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Bible: What Does Luke 24 Teach Us About The Burial, Resurrection, Post-Resurrection Appearances and Ascension of Jesus?

Updated on June 10, 2016

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

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The Women Visit Jesus' Tomb

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Luke 24

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other unnamed women—NU omits the appearance of these other women—come to the sepulcher early Sunday morning bearing their prepared spices (v. 1; cf. v. 10).

Finding the huge gola—a special type of circular boulder “like a solid wheel” used to prevent grave robbing (Ryrie, New Testament Study Bible, 157)—rolled away from the tomb’s mouth, they enter the sepulcher but do not find Jesus’ body (vv. 2-3).

Perplexed by this worrisome discovery, the women encounter “two men” wearing “shining garments” who suddenly appear near them (v. 4).

[Matthew records this incident, but his details differ somewhat from Luke’s.

Instead of encountering two angels standing inside the tomb, the women speak to one particular angel who appears sitting on the boulder.

However, the angel’s seated position seems incidental; he undoubtedly moved from the boulder to the tomb after his arrival frightened away the soldiers.

In addition, the text does say that the women “went out quickly from the tomb” (Matt. 28:8).

Mark also records them as conversing with only one angel sitting inside the tomb; this heavenly messenger, undoubtedly the spokesperson for the pair, apparently sits down after the women prostrate themselves (v. 5a).

Still, a puzzle remains. Mark’s women seem to encounter the angel before they fail to locate Jesus’ body (v. 3; Mk. 16:5).]

These two “men” inquire of the women why they “seek the living among the dead” (v. 5b).

Making his meaning even clearer, the speaker asserts plainly that Jesus was not “here.”

[That statement itself, of course, needed to be qualified, for Mary could still wonder, “Where, then, did you take the body?”]

When the angel remarks, “He is risen,” and reminds her that Jesus had predicted the Son of Man’s betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection while the apostles and other disciples were with Him in Galilee, they finally recall the prophecy and God gives them understanding as to what has happened (vv. 6-8).

Matthew records that the messenger also told the women to inform the apostles that they could meet with the Lord in Galilee (cf. 28:7).

With this additional news, the two Marys and Joanna run back to the eleven (28:8)—dignified (or stuffy) Greek that he is, Luke merely reports that they “returned from the tomb” (v. 9)—and deliver their eyewitness account (v. 10).

Ten of the men predictably think their words nonsensical and remain miserably in unbelief (v. 11); Peter, hoping against hope, rushes out of the room to the sepulcher where he finds Jesus’ linen cloths “lying by themselves,” and he leaves the site in amazement (v. 12).

[These linen cloths rested on the slab with no body inside them, but they still maintained their shape.

John, another witness accompanying Peter—Luke does not mention John at all—notes that the handkerchief that had been around Jesus’ head lay separate from the linen strips.

Everything was in perfect order—a condition one would not expect to find if a grave robbery had occurred (cf. 20:7).]

Cleopas on the Road to Emmaus

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The Old Testament Fulfilled

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Resurrection Appearances of Jesus

A long, final section (consisting of three parts that delineate resurrection appearances on “Easter Sunday”) leads up to Christ’s ascension (vv. 13-49).

Part one (vv. 13-27) records a conversation Jesus carried on with Cleopas and another unnamed individual—who may have been Mary, his wife (cf. John 19:25)—(vv. 13, 18a) regarding “all these things which had happened” (v. 14) as they walked the seven miles from Jerusalem to a village named Emmaus (v. 13).

In order to enter their sad discussion and direct their understanding, a providentially disguised Jesus feigns ignorance of “the things which happened there [Jerusalem] in these days” (vv. 16-18b).

Cleopas (though the text says, “they said”) summarizes the recent history, including the following salient points:

1) Details of their understanding of Jesus’ identity (“a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people”) [v. 19];

2) The Jewish leadership’s success in bringing about His murder (v. 20);

3) Their own dashed hope in Him as the Redeemer of Israel (v. 21); and

4) The eyewitness accounts of the women (vv. 22-23) and men (v. 24a) who testified to the missing body of the Lord (v. 24b).

At this point, Jesus moves into the conversation, rebuking His two walking companions for their slowness to believe the prophecies regarding the Messiah’s passion and glory (vv. 25-26), and continues into what probably was a long teaching session on the Old Testament (v. 27).

The Resurrection Body


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The Resurrected Christ Revealed


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An Illuminating Journey

On the outskirts of Emmaus, Jesus, not wishing to presume upon the disciples’ hospitality, acts as if He would walk further on the road (v. 28).

Cleopas and his companion compassionately invite this knowledgeable Stranger to their home for supper, and the Lord accepts this kindness (v. 29).

As they begin the meal, Christ sets into motion their recognition of Him by taking on His normal presiding role.

Perhaps the distinctive way He blessed, broke, and gave them their bread makes them aware of His identity (vv. 30-31a).

His vanishing from their midst elicits something else that must have distinguished Him from everyone else: comments about how their hearts “burned” when He taught (v. 32).

[A burning heart seems to indicate the internal conviction of sin or the recognition of other truths that motivate one to action.]

That same day, Cleopas and his companion travel the seven miles back to Jerusalem where they hear resurrection testimony from the eleven and others (vv. 33-34).

Encouraged by this report, they share their eyewitness report as well (v. 35).

Suddenly, Christ appears in their midst and probably greets them with the traditional shalom alayik (v. 36).

[He waited until everyone had gathered together, and were all “on the same page” before making His entrance.]

Not surprisingly, the disciples shrink into a corner of the room, unintentionally disregarding Jesus’ comforting words (v. 37).

The Lord, recognizing their unwarranted fears and doubts, moves to allay them by showing them His wounds and reminding them that a spirit does not have flesh and bones (vv. 38-40).

[The resurrection body has the ability to vanish and reappear at will; it also shares some qualities with the mortal body.

(Here, it retains crucifixion wounds that the Lord’s body received).

The fact that Jesus omits referring to blood with flesh and bones may indicate its absence in the resurrection body; on the other hand, “flesh and bones” may simply be a figure of speech (synecdoche) in which the parts (those named) signify the whole (body).]

The text says that the disciples still do not believe, but then it adds that the cause of the unbelief is joy; perhaps this joyful unbelief is a “happy” intermediate stage between true faith and rank unbelief (v. 41).

Human Quality of Resurrection Body


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Jesus’ further proof to them of His corporeal status occurs when He eats honey-flavored fish before them (vv. 42-43).

Christ then performs for the apostles the service He had carried out for Cleopas and his wife while they walked on the road to Emmaus: He opens their minds so that they could understand the Old Testament (the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms) [vv. 44-45].

[This supernatural ministry of illumination the Holy Spirit would operate upon them after Pentecost (cf. 1Cor. 2:12-13).]

He points out the absolute necessity for His death and resurrection to have taken place, for these events fulfill or complete the meaning of the Scriptures, and set in motion the worldwide ministry of reconciliation.

(Repentance [metanoia] literally means “change of one’s mind,” and remission equals forgiveness) [vv. 46-47].

[The linkage between Christ’s death for sins and His forgiveness of sins based on changing one’s mind concerning His identity is clear; His resurrection merely proves that He has power over sin and death.]

The Ascension of the Lord

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The Ascension of Messiah Jesus

As eyewitnesses of “these things,” the apostles will begin preaching the message as soon as the “Promise of My Father”—the Holy Spirit—confers upon them heavenly power and authority.

Jesus tells them to wait in Jerusalem until that time comes (vv. 48-49; cf. Acts 1:4-5, 8).

Interestingly, Luke does not mention the lapse of forty days between the Resurrection and the Ascension; the text blends these two events as if they occurred on the same day.

While blessing them at Bethany, Jesus is “parted from them and carried up into heaven” (vv. 50-51).

[The passive voice suggests that Jesus allows God’s invisible power to usher Him back into His presence.]

The apostles, awestruck, prostrate themselves and worship the Lord.

Their joyous return to Jerusalem leads them to spend many hours of worship in the temple (vv. 52-53).

Study Questions for Luke

1. Who does Luke address in his salutation?

2. Who does Zacharias the priest encounter in the temple, and what does this personage tell him to do?

3. Describe John the Baptizer’s lifestyle and ministry.

4. What is the content of Mary’s Magnificat? Zacharias’ prophecy?

5. What are the themes of the messages of Simeon and Anna?

6. Explain the encasement in chapter four.

7. What did Jesus’ dividing of the text in Isaiah 61 demonstrate?

8. What is Jesus’ purpose in telling parables?

9. Who does Jesus call the “Sons of Thunder”?

10. What incidents would prove to John the Baptizer that Jesus was truly the King?

11. What parable combines three passages from Matthew?

12. What is one of the tell-tale signs of Lukan authorship?

13. Interact with how Luke’s account of the epileptic boy differs from the other Synoptic gospels.

14. What lesson is Jesus teaching with His parable of the “Good Samaritan”?

15. Explain the differences between Jesus’ directions for the short-term missions trip of the twelve and those which He gave to the seventy.

16. What is the key to true greatness in the kingdom?

17. Discuss the cost of discipleship.

18. Compare Martha’s “service” to Mary’s “worship”?

19. What did Jesus consider to be the chief characteristic of the Jewish leadership?

20. What do the parables of “The Mustard Seed” and “The Leaven” teach?

21. In what three ways can a believer disqualify himself from being a true disciple?

22. What does “unrighteous mammon” mean?

23. In the story of Dives and the beggar, how does Jesus present the afterlife?

24. Why is the translation “The kingdom of God is within you” flawed?

25. What does the angels’ activity at the End not represent the Rapture of the Church?

26. Name the ways in which Luke’s account of the coming of “the Day of Unleavened Bread” differs from Matthew’s.

27. To what Scripture does Jesus refer when He tells the Sanhedrin that they will see “the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven”?

28. What does Jesus’ promise of Paradise to the crucified thief tell us about the nature of salvation?

29. What does the position of the linen cloths in the sepulcher prove?

30. What is the “Promise of the Father”? When does the Father send this Promise?

© 2013 glynch1

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