The resurrection of Christ. (1-12) He appears to two disciples on the way to Emmaus. (13-27) And makes himself known to them. (28-35) Christ appears to the other disciples. (36-49) His ascension. (50-53)
Verses 1-12 See the affection and respect the women showed to Christ, after he was dead and buried. Observe their surprise when they found the stone rolled away, and the grave empty. Christians often perplex themselves about that with which they should comfort and encourage themselves. They look rather to find their Master in his grave-clothes, than angels in their shining garments. The angels assure them that he is risen from the dead; is risen by his own power. These angels from heaven bring not any new gospel, but remind the women of Christ's words, and teach them how to apply them. We may wonder that these disciples, who believed Jesus to be the Son of God and the true Messiah, who had been so often told that he must die, and rise again, and then enter into his glory, who had seen him more than once raise the dead, yet should be so backward to believe his raising himself. But all our mistakes in religion spring from ignorance or forgetfulness of the words Christ has spoken. Peter now ran to the sepulchre, who so lately ran from his Master. He was amazed. There are many things puzzling and perplexing to us, which would be plain and profitable, if we rightly understood the words of Christ.
Verses 13-27 This appearance of Jesus to the two disciples going to Emmaus, happened the same day that he rose from the dead. It well becomes the disciples of Christ to talk together of his death and resurrection; thus they may improve one another's knowledge, refresh one another's memory, and stir up each other's devout affections. And where but two together are well employed in work of that kind, he will come to them, and make a third. Those who seek Christ, shall find him: he will manifest himself to those that inquire after him; and give knowledge to those who use the helps for knowledge which they have. No matter how it was, but so it was, they did not know him; he so ordering it, that they might the more freely discourse with him. Christ's disciples are often sad and sorrowful, even when they have reason to rejoice; but through the weakness of their faith, they cannot take the comfort offered to them. Though Christ is entered into his state of exaltation, yet he notices the sorrows of his disciples, and is afflicted in their afflictions. Those are strangers in Jerusalem, that know not of the death and sufferings of Jesus. Those who have the knowledge of Christ crucified, should seek to spread that knowledge. Our Lord Jesus reproved them for the weakness of their faith in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Did we know more of the Divine counsels as far as they are made known in the Scriptures, we should not be subject to the perplexities we often entangle ourselves in. He shows them that the sufferings of Christ were really the appointed way to his glory; but the cross of Christ was that to which they could not reconcile themselves. Beginning at Moses, the first inspired writer of the Old Testament, Jesus expounded to them the things concerning himself. There are many passages throughout all the Scriptures concerning Christ, which it is of great advantage to put together. We cannot go far in any part, but we meet with something that has reference to Christ, some prophecy, some promise, some prayer, some type or other. A golden thread of gospel grace runs through the whole web of the Old Testament. Christ is the best expositor of Scripture; and even after his resurrection, he led people to know the mystery concerning himself, not by advancing new notions, but by showing how the Scripture was fulfilled, and turning them to the earnest study of it.
Verses 28-35 If we would have Christ dwell with us, we must be earnest with him. Those that have experienced the pleasure and profit of communion with him, cannot but desire more of his company. He took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. This he did with his usual authority and affection, with the same manner, perhaps with the same words. He here teaches us to crave a blessing on every meal. See how Christ by his Spirit and grace makes himself known to the souls of his people. He opens the Scriptures to them. He meets them at his table, in the ordinance of the Lord's supper; is known to them in breaking of bread. But the work is completed by the opening of the eyes of their mind; yet it is but short views we have of Christ in this world, but when we enter heaven, we shall see him for ever. They had found the preaching powerful, even when they knew not the preacher. Those Scriptures which speak of Christ, will warm the hearts of his true disciples. That is likely to do most good, which affects us with the love of Jesus in dying for us. It is the duty of those to whom he has shown himself, to let others know what he has done for their souls. It is of great use for the disciples of Christ to compare their experiences, and tell them to each other.
Verses 36-49 Jesus appeared in a miraculous manner, assuring the disciples of his peace, though they had so lately forsaken him, and promising spiritual peace with every blessing. Many troublesome thoughts which disquiet our minds, rise from mistakes concerning Christ. All the troublesome thoughts which rise in our hearts at any time, are known to the Lord Jesus, and are displeasing to him. He spake with them on their unreasonable unbelief. Nothing had passed but what was foretold by the prophets, and necessary for the salvation of sinners. And now all men should be taught the nature and necessity of repentance, in order to the forgiveness of their sins. And these blessings were to be sought for, by faith in the name of Jesus. Christ by his Spirit works on the minds of men. Even good men need to have their understandings opened. But that we may have right thoughts of Christ, there needs no more than to be made to understand the Scriptures.
Verses 50-53 Christ ascended from Bethany, near the Mount of Olives. There was the garden in which his sufferings began; there he was in his agony. Those that would go to heaven, must ascend thither from the house of sufferings and sorrows. The disciples did not see him rise out of the grave; his resurrection could be proved by their seeing him alive afterwards: but they saw him ascend into heaven; they could not otherwise have a proof of his ascension. He lifted up his hands, and blessed them. He did not go away in displeasure, but in love, he left a blessing behind him. As he arose, so he ascended, by his own power. They worshipped him. This fresh display of Christ's glory drew from them fresh acknowledgments. They returned to Jerusalem with great joy. The glory of Christ is the joy of all true believers, even while they are here in this world. While waiting for God's promises, we must go forth to meet them with our praises. And nothing better prepares the mind for receiving the Holy Ghost. Fears are silenced, sorrows sweetened and allayed, and hopes kept up. And this is the ground of a Christian's boldness at the throne of grace; yea, the Father's throne is the throne of grace to us, because it is also the throne of our Mediator, Jesus Christ. Let us rely on his promises, and plead them. Let us attend his ordinances, praise and bless God for his mercies, set our affections on things above, and expect the Redeemer's return to complete our happiness. Amen. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.
Luke 24:1-12 . ANGELIC ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE WOMEN THAT CHRIST IS RISEN--PETER'S VISIT TO THE EMPTY SEPULCHRE.
5. Why, &c.--Astonishing question! not "the risen," but "the Living One" (compare Revelation 1:18 ); and the surprise expressed in it implies an incongruity in His being there at all, as if, though He might submit to it, "it was impossible He should be holden of it" ( Acts 2:24 ).
6. in Galilee--to which these women themselves belonged ( Luke 23:55 ).
7. Saying, &c.--How remarkable it is to hear angels quoting a whole sentence of Christ's to the disciples, mentioning where it was uttered, and wondering it was not fresh in their memory, as doubtless it was in theirs! ( 1 Timothy 3:16 , "seen of angels," and 1 Peter 1:12 ).
Luke 24:13-35 . CHRIST APPEARS TO THE TWO GOING TO EMMAUS.
13. two of them--One was Cleopas ( Luke 24:18 ); who the other was is mere conjecture.
Emmaus--about seven and a half miles from Jerusalem. They probably lived there and were going home after the Passover.
14-16. communed and reasoned--exchanged views and feelings, weighing afresh all the facts, as detailed in Luke 24:18-24 .
drew near--coming up behind them as from Jerusalem.
eyes holden--Partly He was "in another form" ( Mark 16:12 ), and partly there seems to have been an operation on their own vision; though certainly, as they did not believe that He was alive, His company as a fellow traveller was the last thing they would expect,
17-24. communications, &c.--The words imply the earnest discussion that had appeared in their manner.
18. knowest not, &c.--If he knew not the events of the last few days in Jerusalem, he must be a mere sojourner; if he did, how could he suppose they would be talking of anything else? How artless all this!
19. Concerning Jesus, &c.--As if feeling it a relief to have someone to unburden his thoughts and feelings to, this disciple goes over the main facts in his own desponding style, and this was just what our Lord wished.
21. we trusted, &c.--They expected the promised Deliverance at His hand, but in the current sense of it, not by His death.
besides all this--not only did His death seem to give the fatal blow to their hopes, but He had been two days dead already, and this was the third. It is true, they add, some of our women gave us a surprise, telling us of a vision of angels they had at the empty grave this morning that said He was alive, and some of ourselves who went thither confirmed their statement; but then Himself they saw not. A doleful tale truly, told out of the deepest despondency.
25-27. fools--senseless, without understanding.
26. Ought not Christ--"the Christ," "the Messiah."
to suffer . . . and enter--that is, through the gate of suffering (and suffering "these things," or such a death) to enter into His glory. "Ye believe in the glory; but these very sufferings are the predicted gate of entrance into it."
27. Moses and all the prophets, &c.--Here our Lord both teaches us the reverence due to Old Testament Scripture, and the great burden of it--"Himself."
28-31. made as though, &c.--(Compare mark 1:1 6:48 , Genesis 18:3 Genesis 18:5 , 32:24-26 ).
29. constrained, &c.--But for this, the whole design of the interview had been lost; but it was not to be lost, for He who only wished to be constrained had kindled a longing in the hearts of His travelling companions which was not to be so easily put off. And does not this still repeat itself in the interviews of the Saviour with His loving, longing disciples? Else why do they say,
| || Abide with me from morn to eve, |
For without Thee I cannot live;
Abide with me when night is nigh,
For without Thee I cannot die.
30, 31. he took . . . and blessed . . . and their eyes were opened--The stranger first startles them by taking the place of master at their own table, but on proceeding to that act which reproduced the whole scene of the last Supper, a rush of associations and recollections disclosed their guest, and He stood confessed before their astonished gaze--THEIR RISEN LORD! They were going to gaze on Him, perhaps embrace Him, but that moment He is gone! It was enough.
32-34. They now tell each to the other how their hearts burned--were fired--within them at His talk and His expositions of Scripture. "Ah! this accounts for it: We could not understand the glow of self-evidencing light, love, glory that ravished our hearts; but now we do." They cannot rest--how could they?--they must go straight back and tell the news. They find the eleven, but ere they have time to tell their tale, their ears are saluted with the thrilling news, "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon." Most touching and precious intelligence this. The only one of the Eleven to whom He appeared alone was he, it seems, who had so shamefully denied Him. What passed at that interview we shall never know here. Probably it was too sacred for disclosure. Emmaus now relate what had happened to them, and while thus comparing notes of their Lord's appearances, lo! Christ Himself stands in the midst of them. What encouragement to doubting, dark, true-hearted disciples!
Luke 24:36-53 . JESUS APPEARS TO THE ASSEMBLED DISCIPLES--HIS ASCENSION.
36. Jesus . . .
37, 38. a spirit--the ghost of their dead Lord, but not Himself in the body ( Acts 12:15 , Matthew 14:26 ).
thoughts--rather, "reasonings"; that is, whether He were risen or no, and whether this was His very self.
39-43. Behold, &c.--lovingly offering them both ocular and tangible demonstration of the reality of His resurrection.
a spirit hath not--an important statement regarding "spirits."
flesh and bones--He says not "flesh and blood"; for the blood is the life of the animal and corruptible body ( Genesis 9:4 ), which "cannot inherit the kingdom of God" ( 1 Corinthians 15:50 ); but "flesh and bones," implying the identity, but with diversity of laws, of the resurrection body.
41. believed not for joy, &c.--They did believe, else they had not rejoiced [BENGEL]. But it seemed too good to be true ( Psalms 126:1 Psalms 126:2 ).
42. honeycomb--common frugal fare, anciently.
43. eat before them--that is, let them see Him doing it: not for His own necessity, but their conviction.
44-49. These are the words, &c.--that is, "Now you will understand what seemed so dark to you when I told you about the Son of man being put to death and rising again" ( Luke 18:31-34 ).
while . . . yet with you--a striking expression, implying that He was now, as the dead and risen Saviour, virtually dissevered from this scene of mortality, and from all ordinary intercourse with His mortal disciples.
law . . . prophets . . . psalms--the three Jewish divisions of the Old Testament Scriptures.
45. Then opened he, &c.--a statement of unspeakable value; expressing, on the one hand, Christ's immediate access to the human spirit and absolute power over it, to the adjustment of its vision, and permanent rectification for spiritual discernment (than which it is impossible to conceive a stronger evidence of His proper divinity); and, on the other hand, making it certain that the manner of interpreting the \ Old Testament which the apostles afterwards employed (see the Acts and Epistles), has the direct sanction of Christ Himself.
47. beginning at Jerusalem--(1) As the metropolis and heart of the then existing kingdom of God:--"to the Jew first" ( Romans 1:16 , Acts 13:46 , Isaiah 2:3 , (2) As the great reservoir and laboratory of all the sin and crime of the nation, thus proclaiming for all time that there is mercy in Christ for the chief of sinners.
48. witnesses--(Compare Acts 1:8 Acts 1:22 ).
49. I send--the present tense, to intimate its nearness.
promise of my Father--that is, what My Father hath promised; the Holy Ghost, of which Christ is the authoritative Dispenser ( John 14:7 , Revelation 3:1 , 5:6 ).
endued--invested, or clothed with; implying, as the parallels show ( Romans 13:14 , 1 Corinthians 15:53 , Galatians 3:27 , Colossians 3:9 Colossians 3:10 ), their being so penetrated and acted upon by conscious supernatural power (in the full sense of that word) as to stamp with divine authority the whole exercise of their apostolic office, including, of course, their pen as well as their mouth.
50-53. to Bethany--not to the village itself, but on the "descent" to it from Mount Olivet.
51. while he blessed . . . parted, &c.--Sweet intimation! Incarnate Love, Crucified Love, Risen Love, now on the wing for heaven, waiting only those odorous gales which were to waft Him to the skies, goes away in benedictions, that in the character of Glorified, Enthroned Love, He might continue His benedictions, but in yet higher form, until He come again! And oh, if angels were so transported at His birth into this scene of tears and death, what must have been their ecstasy as they welcomed and attended Him "far above all heavens" into the presence-chamber, and conducted Him to the right hand of the Majesty on High! Thou hast an everlasting right, O my Saviour, to that august place. The brightness of the Father's glory, enshrined in our nature, hath won it well; for He poured out His soul unto death, and led captivity captive, receiving gifts for men, yea for the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwell among them. Thou art the King of glory, O Christ. Lift up your heads, O ye gates, be lifted up, ye everlasting doors, that the King of glory may come in! Even so wilt Thou change these vile bodies of ours, that they may be like unto Thine own glorious body; and then with gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought, they shall enter into the King's palace!
52. worshipped him--certainly in the strictest sense of adoration.
returned to Jerusalem--as instructed to do: but not till after gazing, as if entranced, up into the blue vault in which He had disappeared, they were gently checked by two shining ones, who assured them He would come again to them in the like manner as He had gone into heaven. This made them return, not with disappointment at His removal, but "with great joy."
53. were continually in the temple--that is, every day at the regular hours of prayer till the day of Pentecost.