is peculiar, and might be translated, “He is now in the third day, since,” etc. The reference, of course, is to the prophecy about rising again on the third day.
Luke 24:22. Yea, and certain women.—R.V. “moreover.” The phrase used implies, “Certainly, thus much has happened, that,” etc. Made us astonished.—R.V. “amazed us.”
Luke 24:24. Certain of them, etc.—This refers to the apostles; to the visit of Peter and John to the sepulchre, though St. Luke has in his narrative only mentioned Peter (Luke 24:12).
Luke 24:25. O fools.—Rather, “O foolish men” (R.V.); the word means unintelligent. Defects both of understanding and of heart accounted for their unbelief.
Luke 24:26. Ought not Christ?—Rather, “behoved it not the Christ?” (R.V.). “The sufferings were the appointed way by which Christ should enter into His glory” (Alford).
Luke 24:27. Beginning at.—I.e., taking His arguments from. Taking up the words of one sacred writer after another, he deduced from them in turn certain great principles; basing what He taught upon their testimony. In all the scriptures.—The general tenor of the Old-Testament Scriptures, types, Law, and prophecies, led up to Christ.
Luke 24:28. Made as though, etc.—There was no dissimulation, for He would have gone further, if they had not constrained Him to abide with them. His having joined them on the road was no pledge that He would remain an unlimited time in their society.
Luke 24:29. Abide with us.—I.e., in the same quarters with us. It is not implied that the home of either of the disciples was in Emmaus; indeed, from Christ’s assuming the position of master of the household, it would seem probable that the resting place was an inn. To tarry.—Rather, “to abide” (R.V.); the same word as in the earlier part of the verse.
Luke 24:30. Sat at meat.—Rather, as in other places, “reclined at meat.” Took bread, etc.—No reference to any sacramental rite. These disciples could not have been reminded by His action at the last supper, for neither of them was then present. But they may have witnessed similar actions at common meals with the disciples and at the miraculous feeding of the multitudes. Perhaps they recognised the prints of the nails in His hands.
Luke 24:32. Did not our hearts? etc.—Rather, “Was not our heart burning within us” (R.V.). Talked with us.—Rather “to us” (R.V.).
Luke 24:33. Rose up the same hour.—“They have now no fear of the night-journey from which they had so lately dissuaded their unknown companion” (Bengel). Found the eleven.—With the exception of Thomas, if this appearance of Jesus be the same as that recorded in John 20:19.
Luke 24:34. Appeared to Simon.—I.e., to Simon Peter. No details are given of this appearance, but it is mentioned again in 1 Corinthians 15:5. Probably at this interview between Jesus and Peter, the sin of his threefold denial was formally forgiven.
Luke 24:35. In breaking of bread.—Rather, “in the breaking of bread” (R.V.),
Luke 24:36. Jesus Himself.—Rather, “He Himself” (R.V.). Stood in the midst.—A sudden appearance, corresponding to the disappearance in Luke 24:31. St. John (John 20:19) says that “the doors were shut.” Peace be unto you.—The ordinary Jewish salutation, but having special significance in the mouth of our Lord. Cf. John 14:27.
Luke 24:37. Terrified.—“On account of His sudden appearance, and the likeness to one whom they knew to have been dead” (Alford). A spirit.—I.e., a ghost or spectre.
Luke 24:38. Thoughts.—Rather, “reasonings” (R.V.), or “disputing.”
Luke 24:39. My hands, etc.—Probably as evidence both of His corporeity and of His identity. The latter was proved by the marks of the nails. Sometimes those crucified had their feet tied to the cross: from this it is evident that the feet of Christ had been nailed to the cross. Handle me.—St. John uses the same word in the same connection (1 John 1:1). Flesh and bones.—From the omission of “blood,” some have argued that this was absent in His resurrection body, as being the seat of animal life. But this is doubtful.
Luke 24:40. Some ancient authorities omit this verse; but it is, no doubt, genuine. It is not an interpolation from John 20:27.
Luke 24:41. Believed not for joy.—A very natural touch. Any meat.—Rather, “anything to eat.”
Luke 24:42. Fish.—Fish was brought in great quantities to Jerusalem at the principal festivals. Honeycomb.—Curiously enough these words are omitted from the most important uncial MSS. They are, however, of great antiquity, and are found in nearly all the cursive MSS. and in some of the uncials. It is difficult to understand how they could have been inserted if they had not been genuine. This proof of the resurrection by eating with the disciples is referred to by St. Peter (Acts 10:41).
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luke 24:13-43
The Eyes of the Understanding Opened.—Jesus appeared in the morning first of all to Mary of Magdala the second appearance was vouchsafed to Peter. Then, in the course of the day, He appeared to the two brethren who journeyed to Emmaus, and in the evening to the eleven apostles—or rather, to the ten. In the two last of these cases we notice a difference in the order of procedure followed by Jesus. In the one case He opened the eyes of the understanding first, and the eyes of the body second; in the other He reversed this order.
I. The eyes of the understanding opened.—In thus varying the order of revelation Jesus was but adapting His procedure to the different circumstances of the persons with whom he had to deal. The two friends who journeyed to Emmaus did not notice any resemblance between the stranger who joined their company and their beloved Lord of whom they had been thinking and speaking. “Their eyes were holden, that they should not know Him.” The main cause of this, we believe, was sheer heaviness of heart. Sorrow made them unobserving. They were so engrossed with their own sad thoughts that they had no eyes for outward things. They did not take the trouble to look who it was that had come up with them; it would have made no difference though the stranger had been their own father. It is obvious how men in such a mood must be dealt with. They can get outward vision only by getting the inward eye first opened. The diseased mind must be healed, that they may be able to look at what is before them and see it as it is. On this principle Jesus proceeded with the two brethren. He accommodated Himself to their humour, and led them on from despair to hope; and then the outward senses recovered their perceptive power, and told who the stranger was. “You have heard,” He said in effect, “a rumour that He who was crucified three days ago is risen. You regard this rumour as an incredible story. But why should you? You believe Jesus to be the Christ. If He was the Christ, His rising again was to be expected as much as the passion, for both alike are foretold in the Scriptures, which ye believe to be the Word of God.” These thoughts having taken hold of their minds, the hearts of the two brethren began to burn with the kindling power of a new truth; the day-dawn of hope breaks on their spirit; they wake up as from an oppressive dream; they look outward, and, lo! the Man who has been discoursing to them is Jesus Himself.
II. The eyes of the body opened.—With the ten the case was different. When Jesus appeared in the midst of them they were struck at once with the resemblance to their deceased Master. They had been listening to the story of Cleopas and his companion, and were in a more observing mood. But they would not believe that what they saw really was Jesus. They were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit—the ghost or spectre of the Crucified. The first thing to be done in this case, therefore, manifestly, was to allay the fear awakened, and to convince the terrified disciples that the Being who had suddenly appeared was no ghost, but a Man; the very Man He seemed to be, even Jesus Himself. Not till that has been done can any discourse be profitably held concerning the teaching of the Old Testament on the subject of Messiah’s earthly history. To that task, accordingly, Jesus forthwith addressed Himself, and only when it was successfully accomplished did He proceed to expound the true Messianic theory. Something analogous to the difference in the experience of the two and of the ten disciples, in connection with belief in the resurrection, may be found in the ways by which different Christians now are brought to faith. The evidences of Christianity are divisible into two great categories, the external and the internal; the one drawn from outward historical facts, the other from the adaptation of the gospel to man’s nature and needs. Both sorts of evidence are necessary to a perfect faith, just as both sorts of vision, the outward and the inward, were necessary to make the disciples thorough believers in the fact of the Resurrection. But some begin with the one, some with the other. Some are convinced first that the gospel story is true, and then, perhaps long after, waken up to a sense of the importance and preciousness of the things which it relates. Others, again, are, like Cleopas and his companion, so engrossed with their own thoughts as to be incapable of appreciating or seeing facts, requiring first to have the eyes of their understanding enlightened to see the beauty and the worthiness of the truth as it is in Jesus. They may at one time have had a kind of traditional faith in the facts as sufficiently well attested. But they have lost that faith—it may be, not without regret. They are sceptics, and yet they are sad because they are so, and feel that it was better with them when, like others, they believed. Yet, though they attempt it, they cannot restore their faith by a study of mere external evidences. They read books dealing in such evidences, but they are not much impressed by them. Their eyes are holden, and they know not Christ coming to them in that outward way. But He reveals Himself to them in another manner. By hidden discourse with their spirits, He conveys into their minds a powerful sense of the moral grandeur of the Christian faith, making them feel that, true or not, it is at least worthy to be true. Then their hearts begin to burn; they hope that what is so beautiful may turn out to be all objectively true; the question of the external evidences assumes a new interest to their minds; they inquire, they read, they look, and, lo! they see Jesus revived, a true historical person for them—risen out of the grave of doubt to live for evermore the sun of their souls, more precious for the temporary loss coming—
“Apparelled in more precious habit,
More moving, more delicate, and full of life,
Into the eye and prospect of their soul”—
than ever He did before they doubted.—Bruce.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luke 24:13-43
Luke 24:13-32. The Unrecognised Presence: a Narrative with a Typical Value.
I. Christ draws near while they talk of holy things.
II. He draws them out by His inquiries.
III. He draws out the meaning of Scripture.
IV. He draws out their invitation.
V. Then He goes in to tarry.—Sits at meat, He blesses and breaks and gives the bread.
VI. Two forms of revelation.—
1. He makes their hearts burn.
2. He makes Himself known in breaking bread.
The Journey to Emmaus.
I. The way.
II. Christ with us by the way.
III. Christ opening the Scriptures to us by the way.
IV. Our hearts burning in us in the company of Jesus.—
1. The kind.
2. The degree.
3. The effects of this emotion.—Arnot.
The Journey to Emmaus.
I. Two sad travellers on the way to Emmaus.—
1. The afternoon journey.
2. The sympathising Companion.
3. The willing Teacher.
4. The risen Lord.
II. Two glad travellers on the way to Jerusalem.—
1. A rapid, eager, impatient return.
2. Glad and joyful hearts.
3. A journey to convey glad news to others.—W. Taylor.
These Two Men Types of Disciples in Calamity.—If these two men are types of disciples suddenly visited by calamity, the Saviour’s dealings with them are manifestations of His permanent method of comforting such as they.
I. He first brings them in a human way to open their hearts to Him. This is, however homely, really always the first step to comfort.
II. Then comes the light of His Divine instruction.
III. A still greater comfort was in store for them—the discovery of the Lord Himself.
IV. There are two lessons from this story:
1. One as to experience. The “burning” heart had been a token of His presence with them all the way. The real signs of the Divine life are within.
2. One as to service. After vision comes work. Worship is followed by service to their brethren. Christ in the heart, then the heart in Christ’s work.—Macleod.
Luke 24:13. “That same day.”—They left the city, probably, between three and four o’clock in the afternoon, as they arrived at Emmaus (six and a half miles) before sunset.
Luke 24:14. “They talked together.”—In the verse following they are spoken of as “reasoning,” so that we may conclude that they were not altogether of one mind on some of the questions that engaged their attention. As the one of them named Cleopas in the ensuing dialogue speaks in a tone of deep melancholy and despair, it is probable that his companion was inclined to a somewhat more hopeful view of matters.
Luke 24:15. “Jesus Himself drew near.”—A fulfilment of the promise, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
I. Jesus draws near when His friends speak of Him.
II. How much we miss when we meet if we fail to speak of Christ!
III. What a blessing every hour of conversation would be if we would only talk together of Christ and His kingdom!—Miller.
Luke 24:16. “Their eyes were holden.”—When Jesus in temptation holds our eyes, so that the soul neither can nor may recognise, that is good, for soon will joy, light, and comfort, follow; but when the sinner holds his own eyes, and will not recognise Jesus, that is evil, for he incurs danger of eternal blindness and darkness.—Starke.
Luke 24:17. The Sadness of The Two Disciples—
1. The sadness of bereavement.
2. Sadness caused by mental perplexity.
3. Sadness of a shattered career. In our modern world, too, nominal disciples are to be found vexed by almost the same kind of sadness. There is
(1) the sadness of mental perplexity;
(2) the sadness of conscience;
(3) that which arises from the want of an object in life. Christ draws near to them
(1) in His Church;
(2) in His Scriptures;
(3) in His sacraments.—Liddon.
“Sad.”—The sadness was an indication
(1) of unbelief, but also
(2) of love. They parted very reluctantly with their faith in Him for whose memory they cherished so strong an affection. The unbelief which is conjoined with sadness is likely to be transformed into faith, while that which is devoid of regret or sorrow is likely to undergo no change for the better.
Luke 24:18. “Hast not known.”—So absorbed are they in grief that they take for granted that every one else must be fully acquainted with the events that have occasioned it.
Luke 24:19-24. Causes of The Disciples’ Despondency:—
I. The memory of the holy and beneficent life of Jesus so sadly brought to an end by His ignominious death.
II. The defeat of the hopes of redemption through Him which they had cherished.
III. The perplexing nature of the reports which had reached their ears. All that they certainly knew being that the tomb was empty, but that no one had seen Christ.
I. Rebuke (Luke 24:25).
II. Instruction (Luke 24:26-27).
Luke 24:25. “O fools and slow of heart.”—Folly in the state of their minds; slowness in the state of their affections.
Luke 24:26. “And to enter into His glory.”—What had seemed to them incompatible with the glory of the Messiah was precisely the appointed way thereto. The Lord does not mean that He is already entered into His glory, but speaks as one who has come so near to His glory as that He sees already the suffering behind Him.—Van Oosterzee.
The Need of a Suffering Saviour.
I. It was necessary that Christ should suffer, in order to His work of salvation.
II. In order to the exercise of sympathy with us.
III. To fit Him for His office of sovereignty.—Ker.
Luke 24:27. “The things concerning Himself.”—Doubtless He began with the prot-evangelium (Genesis 3:15): the Seed of the woman who would inflict a deadly wound on the serpent, yet be Himself wounded. Then there were the types of the brazen serpent (Numbers 21:9; John 3:14), and the paschal lamb (Exodus 12:46; John 19:36). Nor can we doubt that Isaiah 53:0 was the central prophecy which he expounded. Add to these the psalms of the Crucifixion (cf. Luke 24:44), the 22nd (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:24) and the 40th (Hebrews 10:5); then, further, Daniel 9:26, and the book of Jonah, and Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:7.
Types of Christ.—The likeness of the promised Mediator is conspicuous throughout the Sacred Volume; as in a picture, moving along the line of history in one or other of His destined offices—the dispenser of blessings, in Joseph; the inspired interpreter of truth, in Moses; the conqueror, in Joshua; the active preacher, in Samuel; the suffering combatant, in David; and, in Solomon, the triumphant and glorious king.—Newman.
The Testimony of the Scriptures to Christ.—In studying the Scriptures for Himself He had found Himself in them everywhere (John 5:39-40). He had now only to let this light which filled His heart ray forth from Him.—Godet.
Luke 24:28. “He made as though.”—The reasons for this were
(1) that this was in accordance with the assumed character of a stranger under which they had hitherto known Him, and
(2) that, having enlightened their minds, He would make trial of their affections.
“Our blessed Saviour pretended that He would pass forth beyond Emmaus; but if He intended not to do it, yet He did no injury to the two disciples, for whose good it was that He intended to make this offer; and neither did He prevaricate the strictness of simplicity and sincerity, because they were persons with whom He had made no contracts, to whom He had passed no obligation, and in the nature of the thing it is proper and natural, by an offer, to give an occasion to another to do a good action, and, in case it succeeds not, then to do what we intended not; and so the offer was conditional” (J. Taylor).
Luke 24:29. “They constrained Him.”—Consider on how many occasions besides the present it is intimated that constraint is necessary on the part of those who would secure the abiding presence of Christ. “Pass not away, I pray Thee, from Thy servant,” was the respectful language of the patriarch Abraham (Genesis 18:3); and, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me,” was the earnest exclamation of the patriarch Jacob (Genesis 32:26). “Depart not hence, I pray Thee, until I come unto Thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before Thee,” said Gideon to the angel (Judges 6:18). “I pray Thee, let us detain Thee” was the entreaty of Manoah and his wife (ibid. Luke 13:15).—Burgon.
Entertaining Strangers.—They had not been “forgetful to entertain strangers” (Hebrews 13:2), and they found a reward in being privileged to entertain the Son of God unawares.
“Abide with us.”
I. But for this request, Jesus would have passed on.—He loves to be constrained.
II. We have so little of Christ’s fellowship, because we do not ask for it.—If we wanted more we would get it.
III. If we were truly to desire Christ to abide with us always, He would never go away.—Miller.
Our Need of Christ in Later Life.—The words of the text may suggest to us our special need of the presence and the power of Christ in the different, and particularly in the later, periods of our life. We begin with—
I. Our special need of Christ in the midday of life.—When we have to say of ourselves that it is “towards noon,” or when it is the early afternoon with us; when we are in the midst of life, when the burden of its cares, and its anxieties, and its responsibilities, rests upon us; when we are feeling most of its strain and stress;—then there are two peculiar perils besetting us.
1. That of over-confidence. We are tempted to speak thus to ourselves: “I am through the heats and excitements of youth; I have met and mastered its temptations (to impurity, intemperance, irreverence, etc.); I may relax a little now, I may trust myself now, I may give the reins to inclination now”; and then comes indulgence, which begins by being occasional and harmless, and may end by being habitual and harmful. Then comes declension, and, it may be, even downfall.
2. Absorption. The claims of the business, of the household, of friendship; invitations to various gratifications, each of which is innocent, but which, in their aggregate, are seriously taxing;—these are so urgent and imperative, so present and powerful, that they absorb; they absorb time, strength, energy; so much so that too little is left for worship, for communion, for the direct service of Christ; and the soul is starved, Christian character is weakened; we are in serious peril of “losing those things which we have wrought” (2 John 1:8). There is, therefore, abundant need for us to make an earnest and continual appeal to our Divine Lord, to address Him thus: “Abide with us, O Master, for it is noontide with us; uphold us by Thy power in the way of heavenly wisdom and holy service; so help us to abide with Thee that we shall never become lax and careless, but shall always watch unto prayer; so aid and influence us that we shall not let this world wind its silken cords around us, but that we shall always give the strength and wealth of our hearts and lives to Thee. Be Thou ever near us, to shelter and support us, or our spirits will be bent under the burden and scorched by the heat of the day.”
II. Our special need of Christ in the late afternoon of life.—There comes a time when our life has passed its meridian, and when the sun is sinking in the sky; it is late afternoon with us. Our powers are not what they were, physical or mental. We cannot walk or work as long, or so well, as we could; we cannot think as hard, or remember as easily, or sustain our attention, as long as we once could; we are falling behind those whom we were once before—our sons and daughters can do many things better than we can. Peculiar perils belong to this hour of life.
1. That of pride or of vanity, of refusing to acknowledge to ourselves or to admit to others the waning of our power.
2. That of envy, a disposition to disparage the work of those who are younger and stronger than ourselves, to depreciate their work, or, at any rate, to withhold the admiration and delight which a more generous spirit would cherish in what they are and in what they do. Here is special need for looking up and praying, “Lord, abide with us, for it is toward evening; we are not what we were, and we need Thy abounding grace that we may be true enough and humble enough to recognise that our days and powers are failing—in order that we may be able to welcome those who are coming up, to honour and to love them, and to work heartily and happily with them, to say with joy, like Thy servant John, ‘They must increase, but we must decrease’ ” (see John 3:29-30).
III. Our special need of Christ in the late evening of life.—“The day is far spent.” This is that
(1) we have been privileged to witness. We have known those who have gone through all the hours of the day, and have gone down into the night of death. Their health failed them; the infirmities of age overtook and imprisoned them; life lost its charm for them, its worth to them; their treasures were taken from them; nothing was left, of this world’s giving, in their hands: only the future beyond the grave remained to them. What they needed was a Divine Friend whose hand they could hold as they took their last steps on earth, and as they entered the “silent land.” “Abide with us,” they had reason to say, and (in some language did say) “for the day is far spent”; let us know and feel that Thou art near. And their Divine Lord did not fail them; He was with them at the end, and unto the end; and in their “glorious Leader’s” presence they went down with tranquil, if not triumphant, spirit into the darkness of death, to awake in the bright and glad morning of immortality.
(2) The hour will come—and it will arrive sooner than we think—when we also shall have occasion to say, “the day is far spent”; when we shall have had our earthly heritage, shall have played our part, shall have nothing more to look for as citizens of the present time. Well, indeed, will it be for us if then we have some resources of which time has no power to rob us—which are imperishable and unfailing; well, indeed, if we can then look up confidently to a Divine Saviour, and say, “Lord, abide with us, for the day is far spent; our friends have fallen from us, or gone beyond us; but be Thou ever with us, that we may have fellowship with Thee. Earth has no enjoyment for us; but speak Thou Thine own peace to our souls [John 14:27]; we have no prospects this side the grave, but let us hear Thy voice, speaking of the many mansions in the Father’s house, and we shall be at rest.” “They constrained Him … and He went in.” Our Lord will need but slight constraining on our part. Let us only wisely accept Him in the earlier years, and be loyal to Him through all the periods of our life, and He will not withdraw Himself from us at the last; having “loved His own,” He will “love them to the end”; He will—
“Meet us in the valley
When heart and flesh shall fail,
And softly, safely, lead us on,
Until within the veil.”
The Evening Prayer of Christ’s Friends.—Some of the feelings which must have been in the hearts of those who presented it.
I. Grateful interest in a spiritual benefactor.
II. A desire to have such conversation continued.
III. The presentiment of something more than they had yet seen or heard.
Circumstances in which this request may be offered by us:—
I. It is suitable to the whole earthly life of every Christian.
II. It is suitable to those who are suffering under some special despondency of spirit.
III. It is suitable to those who are approaching the evening of life.—Ker.
Luke 24:30. “Took bread,” etc.—The position of superiority which Jesus had assumed in the rebuke He had administered and in His exposition of the Scriptures, authorises Him to act as the head of the household. Though nominally a guest of the disciples, He becomes their host and they become His guests.
Luke 24:31. “Their eyes were opened.” But before this the eyes of their understandings had been opened. Christ did not reveal Himself until He had effected the principal object of His appearing to them at all.
“Vanished out of their sight.”—The expression is a peculiarly strong one, implying a sudden and supernatural disappearance. His body was now approaching its glorified condition, and obeyed more freely than before the will of His Spirit. Moreover, we must recollect that, properly speaking, Jesus was already no longer with them (Luke 24:44), and that the marvel lay rather in His appearance than in His disappearance.—Godet.
Luke 24:32. The Emmaus Journey a Type of Christian Experience.
I. The pilgrimage of sadness.—Darkness comes because of
(1) the trial of doubt and unbelief;
(2) the trial of solitude and bereavement;
(3) that of backsliding and repentance.
II. Light and gladness return when
(1) we seek this blessing in company;
(2) when we seek it through the Scriptures; and
(3) when we seek it at the Communion Table.—Cairns.
The Emmaus Road.
I. This question suggests the difficulty which we commonly have in understanding the real importance of many incidents in our lives at the time of their occurrence.
II. Religious emotion is a precious gift of God.—Only it should always be made to lead to something; it is a means, not an end.
III. The duty of making an active effort to understand truth as it is presented to us.—Liddon.
“Did not our hearts burn?”—The heart of the genuine believer, who has communion with Christ, burns with joy, with hope, with longing, and with love.
“While He opened.”—It is a good sign for their inner growth that at this moment it is not the breaking of bread, but the opening of the Scriptures, which now stands before the eye of their memory.—Van Oosterzee.
Burning Hearts.—The cause and the effect of successful Christian work.
I. The cause—the burning heart of the teacher.—Spiritual intercourse with Jesus Himself will give it.
II. The result—the burning heart of the taught.—The fire will communicate itself to the hearts of those we teach.—Stock.
Luke 24:34. “Appeared to Simon.”
I. A proof of Christ’s love.—
1. In the implied forgiveness of his heinous sin.
2. In appearing to him first of all the apostles.
3. In appearing to him without any witness.
II. A special boon to Peter in banishing his doubts and fears, and in absolving him from guilt.
III. Welcome news to the disciples of Emmaus.—
1. It confirmed their faith.
2. It restored Peter to their fellowship.
3. It prepared them to expect fresh revelations of the Risen Lord.
Luke 24:36. “He Himself stood.”—With this word begins the evening appearance, which we unhesitatingly venture to name the crown of all Hisappearances on the Resurrection-day. Till now He has satisfied individual needs, but now He comes into the united circle, into the first Church of His own.—Van Oosterzee.
The Salutation of the Resurrection.
I. Peace: the storm is over.
II. Peace: old associations are to be revived.
III. Peace: the prospect will never be darkened.
Luke 24:37. “Terrified.”—The evening hour, fear of the Jews, and anxieties concerning their own future, may well have tended to increase the feelings of surprise and alarm occasioned by the sudden appearance of Christ and the supernatural character of His entering into the room where they were.
Luke 24:38. “Arise in your hearts?”—How gentle is the rebuke! Jesus speaks of the “thoughts” or questionings arising, as it were, of themselves in the hearts of the apostles, as doubts and perplexities for which they were not fully responsible. The heart is not under our control; but out of a pure heart, which is strong in faith, no such perplexities and gainsaying thoughts can rise.
Luke 24:39. “Behold My hands,” etc.
I. The identity of Him who appeared to them with Him whom they had known.
II. The reality of the appearance.
“Handle Me and see.”—
1. An encouragement for the timid.
2. A direction for the perplexed.
I. Our Lord’s indulgent treatment of mistakes and imperfections in religious belief.
II. His sanction of the principle of inquiry into the foundations of our religious belief.
III. The direction which our Lord purposely gave to the thoughts of His perplexed disciples.—Liddon.
Luke 24:40. “He shewed them His hands and His feet.”—Not merely as the signs of His crucifixion, for the identification of His body, did the Saviour show His wounds, but manifestly as signs of victory, proofs of His triumph over death. Moreover, therefore—and this is properly the deepest sense of His entering salutation—as the signs of peace, the peace of the sacrificial death, of the completed atonement.—Stier.
Luke 24:41. “Believed not for joy.”—It was doubtless belief that He had really risen that filled their hearts with joy; yet the excess of joy hindered their faith. It seemed too good news to be true.
“As St. Luke had excused the sleeping of the apostles in Gethsemane, on the ground of their being overcome by sorrow, so here he attributes the difficulty they experience in believing to the excess of their joy” (Godet).
Luke 24:43. “Did eat before them.”—Not because He had need of food for the body, but because they had need of faith for the soul.
Luke 24:44. These are the words.—I.e., “this is the meaning of the words.” Probably in Luke 24:44-49 St. Luke gives a summary of Christ’s discourses during the time between the Resurrection and the Ascension. Law of Moses, etc.—Perhaps here we have a reference to the Jewish division of the books of the Old Testament—i.e., into the Pentateuch, the Prophets (Joshua, Judges, four books of Kings, and the Prophets, except Daniel), and the Hagiographa.
Luke 24:45. Then opened.—Cf. Luke 24:27.
Luke 24:46. And thus it behoved.—Omit these words; omitted in R.V.; probably an explanatory note.
Luke 24:48. These things.—I.e., His death and resurrection.
Luke 24:49. The promise of My Father.—The allusion is to Old-Testament prophecies and to the discourses in John 14-16. Tarry ye.—Lit. “sit ye down.” City of Jerusalem.—Rather, “the city” (R.V.). Endued.—Rather, “clothed” (R.V.). Cf. Judges 6:34, where the same figure is used in the original.
Luke 24:50. Led them out.—I.e., either from the house in which they were, or from the city. As far as Bethany.—“Not quite to the village itself, but over the brow of the Mount of Olives, where it descends on Bethany; see Acts 1:12” (Alford). “On the wild uplands which immediately overhang the village, He finally withdrew from the eyes of His disciples, in a seclusion which, perhaps, could nowhere else be found so near the stir of a mighty city; the long ridge of Olivet screening those hills, and those hills the village beneath them, from all sound or sight of the city behind; the view opening only on the wide waste of desert-rocks and ever-descending valleys, into the depths of the distant Jordan and its mysterious lake. At this point the last interview took place. ‘He led them out as far as Bethany;’ and they ‘returned’ probably by the direct road over the summit of Mount Olivet. The appropriateness of the real scene presents a singular contrast to the inappropriateness of that fixed by a later fancy, ‘seeking for a sign,’ on the broad top of the mountain, out of sight of Bethany, and in full sight of Jerusalem, and thus in equal contradiction to the letter and the spirit of the gospel narrative” (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine). Lift up his hands.—Rather, “lifted up His hands” (R.V.), “lift” being archaic. The attitude was that of prayer and benediction.
Luke 24:51. Was parted from them.—Rather, “parted from them” (R.V.); the verb is not in the passive. Carried up.—“Not by an angel or by a cloud, but absolutely and without reference to any particular agent. We must imagine our Saviour slowly rising above His disciples, with His hands still raised in the attitude of blessing, until a cloud conceals Him from the eyes of His followers.”—Speaker’s Commentary.
Luke 24:52. Worshipped Him.—This can only mean here the adoration which is offered to a Divine Being. With great joy.—“The joy of the disciples in consequence of their Master’s exaltation, which was a pledge of the victory of His cause, already fulfilled the saying of Jesus, ‘If ye loved Me ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father, for My Father is greater than I (John 14:28)” (Godet). “A prelude to Pentecost” (Bengel). Amen.—Omit this word; omitted in R.V.; probably a liturgical addition.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luke 24:44-53
The Church Below, the Lord Above.—These closing verses of the Gospel are a summary of all our Lord’s instructions during the forty days before the Ascension. The Gospel reaches its climax in the Resurrection. The space between it and the Ascension, as well as the Ascension itself, are but the results of the Resurrection manifested in act, and as a kind of border-land between the two halves of our Lord’s activity, are even more properly narrated as the foundation of “all that Jesus” continued “to do and teach” since then, than as the crown of His earthly ministry.
I. The teachings of the forty days (Luke 24:44-49).—
1. First was taught Christ’s relation to the Old Testament. He recalled His former declarations, which had sounded so enigmatical then, and were so clear now. The teaching here summarised bore both upon His dignity and office as the Christ and the Fulfiller of the Old-Testament revelation, and on the inmost purpose and contents of that revelation as in all its parts pointing onward to Him. Law, Prophets, and Psalms make up the whole Hebrew Scriptures. So Jesus saw Himself in all the sundry times and divers manners of the older Word of God. The fact of prediction of Him as Messiah, and of His death and resurrection as being the very heart of the Old Testament, is attested by His own authority, which cannot be waived aside as of no moment in the controversies now raging as to these books. Nor can we understand the significance of the Old Testament by dint of learning only. There must be a moral and spiritual preparation; Jesus must open our minds, that we may understand the Scriptures.
2. Instruction in the universal blessings flowing from His death and resurrection. If any gross idea of outward dominion, secured by the sword, lingered in the disciples’ minds, this teaching would end them, unfolding, as it did, the sublime prospect of a universal monarchy, of which the instrument was the proclamation of the Cross and Resurrection, and of which the blessings were repentance and the remission of sin. The weapon seems feeble, but it is mighty, because it is in His name, “based on His revealed character and nature, wielded by His authority, and in dependence on His might, and in a very real sense as representing Himself.
3. The personal duty of the disciples. “Ye are witnesses of these things.” For the first disciples that was true in a way that it cannot be for us. And it is significant of much that the office was declared by Jesus to be that of witnesses; for witness implies “fact.” Not theories nor principles, nor speculations, nor dogmas, still less imaginations and fancies, had they to speak. The gospel is a veracious record of things that actually happened, and is established, not by argument, but by testimony. In a sense, each generation of Christians has the same office and responsibility. We cannot say we have seen, but we can say we have felt. Every man who has himself tasted that the Lord is gracious, is able, and therefore bound, to proclaim Him to others. The Church, in all its members, is Christ’s witness.
4. The gift of the needful qualifications. “The promise of My Father” is that Holy Spirit which is the last of all the Father’s promised gifts, of which He had spoken so abundantly in the last discourses in the upper room, and which, according to St. John, He had breathed upon them when He rose. The possession of that gift is our fitness for the office of witnessing.
II. The departure.—Did the disciples know, like Elisha, that “the Lord would take away their Master from their head that day”? At all events He knew, and the knowledge would breathe peculiar tenderness and urgency over His unrecorded words. “He lifted up His hands and blessed them.” Like the high priest when he had finished his service, He lifted up His hands over the congregation to give the blessing. The hands which had been pierced with nails, the arms which had been stretched out upon the cross, were spread above the bowed heads of the little group, and dropped gifts which fulfilled His benediction. His whole work is summed up, and His whole heart revealed, in that last attitude and act. Sweet, and ever to be remembered, are the last looks of our dear ones. Jesus would have this remembrance of Him stamped deepest on all our hearts. In the act of blessing, our Lord withdrew a step or two, and then, possibly, with arms still lifted in benediction, “was carried up into heaven.” The word employed implies a slow, continuous motion, which we cannot but contrast with the whirlwind which swept Elijah to heaven. The mortal needed to be lifted by an external and forcible agency from his native earth. But Jesus was going to His own home, and needed no aid to raise Him thither, whence it had needed the strong compulsion of His infinite love to bring Him down. The Ascension witnesses to the completeness of His sacrifice, to its acceptance by the Father, to the presence within the veil of our all-powerful Intercessor, to the elevation to supreme authority of the Man who is our Brother. The eternal Word ascended where He had been from before the beginning, but the manhood is new to the throne of the universe. Where He is, there shall also His servants be; and as He is, so shall they, too, become. The disciples showed us how we should think of the Ascension, when they worshipped Him, thus declaring Him to be the Son of God, and then turned all the more joyfully to their homely tasks, and drowned the pain of parting in the flood of joy which poured over their spirits. They made all life worship, every place a temple, and every act and word adoration.—Maclaren.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luke 24:44-53
Luke 24:44-49. The Last Instructions.
I. He recalls His earlier teaching, and causes them to understand the fulfilment He had effected of the prophecies of the Old Testament.
II. He gives directions for the future, and promises help to enable them to accomplish their task.
Luke 24:44. “While I was yet with you.”—The expression is worthy of notice, for it proves that Jesus felt that His departure was already accomplished. He was no longer with them otherwise than exceptionally. His abode was elsewhere.—Godet.
Luke 24:45. “Opened their understanding.”—This teaches us
(1) that Christ has immediate access to the human spirit and power over it; and
(2) that the interpretations of the Old Testament given by the apostles have the direct sanction of Christ.
“That they might understand the scriptures.”—The Word of God by itself is not sufficient; for our due understanding of it we need the illumination of the Spirit.
Luke 24:46-47. The Substance of Christian preaching.
I. Good tidings founded upon the work of the Saviour—His sufferings and His resurrection.
II. The duty of repentance.
III. The privilege of the remission of sins.
Luke 24:46. “To suffer and to rise.”—Here, as everywhere, suffering and glory are inseparably connected.
Luke 24:47. “Beginning at Jerusalem.”—
1. Jerusalem was the centre of the then existing kingdom of God.
2. It contained the worst of sinners—those who had insulted and crucified the Saviour.
Luke 24:48. “Ye are witnesses.”—That which renders testimony valuable is its being given by witnesses who are
(1) possessed of full information;
(2) who are sincere in character; and
(3) who are sober-minded. In all these points the apostles were admirably qualified for their office as witnesses, and their willingness to seal their testimony with their blood shows us how firmly convinced they were of the truths they taught.
Luke 24:49. “The promise of the Father.”—The gift of the Spirit as bestowed on the day of Pentecost. This gift promised in Isaiah 44:3; Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:27; Joel 2:28.
An Equipment of Power.
I. The Lord’s servants must be men of power.
II. An equipment of power is provided.—
1. It is power.
2. It is power from on high.
3. It is not developed out of ourselves.
4. Nor is it obtained by connection with the world.
III. Power is to be waited for.—Roberts.
Ministerial Power.—Some of those powers of the Spirit which experience teaches us to be of most avail in meeting the exigencies of ministerial life in our time.
I. The power of holiness.
II. The power of knowledge.
III. The power of a single aim.
IV. The power of sympathy.
V. The power of the Divine commission.—Vaughan.
Luke 24:50-53. The Ascension.
I. The identity of the crucified and risen Saviour.
II. We, too, must ascend, to be judged, to stand before the throne.
III. The goal of the Church’s hope is the return of the ascended Christ.—Markby.
I. He ascended by His own power and His own will.
II. He alone left behind Him a finished work.
III. He ascended to begin the second work.—That of intercession—distinct from the work on earth, but yet of one piece with it, and serving to accomplish the same great end.
IV. By His Spirit, He still works in the world.
V. He has marked a way for us into heaven.—A track of light goes through the darkness into the very heart of heaven.—Nicoll.
I. The gospel is all fact.—All our gospel mysteries, are, in their basis and substance, facts. The Christian year is a commemoration of facts. The Ascension is an event, a historical fact.
II. It is something more.—It is not mere history; it is a life. Like each gospel fact, it presupposes or else predicts every other. The Ascension presupposes the Incarnation, and predicts the Advent. The Ascension says:
1. Your home is not here. Yonder is your rest and your home. Home is a presence more than a place. Where Christ is, is the soul’s true home.
2. Seek Him yonder, correct all that is superstitious and carnal in your religion.—Vaughan.
Luke 24:50. Christ’s Last Hours on Earth.
I. The last meeting.
II. The last journey.
III. The last promise.
IV. The last blessing.
V. The last glimpse.—W. Taylor.
“He lifted up His hands.”—As a father, who is about to leave his children, gathers them together once more, speaks to them, and then raises his hands to bless them, so, at the moment of re-entering into the invisible world, Jesus imposes a benediction upon the head of His apostles which will remain upon the whole Church until His return.—Godet.
Luke 24:51. “While He blessed them.”—As Elijah left his mantle with Elisha, by whom he was seen when taken up, so Christ, at His ascension, left a blessing with His apostles and with His Church.—Wordsworth.
“Carried up into heaven.”—By His resurrection He had taken up again His human life which He had voluntarily given up to death; by His ascension He resumes His celestial life, His life in the form of God (Philippians 2:6), which He had laid aside on becoming incarnate in human form. And in the new condition in which His exaltation places Him, His human life is so interpenetrated by His Divine life that it becomes the adequate and eternal manifestation of it. “I see,” said the dying Stephen, “the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). “The fulness of the Godhead dwells in Him in a bodily form” (Colossians 2:9).—Godet.
The Parting Blessing.—The Saviour’s life had been one of continual blessing. And here we have the last impression left on the apostles’ minds of their Lord’s feeling towards them. His last thoughts were with them, His last energies were for them.
I. This thought is the inheritance of the Church.—The “while” bound Christ and the Church together, in the power of a last impression, for the rest of their earthly lives. His ascent on high does not sever Him in blessing from us.
II. But besides connection there is activity.—The ascended Christ is a blessing Christ, unchanged by His exaltation. He uses His exaltation for the benefit of His friends.
III. The thought we should have of the other world is, therefore, one of joy.—To the Christian the unseen must ever be a place of blessing. The place whither Jesus went must partake of His aspect in entering it. The disciples knew, from their Master’s teaching, something of the awfulness of the other world. But now He leaves them something better to think of. He is to bless from heaven. It was to be henceforth a place in which they had the dearest interest. He blessed in ascending, and if so, what but blessing could they look for from that other sphere?—Power.
Luke 24:52. “They worshipped Him.”—No one can reasonably doubt that this worship was offered to Him as a Divine being. St. Luke only uses this word in another place in his gospel (Luke 4:7-8), and there it is used in the sense of rendering the honour due to God alone. In the Acts it is employed in the same sense (Luke 7:43, Luke 8:27, Luke 24:11, Luke 10:25-26).
Luke 24:53. “In the Temple.”—The narrative of St. Luke begins in the Temple and ends in the Temple.
“Praising and blessing God.”—The two essential elements of worship.
I. Adoration.—Acknowledgment of the Divine perfections.
II. Thanksgiving for all the benefits He has bestowed.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Luke 24". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29