Luke 24

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The Women Go to the Tomb

Verse 1: On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. (NIV)

  • What the women were trying to do, make Jesus ready for burial, was nice but completely unneeded and even counterproductive for the situation. Jesus wasn't dead anymore.
  • There is no mention of “women” in this verse, It just says “they came” and as it is a verb, there is no gender attached. Any gender mentioned is added by the translators.
    • Who these people were is a mystery until verse 10 when Luke finally mentions that these people were women and who they were.
    • Why Luke purposefully avoids using any gender references for the first nine verses is uncertain. Perhaps it was to be a surprise that Jesus spoke to women, or perhaps to hide the fact that they were women.
    • Matthew and Mark both list the names of the women at the beginning of the account, not the end. Perhaps Luke moved the names to build more suspense.


Verse 2: They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, (NIV)

  • This is the first time that the stone is mentioned in Luke at all, unlike in Mark 15:46 and Matthew 27:60.
  • Mark 16:3 mentions the women worrying about moving the stone, something else neglected in Luke's account, perhaps because admitting these people couldn't move the stone would have tipped off his readers that these were not the disciples.
  • This verse assumes that the reader understands how Jewish burial works. This is strange given that Luke is writing to a mainly Gentile audience. Perhaps this is evidence of this verse as being “pre-Lukan” (Marshal 880).
  • There is a parallel between the ladies “finding the stone” and “not finding Jesus” that is almost humorous.
  • The stone thought of here was probably a round stone rolled into a groove in front of the cave/tomb (Stein 600).


Verse 4: While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. (NIV)

  • The light coming from the people's clothes was so bright they couldn't look at it. It is interesting that it is not coming from the people themselves.
  • These men are of course assumed to be angels, but that is not mentioned by title or name. This is probably to help show convey some of the confusion the women were feeling.
  • Matthew 28:2 explicitly calls these men angels.


Verse 5: In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? (NIV)

  • Fear was a standard reaction to angels and to the presence of God.
  • Normally, the messengers of God tell the people not to fear, but that is ignored in this account, there are more important things to consider.
  • Bowing could be inclining the head or of falling over (Arndt 436). Perhaps it is an avoidance of the light as much as a reaction to fear, (Marshall 881), unlike NIV's explanation.


Verse 6: He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: (NIV)

  • It is interesting that there is such similarity between the birth stories and the resurrection stories.
    • The angels appear at the beginning and end of the stories, not in the rest. Like bookends to the story.
    • Both times, the revelation of birth and resurrection, the angels appear to those who are the lowest people around. First the shepherds, then the women. In both cases they are people the world said don't matter but that God said did.
    • In both cases people went seeking something. With the shepherds they went seeking after they heard, with the ladies before, again in reverse parallel.
    • In the birth it is the beginning of earthly ministry that the angels are pronouncing. In the resurrection, it is the end.
    • The shepherds came to honor the birth, the ladies came to honor his death.
  • The men here give the women more importance than we would otherwise expect. They mention that the women were with Jesus for quite a while and that they were close enough to hear and remember what Jesus was saying about specific topics.


'Verse 7: The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' ” (NIV)

  • What the women are supposed to remember we know as Luke 9:22, 9:44, and 18:32.
  • This is not a single statement that we have recorded, but is instead a compilation of statements.
  • The NIV translates “raise up” as a passive verb, but in Greek it is active (Stein 601).


Verse 8: Then they remembered his words. (NIV)

  • It does not say that they believed, but that they remembered Jesus saying these things. **It is the remembering that brings faith here, the Jewish idea of remembering that involves action as well as thought and memory.
    • Perhaps also, faith is not completely implied here but instead confusion is implied, that this is all so new that the women didn't know what to do.
  • It is remembering Jesus' words that finally tip the balance for the women. Without remembering what this means in the big picture it doesn't really matter much.
  • This is a very sudden ending of the story. We don't know anything else about what the women thought or what the angels did. The women are just messengers (Marshall 882).


Verse 9: When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. (NIV)

  • It is interesting that more people are still gathered together at this point, before the Holy Spirit came. They did not scatter.
  • The “all the others” sets the stage for how the people going to Emmaus could have heard all of this and not been part of the twelve.


Verse 10: It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. (NIV)

  • In Greek, this is the first time we learn that all of this has happened to women and not to the eleven apostles.
  • Women were not admissible witnesses in court in Israel. That the women found out first show God's impartiality. It also shows some lack of caring about the legality of the evidence provided.
  • This is one of the few times when women are mentioned by name as followers of Jesus. They were apparently disciples along with the men but got much less credit.
  • The women did not try once to tell the disciples, but many times the Greek indicates (imperfect tense).
  • It does not explicitly say “mother” of James. It just says “Mary of James” and so it could be sister, mother, daughter, or wife. However, we know there is a mother of James around from other verses so this is probably her.
  • This passage illustrates a shift from “disciple” to “apostle” indicating a change in responsibility for them.


Verse 11: But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. (NIV)

  • Even with all the experiences of being around Jesus, what the women said sounded silly, ridiculous. Spiritual experiences often seem silly until we have them ourselves.
  • The male disciples did not believe. As the next verse shows, Peter is not even mentioned as believing after seeing this.
  • There is some double meaning here because the faith is not with regards to Jesus, but to the women's account of Jesus. They needed to believe the women in order to believe in Jesus' resurrection.


Verse 12: Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. (NIV)

  • Even when Peter went to see for himself he didn't understand, he was just amazed. That's a long ways away from faith.
  • The strips of linen are traditional burial wrapping. That they were lying there meant the body was gone.
    • But it doesn't mean the body was resurrected. It could just mean there's a naked dead body around somewhere. It was a sign, but Peter didn't get it.
    • Peter's “wondering” is a preliminary step to faith, not a complete lack of faith.


The Road to Emmaus

Verse 13: Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. (NIV)

  • This was the same day as Jesus' resurrection.
  • ”Two of them” is probably two of the men in the room who dismissed the women as ridiculous.
    • These are probably not part of the twelve, but part of the larger group of followers of Jesus.
    • There is no explicit mention that these two people are connected with Jesus' followers other than the phrase “of them.” Otherwise, it could be random people from Jerusalem.
  • It is very odd that people knowing about Jesus' body vanishing would still take off. There is no reason given why they would be heading to Emmaus, or possibly beyond it.
    • It is possibly a business trip, or they were returning home after the feasts. That really doesn't make sense, though, that they would be really close to Jesus and yet only be with him once a year at feasts.
    • This journey might also have been just to find housing for the night because Jerusalem was full (Nolland 1200).
    • Most likely, though, they were abandoning the cause as lost, or as getting too strange for them to stand.. Apparently they were completely taking off from the group, something that hadn't happened before.
  • The distance in Greek is measured in “stadia” or 600 Greek feet, 625 Roman, 607 English. About 7 miles, though some other readings have it at up to 18 ½ miles (Marshall 892).
  • No one really knows where Emmaus is, though there is certainly a lot of speculation about it (Nolland 1201). In the end, though, it doesn't really matter.


Verse 14: They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. (NIV)

  • The people were talking about the death and resurrection, probably debating what actually happened and what it meant.
    • In a sense, they were the very first academic scholars debating Jesus' death with each other.
    • The term used for “talk” is “consort” or “joining company with”. It can also mean joining in battle (Liddell 554), and indicates how intent they were.
  • There is no indication about belief here, just that they were talking. It could be complete disbelief, doubt, or any stage in between.


Verse 15: As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; (NIV)

  • The same word for “talk” used in verse 14 is repeated again here, but with the addition of “dispute” or “examine together” (TDNT Vol 7, 747). This emphasizes the depth and seriousness of their conversation.
  • It is unclear whether this is a foreshadowing of Acts and the coming of the Holy Spirit or not. Probably not, but the similarity is striking.


Verse 16: but they were kept from recognizing him. (NIV)

  • Literally the disciples “eyes were being held firmly” or conquered. It is a word about strength and ruling (Liddell 448), and that there was a strength above theirs holding their eyes.
    • It does not say who this strength comes from.
    • Is it their own stubbornness? Is it God holding their eyes? Is it the darkness trying to hold onto them a little longer? We don't know.
    • Some think that it is a divine passive, meaning that they imply God is doing this, but don't directly say it because the Jews do not like to mention God's name directly (Stein 610).
  • Interestingly, their eyes are not being held from seeing, but from knowing. This term does have an additional connotation of recognizing, which is being used here, but is not the normal way of talking about seeing things.
    • This is a term used to refer to intimately knowing and understanding something (Arndt 295). It is to know about something or someone.
    • It is unlikely that too much should be read into this, though. It is a permissible form of saying “recognized” but does carry a lot of other possible weight with it.
  • This verse by it being here means that they should have recognized Jesus, and could have. This places the two people as being part of Jesus' group of followers.


Verse 17: He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. (NIV)

  • It is interesting that the text says that they just stood there in response to Jesus' statement. They couldn't come up with anything to say at first.
  • This shows the amount of attention that Jesus' situation must have been getting in Jerusalem, something that Cleopos expounds on in the next verse when he finally finds words.


Verse 18: One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” (NIV)

  • Cleopos is a shortened version of the male form of Cleopatr(i)a (Stein 610). This really doesn't mean anything, but I thought it was interesting.
  • They might be leaving, but it was still saddening to them, and they took it seriously.
    • This indicates some connection with Jesus' group, as does their knowledge of things even up until that morning.
  • The fame of Jesus was apparently huge if the disciples were surprised that Jesus had not heard about it.
  • Of course, Jesus was also apparently coming from Jerusalem, where it all happened so he might be expected to know more than the average Israelite.
  • ”Things” is a rather generic way of talking about everything Jesus did.
    • Were they being vague on purpose, trying to avoid talking about it directly?
    • Perhaps also this is the authors way of skipping over everything he had already said throughout the book and not being really repetitive.


Verse 19: “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. (NIV)

  • Jesus is still recognized here as a prophet and not as anything else. They do recognize his special relationship with God and the people.
    • This is obvious eulogizing and hyperbole.
    • The disciples in particular mention “all” the people and the universal nature of Jesus' ministry, even though he was executed.
  • This seems to have the speed of someone opening up about something that they were holding back on and everything just tumbling out.


Verse 21: but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. (NIV)

  • Their hopes for Jesus were dashed.
    • Even though they mention that people believe him to be alive they still think he failed at being Israel's savior.
    • They were apparently expecting a political savior, and not a spiritual one.
  • There seems to be a gradual revealing of what the disciples thought about Jesus here. He did “things” then was a prophet, then perhaps savior.
  • The reference to it being the third day obviously has meaning for those of us who know the story.
    • But from these men's mouths it sounds more like a defeat then a statement of victory.
    • Prophetic timing does not seem to be part of why the men say it has been three days.
    • There is some definite irony involved in the men saying three days have passed and they still don't know what to do, and Jesus walking alongside them as they say it.


Verse 23: but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. (NIV)

  • They talk about being extremely surprised by what the women tell them.
    • It is specifically a vision of angels, not a vision of Jesus himself that they talk about.
    • That the men seem to be doubting both the women and the angels is very telling about the amount of evidence needed to change someone's mind for the first time.
  • It seems to be left open in the Greek about whether the disciples were talking about “not seeing the body” and so it was great, or “not seeing the risen Jesus” and so doubting what the women said.
    • Probably it's meant to be vague. They saw something, but didn't really know what to do with it.
    • Maybe there was a miracle, maybe it's just false hope or something weird. They were discussing this on the way.


Verse 27: And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (NIV)

  • Even visibly upset, Jesus was willing to take the time to explain what they didn't get, even if they really should have understood it. He spent a ton of time talking to them about all of this stuff that he thought they should already know.
  • There is a difference between knowing something and believing something. Jesus did not critique their knowledge, he got upset over their faith. He did not tell them what the prophets said, he interpreted them, explained how what the prophets said should affect them and their faith.


Verse 28: As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. (NIV)

  • If the journey was seven miles, and you walk about three miles an hour, then Jesus probably talked to them for about two and a half hours assuming that he met them soon after leaving Jerusalem.
  • Jesus faked them out. “As if he were going on”.
    • He wasn't about to force himself on them, they had to invite him to come on in.
    • There are some definite salvation parallels to be found here.
  • If the disciples had given up because of their doubts and not kept searching they never would have truly found faith.


Verse 29: But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. (NIV)

  • The disciples asked Jesus to stay, and not only that, but apparently stay as a teacher because he prayed over the food and broke the bread.
  • Think about how much this must have been to take in during one day. The women seeing the angels, the disciples seeing the empty tomb, Jesus teaching them, the journey, that's a lot of things going on for them. It must have felt so crazy.


Verse 31: Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. (NIV)

  • The disciples saw Jesus through repetition of things that they already associated with him.
    • They recognized him because they had eaten with him before.
    • This wasn't about finding Jesus for the first time, but finding faith in him and recognizing him with them.
  • We don't know how or why Jesus vanished, he just did.


Verse 32: They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (NIV)

  • Luke is making a point of telling his later readers that communion is actually a way of encountering Jesus.
  • When they started to understand the truth of the scriptures they were excited about it, it fired them up. A sure sign we aren't understanding the Bible is when it doesn't affect us any.
  • We don't really know what it meant that their hearts were burning. It is obviously about being moved by what Jesus was saying, but exactly how is unclear.


Verse 33: They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together (NIV)

  • It was evening, they already mentioned that. They were ready to stop for the night (possibly early evening for dinner), but they got so excited they left in the night to head to Jerusalem. This was dangerous, radical, and unusual.
  • It is even more unusual that the other disciples were still up, though they had a miracle of their own which we don't really know about. The point is that everyone came back together.
  • It seems like Jesus went to get these disciples back as they missed the showing to Peter and thereby the proclamation of the resurrection.
    • But this way they were still part of it all and got back in with everyone.
    • This story could be considered the parable of the lost sheep acted out in real life.


Message Ideas/Scripts/Liturgy That Use This Chapter

 VerseDirectionTopicAudienceOccasionCategory
A New Day1-12Christ's resurrection brings a new day for the world, and a new life for us.ResurrectionGeneralEasterMessage Idea
Living a Resurrected Life13-35Christ makes us a new creation right here and right now, restoring what was broken.New CreationAdultsMessage Idea