Luke 24 Study Notes


24:1 The first day of the week was Sunday. It was so early in the morning that it was still dark (Jn 20:1) when the women arrived at Jesus’s tomb to anoint his body.

24:2 On their way to the tomb, the women pondered the difficultly the sealing stone would present. Who would move it for them (Mk 16:3)? However, when they arrived, they found the stone rolled away from the entrance. The stone had been moved by “a violent earthquake” (Mt 28:2).

24:3-8 Jesus’s body was nowhere to be found, and the women had no answer for why it was missing. The two men who suddenly appeared and terrified them were angels (v. 23; Jn 20:12). Matthew 28:2-3 and Mk 16:5 mention only one angel. The angels announced the resurrection of Jesus to the women and reminded them that he had predicted this would happen. As soon as they were reminded of Jesus’s assertion that he would rise on the third day, they remembered his words. Now they were better prepared to understand and believe the radical things Jesus had said.

24:9-12 In Jesus’s day women were not considered to be credible witnesses. This is why the Eleven (the apostles who remained after Judas’s act of betrayal) did not believe the women’s report about what had happened at Jesus’s tomb, viewing it as nonsense. However, Peter was curious enough to run to the tomb and look for himself. When he saw only the linen cloths in which Jesus had been wrapped (23:53), he was amazed but still skeptical.

24:13-14 Of the two disciples traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus that Sunday, one was named Cleopas (v. 18). He was possibly the husband of one of the female disciples who watched Jesus die on the cross (Jn 19:25). They had heard about the women’s report and Peter’s experience at the empty tomb (Lk 24:19-24) before leaving Jerusalem.

24:15-16 That the two were arguing about what had happened indicates that there was no agreement among Jesus’s disciples about what had occurred and why. Like Peter at the tomb, many were amazed and yet unconvinced. It is not known how God prevented the two disciples from recognizing Jesus at this point, but he eventually “opened their eyes” to recognize him (v. 31).

24:17-18 The disciples were discouraged (Gk skuthropos, “sad, sullen”) and shocked that the stranger (Jesus) seemed to know nothing about what had happened the past few days, though it was the talk of all Jerusalem.

24:19-20 The description of Jesus by the two disciples is short on both insight and faith. Jesus is referred to in relation to his hometown (Nazareth) and as a prophet and miracle worker, but not as the Son of God. In addition, nothing is said about the unjust nature of Jesus’s betrayal, trials, and crucifixion—just that the chief priests and leaders got him sentenced to death and crucified. These disciples had not fully grasped Jesus’s identity, nor had they understood the divine necessity of his death.

24:21-24 Jesus’s death had dashed these disciples’ hopes that he was the Messiah (the one . . . to redeem Israel), but the reports from the tomb that morning astounded them and made them wonder what was going on. The reports said: (1) the women disciples didn’t find Jesus’s body at the tomb, (2) the women had seen a vision of angels proclaiming his resurrection, and (3) some male disciples had verified that the tomb was indeed empty.

24:25-29 The stranger (Jesus) rebuked the two disciples for not believing the OT prophecies about the Messiah, particularly about his suffering and following glory. Then, during the remainder of the walk to Emmaus, Jesus worked his way through all the major messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Bible (Moses and all the Prophets refers to the entire OT), carefully interpreting their meaning to his hearers. Then, when Jesus gave the impression that he was not going to stop in Emmaus, they invited him to spend the night with them, probably so they could hear more.

24:30-33 During the evening meal, Jesus blessed and broke the bread. At that point, the two disciples were allowed to recognize Jesus, but he immediately disappeared from sight. Their first thought was to recall the things he had taught them as they walked along the road to Emmaus. With hearts burning, they ventured to Jerusalem through the darkness of night to meet with the apostles and tell them about their experience.

24:34-35 Unknown to the two disciples, the risen Christ had appeared to Simon Peter (an appearance mentioned elsewhere only in 1Co 15:5) sometime earlier in the day. This was a decisive event for Peter and the church because he led the apostles and the early church in the years to come. Now, in a room full of eager listeners, these disciples told about their experiences on the road to Emmaus and the meal that followed. It had been a day of many wonders, but an even greater wonder would soon visit them all.

24:36-37 It is ironic that the group of disciples was startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost when the risen Christ suddenly appeared in their midst. After all, they had been rejoicing about his resurrection (v. 34) and swapping stories about his several appearances that day. But their fear is understandable since Jesus appeared suddenly in the middle of a crowd in what was surely a locked room. Peace to you was a traditional Jewish greeting.

24:38-40 Jesus calmed the fears and doubts of his disciples with evidence of his resurrection body. In his hands and feet the nail scars were clearly visible. The crowd of disciples could touch him and verify that he had a human body and that he was not a ghost.

24:41-43 It is understandable that some were slow to believe. This was a highly unusual and unexpected event. Realizing their doubts, Jesus offered an additional piece of evidence. He showed them that he could eat food (a piece of a broiled fish), something no ghost could do.

24:44-45 The Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms represent the three major divisions of the Hebrew Bible. Jesus now did for the wider group of disciples essentially what he had already done for the two on the road to Emmaus. He explained the Scriptures (see note at vv. 25-29).

24:46-49 OT passages that clearly prophesy the suffering of the Messiah are Ps 22 and Is 53. A key OT passage for Messiah’s resurrection, cited several times in the NT, is Ps 16:10. Significant OT passages that Jesus may have had in mind about repentance . . . proclaimed . . . to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem are Is 2:1-4 and 49:6. Luke 24:47 is Luke’s version of the Great Commission (Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15; Jn 20:21-22; Ac 1:8). These verses echo Ac 1:4-8. Since Luke wrote both this Gospel and the book of Acts, he skillfully intertwined the conclusion of his first volume with the beginning of his second volume. The city refers to Jerusalem. Empowered from on high refers to the descent of the Spirit on Pentecost (Ac 2:1-13).

24:50-51 Bethany was located just over the Mount of Olives, about two miles from Jerusalem. Acts 1:12 specifies that the ascension of Christ occurred at the Mount of Olives.

24:52-53 As Jesus had requested (v. 49), the disciples returned to Jerusalem and stayed there until the events of the day of Pentecost (Ac 2). Luke mentions the great joy of the apostles—a theme he has stressed from beginning to end (see 1:14; 2:10; 10:20; 13:17; 15:5,32; 19:37; 24:41,52). Although at least some disciples were continually in the temple praising God during that time and later (Ac 2:46; 3:1), it should not be assumed that all of them were always there. Acts 1:13-14 also speaks of the apostles, some of the women disciples, and Jesus’s brothers (the sons of Joseph and Mary) being “continually united in prayer” in an upper room in Jerusalem. Such devotion to prayer was a fitting prelude and precondition to the wonderful things God would do through Christ’s earliest messengers. Christ’s church was set to explode onto the scene as a beacon of light and hope in a spiritually dark world.