corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.10.19
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Luke 24

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. XXIV.

Christ's resurrection is declared by two angels to the women that came to the sepulchre: these report it to others. Christ himself appeareth to the two disciples that went to Emmaus. Afterward he appeareth to the apostles, and reproveth their unbelief: giveth them a charge: promiseth the Holy Ghost: and ascendeth into heaven.

Anno Domini 33.


Verse 1

Luke 24:1. And certain others with them. By these other women must be meant some besides those who had followed Jesus from Galilee; of whom alone St. Luke speaks in the former part of this verse, and the latter part of the preceding chapter. By these, therefore, as contra-distinguished from the Galilean women, he probably means the women of Jerusalem, a great number of whom followed Jesus as he was going to his crucifixion, ch. Luke 23:27. But what number of them went upon this occasion out of Galilee, is not any where said: nor of these are any other named, than Joanna, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, though many others followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem, and were present at his crucifixion. See Matthew 27:55. Mark 15:41. It is therefore probable, that most, if not all who were accustomed to minister to him in Galilee, who attended him to Jerusalem, and accompanied him to mountCalvary, contributed to this pious office of embalming their Master's body, either by buying and preparing the spices, or by going to assist their companions in embalming the body, and rolling away the stone; for which purpose principally we may suppose the women of Jerusalem attended, since none of them seem to have made any purchase of spices for the embalming: and for this last purpose, it is further probable, they thought their number sufficient. To distinguish those women who made the report to the disciples, from the others who came with them, St. Luke adds the words in Luke 24:10. It is observable, that St. Mark, Mark 16:1 says of the women mentioned by him, no more than that they had bought spices to anoint the body; enough to shew with what intent they went to the tomb; that they had any spices with them, he does not say: but St. Luke says, that they actually brought the spices with them; and not only so, but that they had prepared them, that is to say, made them fit for the use intended. The several drugs were bought singly, each by itself, at the shop, and therefore it was necessary to mix them or melt them together for use; and we may imagine, that though all thewomen joined in buying the spices, yet the care of getting and preparing them was left particularly to the women first mentioned by St. Luke; but as they were Galileans, and not at home at Jerusalem, and probably unacquainted with the method of embalming bodies, it is most likely that they employed some inhabitants of the place to buy and prepare the spices, and to go with them to apply them to the body; and these are the others with them here mentioned. This will account for St. Matthew saying nothing of the spices, Matthew 28:1 for the women there spoken of had none with them: they set out before those who were to bring the spices, to see what condition the sepulchre was in; and this is properly expressed by the words to see, or take a view of the sepulchre. We may observe further, that it was a circumstance of decency, considering the office which they intended to perform, that the men and the women should perform their respective parts in it bythemselves, which accordingly the evangelists plainly intimate they did intend to do. Their setting out alone was a remarkable instance of their zeal and courage; perhaps some appointment might be made with Peter and John, (who were early up on this occasion) either to meet them, or come after them, to assist in removing the stone, though not in embalming the body. See on Matthew 28.


Verse 4

Luke 24:4. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, &c.— This threw them into a great perplexity, when on a sudden two men stood, &c. It hence seems probable, that the angels disappeared at certain times; for the words intimate, that the women did not see them at their first entrance into the sepulchre, and that their appearance was sudden, and occasioned a surprize. The evangelist here calls them men; but Luke 24:23 he calls them angels. The truth is, angels are sometimes called men, because they appeared in the human form. See Genesis 18:2.—Mark 16:5 where one angel only is mentioned under the appellation of a young man; whence somehaveinferred,thatthetransactiontherementionedwasdifferentfromthis before us: but be that as it may, it is easy to account for the presence of two angels, though only one of them might be seen by some of those who came to view the sepulchre. If the reader will attend to the supposed form of the sepulchre, and to the position of our Lord's body therein, he will find this method of reconciling the evangelists easy, natural, and probable. The sepulchre seems to have been a square room, hewn out of a rock, partly above ground, its roof being as high as the top of the door which formed its entrance. The door opened upon a stair, which ran down straight to the bottom of the sepulchre, along the side of the left wall. Having therefore carried the bodydown with its feet foremost, they would naturally place it lengthwise bythe right side wall of the sepulchre, in such a manner, that its head lay pointing towards what might be called the front, had the sepulchre been wholly above-ground, and its feet to the back wall. They laid the body on the floor, close to the right side wall of the sepulchre, because in that position it was most out of the way of those who might come down. This description is agreeable to the accounts which travellers give us of the Jewish sepulchres; particularly Mr. Maundrell, who was on the spot, and saw several of them. They were generally caves, hewn out of rocks; and as the Jews did not make use of coffins, they placed their dead separately in niches or little cells cut in the sides of these caves or rooms. But Joseph's sepulchre, being a new one, was in all probability unfinished; and particularly it might have no niches cut into the sides where they could deposit the dead; for which reason they laid Jesus on the floor, (see John 20:12.) in the manner described; intending very probably, when the sabbath was past, to remove him to some finished burial-place. See John 19:42. Admitting these suppositions,—most of which are founded on some authority, and all of them perfectly natural,—the women, intending to search the sepulchre a second time, might, as soon as they came upon the threshold, see the angel, who sat on the right side, where the feet of Jesus had been; that is, who sat in the furthermost right corner of the sepulchre: and though his companion, who sat on the same side at the head, or in the hithermost right corner, had been then visible, they would not have observed him; so that, at the first, they must have seen one angel only, as St. Matthew and St. Mark tell us: but stepping down the stairs upon the invitation of the angel who appeared, they got the whole cavity of the sepulchre under their eye, and discovered the other heavenly messenger. Thus they saw two angels, as St. Luke affirms. Besides, the brilliant appearance of him who spake to them, might so fix their eyes, as to hinder them from taking notice of his companion, till, landing at the bottom of the stairs, they turned themselves about upon the floor. Their fear and confusion also might have some influence upon them. The word επεστησαν, which we render stood by, does not imply that the angels at their first appearance were close by the women; this is proved from Genesis 18:2.—LXX: where, though it is said, that Abraham lift up his eyes, and looked, and lo three men, εστηκεισαν επανω αυτου stood by him, it is added, that when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent-door, which shews that they were at some distance from him; wherefore the words επεστησαν αυταις in St. Luke, answering to the words εστηκεισαν επανω αυτου in Genesis, signify simply they appeared unto them: if so, we may suppose that both the angels were in a sitting posture when they shewed themselves to the women, because St. Mark expressly affirms it of one whom he mentions Mark 16:5 and because they shewed themselves in this posture afterwards to Mary Magdalene, John 20:12. However, if the reader be not satisfied with this solution, the evangelists may easily be reconciled, by supposing that the angel, of whom St. Mark speaks, arose when the women went down into the sepulchre.—It may be proper, and perhaps agreeable to the reader, to observe, that it cannot be objected to the description of our Lord's sepulchre given above, that what is shewn at this day as his sepulchre is of a different form; for the real sepulchre, being originally a matter of private property, must have passed from one owner to another, and of course have undergone various changes; especially as it does not appear that the first Christians were led to preserve it, from that veneration for places and things which in latter ages engrossed the attention of the world. Besides, it should be considered, that though superstition taught Christians, very early, to venerate and perpetuate things of this kind; yet their enemies, on the other hand, would do what they could to destroy them, as having an apparent tendency to confirm the followers of the new religion in their opinions; and therefore, if our Lord's sepulchre was visited by Christians before they obtained the protection of the civil government in Judea, the rulers would certainly destroy it. Nor is this supposition rendered improbable by the accounts which are given of the sepulchre, as subsisting in later times; for when the Roman empire became Christian, and superstition grew apace, the monks would repair the repository of our Lord's body; or if it was entirely destroyed, would make a new one to supply its place. Farther, it ought to be considered, that although the sepulchre had actually subsisted safe till it came into the possession of the monks, it was liable to many accidents after that period: for during the wars which the Mahometans waged with the Christians about the possession of the Holy Land, it is natural to suppose, that when the former carried their victorious arms into Judea, they would destroy every monument of Christianity, as well as of learning. After they were driven out indeed, the Christians would be equally assiduous to repair the devastations occasioned by the Mahometans; and, in particular, they would take care not to be without the holy places, so necessary to the superstition of the times. What confirms this conjecture is, that in the description given of those places, as they now subsist, things evidently and grossly fictitious are found. For example, before our Lord's sepulchre there lies a great marble stone, on which they affirm his body was anointed; and near at hand is another sepulchre, in which Joseph of Arimathea is said to have been buried: nay, they even shew the room where the Virgin Mary was saluted by the angel; with many other things, the knowledge of which could not possibly have been preserved during the course of so many ages, without such a series of miracles as we cannot by any means suppose, on account of things of so trifling a nature. Farther, it is certain, that the sepulchre in Bede's time was different, not only from what it is at present, but from that which the evangelists have described: for he tells us, that the travellers of those days affirmed it had a niche, into which our Lord's body was put; whereas from John 20:11-12 it appears that his body was laid on the floor.


Verses 5-7

Luke 24:5-7. And bowed down their faces These words do not intimate their prostrating themselves before the angels, but a respectful and reverential declining of their heads, and looking downward, that they might not appear to gaze, which is well known to have been forbidden to the Jews upon the sight of a celestial vision. See Exodus 19:21. Judges 13:20.—Because the women were exceedinglyafraid when the first angel appeared, he spake to them with themost condescending mildness. See Matthew 28:5 but now that their terror was a little abated, and they were come down into the sepulchre, he chid them gently, for seeking the living among the dead. By which we are not to understand their coming down to the sepulchre, in obedience to his invitation; but their having brought spices to the sepulchre with an intention to do their Master an office, which belonged only to the dead; for this is a clear proof of their not entertaining the least thought of his resurrection. Accordingly, he found fault with them also for not believing the things which Jesus had spoken to them in Galilee concerning his rising from the dead on the third day: (see ch. Luke 18:31-33.) or rather for not remembering them, so as to have had some hopes of his revivingagain. Remember how he spake, &c. This familiar manner in which the angel speaks of what passed between them and Jesus in Galilee, seems to intimate, that he had then been present, though invisible, and heard what Jesus said. The hint suggests many agreeable reflections, which the pious reader will dwell upon at pleasure. See the note on Mark 16:7. St. Luke, having no intention to tell which of the angels spake, attributes to them both words which in the nature of the thing could be spoken only by one of them, perhaps the one mentioned by St. Matthew and St. Mark. See on Matthew 27:44. Further, as it is the custom of the sacred historians to mention one person or thing only, even in cases where more were concerned, the difficulty arising from St. Luke's speaking of two angels, and the rest but of one, would have been nothing; because we might have supposed that all the women went into the sepulchre together, as St. Luke tells us; and that when they did not find the body, they dispatched Mary Magdalene immediately into the city with an account of the matter; and that when she was gone, the angels appeared unto the rest, while they were yet in the sepulchre. But as St. Luke affirms, that they had searched the sepulchre, and were in perplexity on account of the body's being away, before the angels appeared; and as St. Matthew intimates that they were out of the sepulchre when they saw the vision that he speaks of, we are obliged to make the supposition, that the women, after missing the body, came out of the sepulchre, and searched for it up and down the garden; then went a second time, and discovered the angels as they entered; for they were still in perplexity when the heavenly messengers spoke to them, which is all that St.Luke affirms; and as there is nothing in his narration forbidding us to make this supposition, so the circumstance taken notice of by St. John, John 20:2 that Mary Magdalene told the apostles that they had taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, obliges us to make it: for if, when she entered into the sepulchre with her companions, the angel had appeared to them, and told them, that Jesus was risen, she could not have spoken in this manner to the apostles. St. Luke indeed joins the appearance of the two angels with the account which he gives of the perplexity of the women, occasioned by their not finding the body; because he did not judge it worth while to distinguish the appearance of the one angel while the women were onthe top of the stairs, from the appearance of both the angels after they were come down, as they happened in close succession. St. Matthew and St. Mark have supplied this defect, by informingus, that immediately upon their entering, the women saw an angel, who told them that Jesus was risen, and desired them to come down, and see the place where the Lord lay. Instead of Why seek ye the living among the dead, Luke 24:5. Dr. Heylin reads, Why seek ye, among the dead, Him, who is alive?


Verses 9-11

Luke 24:9-11. And returned from the sepulchre, &c.— These words may be rendered, And returning back from the sepulchre, they told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest; Luke 24:9. Now they who related these things to the apostles, were Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the rest with them, that is to say, of their company. As the account of the Galilean women begins in the foregoing chapter, and is carried on without any interruption to the 9th verse of the present, so that the several verbs occurring in this and the preceding verses are all governed by the same nominative case, namely the women, (ch. Luke 23:55.) it is evident that the words all these things must be taken to extend to all the particulars mentioned in that account, and cannot be confined to the transactions of the sepulchre only; and the same observation holds equally with the expression these things, Luke 24:9. The utmost therefore that can be inferred from St. Luke's naming Mary Magdalene and the other Mary is, that they were concerned in some or other of these transactions, and joined in relating some of these things to the apostles; which is true: for they sat over-against the sepulchre, when Joseph laid in it the body of the Lord; they also brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him; and they were the first who came to the sepulchre that morning, and brought the first account of the body's being missing; and though by comparing the accounts given by the other evangelists with this of St. Luke, it appears that neither of these women went with Joanna and her company to the sepulchre; yet as they were Galilean women, and bore a part, and a principal part too, in what the women of Galilee were then chiefly employed about, namely, the care of embalming the body of Jesus, there is certainly no impropriety in St. Luke's naming them with Joanna and the rest, as he does in the end of the general collective account which he gives of what was reported and done by the Galilean women: neither does his naming them appropriate to them any particular part of that general account, any more than his not naming them would have excluded them from their share in those transactions, and the report then made to the apostles. In this case they would have been included in the general term of the

Galilean women; as by being named they are distinguished and marked as the most eminent persons and leaders of that company who followed Jesus out of Galilee. See the note on John 20:4; John 20:31.


Verse 11

Luke 24:11. Their words seemed to them as idle tales, Their Master's crucifixion gave such a severe blow to their faith, that they laid aside all the thoughts which they had entertained of his being the Messiah, and therefore they had not the least expectation of his resurrection, notwithstanding he had often predicted it to them; nay, they looked upon the account which the women told them about it, as a mere chimera, the delusion of a disordered imagination. It may seem strange, that in the accounts which the evangelists have given of our Lord's resurrection, there is not the least mention made of the disciples meeting one another by the way, although they went several times backwards and forwards in separate companies, between their lodging inthe city and the sepulchre. On the contrary, the circumstances of the history oblige us to suppose that they did not meet one another. But there is nothing improbable in this; for as Jerusalem was a great city, the apostles' lodgings might be at the distance of a mile or two from that extremity of it which was nearest to the sepulchre, and therefore from their lodging to the sepulchre there might be several different ways through the city, all equally convenient. Further, Calvary, where our Lord was crucified, is said to have been nigh to the city; John 19:20 but it would be nigh, though it were at the distance of half a mile. Suppose it, however, to have been only a little more than a quarter of a mile—In this place, or nigh to it, εν τοπω, was the garden where our Lord was buried; (John 19:41.) Yet the garden might be on the side of Calvary which was furthest from Jerusalem; wherefore, as it was a spacious garden, the sepulchre could not well be nearer to the city than half a mile. It may, however, have been at the distance of a whole mile, consistently enough with the description which St. John has given of its situation. On either supposition, there may have been different roads from Joseph's villa and garden to the city. Besides, as Jerusalem was walled round, the apostles' lodgings might be so situated, that persons going thence to Joseph's garden, could come out of the city by two different gates. To conclude, the garden where the sepulchre was, might have more doors than one, and several shady walks in it, leading to the sepulchre. On these suppositions, it is easy to imagine, that the disciples, and the women who went to and from the sepulchre, may have missed each other, by taking their route through different streets in the city, or different roads in the field; or they may have been hid from each other by the shady walks of the garden in which the sepulchre stood.

See commentary on Luke 24:9


Verse 12

Luke 24:12. Then arose Peter, But Peter arose. On this transaction we shall enlarge, when we come to John 20.


Verses 13-15

Luke 24:13-15. And behold, two of them went—to—Emmaus, The same day on which our Lord arose, one of his disciples, named Cleopas or Alpheus, the husband of Mary, who was sister of our Lord's mother, and who, in the history of his resurrection, is called Mary the mother of James, was travelling to Emmaus, a village about seven miles distant from Jerusalem, in company with another disciple whose name is not mentioned, and who, for that reason, is by some supposed to have been St. Luke himself; see on Luke 24:34. These two were in the utmost dejection on account of their Master's death; insomuch that their grief appeared visible in their countenances, Luke 24:17. Moreover, as they went along, they talked of the things which sat heavier on their spirits: they argued the point together; for the word συζητειν, Luke 24:15 rendered reasoned, signifies to discuss, examine, or inquire together; and it appears from the connection, that as they were discoursing on the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the scope of their inquiry was, how to reconcile these events with what had been foretold concerning the Messiah; which by the message that the women had but just before brought from the angels, they were particularly called upon to remember. Comp. Luke 24:6-7 with ch. Luke 18:31-33. Accordingly, when Jesus inquired, Luke 24:17. What arguments are these that ye are debating one with another,—for so it should more properly be rendered,—this is the point which he took occasion to illustrate and explain, Luke 24:26-27 by shewing them that it was necessary, in accomplishment of what was foretold, that Christ should suffer these things, and so should enter into his glory; and with this view, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Our Lord overtook these two disciples as he seemed to be coming himself from Jerusalem; which shews the propriety of Cleopas's reply, Luke 24:18. Art thou a stranger, &c.? Probably the disciples had just left the city when Jesus came up with them; for on any other supposition, he could not probably have had time to deliver all the things which the evangelist tells us he spake to them. See Luke 24:27.


Verse 16

Luke 24:16. But their eyes were holden, St. Mark says that our Saviour appeared to the two disciples in another form, Mark 16:12. St. Luke, that their eyes were holden: who does not see that both evangelists, meant to express the same thing? If Jesus appeared in another form, their eyes of course were holden that they should not know him: all that the historians meant to intimate is, that there was an impediment which prevented their knowing him. That this might happen either in a natural way or a supernatural way, may be proved in a manner agreeable to reason and true philosophy; and such aswill correspond exactly with the expressions of both the evangelists. To state the case in a natural way; two men meet an acquaintance whom they thought dead; they converse with him for some time, without suspecting who he is; the very persuasion they were under that he was dead, contributing greatly to their not knowing him: besides, he appeared in a habit and form different from what he used when they conversed with him; the tone of his voice might be altered; he appeared to them on a journey, and walking with them side by side, in which situation no one of the company has a full view of another: moreover, their thoughts were so swallowed up in the depth of their grief, that as they took little notice of any thing without them, so they might not narrowly examine his features: and where then was the impossibility of their not knowing him? Yet as the words may be taken so as to signify some supernatural restraint, doubtless, there might have been some particular agency from above, either to divert their minds from looking steadfastly upon him, or so to affect their memories, as to render them incapable of recollecting who he was. Compare Genesis 21:19. Numbers 22:31 and 2 Kings 6:17-18.


Verse 17

Luke 24:17. As ye walk, and are sad? As ye walk?—For ye are sad: see Bowyer's Greek Testament.


Verse 18

Luke 24:18. Art thou only a stranger, &c.— Are you the only person that sojourns in Jerusalem, and is unacquainted with the things which, &c.? Heylin, and Doddridge.


Verse 22-23

Luke 24:22-23. Yea, and certain women also, &c.— The smallest attention will shew, that Cleopas and his companion do not here speak of Mary Magdalene's second information, given after she had seen the angels; because Jesus himself having appeared to her before she stirred from the spot, it is by no means probable, that she would relate the lesser, and omit the greater event. Neither do they speak of the informationwhichthewomen,MaryMagdalene'scompanions,gavetheapostlesafter they had seen Jesus; because they, inlike manner, must have related that, much rather than any thing else: but the report of which they speak, was either made by a company of women different from that in which Mary the mother of James, and Salome were, who saw Jesus as they went to tell his disciples concerning the vision of angels; or it was made by that company before they saw the Lord. That it was not made by any company different from that in whichMary and Salome were, is certain, because St. Luke says expressly, that Mary, Joanna, and the rest, concurred in giving it, Luke 24:10. Wherefore, it must have been the report which Mary Magdalene made alone, after having been with the women at the sepulchre the first time; and which they confirmed before they saw the Lord. According to this account of the matter, the report which Mary Magdalene made alone, is not distinguished from that of her companions; yet there seems to be a hint given of it in the 23rd verse; for the words, And when they found not his body, may refer to Mary Magdalene's first information; as the subsequent words, They came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, describe the information given by her companions. In the mean time, though it should be allowed that Mary Magdalene's report is not distinguished from that of her companions, either by St. Luke in his history of the resurrection, or by the disciples going to Emmaus, it will not follow that her report was made at the same time with theirs, or that the evangelist meant to say so: for though they were distinct in point of time, they might be fitly joined together, for four reasons: 1. Because the persons who made them, had gone out in one company to the sepulchre. 2. Because they were made soon after each other. 3. Because the subject of both was the same: Mary Magdalene first brought word, that the stone was rolled back, that the door was open, and the body gone; the other women came immediately after, and told the same things, adding, that they had seen a vision of angels, who affirmed that Jesus was alive. 4. In relating the matter to this supposed stranger, the two disciples would think it needless to make the distinctionmore particularly. But if the disciples, in their account of these reports, join them together for the reasons mentioned, St. Luke might, for the same reasons, speak of them as one in his history of the resurrection, agreeable to the brevity which he has studied throughout the whole of his work. See on Luke 24:9.


Verse 25

Luke 24:25. Then he said,—O fools, &c.— Again he said,—O thoughtless men; — ανοητοι . The word expresses a want of due attention and consideration. The slowness of Christ's friends to believe his resurrection, is so far from being an argument that the proofs of it were defective; that, on the contrary, their believing afterwards carries the greater weight: for it removes all suspicion of a collusion between Christ and them in his life-time; and also implies an impartial examination of the fact, and the strength of those proofs which vanquished this incredulity. It appears from the reproof which our Saviour gave them, that Cleopas and his companions were of the number of those who gave little credit to the tidings which the women had brought of their Master's resurrection; wherefore, to shew them their error, Jesus reprovedthemsharplyfornotunderstandingandbelievingtheprophesies;which,said he, declare it to be the will of heaven, that before the Messiah should enter into his glory, that is to say, before he should receive his kingdom, he should suffer such things as you say your Master has suffered.


Verse 27

Luke 24:27. And beginning at Moses, &c.— That his reproof might appear well founded, that their drooping spirits might be supported, and that they might be prepared for the discovery he was about to make of himself, which he explained all the types and prophesies of the Old Testament which relate to the Messiah's sufferings; such as the Mosaical sacrifices, the lifting up of the brazen serpent, the 22nd Psalm, the 53rd of Isaiah, &c. &c. It is no way necessary to suppose that Christ's sufferings, resurrection, and exaltation, are each of them distinctly foretold in each of those parts of the sacred writings which are mentioned in this verse. It is enough if Moses gave some intimation concerning him, which succeeding prophets carried on; and if, when all their testimonies are taken together, all these events are expressed by some one or other of them. The design of our Lord's entering into so particular an exposition of the prophets, or the sacred writers, was to shew, that by making a proper use of their understanding, they might from those very scriptures whose authority they allowed, have been convinced that the Messiah ought to have suffered, as they had seen him suffer, and to rise from the dead on the third day: that is, Christ chose rather to convince them by reason than by sense, or at least so to prepare their minds, that their assenting afterwards to the testimony of their senses, should be with the concurrence of their reason: he had proceeded in the same manner with the other disciples at Jerusalem; from all of whom he had hitherto withholden the evidence of sense, having not appeared to any of them, except Peter, till after the return of these two disciples to Jerusalem. This proceeding, at once so becoming the Lord of righteousness and truth, and the moral liberty of man as a reasonable being, must have been prevented, had Christ discovered himself to them at his first appearing. Wonder and astonishment in that case would have taken the place of reason, and have left them, perhaps, when the strong impression was a little worn away, in doubt or scepticism. The point discussed upon the road was, whether it was agreeable to prophesy that Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead? Christ himself undertook to prove this proposition at large from the scriptures of the Old Testament; and the argument, through his grace, seemed to have its intended effect. Suppose now, that he had made himself known, and then entered upon his argument; what would have been the consequence? Plainly this, the surprise of seeing one from the dead, and the authority of Christ reasoning from the scriptures, must have disturbed their judgment, and made them, perhaps, submit to his interpretation of the prophesies, without considering particularly the justness and propriety thereof. The plain reason, therefore, why the discovery was not made sooner, is, that their understandings might be first convinced upon the strength of argument; while their minds were yet free from any impression by the event itself, and the irresistible force of Christ's authority.


Verse 29

Luke 24:29. They constrained him, They pressed him. Heylin, &c. See ch. Luke 14:23. We are told in the subsequent verses, that the disciples, having returned from Emmaus, were telling their brethren what had happened to them, when Jesus stood in the midst, and saluted them, Luke 24:35-36. Moreover, it is taken notice of, that this appearance happened on the first day of the week at even; John 20:19. These circumstances, together with the departure of the disciples, who went to Emmaus before the news of Christ's resurrection had reached the city, shew plainly that by the evening in this verse, we are to understand the first evening of the Jewish day, which began at three o'clock. See Matthew 14:15. It is toward evening, means, "It is toward three o'clock;" and the day is far spent, κεκλικεν η ημερα, means, The day has declined: for, on any other supposition, the two could not have returned to Jerusalem, after dining at Emmaus, so as to have been present when Jesus shewed himself to his disciples the first day of the week, which ended at sun-setting.


Verse 30-31

Luke 24:30-31. And—as he sat at meat, &c.— The 31st verse shews that the impediment,orsupernaturalinfluence,whichhinderedtheirknowinghimbefore,was now removed. Yet granting that no supernatural impediment was then existing, our Saviour's very action of breaking bread, which was the office of the master of the family, plainly implied that he was no stranger, but their Master, though theydid not know him. Be this as it may, he had duly prepared them to receive the testimony of their senses, and now discovered himself, and that by an act of devotion in breaking bread, which among the Jews was always attended with thanks to God, the giver of our daily bread. But there seems to have been something still more peculiar in this action, on which account it was introduced by St. Luke in his narration of this history, and by the two disciples themselves when they related to the apostles at Jerusalem what had happened to them at Emmaus, Luke 24:35. Undoubtedly the manner of breaking the bread, and probably the form of the words in the thanksgiving, were peculiar to our Saviour: probably, they were the same with those made use of by him in the Lord's supper; at least these two actions are described by St. Luke in the same words. If so, how strongly were the disciples called upon by this action to remember their Lord, who had instituted that form, as a memorial of his own death! and how properly did he accompany that discovery of himself, which he now thought fit to make to them! We are told after this, that he vanished out of their sight: the word vanished leads the mind to think of the person vanishing as a mere spectre. The original words literally signify, "becoming invisible to, or withdrawing himself from them." In the margin of our Bibles they are well rendered, He ceased to be seen of them. If this passage be thought to be inconsistent with the reality of Christ's body, it may reasonably be asked, whether there is no way for a real body to disappear? If in the night-time we put out the candles, we shall all disappear; if a man fall asleep in the day-time, all things disappear to him, his senses are locked up; and yet all things about continue to be real, and his senses continue perfect; as shutting out all rays of light from anyparticular body, would make that body disappear. Perhaps something like this was the case; or perhaps something else, of which we know nothing: but be it what it will, it does not follow that a body is not real, because we lose sight of it suddenly. This passage does not therefore infer, that the body of Christ was no real body; if it did, it would prove likewise, that Christ had no real body before his death; for we read, that when the multitude would have thrown him down a precipice, he went through the midst of them unseen. Now nothing happened after his resurrection more unaccountable than this, which had happened before it; and if the argument be good at all to prove that Christ had no real body, it will be good to prove that there never was such a man as Jesus Christ in the world. Perhaps the adversaries of Christianity may think this a little too much to prove; but if they do, it is to be hoped they will quit the argument in one case, as well as in the other; for difference there is none. Nevertheless, I know not but the immortal resurrection-body of our Lord might have been endued with such properties, unknown to us in this mortal state, as to be able to vanish out of the disciples' sight, in such a manner as to be absolutely imperceptible to mortal eyes: nor do I think that there is the least improbability in this supposition.


Verse 32

Luke 24:32. Did not our heart burn, &c.— Nothing can be more beautiful than this remark: the author of the Guardian observes, that this whole narrative is delivered in a style which men of letters call "the great and noble simplicity:" the attention of the disciples when Christ expounded the scriptures concerning himself, his offering to take his leave of them, their fondness of his stay, and the manifestation of the great Guest whom they had entertained while he was yet at meat with them, are all incidents, which wonderfully please the imagination of a Christian reader, and give to him something of that touch of mind which the disciples felt, when they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, &c.? See Guardian, No. 21. Psalms 39:3. Jeremiah 20:9.


Verse 33

Luke 24:33. They rose up the same hour, As soon as Jesus departed, the two disciples made all the haste they could to Jerusalem, that they might have the pleasure of acquainting their brethrenwith the agreeable news; but they were in some measure prevented: for immediately on their arrival, the eleven, with the women, accosted them, giving them the news of their Master's resurrection. The eleven was the current stile for the whole college of apostles; and afterthe call of Matthias to the apostleship, they were again called the twelve. In virtue of this stile, a general meeting of the apostles is called a meeting of the eleven, or the twelve, though one or more may happen to be absent. This is agreeable to both antient and modern usage, in the case of senates, councils, and the like. Hence it is that St. Luke says the eleven were gathered together, though it appears that Judas was dead, and that Thomas was absent, John 20:24. St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:5 calls it a meeting of the twelve, because he was not converted till after the election of Matthias, when that again came to be the usual stile.


Verse 34

Luke 24:34. The Lord is risen indeed, Our Lord appeared to St. Peter the same day as he did to the disciples, in their way to Emmaus; but whether, before he conversed with the disciples, or after, is not certain. It was not till after the two disciples had left Jerusalem, and set out for Emmaus; for it appears from the account which they give our Lord of what had come to their knowledge, that they knew nothing of any appearance to St. Peter: and yet it must have been before they returned to Jerusalem; for they found the eleven discoursing of this appearance to Simon. It is doubtful therefore which of these two appearances should be placed first; but they both happened on the day of Christ's resurrection. As neither the time nor the particulars of this appearance are recorded by the evangelists, though St. Paul expressly refers to it, 1 Corinthians 15:5 we shall not pretend to say any thing more about it, than that the apostles seem to have laid greater stress upon that alone, than upon all those related by the women; for upon the two disciples coming into the chamber, they accost them immediately, without waiting to hear their relation, with the Lord it risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon, but make no mention of any of his appearances to the women. Probably Peter was the first man, as Mary Magdalene was the first woman, favoured with a sight of our Saviour after his resurrection. St. Peter's report of his being risen may have been supposed less subject to suspicion, after his having denied him; and therefore our Lord's first appearance to him might have been designed to establish this important circumstance upon the most unexceptionable evidence. Peter had denied his Master; and had his Master shewn himself to any other disciple before he shewed himself to him, might not Peter have thought his repentance ineffectual, his reconciliation impossible, and consequently have been plunged in despair? but what greater consolation could be afforded to this penitent sinner, and through him to all other penitents, than to find that his Lord was entirely reconciled to him, by the peculiar honour paid him; that thoughhe had denied him, he was not rejected by him; and though his fall wasattended with inconceivable aggravations, the magnanimity and mercy of his Saviour was still greater. As the faith of the disciples was much strengthened by the report of St. Peter, so must it have been greatly confirmed by the arrival of these two disciples, who declared that the Lord had appeared to them also. St. Mark, however, represents the reception which their report met with somewhat differently, ch. Luke 16:12-13. They went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. But there is no inconsistency between the evangelists; for though the greatest part of the apostles believed that Jesus was risen, as St. Luke affirms, some, who had not given credit either to the women nor to Simon, continued obstinately to disbelieve, in spite of all that the two disciples or the rest could say. This seems to be a better method of reconciling the evangelists, than to suppose that on St. Peter's information the apostles believed Jesus was risen, but did not believe that he had appeared to the two disciples; because, according to their own account of the matter, they did not know him at first, and because at parting he had vanished out of their sight: for surely it is natural to think that the disciples, who, on this occasion, were more than twentyin number, would divide in their opinions upon such a subject as the resurrection of their Master from the dead. We know from St. Luke himself, that a few did not believe after they had seen Jesus with their own eyes. See Luke 24:41 and compare Matthew 28:17. It is therefore no straining of the text to suppose, that by the eleven saying, the Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon, St. Luke means only some of the eleven; perhaps the greatest part of them said so. Besides, we must understand the evangelist's words in a limited sense, because St. Peter, of whom he speaks, was himself one of the eleven.


Verse 36

Luke 24:36. And as they thus spake, See John 20:19.


Verse 41

Luke 24:41. And while they yet believed not, &c.— The disciples, beholding the infallible proofs of their Master's resurrection specified in the former verses, received him with exultation and rapture; but their joy and wonder so wrought upon their minds, that some of them, sensible of the commotion they were in, suspended their belief, till they had considered the matter more calmly. Jesus therefore, knowing their thoughts, to calm their minds, and to establish their conviction, calls for meat, and eats with them; so much compassion did he shew for their infirmity; so much care did he take, that not even a shadow of a scruple should remain in their minds, upon a point of the utmost importance to the great business for which he came into the world: and perceiving now that every doubt was vanished, and that they were perfectly convinced, he said to them, pursuing the argument begun by the angels, and carried on by himselfwith the two disciples in the way to Emmaus, These are the words, &c. Luke 24:44-48.


Verse 44

Luke 24:44. In the law of Moses, and in the prophets, &c.— The Old Testament was in those days divided into three parts; first, the law, which contained the five books of Moses; secondly, the hagiographa, which contained divine hymns and moral instructions, and went under the general title of the Psalms, because they were esteemed the most eminent, and were placed at the head of those writings; and thirdly, the prophets, which contained not only the books merely prophetical, but those likewise which were historical, written by prophetic men.


Verse 45

Luke 24:45. Then opened he their understanding, That is, he strengthened and enlarged their understandings, so as to make them comprehend the meaning of the inspired writings; several passages of which he now explained to them, as we may gather from the next verse.


Verse 47

Luke 24:47. Beginning at Jerusalem. It was both graciously and wisely appointed by our Lord, that the gospel, which was to be disseminated among all nations, should begin to be preached at Jerusalem: graciously, as it encouraged the repentance of the greatest sinners, when they saw that even the murderers of Christ were not exempted from the offer of gospel mercy: and wisely, as hereby Christianity was more abundantly attested, the facts being published first on the very spot where they happened, and as the vast concourse of people of various nations present there at the feast of Pentecost would contribute greatly to its speedier propagation. Our Lord commands that his gospel should be preached among all nations, to the whole Gentile world; an event inconceivable to the Jews, and to human reason almost impossible. Naturally every man is zealous for the religion of his fathers; and though it may have many absurdities in it, he does not easily perceive them, because he imbibed them in his earliest years. Idolatry had this further advantage, that all the pleasures of the flesh wereconsistentwiththisreligion.Itsworship required no attention of mind; every part of it was external and pompous, fit to captivate and entertain the senses: besides, all degrees of men were engaged to defend it:—thecivil powers, from maxims of policy, every great change in religion portending danger to the state, and every change in religion being prohibited by the laws, unless the consent of the sovereign power was obtained; the artists, because of gain; the priests, to preserve their authority and emoluments; the people, out of superstition and misguided devotion. This was the unpromising prospect, when Christ foretold and commanded the setting up of his religion in the room of idolatry; a religion which taught the denial of man's self, his irregular appetites and passions; which prescribed an invisible God for the object of adoration, and a spiritual worship and purity of heart suitable to the nature of that object; which promised nothing desirable in this world, neither riches, dignities, nor grandeur, but often the loss of all these, as their portion who should embrace it.—And what were the means which Christ proposed for so vast an undertaking? As disproportioned to the work, as the religions were opposite.—A few men, of mean extraction, of no education or experience, without the arts of rhetoric and persuasion, without armies, without force or policy; of a nation hated by the Gentiles, and hating them from a bigotry to their own customs. What an extravagancy was it to think of extirpating, by such means, a religion deeply rooted in human nature, supported by prejudices, vices, interest, and authority, wherein so many wise men and philosophers formerly miscarried; and to plant upon its ruins Christianity, which to the Greeks was foolishness.—How vain the attempt,—had not God declared the success beforehand! St. Luke tells us, that Christ had had discourses to this purpose with his disciples, and reminded them, after his resurrection, of what he had said upon that subject; Luke 24:44-47. These respective events are written in several prophets. See Psalms 2. Hosea 2:23. Joel 2:32. Malachi 1:11. Daniel 7:14. But this of preaching among all nations seems to be taken particularly from Isaiah 49:6 as well as from various other prophesies; whence St. Paul also tells the Jews that salvation ought to be offered to the Gentiles, and that they would hear it, Acts 28:28. St. Matthew, Matthew 12:17-21 applies another text of the same prophet, Isaiah 42:1-4 which is direct to his purpose. From these and the like passages in the New Testament there is good ground to affirm, that Christ and his apostles did declare the conversion of the Gentiles to Christianity, as impossible as it seemed to be, upon the authority of the scripture prophesies; and the present and past face of the world demonstrates, that they were not mistaken.


Verse 48

Luke 24:48. And ye are witnesses of these things. That this was the grand business of the apostles, is evident; and the ingenious author of Miscellanea Sacra has taken great pains to shew how the title of witnesses, and the office of testifying, are, in the sacred writings, appropriated to the apostles. But after all, though it was indeed essential to the apostolical office, that they who bore it should be able to testify the facts as of their own personal knowledge, yet it is certain that a great many others, who were not apostles, were to testify the same; and it was their duty, and no doubt their care to do it, as the providence of God gave them opportunity. The apostles had many other duties incumbent upon them for the edification of the church; and, in order to the performance of them, were furnished with extraordinary gifts and powe


Verse 49

Luke 24:49. Behold, I send the promise, &c.— That is, I will shortly send; the present being used for the future tense, as it is frequently in scripture. Till ye be endued, or invested with power from on high, means, "Till you are inspired with the Holy Ghost from above."


Verse 50

Luke 24:50. He led them out as far as to Bethany; The town of Bethany was about fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem; John 11:18 whereas the place from which our Lord ascended on mount Olivet, was but a sabbath-day's journey, or about half that distance from Jerusalem; Acts 1:12. So that to reconcile what St. Luke here tells us in his gospel, with the account that he gives of our Lord's ascension in the Acts, we must conclude, that he conducted his disciples only to the boundaries of Bethany, which came much nearer to Jerusalem, and took in part of the mount of Olives. See on Matthew 21:1. It is indeed possible that our Lord might make his last visit on earth to Lazarus and his pious sisters; but it is manifest that he did not ascend from the town of Bethany, where many others must have seen him; but from the mount of Olives, where none beheld him but his own disciples;nor is there any intimation in the words of the evangelists that he came from Bethany to the mount of Olives on the day of his ascension; but rather that he went directly from Jerusalem thither. Lifting up the hands was an attitude of blessing, as well as of prayer. See Genesis 19:23; Genesis 48:14-15; Genesis 48:22. It has been observed, that it was much more proper that our Lord should ascend to heaven in the sight of his apostles, than that he should arise from the dead in their sight; for his resurrection was abundantly proved to them, when they saw him alive after his passion; but they could not see him in heaven while they continued upon earth, unless in vision.


Verse 52-53

Luke 24:52-53. And they worshipped him, The apostles, having seen their Master ascend into heaven, were fully convinced of his having come down from thence, and of his being the true Messiah. This persuasion they testified by paying him divine honours; they worshipped him: and they returned to Jerusalem, filled with great joy, not only on account of his resurrection, but because they considered it not as their Master's final parting with them. Separate, however, from this consideration, it must have rejoiced them exceedingly to think,that their Lord, in his glorified humanity, was so singularly honoured by his heavenly Father, and received up into a state of everlasting felicity and glory, in which he would be able to protect all his faithful followers, and to provide, in the most effectual manner, for their present and eternal happiness. See John 14:1-3. Some have imagined,by comparing the 53rd verse with Acts 1:13-14 that the apostles dwelt for some time afterwards in an upper chamber of the temple; but I doubt whether they had any such interest with the priests as to allow us to suppose that they would permit them to lodge in an apartment of the temple. It is sufficient that they were always there at the proper seasons; for it is well known that by night the temple was shut up. Compare Luke 2:37 and John 18:20. See also the note on Matthew 28:20. As we have subjoined Inferences and Reflections on the resurrection at the close of the two former evangelists, and propose, at the end of St. John's gospel, to give a summary of this remarkable event, we shall here, though rather forestalling some circumstances in the sacred history, subjoin a few Inferences drawn from our Lord's ascension, making a few cursory remarks on the resurrection in our Reflections at the end of this chapter.

Inferences drawn from the ascension.—Who can be rigorous in censuring the ignorance of well-meaning Christians, when he sees the domestic followers of Christ, even after his resurrection, mistake the main end of his coming in the flesh? Lord, said they, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? Acts 1:6. They saw their Master now out of the reach of all Jewish envy; they saw his power unlimited and irresistible: they saw him stay so long upon earth, that they might imagine he meant to fix his abode there;—and what should he do there but reign?-O weak thoughts of well-instructed disciples! What should a heavenly body do on an earthly throne? How should a spiritual life be employed in secular cares? How poor a business is the temporal kingdom of Israel for the king of heaven? and even yet, O blessed Saviour, I do not hear thee sharply controul this erroneous conceit of thy mistaken followers; thy mild correction insists rather (Acts 1:7-8.) upon the time, than the misconceived substance of that restoration. It was thy gracious purpose, that thy Spirit should by degrees rectify their judgments, and illuminate them with thy divine truths; in the mean time, it was sufficient to elevate their hearts to an expectation of that Holy Ghost, who should shortly lead them into all needful and requisite information:—and now, with a gracious promise of that Spirit of thine, (Luke 24:49.) with a careful charge renewed to thy disciples for the promulgation of thy gospel; with a heavenly benediction of all thy wondering attendants,—thou takest leave of earth, Luke 24:51. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.

O happy parting! fit for the Saviour of mankind, answerable to that divine conversation, to that succeeding glory! blessed Jesu, let me so far imitate thee, as to depart hence with a blessing in my mouth; and let my soul, when it is stepping over the threshold of heaven, leave behind it a legacy of peace and happiness!

From the mount of Olives thou wouldst take thy rise into heaven; the place whence thou hadst been accustomed to shower down thy heavenly doctrine upon thy hearers; the place whence thou hadst been wont to send up thy prayers to thy heavenly Father. On this very hill was the bloody sweat of thine agony; now is it the mount of thy triumph: from this mount of Olives did flow that oil of gladness, wherewith thy church is constantly refreshed. And even to us, thy unworthy members, O Saviour, dost thou give a seasonable proportion of joy for our heaviness, comfort for our mourning, spiritual honour for our contempt and shame. Our agonies shall be answered with exaltation.

Whither then, blessed Jesu, whither didst thou ascend,—but home into thine heaven? Thou hast now climbed up that infinite steepness, and left all sublimity below thee: already hast thou approved thyself Lord and Commander of earth, of sea, of hell; the earth confessed thee her Lord, when at thy voice she rendered thee up Lazarus;—when she shook at thy passion, and gave up her deceased saints. The sea acknowledged thee, in that it became a pavement to thy feet, and, at thy command, to the feet of thy disciple; in that it became thy treasury for thy tribute-money. Hell found and acknowledged thee, who conqueredst all the powers of darkness, even him who had the power of death,—the devil. It now only remained that thou shouldst ascend to thy celestial abode; that so every knee might bow to thee both in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth. Gracious Redeemer, I see now where thou art, even far above all heavens at the right hand of paternal glory. Oh do thou raise up my heart thither to thee; place thou my affections on thee above, and teach me therefore to love heaven, because thou art there.

Now, if ever, my soul, be thou enraptured with the contemplation of this comfortable, this blessed farewel of thy Lord. Methinks I see it still with their eyes, how thou, my glorious Saviour, dost insensibly rise up from thine Olivet, taking leave of thine astonished disciples now left behind thee, with gracious eyes, with heavenly benedictions. How unwillingly did their attentive eyes in return let go so blessed an object? How unwelcome that cloud which interposed itself betwixt thee and them, and, closing up, left only a glorious splendor behind it, as the bright track of thine ascension! With what piercing regards did these transported beholders follow their ascending Saviour?—as if they would pierce that cloud, and lay open that heaven which hid thee from them.

But, what tongue of the highest archangel in heaven, can express the welcome given thee, the King of Glory, into those blessed regions of immortality? Never, surely, did the empyreal realms resound with such transcendent joy. "God ascended with jubilation, and the Lord with the sound of the trump." If when the only-begotten Son of God was brought into the world, He said, Let all the angels worship him; how much more now that he ascendeth up on high, and leadeth captivity captive! If the holy angels did so carol at his obscure and humble birth; with what boundless triumph must they receive him now, returning from the perfect achievement of the great atonement! If when David his type had vanquished Goliath, and was carrying the head into Jerusalem—if then the damsels came forth to meet him with dances and timbrels; how did those angelic spirits triumph now, on meeting the great conqueror of death and hell: how did they sing, Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in!

And why dost not thou, O Christian, help to bear thy part with this happy choir of heaven? Why is not thy heart rapt out of thy bosom with an extasy of joy, to see this human nature of ours exalted above all the company of heaven, adored of angels and archangels, and all those illustrious and mighty spirits, and sitting there crowned with infinite glory and majesty?—Alas! little will it avail thee, that our nature is thus honoured, if the benefit of this ascension does not reflect upon thee. How many are there miserable in themselves, notwithstanding all this glory of the human nature in Christ! But how is this?—None but those who are found in him, who are partakers of his divine nature, can be happier by him; none but the faithful persevering members can be finally the better for the glory of the head.

O blessed Jesu! thou that art the way, hast made the way for thyself and all the faithful: Thou didst humble thyself, and becamest obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; therefore hath God also highly exalted thee: and upon the same terms, will he not fail to advance thy true disciples. We see thy track before us of humility and obedience. O teach us to follow thee in the roughest ways of obedience, in the bloody paths even of death; so we may but at last overtake thee on those high steps of immortality and glory!

Among those millions of angels who attended this triumphant ascension of our Lord, some are appointed to the lower station of comforting his astonished disciples, in the certain hope of his no less glorious return; Acts 1:10; Acts 1:21. Two men stood by them in white apparel. They stood by them,—they were not of them: though angels, they seemed men: two, for more certainty of testimony; in white for joy of their Lord's ascension.

Their errand was calculated for a purpose of consolation and love: they stand not silent, therefore, but, directing their speech to the amazed beholders, say, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? What a question was this? Why, O ye blessed angels, did they gaze, but that their love of Christ constrained them? Never could they have gazed so happily as now. If but some great man be advanced to honour over our heads, how apt are we to gaze up, and to eye him as some strange meteor! Let the sun but shine a little upon these transient dials, and how are they looked at by every passenger!—How much more worthy then is the king of glory to command all eyes, now in the higher pitch of his heavenly exaltation, as mediatorial king!

But it was not the purpose of these angels to check the longing looks of these faithful disciples after their ascended Master: it was only a change of eyes that they intended, of carnal for spiritual; of the eye of sense for the eye of faith: This same Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, in like manner, as ye have seen him go into heaven.

"Look not after him, O ye weak disciples, as so departed that ye shall see him no more; though gone, he is not lost; those heavens which received, shall again restore him;—ye have seen him ascend upon the chariot of a bright cloud; and ye shall see him descend again to his last judgment. He is gone; but can it trouble you to know that you have an advocate in heaven? Strive not now so much to exercise your bodily eyes in looking after him, as the eyes of your souls in looking unto him, and looking for him. If it be your sorrow to part with your Saviour; yet to part with him entering into heaven, should be your comfort and felicity; for if his absence could be grievous, his return shall be happy and glorious."

Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly! In the mean time, while it is not heaven that can keep thee from us, it is not earth which can keep us from thee. O raise thou up our souls to a life of faith with thee; and let us ever enjoy thy conversation, while we ardently expect and wait for thy return!

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The sabbath being ended, the good women who had prepared the spices to embalm the body, were early up to visit the sepulchre; but, to their surprize, found the stone rolled away from the door: and, to increase their perplexity, on entering the sepulchre, they found not the body. Whereupon we are told,

1. The glorious vision which appeared to them, of two angels, whose presence at first greatly terrified them: and with deep respect they bowed their faces to the ground; but these heavenly messengers soon relieved them from their distress, with words of kindest consolation, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen; Jesus, your Master, is no longer the prisoner of the grave; he lives, for ever lives, the conqueror of all his foes; remember how he spake unto you, when he was yet in Galilee; it need not have surprised them, when he had so repeatedly foretold the sufferings and death that he must undergo from the hands of wicked men, and his resurrection which would follow; and on being reminded of this they remembered the prediction which the angel mentioned. Note; We are strangely forgetful of the good things which Jesus has spoken, and need to have our memories often refreshed, that we may not let them slip.

2. The haste that the women made to apprize the apostles, and the rest of the disciples, of what they had seen and heard. But, though the fact was asserted by the women, so slow of heart were they to believe, that they treated the report as idle tales, and believed them not; they imputed it to the power of imagination, and were so sunk in despair, and so inapprehensive of Christ's resurrection, that they seem to have had hardly any expectation of it, or remembrance of the assurances concerning his rising again, which he had so repeatedly given them.

3. Peter, roused by the report, resolved however to see for himself, and ran immediately to the sepulchre; and stooping down, saw the grave clothes regularly folded up, and laid separate, but the body gone; whereupon he departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass. Having very little, if any expectation of his Master's resurrection, he could not account for these strange circumstances. Had he perfectly remembered the words of Jesus, his wonder must have ceased.

2nd, The passage recorded in Luke 24:13-35 is mentioned by St. Mark, but is here more at large related. We have,

1. The discourse of two of the disciples as they walked to a village called Emmaus, about seven or eight miles from Jerusalem. Their business to that place we are not told. But as they went, the melancholy events which had passed, were the subject of their conversation; together with the report which the women had spread of the resurrection of their Lord, on the probability of which they might be reasoning. Note; Godly conversation makes a journey very pleasing.

2. An unknown stranger, to appearance, joins them on the road as they were in deep discourse; and walking with them, kindly inquires what caused their melancholy looks and earnest conversation. They little thought who now was of their company. Note; (1.) Where two of Christ's disciples meet to talk about the things which appertain to his kingdom and glory, he will be in the midst of them, instructing and comforting them. (2.) When we are sad and dejected, the converse of a gracious friend serves to alleviate our sorrows: and where we are fellow-mourners, by comparing our cases, we should seek to be mutual comforters.

3. In answer to his question, Cleopas replied, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? The city had rung of the horrid execution of Jesus; and Cleopas presumes that no man who came thence, could possibly be unacquainted with the transactions which had passed on that occasion.

4. When Christ, by only proposing a question, still pretended ignorance of the things to which Cleopas alluded, in order to draw on farther discourse in answer to his question—Cleopas succinctly relates the past and present state of the affair. He begins with an account of his dear Lord and Master Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet, a teacher come from God, who confirmed his divine mission by the heavenly doctrine that he taught, and the miracles he wrought; was evidently approved of the Most High, who endued him with such mighty powers, and bore witness to him from heaven; and was for a while greatly caressed and admired by the people; who in crowds attended his ministry. Him, at the instigation of the chief priests and rulers, the Roman governor had crucified, though confessedly innocent; the remembrance of which grievous scene deeply afflicted them: especially as they acknowledge themselves his disciples, and own their late sanguine hopes, that this had been be who should have redeemed Israel; the promised Messiah, the great prophet whom Moses had bid them expect. But, alas! their hopes were now almost buried in their Master's grave: it was true, indeed, he talked about rising on the third day, which was now drawing to a period, and certain strange reports had been spread by some women of their company, who had been that morning at the sepulchre to look after the body, and had astonished them with an account of having seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive; but they gave little credit to the report. Some of their men, however, hereupon ran to the tomb, and found the body gone, as the women had said, but saw nothing of the angels, or their Master, which rendered the matter very suspicious, and made them suppose the women mistaken; since if he was really arisen, they could not but conclude that he would rather have notified it to his apostles than to them; so that on the whole they were deeply dejected, and scarcely entertained the least prospect of ever seeing him again.

5. The unknown traveller hereupon took up the discourse. He begins with a just rebuke of their folly and unbelief; O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Had ye duly reflected upon the prophetic writings, you might as soon have entertained suspicions about the rising of the sun, as the resurrection of Jesus: for ought not Christ to have suffered these things, according to the express declarations of his prophets, and for the honour of the divine justice, and to enter into his glory, the reward of his sufferings and death? So far, therefore, from harbouring doubts because of these things, that he could not be the Messiah, nor would ever rise again, they should have considered what he endured as absolutely a proof of the reality of the character that he assumed; and should have been encouraged to the fullest confidence, that as they had beheld his humiliation on the cross, they should also see his exaltation to the mediatorial throne. Then beginning from the books of Moses, he proceeded through the prophets, expounding to them the types and prophesies which related to himself, and spoke of his sufferings, and the glory which should follow. Note; The Old Testament, as well as the New, is full of Christ. We never understand Moses and the prophets aright, unless we see Christ as the great object which they continually hold forth to us.

6. At last Christ discovers himself unto them. Drawing nigh to Emmaus, he made as if he would have parted company and passed on farther; but they were too much charmed with his discourse to let him go, and therefore, as the evening was advanced, they pressed him to stay: and at their importunate request he went in with them. And sitting down at table, with authority, as the Master of the house, he took bread, according to his usual manner; and asking the divine benediction, brake and gave to them. Immediately their eyes were opened; they looked up, and discovered the well-known features of their crucified Master; when instantly he became invisible and withdrew, leaving them to reflect on what they had seen and heard. Note; (1.) They who wish for Christ's company, must solicit the favour; he loves the importunity of prayer. (2.) If we have tasted the satisfaction of communion with Jesus, like the spouse we shall hold him fast in the arms of faith and love, and desire never to let him go. (3.) Our meals must be sanctified by prayer and thanksgiving, and then they will serve to minister food to our souls as well as our bodies. (4.) In the ways of his ordinances, the Lord opens the eyes of our faith, and enables us to behold his glory; he has often, since this, made himself known to his people in the breaking of bread at his table.

7. The disciples could not help hereupon reflecting on the lively impressions which the discourse of Jesus had made upon them in the way. On comparing, they found that both their hearts had glowed with holy fervour as he spoke; such irradiation darted on their minds, while he opened to them the Scripture; such life and energy accompanied his discourse, that they cannot but wonder at their own stupidity, not to have discovered him before; since none could have taught them with such demonstration of the Spirit and power, but he who spake like as never man spake before. Note; Nothing can warm the heart of the penitent like the preaching of a crucified Jesus; and his delightful name should always make a principal part of our discourses.

8. They immediately resolved to return, and carry the glad tidings to their brethren at Jerusalem. Not a moment was to be lost; they judged, by what themselves had felt, how melancholy and distressed their fellow-disciples were; and now they could bring them news that would warm their hearts, as it had fired their own. Accordingly, though it was evening, they hasted back, and found opportunely the apostles assembled with the rest of the faithful; who, before they had power to speak, eagerly prevented them, saying, the Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon; so that it is not a report merely, but a certain fact. The two disciples then corroborated the evidence with what had passed in the way, and the discovery which Jesus had made of himself to them, in breaking of bread, when they sat down together to take some refreshment. Note; (1.) The gracious experiences which the Saviour gives us of his love, we should delight to communicate for the comfort and encouragement of our brethren. (2.) Nothing serves more to confirm the faith, and enliven the hopes of real Christians, than comparing their observations, and the dealings of God with their souls. As iron sharpeneth iron, so does such gracious communication mutually quicken and strengthen the heart.

3rdly, The appearance of Jesus recorded in ver; 36-49 is his fifth appearance on the same day that he arose. First he was seen by Mary, John 20:14. Then by the women, Matthew 28:9. By Peter alone, 1 Corinthians 15:5. By the two disciples; and now by all who were assembled together.

1. He suddenly appeared in the midst of them, while they were talking over this glorious event, the resurrection of their Lord; and, with most encouraging words of consolation, wishes them all peace and happiness. He mentions not one upbraiding word of their perfidy in forsaking him; of Peter's profaneness and perjury in denying him; they had turned again, and he had sealed their pardon; the past, therefore, is not only forgiven, but forgotten, and he is come to assure them of his love.

2. They were terrified and affrighted at his presence, and supposed at first that it was an apparition, or a spirit, that had assumed the form of Jesus. So surprized were they, that they seem to have forgotten the proofs of his resurrection for a moment, on which they had been just discoursing.

3. He soon convinced them of the groundlessness of their fears, and of their folly to be startled at his appearance; which should have been their greater joy, Why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Note; We often cause ourselves needless disquiet, brooding over melancholy apprehensions, when perhaps the very distress that we feel is a symptom for good; as the deep convictions of sin shew that the Spirit of God is at work with our hearts, and that they will shortly issue in peace and joy, if we believe. To remove, therefore, their doubts,

[1.] He bids them examine him, and gain the fullest evidence to their senses. There were his hands and his feet, where still the scars of the nails remained; those glorious fears which were the consequences of his victorious conflict with the powers of darkness, their enemies, and his: handle me and see, satisfy yourselves fully in the certainty of my resurrection, and the identity of my body; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have, but is incorporeal, though it may appear under the resemblance of a human form. Accordingly he shewed his hands, his feet, his side, that they might have the fullest conviction of his being the same Jesus; for bearing testimony to whose resurrection, they would afterwards be exposed to the most furious persecutions; and therefore it was needful that their own assurance of the fact should be put beyond a doubt.

[2.] He eats and drinks with them, to prove most fully to them that he had really a living body like their own. The astonishment that they were in, and the inexpressible joy they felt, quite overcame them; they were ready to believe, that what they saw and heard was too great and too good news to be true, and could hardly yet credit the testimony of their own senses. To give them time to recover from this extacy, and to confirm their faith, he sat down with them, and ate in their presence some broiled fish and a piece of a honeycomb, which they gave him: so that hereby they might be assured he was no spectre.

[3.] He not only gave this conviction to their senses, but poured a flood of divine light upon their souls. He refers them to his former discourses with them, concerning the things written in the law, the prophets, and psalms, relative to his sufferings and glory; and by the powerful operations of his spirit he wonderfully brought to their memory all that he had spoken before; and opened the intent and meaning of the Scriptures to their hearts with such evidence, clearness, and certainty, that they perceived the full accomplishment of all in him. Note; (1.) Our understandings are darkened, till Christ shines upon us as the sun of righteousness. (2.) The most enlightened mind has daily need to cry, open thou mine eyes. (3.) The way in which Christ teaches, is in and by the Scriptures; we must look for no wisdom unto salvation out of the written word, or what is clearly grounded thereupon. Though, (4.) The plainest truths of God's revealed will are never to be spiritually discerned, till the Holy Ghost guides us into the spiritual sense and meaning of them.

[4.] He gives them instructions for the work in which they were now about to be employed. (1.) They were to be witnesses of his death and resurrection, proving from the Scriptures the predictions concerning both, which were now accomplished in him; in consequence whereof, repentance and remission of sins must be preached by them in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem; he being exalted at the right hand of God, in consequence of his sufferings, to bestow those inestimable blessings on as many as believed in his name; not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also: and nothing could so powerfully influence and engage the hearts of sinners to return to God, as this free and full salvation preached to them in his name. They must begin at Jerusalem, which had been the chief scene of his life and sufferings; the oracles of God, to which they appealed, were in the hands of the Jews; there the facts were transacted, to the truth of which they might most confidently appeal; and there his murderers dwelt, who most especially needed to be called to repentance; and to many of whom, returning to him with genuine contrition, he would signalize the riches of his grace, in pardoning and saving them. The gospel is grace abounding to the chief of sinners. (2.) He bids them wait a while at Jerusalem, and in a few days he would pour out upon them the Spirit from on high, which he had promised them, to qualify them for their arduous undertaking, and strengthen them in the discharge of it. His kingdom was to be established, not by human endeavours, but by divine energy; therefore the instruments were poor weak illiterate fishermen, and this the more magnified the effectual working of that mighty power which appeared in them. They were endued with such wisdom as none of their adversaries could resist; with such courage as no danger could dismay; with such miraculous powers as evidently spoke the finger of God; and were blessed with such amazing success, that, in spite of all opposition, they were enabled to lay the foundations of the glorious gospel church, which he died and rose to establish.

4thly, We have the account of the ascension of Jesus into heaven, after he had forty days conversed with his disciples after his resurrection.

1. He gives them his parting benediction. He led them out as far as to Bethany, whence he had made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem some few days before his death. And lifting up his hands, as the great High-Priest, Leviticus 9:22 he pronounced a blessing upon them.

2. He was parted from them just as he had finished his benediction, as Elijah from Elisha, and carried up into heaven; either by the ministry of angels or by his own divine power; making his triumphant entry into the glorious courts above, and sitting down on the mediatorial throne prepared for him as the reward of his sufferings. Note; Though dearest friends must now part, yet, if faithful, we shall follow Jesus to that kingdom where we shall part no more.

3. The disciples bowed down in adoration before him, and worshipped him as the very God, who, though in his human nature removed out of sight, yet filled heaven and earth with his presence. Note; The incarnate Jesus justly claims the worship and service of all his faithful followers.

4. They returned to Jerusalem with great joy. Their sorrows now were banished; bright hope and burning love possessed every bosom, and they waited confidently expecting the fulfilment of the promise which their Lord had given them; and were continually in the temple, at the stated hours of worship, praising and blessing God, joining the temple-songs, and offering their joyful acknowledgments for all the wondrous mercies they had received, and for the promises of greater yet in store for them. Amen: may we in our blessing and praises seek to emulate these happy disciples, till we come to join the songs of eternity; and in the better temple, among the blessed, day and night for ever celebrate redeeming love.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 24:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/luke-24.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology