Let’s recap our outline for the Gospel of Luke.
Look at the # of chs devoted by Luke to the Galilean period, which was actually where Jesus spent the vast majority of His 3 years, compared with the Judean ministry, which was just the last few months.
As we ended last week Jesus’ body was removed from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy member of the Jewish Sanhedrin who’d not been a part of the plot against Him.
He & another member of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus, hurriedly wrapped the body in some linen, threw in some burial spices, & placed it in a brand new tomb Joseph had secured for his family not far from the place of the execution.
They had to hurry because the sun was setting & the Sabbath would soon begin.
The rites of proper burial were not something wealthy men had any experience with; that was a woman’s work.
They saw the inept manner in which the 2 men went about the business of burying Jesus & vowed they would return at the earliest opportunity to do a proper job of the burial.
That’s where we pick it up as we read v. 1 –
1Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, & certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.
Luke tells us who the women were in v. 10.
John tells us the women left where they were staying while it was still dark, arriving at the tomb at day break.
Having watched the burial a couple days before, they knew the tomb was sealed by a large stone door.
Their concern was how to move it.
Maybe the squad of Roman sentries would help.
2But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.
And of course, the sentries had fled in terror at the sight of the angels who appeared.
So while the women had one problem solved, an open tomb, with no guard posted, meant something strange was afoot. Could the soldiers have absconded with the body?
3Then they went in & did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
What thoughts jumped into their minds when they first saw the barren tomb?
While grave robbing is a virtually unheard of crime in our day, it was a common practice in the ancient world.
Their first thought was probably that someone taken the body away to ad insult to injury for Jesus’ followers.
Remember, these women had witnessed the horrors of the beating & crucifixion of Jesus.
They knew there was no length His enemies would not go to, to get rid of Him & the movement He’d started.
So they likely thought someone had taken the body.
The sentries had probably been bribed, had opened the tomb, & allowed someone to carry off the body to a secret location.
This wasn’t such a far-fetched idea: Matthew tells us that when the sentries came to after passing out in terror at the appearance of the angels, they ran to the chief priest & told them what happened.
Matthew tells us the Jewish rulers paid them off with a huge bribe & told them to tell Pilate that the disciples had come late at night & bribed them to open the tomb & let them have Jesus’ body. [Matt. 28:11-15]
This became the official explanation for the empty tomb to the people of that time.
4And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.
As the women stood there in bafflement over what to do & where the body might be, the mystery of the disappearance was solved. Two angels appeared to them.
Luke calls them “men” clothed in light.
The other gospels identify them as angels; Luke makes it clear their form was human.
They weren’t strange beasts, like the cherubim who surround God’s throne with 4 faces & 6 wings.
These angels appeared in the form of men, except that they were arrayed in garments of glory that spilled light into the darkness of the tomb.
5Then, as they were afraid & bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?
Fear is the typical response of human beings when confronted with an angel.
The glory & holiness that flows from them is tangible & causes a profound sense of mortal weakness that registers in the one who sees an angel as à terror.
That’s the word here translated as “afraid” – it means terrified!
They didn’t have this reaction because they were timid women.
When the angels appeared to the sentries, they trembled uncontrollably, then fainted!
Mary was an average looking woman, normal in every regard.
Being invited to a special, formal event her work was putting on, she bought a new dress, had her hair & nails done, & spent extra time on her makeup.
Looking in a full-length mirror at home before leaving, she was really pleased with how good she looked.
But the moment she walked into the hall where the meeting was taking place, she felt shabby & pathetic.
All around the room were super-models wearing the latest fashions.
Compared to her friends, she looked great; Compared to super-models, well . . .
We tend to evaluate ourselves by who were around.
It’s human nature to see where we line up when we walk into a room of people.
We use all kinds of criteria: Face, figure, clothes, hair, speech, humor, wit, social level, who we know, what we drive, where we live, career.
& based on how we stack up, we gain our sense of security or lack thereof.
This is why men & women who come face to face with an angel in its glory usually respond with a deep sense of fear.
Being creatures of intense glory, who live in the environment of heaven, basking in God’s holiness & enjoying a level of power that makes the greatest of human strength pitiful – they reveal the frailty & meanness of fallen humanity just by showing up.
The angel craze which was such a big deal a few years ago was so silly.
Tens of thousands of people got all excited about angels & bought lapel pins, & bumper stickers, & dozens of books on angels.
Dozens of people had angel stories & the desire to see angels was intense.
Being a student of the Bible, I never understood it!
I believe in the existence of angels – but to be frank – I don’t really have a burning passion to see one because I don’t really enjoy being terrified!
How many of you are afraid of seeing blood?
You’d rather not see it, right?
Do you have any doubt there’s blood flowing through your veins?
In fact, you want it flowing, right?
But in your veins, hidden away, doing its job is where you want it, I assume.
Every once in a while, blood escapes it’s normal realm & we’re reminded of its existence – but we’d really rather not encounter it that way.
The person who WANTS to see blood is a bit, well, strange!
So it is with angels. They exist & operate in an unseen realm.
They have a job to do & perform it well.
Every once in a while, it’s necessary for them to manifest themselves in our realm.
But those who see them usually wish at that moment they weren’t seeing them.
They are grateful afterward, like we later appreciate the blood that oozes from a cut to wash the germs away.
As difficult as the appearance of the angels was for the women, they brought a message of comfort.
6He is not here, but is risen! Remember
how He spoke to you when He was still in
The angels announced the resurrection.
The womens’ fears about what had happened to Jesus’ body were put to rest.
It had not been stolen; it had risen!
Then the angels told the women to think back – to recall how Jesus had foretold all of this.
The arrest & crucifixion weren’t just the terrible nightmare tragedy they’d thought.
Jesus had told them time & again all this would take place – & that the end wasn’t burial in a cold tomb – it was resurrection.
At the angels’ command to remember what Jesus had said, the women paused & recalled His specific words.
Don’t miss the point of the angels’ message to the women.
Here they were, angels à creatures of awesome majesty, power, & glory.
But they direct the attention of the women off themselves & on to what?
The Word of Christ!
The resurrection has just taken place – & what do the angels tell the women to concentrate on? What Jesus had said!
This is a huge revelation for the followers of Christ.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead affirms & validates the His words.
If He’d not risen, then His words would have little weight because like every other man they’d have proven vain, futile.
But Jesus did rise – meaning His words are true & eternal.
Jesus said, “Heaven & earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” [Mat. 24:35]
If He’d not risen from the dead, we’d have to chalk up such a remark to either a colossal megalomaniac or a serious nut case.
The resurrection places a seal of validation on Jesus’ claim, making it not only likely but certain.
The lesson for us is this – as modern day followers of Jesus, the message of the angels still applies – Because Jesus is risen, we must remember His words, His teaching.
The power of the resurrection becomes real to us when we meditate on Jesus’ Word.
Why do you suppose God made sure there would be not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4! accounts of the life of Jesus in the Bible?
Because He wants us to pay special attention to Jesus’ teaching.
What are the NT epistles but the early church’s application of the teaching of Jesus?
There’s a lot more I want to say about this but I’ll save it for Sunday.
9Then they returned from the tomb & told all these things to the eleven & to all the rest.
Why “the 11” & not “12”? Judas had hanged himself.
Note that the women knew where the disciples were hiding, all together.
Think about it – if the disciples were hatching some grand conspiracy, if they were on top of the situation as the Jewish rulers later claimed, would they have all been hiding out together?
No way! They would have split up so that if one were caught the others could get away.
There’s no evidence these guys were conspiring to foist history’s all-time greatest scam.
On the contrary, they were a bunch of shell-shocked & bitterly disillusioned men.
Besides the 11 disciples, there was a group of other less official followers of Jesus who were hiding out.
The women told hem what they’d seen & heard at the tomb.
And of course, the disciples being the great men of faith they were instantly remembered what Jesus said & believed. Not quite!
10It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the
Mary from the
Joanna was the wife of a guy named Chuza who was Herod Antipas’ household administrator. [Luke 8:2]
“Mary” must have been a very popular name at this time because we encounter it often as referring to several different women.
Mother of Jesus
(The) Magdalene •
Sister of Martha & Lazarus •
Mother of Mark •
One greeted by Paul •
This Mary is also called “the other Mary” in Mat. 27:61.
John refers to her as the wife of Clopas, who was the brother of Joseph, making Him Jesus’ uncle, & Mary his aunt by marriage.
Luke says besides these 3 there were some other women who went to the tomb & reported back to the disciples.
The disciples offered the women a chilly reception – not giving credence to their report.
There’s a pretty big chunk of cultural bias represented here by the disciples.
As men of their time, they put little stock in a woman’s word.
Men tended to consider what a woman said as highly emotional & superstitious & not to be given a lot of weight.
Now, to be fair, in a culture that treated women that way, many women filled the role assigned to them by telling stories & embellishing the truth with liberal amounts of exaggeration.
If you’re not going to be believed anyway, why not pile it on – & so many did.
One who listened more closely was Peter.
When the women quoted the angels words about Jesus foretelling both his crucifixion & resurrection, it set off a little alarm in his head.
12But Peter arose & ran to the tomb; & stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; & he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.
One way to verify whether or not the women had seen something was to visit the tomb.
Arriving there, Peter looked in & saw it was indeed empty, with the linen sheet Joseph & Nicodemus had wrapped the body in, lying there on the stone bench that had held Jesus’ body.
Peter went away, marveling, Luke says.
He didn’t believe yet, but he didn’t know what to think.
If Jesus HAD risen, what did that mean for him – as one who’d denied knowing Him?
The last 3 years of Peter’s ;life had been spent following Jesus, investing in the hope that He was the Messiah who would take Peter on for a significant role in His Kingdom.
If against all hope, Jesus had risen from the dead, then Peter had certainly talked himself right out of a job by thrice denying his affiliation with Jesus.
Rabbis don’t keep disciples who are ashamed of their masters, plain & simple.
But then Peter remembered Jesus words at the Last Supper when He told him he would deny Him that night 3 times.
Jesus had said, “When you return, strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus’ prophecy of Peter’s failure had proven true.
If that proved true, why not the promise of Peter’s return?
Jesus even charged Him with a special task – to encourage the other disciples.
No wonder Peter marveled – imagine all of that swirling ‘round inside your head & heart.
13 Now behold, two of them
Who? Disciples. These aren’t 2 of the 11; they’re of the much larger group of unofficial followers of Jesus.
13Now behold, two of them were traveling that
same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from
It was a requirement that anyone living within 20 miles of
The Passover now done, they were
headed home to their
14And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
That’s what guys do when they travel together, they talk.
Women like to sit & chat.
Guys talk while they’re involved in some activity, like driving, or walking the links on the golf course, or standing next to each other on the assembly line.
A wife wants to have a meaningful talk with her husband & pictures the two of them sitting facing each other on the couch, hands clasped with fingers entwined, staring deeply into each other’s eyes, sharing soul to soul.
A guy in that sitch feels like he’s being interrogated by the enemy.
That’s worse than sticking him in an interview room at the police station & sweating him with hot lights & a cop with bad breath.
A man rarely thinks of intimacy in such a conversational way.
But he does it, usually with ease, when he’s not aware of or focused on it.
If he’s engaged in some activity in which he can be productive, even if it’s as simple as going from here to there, then he’s all about communicating.
In fact, men often share stuff with one another women would NEVER talk about.
These 2 chaps were making the 2½ hour trip to their home, talking about the events of the last couple days.
From what we read next, it seems these guys were sharing with each other on a deeply personal level.
15So it was, while they conversed & reasoned,
See? There was a relational intimacy going on here that was significant.
that Jesus Himself drew near & went with them.
2 guys, walking together, talking about what? Jesus.
And what happens? He joins them! And so it always is.
He said it – “Whenever 2 or 3 gather together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.” [Mat. 18:20]
These guys were just walking along, talking about the Lord, sharing their sorrow at His death, & their wonder at the report of the women. What did it all mean?
Friends, this is why it’s so important for us to gather as Christians to worship, pray, study, & share our lives.
When we gather in His name, His Spirit comes & moves in a special way.
When we’re honest about our sorrow, our disappointments & confusion, it’s an invitation for the Lord to visit us, bringing much needed aid though at first we may not recognize Him or the aid He gives. à
16But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
What blinded them to Jesus was their lack of faith.
Jesus knew this, & remedied it. How?
Faith come by à Hearing the Word of God!
17And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk & are sad?”
“Guys, you look so serious, so bummed out. What’s going on?”
18Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered &
said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in
The news of what had happened to Jesus had spread far &
This wasn’t a minor news story that warranted a 2 inch
column on page 7 of the
It was the headline & lead story for 3 days running with everyone talking about it.
That’s why the disciples were in hiding; because the Jewish leaders were intent on eradicating the remnants of the movement Jesus had started.
19 And He said to them, “What things?”
Jesus gave them an opportunity to express their understanding of the situation.
We learn an important lesson here about how to share with people.
Give them an opportunity to express their thoughts.
Don’t just dive in, dropping truths like bombs on an enemy base.
Don’t give a pre-planned speech while looking over their head.
Find out as much as you can about where the person you’re sharing with is at.
Then let the Holy Spirit give you the right reply.
Having asked, Jesus waited, & they thought to bring him
up to speed on the latest news coming out of
So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth,
who was a Prophet mighty in deed & word before God & all the people, 20
& how the chief priests & our rulers delivered Him to be
condemned to death, & crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that
it was He who was going to redeem
The mission of the Messiah.
Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, & certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 & certain of those who were with us went to the tomb & found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”
These 2 guys were part of the “rest” mentioned in v. 9 who were hiding with the 11.
Having answered His question, Jesus then fills in the gaps in their understanding . . .
25Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, & slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
While this seems a bit harsh, it was actually more of a playful taunt.
Here’s another crucial lesson – Jesus tells them all that had happened had been foretold – not just by Him, but by the prophets.
The reason they were so slow to get it was because they had been told by the so-called religious leaders that you can’t read & understand the Bible literally.
“It’s spiritual & symbolic” they said, “And you have to be specially trained in order to rightly divined the Tanach, the scriptures.”
Jesus said – “No! Take it literally, at face value. Read it! Believe it! Obey it!’
Don’t chalk up the scriptures to some esoteric mystery that means something other than what it SAYS!
26Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things & to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses & all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
He gave them a Bible study!
He started at the beginning of the Torah, & ended with the last of the prophets – the entire Tanach, our OT.
And you know what He did, He simply quoted a passage, then showed how it foretold everything about Him, right down to the last detail.
Don’t miss what Luke says in v. 27 – Jesus used every part of the scriptures to show them how the Tanach pointed to Him.
Here He proves it.
28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, & He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, & the day is far spent.” & He went in to stay with them.
When the guys turned toward Emmaus, Jesus didn’t presume upon their hospitality but made to keep going until they formally invited Him to join them.
Since travel ended at dusk & it was fast approaching dark, Jesus consented & followed them home.
30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed & broke it, & gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened & they knew Him; & He vanished from their sight.
Why were their eyes opened now? What was it about this moment that made the difference?
Since this is my text for Sunday, we’ll leave that question out there for you to ponder.
32 & they said to one another, “Did not our
heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, & while He opened
the Scriptures to us?” 33 So they rose up that very hour &
The 2 ran as fast as they could back to
When they arrived, the disciple had some news of their own – Jesus had appeared to Peter. The 2 then told their story.
They had no more than got it out when Jesus appeared . . .
36Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, & said to them, “Peace to you.”
Always a good thing to say when you decide to materialize inside a room packed with a bunch of men hiding behind locked doors.
But it might as well have been a loud “Boo” because . . .
37But they were terrified & frightened, & supposed they had seen a spirit.
Because they were experiencing things beyond the scope of any prior experience or category of thought, they tried to fit it all into a something they thought they knew, & concluded Jesus was a ghost.
They didn’t know about resurrection, about what that means or how it works.
But they had heard about ghosts.
And as their little brains labored furiously to get a handle on what was happening they settled on the only thing they could think of.
Of course, if they were seeing a ghost, then fear was the right response, or so they thought.
38And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? & why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Behold My hands & My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me & see, for a spirit does not have flesh & bones as you see I have.” 40When He had said this, He showed them His hands & His feet. 41But while they still did not believe for joy, & marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish & some honeycomb. 43And He took it & ate in their presence.
Jesus went to great lengths to prove He wasn’t a ghost.
He showed them that He had a real body, even offering to eat something so they’d see He was the real deal.
They’d eaten many meals together – and now was no different.
As He ate, they saw the familiar pattern.
Have you ever noticed how people have really unique ways of eating – and they never change them. The same was true of Jesus.
He knew this, and knew they’d see Him eating and know for sure it was Him.
I love this!
Here’s Jesus – after the most important event of all history – and twice now, He sits down to eat with the guys; once at Emmaus, then here.
Though Jesus had just gone through a huge change as far as we would consider it – He’s the same person.
He’s God yes – but He’s also a man who enjoys hanging out with His friends and likes to eat with them.
Interesting that in His resurrected Body, Jesus could materialize & dematerialize at will.
And when He appeared, He had the kind of body we’d count as normal.
He even ate!
Which opens up a whole realm of fun discussion about heaven.
44Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses & the Prophets & the Psalms concerning Me.”
Jesus reminded them that He’d given them repeated warnings about His arrest, death & resurrection.
In light of His warnings & the clear testimony of Scripture about what the Messiah had to endure, their reaction was puzzling.
We know that the Rapture takes place before the onset of the Tribulation, but suppose for a moment that it didn’t & that Christians were going to live through that period of 7 years of intense trouble.
Would you be surprised when the antichrist rose to power?
Would you be surprised when the mark of the beast was installed?
Would you be blown away when the Jews began rebuilding the temple?
How about when nature began to get wiggy, droughts brought massive famine, pollution ruined huge tracts of land, & large portions of Earth’s population started dying?
The Word foretells all this – so when we see the world stage being set even now for the fulfillment of the end times, we ought not be surprised.
Before we move on – notice Jesus’ reference to the OT as . . .
the Law of Moses / the Prophets / & the Psalms
This is where the word Tanach comes from – T-N-K, the vowels are just inserted to make it pronounceable.
T = Torah, the books of Moses
N = Neiveihim = Prophets
45And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
What made their understanding possible was something not they hadn’t had before, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
It took the death & resurrection of Christ to make possible the event of salvation, in which a person could be born again.
The reason why the disciples were clueless as to Jesus’ lessons for the previous 3 years was because they lacked the spiritual ability to understand – they weren’t born again.
Jesus was the best teacher in human history. The gospels make that quite clear.
Why then were the disciples so dense?
It’s simple – they didn’t understand because they couldn’t!
They didn’t have the Spirit.
But all of that changed in that room that evening.
John tells us in his gospel that as soon as Jesus appeared, He breathed on them & said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Here’s the proof they did & were now born again for the first time, because they finally understood the Scriptures!
1 Cor. 2:14 tells us . . .
46Then He said to them, “Thus
it is written, & thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer & to
rise from the dead the third day, 47and
that repentance & remission of sins should be preached in His name to all
nations, beginning at
Now Jesus extends the lesson into the future.
After showing them how everything that had happened to Him had been foretold, & because it was foretold, it had to happen, He reminded them more had been prophesied – that the message of His work would be taken to the ends of the Earth.
That mission would begin right
there, where they were in
48And you are witnesses of these things.
That prophesied mission was none other than theirs.
So, what they’d witnessed & registered as so tragic, the coming apart of their little worlds, would end up being the very message that would bring hope & salvation to countless numbers of men & women all over the World.
49Behold, I send the
Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of
I’m going to save further comment on this for the Sunday after next.
There’s some really good stuff here but we need to spend more time on it than we have tonight so we’ll dig into it on Sunday the 14th.
50And He led them out as far as Bethany, & He lifted up His hands & blessed them. 51Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them & carried up into heaven. 52And they worshiped Him, & returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53and were continually in the temple praising & blessing God. Amen.
It was one of Jesus’ favorite spots.
The disciples returned to the City as changed men.
No longer timid & hiding, they went to the one place the authorities would be sure to look out for them – in the temple.
There they occupied themselves with ceaseless worship of God.