Scriptures

Luke 24

Introduction

‘On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words.’ Luke 24:1-8

Jesus Has Risen

In keeping with the law of Moses, they had rested on the Sabbath and had returned to complete the burial rites of the Saviour which they had begun on the day of His death.

Because it was after the Sabbath was over when the women proceeded to the tomb, this tells us that the resurrection of Jesus happened on the first day of the week, that is, Sunday morning, Mark 16:2 / Mark 16:9 / Luke 24:1 / John 20:1.

In John 20:1-19 we read about Jesus’ resurrection and once again we see John’s narrative isn’t meant to be complete, again he is very selective. He omits incidents recorded in the other Gospels and includes incidents they omit.

In John 20:1-2 again, on reading the different accounts of what met the women when they arrived at the tomb on the first day of the week, it can be seen that the different authors emphasize different points.

Altogether, a good clear picture can be constructed.

1. It was very early on the Sunday morning, as the sun was coming up. Matthew 28:1 / Mark 16:2 / Luke 24:1 / John 20:1.

2. Mary Magdala and the other Mary were going to anoint Jesus with spices. Matthew 28:1 / Mark 16:1 / Luke 24:1 / John 20:1.

3. John records only the experience of Mary of Magdala. She saw that the stone had been ‘taken away’ from the entrance of the tomb, the stone had been moved from the entrance during the night.

The other Gospels say that the stone was ‘rolled back’, ‘rolled away’, clearly it was out of the groove in which it had to be to cover the entrance. Matthew 28:2 / Mark 16:4 / Luke 24:2 / John 20:1.

4. The guards had seen this occur and were much afraid, it was done by an angel and accompanied by an earthquake. Matthew 28:2-4.

5. The same angel spoke to the women telling them that Christ had risen. Matthew 28:5-6 / Mark 16:6 / Luke 24:4-6.

6. Jesus had gone on the Galilee and they will meet him there. Matthew 28:7 / Mark 16:7.

7. This was in accordance with Jesus’ earlier statements. Luke 24:7-8.

8. The women went to tell the disciples as the angel had told them. Matthew 28:8 / Mark 16:7 / Luke 24:9 / John 20:2.

9. As they were afraid, they told no one else. Mark 16:8.

10. On meeting the disciples, Mary was distressed and didn’t seem to believe what she had heard from the angel as she says, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him’. As we know they hadn’t removed Jesus, Jesus had removed Himself.

11. Only Peter and John believed initially, both ran to the tomb and found only the cloth Jesus had been wrapped in. Luke 24:11-12 / John 20:3 / John 20:7.

In John 20:3-9 we see, that these two were most excited, Peter was the oldest of the disciples and John the youngest. John ‘outran Peter’ and so, arrived at the tomb first, stooping to look in, it was a low entrance.

He saw the linen cloths, and bandages, lying on the ground but was afraid to enter the tomb. Peter then arrived and true to his natural impulsive character, he went into the tomb.

What met him was indeed amazing, all the linen bandages were there, the sheet-like cloth was there even the cloth ‘soudarion’, handkerchief or napkin, used to wrap up the Lord’s head was there, folded neatly apart from the rest of the lined.

Everything was there, but Jesus wasn’t, no one would steal the body and take the time to remove the linen, even folding some of it up, no this was not done by the hands of man, but by the power of God.

The lined bandages would be wrapped around Jesus’ limbs and body. Some commentators insist that the language demands that the grave cloths that had been would around the body were lying undisturbed ‘except that those wounds around the body had fallen flat’. The napkin was ‘still in the folds as it had been about the head of Jesus’.

John next entered, ‘and he saw and believed’, that Jesus had risen, ‘chrysostum’. For neither, if any persons had removed the body, would they before doing so have stripped it, nor if anyone had stolen it, would they have taken the trouble to remove the napkin, roll it up, and lay it in place by itself, but how?  They would have taken the body as it was.

On this account, John tells us by anticipation that it was buried with much myrrh, which glues linen to the body not less firmly than lead. Now finally all the pieces fitted together, all the teaching Jesus had given fell into place, and the two believed with a clear understanding of all the relevant facts.

‘They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.’ The ‘scripture’ could refer to His own predictions that He would rise John 16:16-17 / Matthew 16:21, and, or to Old Testament predictions, Psalm 16:10-11 / Psalm 110:1 / Psalm 110:4 / Psalm 118:22-24 / Isaiah 53:11-12.

They believed from experience then later saw it in the scriptures, they hadn’t been aware of all that the Old Testament said about Jesus’s death burial and resurrection. Notice also ‘had to rise’ the resurrection is essential to prove His claims, Luke 24:44-47.

The Significance Of The Empty Tomb

The importance of the resurrection of Jesus is summed up by Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:14-15 / 1 Corinthians 15:17. Jesus died to atone for our sins.

But we could not know that He did so unless we also knew that He arose from the grave, for one who did not have the power to conquer death would not have the power to forgive sins. Only in the light of the empty tomb does the cross have significance.

Furthermore, the resurrection of Jesus demonstrates the possibility of our resurrection. If He could conquer death for Himself, He can overcome it for His disciples. The Christian’s hope of eternal life is inseparably connected with the resurrection of Jesus.

The resurrection of Christ also shows that Jesus brought an end to the old covenant and its law when He died on the cross. The Mosaic Age in which Israel had been living for 1500 years ended at Calvary. There Jesus blotted out ‘our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.’ Colossians 2:14.

From that time forth all men, Jews and Gentiles, have lived in the Christian Age and are subject to the laws of Christ as recorded in the New Testament.

‘When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.’ Luke 24:9-12

Jesus appears to Mary of Magdala, John 20:10-18. Joyfully, the disciples returned home, no doubt to tell the other disciples of the good news.

‘The beloved disciple’ was the first one to believe that Jesus had risen, without seeing Him, John 20:8, Mary of Magdala was the first to see Him after His resurrection.

Mary however stayed at the tomb, even though she had seen the angel earlier on, Matthew 28:5+6, she still didn’t understand or believe.

Mary stood outside the tomb ‘crying’, sobbing, weeping aloud. As she sobbed, she glanced inside the tomb, she saw two angels sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the corpse had laid, the angels looked like young men. Mark 16:5 / Luke 24:4.

John 20:10-18 tells us that they asked why she was in such obvious distress, it’s important to note that she refers to Jesus as ‘My Lord’, indicating continued faith in Him even though He is no longer about.

‘Woman’ they said to her, ‘why are you crying?’ She said, ‘because they have taken away my Master, and I do not know where they have put him!’ With these words, she turned around and notices Jesus standing, though she didn’t know it was Jesus. ‘Woman’, said Jesus, ‘why are you crying? Who are you looking for?’

Two things should be kept in mind here, 1. She was crying bitterly, blinded by grief. 2. It was only when He spoke her name that ‘she turned’ towards him, John 20:16.

Until this moment she wasn’t looking at the speaker. These two facts alone would account for her not knowing it was Jesus. Perhaps Christ’s body is so changed as not to be recognised at once even by those who had known Him well, it has new powers and a new majesty. John 21:4 / Luke 24:16-37 / Matthew 28:17.

Notice here words, ‘Sir….tell me. and I will take Him away.’ John 20:10-18. How was she to carry a corpse, and where would she take it?

Her loving devotion does not measure her strength. This is a beautiful example of the self-forgetfulness of love. Why she even turned around at that point is open to speculation, but she is now facing an unknown man. He asks why she is crying, the same question the angels had just asked.

In her upset state, Mary gives the man a brief answer, asking if he had anything to do with Jesus’ disappearance. The whole conversation with this man is running along very similar lines to the one held moments before with the two angels.

Jesus now reveals Himself with one word, ‘Mary’ John 20:10-18. It must have been in the tenderness of His tone, or the gentleness of His voice that sparks a memory in the mind of Mary and she realises who she is addressing. ‘Rabboni!’ is the Aramaic form of ‘Rabbi’, it means ‘my great Master’.

In John 20:17, Jesus tells her, ‘Do not hold me,’ ‘do not touch me’ but He allowed women to touch Him, Matthew 28:9, He told Thomas to touch Him, John 20:27.

He isn’t talking here about mere touching, but holding, ‘cease clinging to me’. Her instinctive desire would be to hold on the Jesus, to keep him and not to let Him go, that wasn’t possible. She couldn’t keep Him physically with His disciples, a completely new period was to begin, involving His ‘going to his Father’.

After that, His ascension, a new kind of fellowship, spiritual, would be available to all His followers. This couldn’t be interrupted by any event. Conditions had changed, and the relationship between the disciples and their ‘Didaskalos’ and ‘Kurios’ must also change.

She must have run to Him and embraced Him, as He gently tells her not to hold to Him, not to cling to Him, referring also to the fact that His current reappearance was just a short and temporary stay. He charges Mary with the responsibility of telling the disciples that vital news, He is returning to God the Father, a reference to His victory.

Gladly Mary must have run the road to the disciples to tell them the news and the message. Jesus first appeared to the women, and He treated them as always, beautifully, notice the first person to tell about the risen Christ was a woman.

The Resurrection

When we take into account all the Gospel records, a good clear picture can be constructed.

1. It was very early on the Sunday morning, as the sun was coming up, Matthew 28:1 / Mark 16:2 / Luke 24:1 / John 20:1.

2. Mary Magdala and the other Mary were going to anoint Jesus with spices, Matthew 28:1 / Mark 16:1 / Luke 24:1 / John 20:1.

3. John records only the experience of Mary of Magdala.

She saw that the stone had been ‘taken away’ from the entrance of the tomb, the stone had been moved from the entrance during the night.

The other Gospels say that the stone was ‘rolled back’, ‘rolled away’, clearly it was out of the groove in which it had to be to cover the entrance, Matthew 28:2 / Mark 16:4 / Luke 24:2 / John 20:1.

4. The guards had seen this occur and were much afraid, it was done by an angel and accompanied by an earthquake, Mark 16:5 / Matthew 28:2-4.

5. Although there were two angels present, Mark 16:5 / Luke 24:4 / John 20:12, one of them spoke to the women telling them that Christ had risen, Matthew 28:5-6 / Mark 16:6 / Luke 24:4-6.

6. Jesus had gone on the Galilee and they will meet him there, Matthew 28:7 / Mark 16:7.

7. This was in accordance with Jesus’ earlier statements, Luke 24:7-8.

8. The women went to tell the disciples as the angel had told them, Matthew 28:8 / Mark 16:7 / Luke 24:9 / John 20:2.

9. As they were afraid, they told no one else, Mark 16:8.

10. On meeting the disciples, Mary was distressed and didn’t seem to believe what she had heard from the angel as she says, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him’. As we know they hadn’t removed Jesus, Jesus had removed Himself.

11. Only Peter and John believed initially, both ran to the tomb and found only the cloth Jesus had been wrapped in. Luke 24:11-12 / John 20:3 / John 20:7.

On The Road To Emmaus

‘Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.’ Luke 24:13-16

A few hours after the women had reported that Jesus was resurrected, Luke 24:22, we find two disciples, one named Cleopas, Luke 24:27 / John 19:25 and the other’s name isn’t mentioned.

They were on their way to their home town, Emmaus which was around seven miles from Jerusalem. It seems that they had given up hope concerning the Messiah establishing a physical kingdom, they, just like the other disciples, obviously didn’t expect or believe that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, Luke 24:25.

Notice that when they were talking, Jesus walked with them, but they didn’t recognise Him. Jesus joined them, but He didn’t allow their minds to notice that it was actually Him in their presence.

In what way were they kept from recognising Him? Who knows, but Jesus Himself. Why did Jesus keep them from recognising Him?

Possibly because He wants to hear their thoughts about what happened in Jerusalem or possible this was a testing of their faith. One thing is clear though, all will be revealed later.

‘He asked them, ‘What are you discussing together as you walk along?’ They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, ‘Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘About Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.’ Luke 24:17-24

We’re not to think that Jesus didn’t know what they were discussing, He knows all things, John 2:24 / Mathew 9:4.

He simply asked the question in order to partake in the conversation they were having and it seems the question puzzled the two disciples because everyone knew, the religious leaders knew, the Roman government knew, the common people knew and all were very much aware of everything which happened concerning the death of Jesus, Acts 26:26.

They all knew about this Jesus who grew up in a small village named, Luke 1:26 / Luke 2:39 / Luke 18:37.

Notice that they said that Jesus ‘was a prophet who was powerful in word and deed’, they recognised that Jesus performed many miracles and taught many powerful things, Matthew 21:11 / Luke 7:16 / John 3:2 / John 12:17 / Acts 2:22 / Acts 7:22.

Jesus wasn’t just a prophet, but the prophet, Deuteronomy 18:15 / Deuteronomy 18:17-19. Jesus had a huge reputation throughout all of Palestine but notice they use the word, ‘was’ which is past tense.

In other words, their hope in the Messiah is gone, all their dreams and expectations have gone, how could a dead prophet establish a new kingdom and redeem Israel? And so, at this moment of time, it’s time to go home and get back to living as normal.

They told Jesus that the Messiah for whom they hoped was condemned to death and crucified. They obviously thought that the Messiah story ended at the tomb, despite the women reporting about the resurrection. It’s clear they had witnessed the death of Jesus, but not His resurrection.

We know that the crucifixion of Christ took place on Friday since Luke here tells us that this event took place on Sunday. John 21:19 tells us that Jesus appeared to the disciples on this same day.

By the time these two disciples had left the other disciples, Jesus hadn’t appeared to any of them yet. Peter and John had gone to the tomb to confirm the report of the women, Luke 24:12 / John 20:3-6 but they themselves hadn’t seen the risen Lord yet.

‘He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.’ Luke 24:25-27

I don’t believe Jesus was rebuking them by calling them ‘foolish’, I believe He recognised that these two disciples had fallen victim to the attitude of the Jewish nation as a whole. The Jews were looking for an earthly Messiah, 1 Peter 1:10-12, who would establish an earthly kingdom, Acts 1:6.

Imagine being a Jewish child, going to the temple and the synagogue, listening to the Word of God being proclaimed and explained, week in and week out, all of your life. Imagine wondering Who the Old Testament prophets were speaking of and listening to the descriptions of the coming Messiah.

Imagine hearing Isaiah 53 which speaks about the suffering Servant of God, imagine hearing how He was to be despised and rejected by many, even His own people.

Imagine hearing about how He is a man of sorrows and accustomed to grief. Imagine listening to how the very details about He were to be crucified, Psalm 22.

Imagine hearing this all your life, from a young Jewish child to adulthood, even to the point of reciting many of the texts so that you knew them off by heart.

And yet they didn’t get it, they didn’t Jesus as the Messiah, they didn’t believe in His resurrection, everything they practised and heard was pointing to Jesus, but they missed it. This is surely a lesson for us today, to get very familiar with the Scriptures.

Jesus tells them that the Messiah had to suffer and was glorified in His crucifixion, John 13:31 / Isaiah 53:5 / Hebrews 5:8-9. Notice that Jesus began to explain the Scriptures to them, which Scripture do you think He began with?

Remember there are over three hundred prophecies in the Old Testament that refer to Jesus and the events surrounding His coming and establishment of His kingdom reign, all of which were fulfilled in Christ, Ephesians 1:18-21.

Spence in his commentary suggests the following Scriptures may have been explained to the two disciples by Jesus.

The promise to Eve. Genesis 3:15

The promise to Abraham. Genesis 22:18

The Paschal lamb. Exodus 12

The scapegoat. Leviticus 16:1-34

The greater Prophet. Deuteronomy 18:15

The star and sceptre. Numbers 24:17

Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

‘Unto us, a child is born’. Isaiah 9:6

The Good Shepherd. Isaiah 40:10-11

The meek Sufferer. Isaiah 50:6

He who bore our griefs. Isaiah 53:4-5

The Heir of David. Ezekiel 34:23

The Ruler born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2

The Branch. Zechariah 6:12

The lowly King. Zechariah 9:9

The pierced Victim. Zechariah 12:10

The smitten Shepherd. Zechariah 13:7

The Messenger of the Covenant. Malachi 3:1

The Sun of Righteousness. Malachi 4:2

Please remember the above texts are just suggestions and can’t be proven and there is a good chance that on that long seven-mile walk home Jesus used many other Old Testament Scriptures to prove His Messiahship.

‘As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.’ So, he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.’ Luke 24:28-31

It seems that Jesus was eager to go further with the two disciples, but He wasn’t invited as their guest, hence why they urged Him strongly to stay with them as their guest.

We can only imagine the excitement in their minds as Jesus taught them from the Scriptures, for once they were getting a true interpretation of the Scriptures and not some rabbi’s opinion. Now they’re thinking, ‘this all makes sense now’.

Notice that they didn’t recognise Jesus until after he took bread, gave thanks and broke it. Why? I guess it’s possible that they remembered how Jesus broke bread when He instituted the Lord’s Supper.

There was definitely something in the manner in which Jesus took that bread, gave thanks and gave it to them that sparked something in their minds, Luke 24:35.

Their eyes were opened when Jesus decided to open their eyes, we don’t know how He opened their eyes but when they did have their eyes opened, they knew exactly who Jesus was, He was the risen Lord, the Messiah.

Notice also that Jesus disappears from their sight. We must remember that Jesus now has a new resurrected body in which He could do things that He couldn’t do before, John 20:19-20 / John 20:26, this is His real body, but it’s not limited like our physical bodies, 1 Corinthians 15:52 / 1 John 3:2.

‘They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’ Luke 24:32

There’s nothing like studying the Scriptures and learning new things. Jesus interpreted the prophecies so that they could finally understand the true nature of the kingdom of God, it was spiritual, Luke 17:20-21. The Messiah was to be King but not One who would rule physically here on Earth.

‘They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.’ Luke 24:33-35

After walking seven miles to get to Emmaus they decided that everything they had witnessed and learned from Jesus was simply too important to keep to themselves, and so, they get up and walk back the seven miles to Jerusalem. We don’t know how many people were assembled as the text says, ‘they found the Eleven and those with them’.

They are now truly convicted about Christ being the Messiah and more importantly convicted that He indeed did rise from the dead. Luke tells us that Jesus appeared to Peter as does Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:5 but there’s no Scripture reference to say that He actually did.

That’s not a problem though because we know that Jesus did many other things which weren’t recorded in the Scriptures, John 21:25.

Why did Jesus appear specifically to Peter? We don’t know the answer, possibly to let him know that everything went to God’s plan, or to reassure him after he denies Christ. We simply don’t know, but we do know that Peter was never the same person again, Acts 2:16-38.

Cleopas and the other unnamed disciple explained everything which had happened to all those present, which I’m sure would have brought a lot of comfort to everyone. Their testimonies about the risen Lord would only strengthen the testimonies of the women and all those present.

The resurrection of Christ is fundamental to the Christian faith, everything, our hopes and dreams are realised in and through the resurrection of Christ, because without it, we have no hope, 1 Corinthians 15:12-19.

We can only imagine the excitement in those two disciples as they learned from the Master teacher, realising that He is the risen Messiah.

When was the last time you learnt something new and exciting from the Scriptures? Are we just as eager to learn from God’s Word?

It’s no surprise that the very first disciples sat at the apostle’s feet to learn and grow in their faith, Acts 2:42, imagine all the questions they must have had. It’s not surprising that the Scriptures command us over and over again to brow grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, 2 Peter 3:18.

Jesus Appears To The Disciples

After Jesus had rose from the dead, He appeared to the eleven at different times and spoke about different things with them concerning their future mission, Matthew 28:16-20 / Mark 16:15-20 / Acts 1:1-12. The appearances occurred over a period of forty days, Acts 1:3.

John tells us that Jesus appeared to His disciples on ‘the first day of the week’ John 20:19 / Matthew 28:1 / Mark 16:2 / Luke 24:1 / John 20:19 / John 20:26 / Acts 20:7 / 1 Corinthians 16:2. The disciples ‘gathered behind closed doors, with the doors locked.’ John 20:19.

This was ‘for fear of the Jews’, the Sanhedrin had killed the Master, they might decide to kill His disciples. As rumours of His resurrection began to spread, the apostles, close companions of Jesus, would be special targets.

‘While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” ‘They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? ‘Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.’ Luke 24:36-40

Jesus says, ‘peace by with you’ which was a common Jewish salutation. The apostles must have heard Jesus say this many times but surely it now took on new meaning. Peace had been his last message to them in their sorrow, John 16:33.

It was His first word to them on His reappearance. They were in a secured room, but Jesus suddenly appeared in their midst, He had been crucified, His corpse had been buried, yet here He was, before their eyes speaking words, they had heard Him utter many times.

What Was Their Initial Reaction?

At first, they simply couldn’t believe their own eyes which is understandable, Matthew 14:26 / Mark 6:49. Jesus’ resurrected body still had the nail marks, John 20:27 / Psalm 22:16.

He tells them that a ‘ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones’ which is the defined nature of a ghost. If they wanted proof that Christ had indeed risen from the dead, here He was right in front of them.

‘And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.’ Luke 24:41-43

It seems the disciples were overwhelmed with joy to the point they couldn’t believe Jesus was in front of them. Jesus’ new resurrected body was still able to do physical things, in this example not only did the disciples touch Jesus, John 20:20 / John 20:27 / 1 John 1:1-2 / 1 John 3:2, but He is eating, which again was further proof that they weren’t seeing things, or seeing a ghost, a ghost doesn’t eat because it’s not physical.

Remember that John wrote his Gospel at a time when the church faced the Docetic heresy, the claim that Jesus had no real, human body, 1 John 4:1-3. Some ‘modernists’ today say that Jesus ‘spirit’ arose, not His body.

John presents conclusive evidence that the body that was crucified was the body that was raised. Then, after being convinced of Jesus’ identity, the disciples were glad, they were overjoyed, John 16:22.

He shows His wounds and emphasises that He isn’t a ghost.

The disciple’s emotions went from unbelief to total joy, John 20:20-21. The greeting, ‘peace be with you’ is repeated in connection with word of commission, ‘As the Father has sent, ‘apostello’ me, even so, I send ‘pempo’ you,’ John 17:18.

‘He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Luke 24:44

All of the Old Testament prophecies which spoke about the work and reign of Jesus would be fulfilled when He ascended to the right hand of the Father not long from now.

Jesus here is confirming that all the Old Testament prophecies concerning His work and reign in reference to the disciples have now been fulfilled.

‘Then he opened their minds, so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.’ Luke 24:45-46

We don’t know how He opened their mind in order for them to understand the Scriptures, but he opened their mind so that they could understand that He is the Christ, the promised Messiah.

Over and over again, Christ told them that He, the Messiah must suffer, die on the cross but rise on the third day. In a nutshell, this is the Gospel of Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

‘And repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’  Luke 24:47

Repentance simply means to reconsider, in other words, reconsider your life and the direction it’s going and after considering, change the direction of your life and go towards God and His way, Acts 2:38 / Acts 3:19 / Acts 5:31 / Acts 10:43 / Acts 13:38 / Acts 26:18.

The preaching involved here is simply the great commission, which He gave the apostles, Matthew 28:19-20 / Mark 16:15. In other words, it’s the Gospel, the good news concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

Notice where the preaching was to start, at Jerusalem, this is exactly what happened, Acts 1:8 / Acts 2.

‘You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’ Luke 24:48-49

Far too many Christians claim they are witnesses for Christ, this is impossible because they weren’t around back then when Christ lived, a witness is someone who saw and heard what Christ said and done. It’s also sad that many Christians take these promises of Jesus and make them their own promises.

We must remember that it was these disciples who were to be witnesses, it was them who had personally spent time with Christ and witnessed His death, burial and resurrection, Acts 1:8. They were the ones who were to preach to others what they had seen and heard from Christ.

This is seen further in the fact that Jesus uses the word ‘you’ when speaking to the eleven. This promise is the promise of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, John 14:26 / John 16:13-14 and He was promised only to the apostles, Acts 1:8. It was them and them only who would be ‘clothed with power from on high’, which is clearly seen in Acts 2:1-4.

Others were present with the apostles, Luke 24:33-36, but note that in Acts 1:2-8, Luke includes only ‘the apostles whom he had chosen’ as the ones to whom Holy Spirit baptism was promised. They, the apostles, would ‘receive power’ and be Jesus’ witnesses.

Also, the ‘they’ of Acts 2:1 most naturally connects with Acts 1:26, indicating that on the Day of Pentecost only the apostles were so baptised, Acts 2:7 / Acts 2:14 / Acts 2:37, see also the use of power in Acts 4:33 and Acts 5:12.

John 20:22 tells us that Jesus ‘breathed’ on them, Genesis 2:7 / Exodus 37:9 and there are three views of what ‘receive the Holy Spirit’ means.

1. It was a symbolic act, indicating what would happen at Pentecost.

2. That He actually imparted the Spirit to them then.

3. That He gave them a specific ‘gift’ of the Spirit, with the fullness coming at Pentecost.

John 20:23 is wrongly used to support the claim that a human ‘priest’ has divine power to absolve man from sin. Absolution is the privilege of Deity, Mark 2:5-10. No human being can make terms or conditions on which another human being may be forgiven or not forgiven by God.

God has already made those conditions, and they are unalterable, Matthew 28:18-20 / Mark 16:15-16 / John 3:3-5 / Acts 2:37-38 / Acts 22:16 / 1 John 1:7-9.

The apostles, as the inspired representatives of the Lord Jesus, had the responsibility to make known those terms and conditions, Matthew 16:18-19 / Matthew 18:18 / John 14:26 / John 15:26-27 / John 16:7-11.

This doesn’t mean that the power to forgive sins was even entrusted to any man or any men, it means that the power to proclaim the forgiveness was so entrusted and it means that the power to warn that forgiveness isn’t open to the impenitent heart was also entrusted to them.

So, we see that it’s through the Gospel the apostles had the ability to forgive people’s sins, by their acceptance of Christ.

The Ascension Of Jesus

‘When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.’ Luke 24:50-51

After Jesus told His disciples they would be witnesses, and they would receive the Holy Spirit with power in Jerusalem, He leads them to somewhere near Bethany, Mount Olivet, Acts 1:12, which is east of Jerusalem, where He blessed them, it was then that He was taken up into heaven before their very eyes, Acts 1:9.

This happened ten days before the first Pentecost after the resurrection.

His new resurrected body was raised up into heaven so that He could assume His authority, Daniel 7:13-14 / Ephesians 1:20-22 / Philippians 2:9-11.

Jesus is now at the right hand of God as King of kings and Lord of lords, 1 Timothy 6:15, He is now reigning over all things, Ephesians 1:22-23 / 1 Peter 3:22. And He will continue to reign until the last enemy, death, has been conquered, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.

Notice that Jesus was taken up ‘before their very eyes,’ why? Simply because they had to witness this to further establish their faith in Christ and when they were sharing the Gospel, they could tell people that what they had witnessed was real and not some made-up story.

We must remember there had been at least ten appearances of Jesus to His disciples after His resurrection, but this was to be an event they would never forget in a hurry.

Luke tells us that a cloud hid Jesus from the disciple’s sight, Daniel 7:13-14 / Psalm 68:18 / Psalm 110:1 / Mark 16:19 / Luke 23:43 / John 20:17 / Hebrews 4:14 / Hebrews 9:24 / 1 Peter 3:22.

When we think about, there were clouds involved in His transfiguration, Matthew 17:5, Jesus speaks about His coming ‘in the clouds of heaven’, Mark 14:62, and when we read the Old Testament we read about a cloud being visible to let the Israelites know that the glory of God was present at the tent of meeting, Exodus 40:34.

The Two Men

Two men appeared to the apostles, Acts 1:10-11, and there’s no doubt that these two men were angels dressed in white clothing, Matthew 28:3 / Mark 16:5 / Luke 24:4 / John 20:12.

The Question

The angels ask the disciples, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky?’ Acts 1:10-11. This to me is one of the most unfair questions we find in the Scriptures, think about it!

If you were there and witnessed someone ascending into the heavens, wouldn’t you be amazed and just stand there looking up?

Notice that the angels tell them that ‘This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’ Acts 1:10-11.

If this doesn’t tell us about how will return, I don’t know what will, there’s no secret or invisible return of Christ mentioned here or anywhere in the Scriptures.

He left in the clouds and He will return in the clouds, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

‘Coming in the clouds’ is simply judgment talk which speaks of God coming in judgement on people or a nation, Matthew 24:30 / 1 Thessalonians 4:17 / Revelation 1:7.

The reasons the angels asked the question wasn’t to rebuke them but to remind them that there are more important things to be getting on with, specifically they had to get on with the great commission, Matthew 28:19-20 / Mark 16:15 and wait on the promised Holy Spirit from the Father to come upon them with power, Luke 24:49 / Acts 1:8.

‘Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.’ Luke 24:52-53

Notice that the disciples worshipped Him, this would simply be the natural response to witnessing the Lord going up into heaven. If they didn’t believe He was the Messiah, the Christ, if they believe He was Deity, up to this point, they certainly would have after witnessing His ascension.

Why Did They Return To Jerusalem?

Simply because this is what Jesus commanded them to do, Luke 24:49 / Acts 1:4, He commanded them to stay in Jerusalem until they had received the promise, the Holy Spirit with power Acts 1:5.

Although Jesus brought an end to all the temple ceremonies and traditions, the disciples go back to the temple to praise God, why?

Possibly out of habit or possibly because that’s where a great number of people would be gathered, and this could be an opportunity to the share Gospel with others.

Remember the temple is still standing at this point and wouldn’t be destroyed until 70 A.D.

When we read the account of Jesus’ ascension, we read it like this was a common everyday event. I can imagine the disciples being a little frightened, whilst being in complete awe as they witness their Master being raised into the sky.

This would have been incredible to see and I’m sure we would speak about it all the days of our lives, to anyone who would listen.

When Jesus returns it will be personal, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, it will be visible, 1 John 3:2, it will be audible, 1 Thessalonians 4:16 / 1 Corinthians 15:22, it will be communal, 1 Thessalonians 4:14 / Matthew 16:27 / 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7, it will be final, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.

The question we all need to ask ourselves, whether we’re Christians or not, is simply this, are we ready for His return?

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

MENU