In the last essay we studied Luke 23:50-24:12 in which we saw the burial and resurrection of Jesus. In this essay we are studying Luke 24:13-53, which will conclude our study of the Gospel of Luke. In a week or so we will go to the Old Testament for a new series, which will be a study of the book of Isaiah
In 24:13-24 we find the story of two of Jesus’ disciples on the Emmaus road. The name of one was Cleopas, but the name of the other is not revealed. They were returning sadly to Emmaus following the feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread. They were discussing recent events in Jerusalem when Jesus approached from behind and joined them. But Luke tells us, “their eyes were kept from recognizing him” (v. 16). Apparently Jesus did not want to be reognized; and with his resurrection body, he could keep others from recognizing him.
Jesus had overheard some of their conversation, so he asked what they were talking about. Cleopas answered him with a bit of incredulity. Are you the only person that doesn’t know the things that happened in Jerusalem in recent days (v. 18)? Jesus asked, “What things? And Cleopas told him (vv. 19-20). Notice that Cleopas described Jesus as a mighty “prophet,” rather than as the Son of God or the Messiah. Then Cleopas told Jesus what their hope had been, namely, “we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (v. 21). But those hopes were dashed with the death of Jesus.
Next, Cleopas added that it was now the third day since Jesus’ death. That tells us that it was Sunday, resurrection day. Cleopas went on to tell Jesus that some women of their group had gone to the tomb that morning and not only had found the tomb empty, but also had seen two angels who told them Jesus was alive (v. 23). Cleopas and his friend apparently were among those who did not believe the women’s story, even though a couple of disciples had checked out the empty tomb (v. 24).
In verses 25-27 we see that Jesus chided the two disciples for being so slow to believe what the Bible had to say about the suffering of the Messiah (vv. 25-26). And then Jesus gave one of the greatest Bible studies ever given. How I would like to have heard that Old Testament study of all that Moses and the prophets had to say about Jesus! Remember, it was a seven-mile journey to Emmaus, so there was plenty of time for an in-depth study.
In verses 28-35 we see that when they reached Emmaus, Jesus would of walked on had they not invited him to stay. Jesus never forces his presence on anyone. But they did invite him in, and he accepted. When mealtime came, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them. “Then their eyes were opened”. And they realized that the stranger they were entertaining was the risen Jesus. But without explanation Jesus chose that moment to disappear (vv. 30-31).
Their immediate response was to speak of a kind of heart-warming experience they had as Jesus had taught them along the road, “Were not our hearts burning within us?” It reminds me of John Wesley’s heart-warming experience on Aldersgate Street in London in May of 1738.
Well, they could not keep this news to themselves, so that same hour they headed back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven and other believers gathered together. They learned from them that Jesus had made an appearance to Peter, and then they shared their story.
Verses 36-43 tell us that while the disciples still were discussing these events, Jesus appeared among them and greeted them. Their reaction is interesting. They were terrified and thought they wee seeing a ghost. Jesus asked them why they were fearful and doubtful. And he proceeded to show them the reality of his resurrection body. He showed them that his body bore the marks of his crucifixion and that it was made up of flesh and bones. Then seeing that they still were wondering, he asked for food. They gave him apiece of fish, and he ate it.
In verses 44-49 we see that once Jesus satisfied the disciples that he was not a ghost, he reminded them that he earlier had taught them that the Old Testament contained prophecies about him and that each of those prophecies must be fulfilled (v. 44). Then he essentially repeated the Bible study he had given to the two on the Emmaus road (vv. 45-47), though it appears he went a bit further. He not only reviewed the scriptures that taught about his death and resurrection, but he also showed them scriptures that taught, or at least implied, that the message of repentance and forgiveness was to be preached to all the world, beginning from Jerusalem.
In verse 48 Jesus implied that the disciples had the responsibility to do the proclaiming to the world. They were the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ public ministry. Thus they were best qualified to preach about him, and about his teachings.
Notice that Luke does not include the so-called Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-20. That more explicit call to mission took place in Galilee a little later on. Jesus told them on that occasion, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”
But the disciples were not to go charging straight out to preach in their current spiritual condition. Look at verse 49, “I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” The disciples were not yet spiritually strong enough to carry out the task to which they had been called. They needed “power form on high.” In Acts 1:4-5 Luke identifies this “promise o the Father,” this power from on high, as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Those two verses read, “”While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This,’ he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
In verses 50-53 we see that Luke telescoped his account here. In this shortened version, it appears that Jesus ascended into heaven on that first Easter day. But we know from Acts 1:3 that Jesus made resurrection appearances to various disciples for forty days before his Ascension. Acts 1:3 also demonstrates that Luke knew about the forty days. We do not know why he chose to telescope things at the end of his Gospel.
On the day of his ascension, Jesus led the disciples to Bethany, where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived, though they are not mentioned here. Then Jesus blessed them. And Luke says that Jesus “withdrew from them,” that is, ascended into heaven. Then we are told that the disciples worshiped Jesus before returning to Jerusalem. Acts 1:12 tells us that they returned to Jerusalem via the Mount of Olives. Luke concludes his Gospel by telling us that the disciples continually blessed God in the temple.