He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. — Luke 24:6-7
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the crucial factor in the hope of everlasting life. It is what distinguishes Christianity from every other religion. And God, in His faithfulness, creates object lessons to illustrate this great hope.
Anna, a student from southern Africa, was attending a university in Portland, Oregon, when she experienced one of these object lessons. During her first winter in Portland, the temperatures grew cold, and rain and snow came. She was saddened to look around at many of the trees and plants, and she said to a friend, “They are all dead.” He replied, “Oh no, they will come back again in the spring.” She responded, “You lie!” However, winter passed, and Anna saw for herself that new life sprang up.
Three days after dying on a Roman cross on an afternoon around A.D. 30, Jesus of Nazareth came back to life and emerged from the grave. He was more than a great teacher, an attention-getting revolutionary, or even a man with extraordinary power to perform miracles. He was the divine Son of God, the Messiah, the One whom prophets had foretold throughout the ages, which makes His death on the Cross the most pivotal event in human history. However, Jesus’ time on earth did not end with the grief and darkness of Calvary. He arose, triumphant over death and the grave!
What dies can live again, because Jesus conquered death when He arose. That event, and His post-resurrection appearances to a multitude of witnesses, is the cornerstone of the Gospel for multiple reasons.
Today’s text covers the final events of Jesus’ life on earth: the women’s discovery and report of the empty tomb (verses 1-12), three post-resurrection appearances of Jesus (verses 13-49), and His ascension into Heaven (verses 50-53).
Tombs in that era generally were kept closed to prevent animals and vandals from disturbing the bodies. The stones used to block an entrance often weighed from one to three tons. Round, disk-shaped stones and square, cork-shaped ones were both used in Jewish tombs at the time of Jesus, although the square, cork-shaped stones were the most common. The opening of the tomb was probably waist high from the ground, which would require people to stoop down to look inside.
Commentator Matthew Henry offers an interesting perspective on why an angel rolled away the stone in front of Christ’s tomb. “Our Lord Jesus could have rolled back the stone himself by his own power, but he chose to have it done by an angel, to signify that having undertaken to make satisfaction for our sin . . . he did not break [out of] prison, but had a fair and legal discharge, obtained from heaven; he did not break [out of] prison, but an officer was sent on purpose to roll away the stone, and so to open the prison door, which would never have been done, if he had not made a full satisfaction [payment for man’s salvation].”(1)
Luke described the two angels at the tomb as men in shining garments (verse 4). Apparently they looked like humans except for their luminous clothes. In Matthew and John, these two beings are identified as angels. Though women were considered second-class citizens in that society, the Resurrection of Jesus was revealed first to faithful and devout women.
All four Gospels recount that Jesus rose bodily from the dead, but they tell of different appearances of the risen Christ. Luke’s narrative focuses on the area of Jerusalem and nearby Bethany. The account of Jesus’ appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is given only by Luke. The exact location of Emmaus is uncertain, but the distance of “three score furlongs” from Jerusalem (verse 13) is equivalent to just under seven miles. Only one of the travelers to Emmaus is named: Cleopas. His companion could have been another disciple of Jesus (not one of the twelve), or possibly his wife, Mary (John 19:25). Their eyes were finally opened when Jesus blessed their food, perhaps by the way He prayed or by seeing His scarred hands.
“The eleven” (verse 33) is a collective term, meaning the group of disciples without Judas. It is unknown exactly who was present. The Gospel of John indicates that Thomas was absent. When Jesus appeared, He proved that He was not a ghost or a vision by having the disciples touch Him and by eating food. However, His body was not bound by human constraints; He was able to suddenly appear in a locked room and to vanish in a moment.
The Gospel of Luke begins with “good tidings of great joy” and ends with the disciples filled with “great joy” and continually “praising and blessing God.” From beginning to end, it expresses the positive outcome of the message that Jesus brought to earth.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
VIII. The triumph of the Son of Man (24:1-53)
A. The empty tomb (24:1-12)
1. The visit of the women (24:1-7)
2. The report of the women (24:8-11)
3. The visit of Peter (24:12)
B. The appearance near Emmaus (24:13-32)
1. The appearance on the road (24:13-16)
2. Jesus’ question (24:17)
3. Cleopas’ explanation (24:18-24)
4. Jesus’ explanation of the Scriptures (24:25-27)
5. The disclosure of His person (24:28-32)
C. The appearance to the disciples (24:33-43)
1. The announcement to the eleven (24:33-35)
2. The appearance to the eleven (24:36-43)
D. The instruction of the disciples (24:44-49)
E. The ascension of the Son of Man (24:50-53)
1. Jesus’ departure (24:50-51)
2. The disciples’ joy (24:52-53)
Jesus proved that He is the Son of God when He died and rose again, conquering death. Through Him, there is a promise of everlasting life to all who believe.
1 Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, Vol. 5: Matthew 28:1-10, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996.