Luke 24:46-53 The Ascension And Commission.

It was the collective testimony of the scriptures concerning the Messiah that “it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day” (v. 46). This is part of what Jesus had been teaching the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. The common conception of the Messiah’s kingdom was political and military-the idea of Him suffering and dying and rising then on the third day, was not in the common conception. Jesus, in His teaching of the disciples to the very end, in particular on this subject, was fulfilling the role as Prophet, and the work that this verse highlights speaks to His role as Priest. Both these roles colour His role as King. Jesus will indeed ascend to reign as King, but He will do so having also fulfilled the offices of Prophet and Priest. This is a reign which He began and continues to exercise, in this case through the ministry of the church-the preaching of the gospel of repentance and remission of sins “in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (v. 47).

Jesus commissioned His disciples to be witnesses of the historical events which they saw, and of the teaching which they heard (v. 48). However, though Jesus would soon finally physically leave this earth to ascend to His throne, He promised to send the Holy Spirit to empower His church in the task of the great commission (v. 49), and He also blessed them (v. 50). It was while pronouncing His blessing upon them for this work, that He ascended to the heavenly throne (v. 51 Cf. Mk. 16:19). “And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen” (vv. 52-53 Cf. Mt. 28:9). It is this event which Peter recalled when he and the other apostles were on trial-the gospel, the ascension, and the giving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:31-32), and again while preaching to Cornelius (Acts 10:43). This also became Paul’s message (Acts 13:38-41; 17:3). They would indeed become His witnesses (Acts 1:8), even as Joel predicted (Joel 2:28).


Luke 24:28-45 Jesus Fulfills All The Scriptures.

Jesus had been expounding to the two disciples, from all the scriptures, “the things concerning Himself” (v. 27). Nevertheless, this knowledge of the scriptures did not seem to point them to recognizing who He was. It was only as He took bread and broke and blessed and gave it to them that they finally recognized who He was (vv. 30-31). They acknowledged that their hearts were touched when He was opening the scriptures to them (v. 32). So for realizing who He was and His opening the scriptures to them, they decided to return to Jerusalem and to gather with the eleven (v. 33). There they found the testimony of the gathering that Jesus had indeed risen, having “appeared to Simon” (v. 34)! The two disciples then “told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread” (v. 35). It is not clear why Jesus was only recognized by them with the breaking of bread.

It does seem that the post resurrection Jesus did not appear as He did prior. Even as He joins the disciples gathered He does not seem real to them, for they mistaken Him for a spirit (v. 37). This was even after He said “Peace to you” (v. 36). In response to this He directs them to examine His hands and feet, that however different He was after the resurrection, He still had flesh and bones (vv. 39-40). He also ate with them (vv. 41-43). He also posed two important questions to them. “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts” (v. 38)? Jesus asked these questions, because as He said while with them before, and as He explained to the two along the way, all the scriptures concerning Messiah had to be fulfilled. So once again He repeats this point (v. 44). It is also clear that He had to open their understanding, “that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (v. 45). This sovereign act of God is still required for people to understand.


Luke 24:13-27 The One Promised.

Each of the gospel writers has given us their own unique accounts of the resurrection, even as they do with other parts of their gospel records. For instance, Matthew chose to highlight the presence of the guards at the tomb, having been placed there by Pilate in response to the demand from the Jewish leadership (27:62-66). So in Matthew we also see these same guards fearful “like dead men” (28:4), and the account of the Jewish leaders bribing them to say that the disciples had taken Jesus’ body away (28:11-15). This is the only thing we find in Matthew between the record of the encounter of the women with the risen Christ and his meeting with the disciples (28:9-10, 16-17), followed by his account of the great commission (vv. 18-20). Mark, on the other hand, has between these two records, an encounter with two disciples (Mk. 16:9-14).

As was noted earlier, unlike Luke, both Mark and John also record the encounter of Jesus with the women before they arrived at the disciples (Mk. 16:9-10; Jn. 20:14-18). So this record of the encounter of these two disciples on the road to Emmaus is unique, though it may be the same encounter briefly recorded by Mark (16:12-13).* Again, Luke being the historian that he was, roots this encounter in “that same day” (v. 13a), namely “the first day of the week” (v. 1). Luke not only places this encounter at a specific point in time, but also at a specific place-“seven miles from Jerusalem” (v. 13b). It was while on their journey to Emmaus that these two disciples were conversing and reasoning about the events which had just occurred concerning Jesus trial and crucifixion (v. 14). “So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them” (v. 15).

However, Luke records that these disciples did not immediately know who Jesus was (v. 16). When Jesus asks them what they were talking about (v. 17), they are surprised that He would not know what had just transpired in the city of Jerusalem, or so they assumed (v. 18). In their answer they confess that they believed Jesus was indeed a prophet, in word and deed, but that the chief priests and their rulers had Him put to death by crucifying Him (vv. 19-20). They were looking to Jesus for the redemption of Israel, but they were disillusioned because it was the third day and for them nothing had changed (v. 21). However, they did also confess that they had heard the testimony of the women that Jesus was not in the tomb (v. 22), and a vision of angels who told them that Jesus was alive (v. 23). Likewise, later some of their fellow disciples had also found the tomb empty, but they had not seen Jesus (v. 24).

It is then at this point, as He speaks to them, that He rebukes them for their slowness in believing “all that the prophets have spoken” (v. 25)! This is His key question to them. “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory” (v. 26). The common conception of Messiah’s kingdom was a purely political and military one. It was not, as all the prophets foretold, a kingdom of One who was to be Prophet, Priest, and King. The biblical conception of the Messiah to come starts with Moses and continues on through all the prophets. Some were focusing on certain passages or certain aspects of the coming Messiah’s reign, but the point Jesus made was that they needed to look at all that the scriptures said about the Messiah, His person and work, and His kingdom. Therefore, “He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (v. 27 Cf. Dt. 18:15; Is. 7:14; 9:6).

* One is named Cleopas, who may have been the husband of one of the Marys who visited the tomb (v. 18 Cf. Jn. 19:25). It is also possible that the Joanna of verse 10, may have been the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward (Lk. 8:3).


Luke 24:1-12 First Witnesses Of The Resurrection.

The resurrection of Christ was an event firmly ensconced in the historical record. Luke begins this record by stating the specific day on which what follows occurred-“on the first day of the week” (v. 1a Cf. Mt. 28:1; Mk. 16:1-2; Jn. 20:1a). Furthermore, there was a specific group of women who were visiting the tomb expecting to find Jesus’ body (23:55-24:1 Cf. Mt. 28:1; Mk. 16:1; Jn. 20:1). However, what actually happened was not what any were expecting. They had prepared spices which they wanted to place on Jesus’ dead body, which they were not able to do earlier (v. 1b Cf. 23:56). “But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb” (v. 2 Cf. Jn. 20:1b). Matthew records that it was the angel who would speak to them, who rolled away the stone (28:2). So instead of worrying about how they would roll the stone away so they might enter the tomb, as Mark records (16:3-4), “they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” (v. 3).

This caused them to be perplexed, but before they could think of what they would do next, “two men stood by them in shinning garments” (v. 4 Cf. Jn. 20:11-13). Two men appearing may not have been odd, but their shinning garments would have been. So now they were both perplexed and afraid. They certainly knew they were in the presence of no ordinary men for they “bowed their faces to the earth” (v. 5). It is interesting that there is not just one of them, though Mark and Matthew note one speaking (16:5-7 Cf. Mt. 28:2-7). These angels are simply the first among many witnesses to testify to the resurrection of Christ. They pointed out to the women the stark contrast both of their expectation and of the place where they stood. The women were expecting to find a dead body at the place of burial, and instead they find an empty tomb, and angels testifying to them that their Lord had risen.

It is also interesting to note that the angel asked the women to remember what Jesus Himself had said to them. “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (v. 7 Cf. 9:22, 44; 18:31-33). Then we read that “they remembered His words” (v. 8), and it was more than simply recalling that He said this, but it led them to proclaim the reality to “the eleven and the rest” (v. 9 Cf. Jn. 2:19-22). Luke leaves out of his account what we find in Matthew, Mark, and John, namely that these women had an encounter with the risen Lord before they arrived at the disciples (Mt. 28:9-10; Mk. 16:9-10; Jn. 20:14-18). This also went into their confidence, but it began with the word preached to them at the tomb (vv. 8-10 Cf. Mt. 28:8). However, the disciples did not believe the women (v. 11), but Peter ran to the tomb, and seeing it empty and the linen clothes lying by themselves, he marvelled (v. 12).


Luke 23:44-56 The Cross And The Tomb.

At Calvary they crucified Him, in fulfillment of what the scriptures predicted of His death as a sacrifice for sin (v. 33 Cf. Is. 53:9-12). The people wanted Pilate to post that Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews, but instead His title was more emphatic (v. 38 Cf. Jn. 19:17-24). Now, even though it was high noon, darkness covered the earth until 3pm (v. 44). This would have been most unusual-to have darkness during the brightest part of the day. Unusual also was the rending of the temple veil in two (v. 45). However, when the way was thus opened up to the holy of holies Jesus sacrifice was finished, and He gave up His spirit to the Father (v. 46). It must have been this command he had of His own spirit, and His communion with the Father, which caused the centurion present to glorify God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous man” (v. 47)! By this he no doubt meant that He did not deserve to die.

It is hard to gather what is meant by the crowd beating their breasts. Was this the same crowd who had Him put to death and now felt remorse, or was this a different crowd? It does not seem to be any of His disciples who remained at a distance “watching these things” (v. 49). However, we know of at least one good and just man, who was a council member but had not consented to this decision and deed, and it was he who went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body that He might prepare it for burial. He was one of the remnant who were looking for the kingdom as Jesus had described it. He took Jesus body and wrapped it in linen and laid it in a fresh tomb (vv. 50-53). Being the day before the Sabbath it was the day of Preparation (v. 54). We also read that the women took note of the location so that they might return after the Sabbath with spices and fragrant oils (vv. 55-56).


Luke 23:26-43 Prophetic Fulfillment.

Likely too weak to carry his cross, Simon the Cyrenian is compelled to fulfill this task, but there can be no comparison to the death which Jesus would endure on that cross (v. 26 Cf. Mt. 27:32). Even though some followed them weeping for the Lord, Jesus made clear that they would mourn for the judgment that would fall on the apostate nation, especially mothers with infants (vv. 27-31 Cf. Mt. 24:19). This reiterates the warning about Jerusalem’s destruction, and the temple with it, which He had spoken of earlier (21:5-33). The people and the rulers, along with the guards, mocked Jesus during this ordeal, and yet Jesus prays that the Father might forgive them, for they did this out of ignorance (vv. 32-34 Cf. Acts 3:17). Casting lots for His clothing was also in prophetic fulfillment (Cf. Mt. 27:35; Ps. 22:18). In fulfillment of scripture, they also offered Him sour wine (v. 36 Cf. Ps. 69:21).

They mocked Him for not saving Himself, but it was for sinners that He was about to die-He didn’t need saving, but they did (vv. 35-36 Cf. Is. 53:9-12). In the providence of God, Jesus was crucified with the title “King of the Jews” (vv. 37-38). There would be two criminals who would be crucified with Jesus, one would join with the soldiers in mocking Jesus, but the other rebuked him saying that their punishment was deserved, but Jesus was an innocent man (vv. 39-41 Cf. Heb. 7:26). What is remarkable is that this criminal believed that Jesus was indeed the King who would enter into His kingdom, and He wanted to be with Him. So he acknowledged his sin, that he was justly deserving of death, but He put his faith in Jesus. In these things we see that this man was converted, and as such he would immediately be with Jesus in paradise (vv. 42-43).


Luke 23:6-25 Judgment.

The Jewish leadership went to the Roman authorities, and now Pilate passes Jesus’ case to Herod in an argument of jurisdiction (vv. 6-7). Herod, for his part, was glad to see Jesus, but only because he wanted to see Him perform a miracle (v. 8). Perhaps it was this motivation of Herod which led Jesus to refuse to answer his questions (v. 9). We also know that “the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him” (v. 10). There is no one to stand in Jesus’ defence, and Herod eventually accepts the accusations, the proof of which we see in his troops mocking Jesus and treating Him with contempt (v. 11 Cf. Is. 53:3). However, Herod and Pilate both agreed that there was nothing deserving of death (vv. 12-15 Cf. 3:1; Acts 4:27).

So when Jesus is returned to Pilate, because he and Herod were in agreement that there was nothing deserving of death according to Roman law, he thinks he can use the opportunity of the release of a prisoner during the Passover, that the can release Jesus. His hope was to satisfy his own judgment and also to appease the Jewish population (vv. 16-17). Instead, they ask for Barabbas, a man who was guilty of some of the things which they accused Jesus of, namely in leading a rebellion, a man who was in fact a murderer (vv. 18-19 Cf. Acts 3:13-15). Ironically, the name Barabbas means ‘son of the father’. However, the apostate Jewish people, led by their rulers and chief priests, will settle for nothing less than for Jesus to be crucified (vv. 20-21).

Luke makes the point that they were asked three times what capital crime Jesus had committed that would justify their call for His crucifixion (v. 22 Cf. Mk. 15:15). This certainly fulfills the biblical requirement for witness bearing for a capital judgment, but the witness bearing in this case was false (Cf. Dt. 19:15; II Cor. 13:1). Nevertheless, in the end the final decision was Pilate’s and he accepted the judgment of the crowd, condemning Jesus to death, and releasing a murderer instead. In effect, Jesus took Barabbas’ place, and in this case Barabbas symbolizes all those who have been redeemed by Christ, though we all were deserving of death. For the transgression of His people He was stricken (Cf. Is. 53:8). It is only through the cross that any are made true sons of the Father.


Luke 23:1-5 An Unholy Alliance-Bearing False Witness.

The religious council needed the state to push their case, so they frame there cause in such a way as to arouse the concern of the Roman authorities. They needed to bear false witness to achieve their cause. They state three things. Firstly they claim that He was perverting the nation-that is, seeking to get the Jewish people to rise up. This was a perennial fear of the authorities. Secondly, they stated that Jesus was forbidding the Jewish people from paying taxes to Caesar. Jesus stated the exact opposite (Mt. 22:15-22; Mk. 12:13-17). Thirdly, they stated that Jesus claimed to be a king, which was true, but not in the manner of a direct political threat to the authorities. Pilate didn’t ask Jesus if He was a king, he asked Him if He was “the King of the Jews” (v. 3 Cf. I Tim. 6:13; I Pet. 2:22). Pilate understood that Jesus was therefore no threat to him or the civil government (v. 4). He saw this as a Jewish issue. But the crowd insisted that Jesus was a threat to the Roman authorities (v. 5).


Luke 22:63-71 Jesus Mocked, Beaten, And Condemned Before The Council.

The guards who held Jesus were ignorant men. They mocked and beat Him and asked Him to prophesy (vv. 63-64 Cf. Ps. 69; Is. 50:6; Zech. 13:7). What would they have done if He had indeed identified each of them with knowledge that no one may have known but each to His own, like the woman who had many husbands? She knew He was a prophet. Would they really like their sins exposed to their companions? As Luke wrote-they were indeed blasphemous and foolish (v. 65). All this was done before Jesus was even admitted to the council or His case heard (v. 66 Cf. Mt. 27:1; Acts 4:26). One is struck by the fact that all men presume to make their judgment about the Lord. Whether guard or council member, all men, too today, are presumptuous in this regard. Many ask who He is or claimed to be, but not all will believe (v. 67 Cf. Mt. 26:63-66). Shortly He, as the Son of God, would reign at the Father’s right hand with power (Cf. Heb. 1:3; 8:1). They understood what He was claiming-they simply did not believe (vv. 68-70). The irony is that they considered His claim as blasphemous (v. 71 Cf. Mk. 14:63).


Luke 22:54-62 Peter’s Denial.

Despite healing the ear of the high priest’s servant, Jesus is led to the house of the former like a criminal under arrest (v. 54 Cf. Mt. 26:57). We see Peter following at a distance, but eventually he outright denies he even knows the Lord (vv. 55-57). He ends up denying the Lord three times, in fulfillment of what the Lord in fact predicted (vv. 58-61 Cf. Jn. 18:15-18, 25-27). Peter had no doubt been questioned by several people who gathered around the fire (v. 55 Cf. Mk. 14:66-72). Nevertheless, the look of Jesus was enough to remind Peter of the conversation he had with the Lord earlier (Jn. 13:38). Peter went from a statement of absolute fidelity to denial and consequent weeping in bitterness (v. 62 Cf. Mt. 26:33-35, 75). However, Peter was not finished. Peter would eventually take his place among those who would form the very foundation of Christ’s church. In the meantime, Christ would go to the cross without witnesses to testify to His innocence.