Sunday School Lesson 12 - Luke 24:36-49 - COMMISSIONED
BACKGROUND: Last week, in Luke 24:17-31, we covered the first of three resurrection appearances reported in Luke, when Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. You'll remember they weren't from the original disciples but followers of Jesus from the larger group. While they journeyed up the road with Him, God rendered them incapable of recognizing Jesus. Even so, when they reached their destination, they offered Him the hospitality of their home and a meal. During that time Jesus used Scripture to explain why the Messiah had to suffer the recent events in Jerusalem, and when He broke the bread with them, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him. From lesson we learned that our ability to recognize God involves hospitality: if we desire a relationship with Him, we must invite him in. Secondly, we learned that to recognize God, we must look to Scripture-the Bible-in order to understand His perspective on life. And finally, our ability to recognize God can depend on His timing, and sometimes we have to wait.
This week we'll cover Jesus' third resurrection appearance in Luke (His second appearance was to Peter in Luke 24:34), when He appears to the "eleven and others" (24:33) in Jerusalem. The Emmaus road appearance really sets the foundation for this appearance. Luke 24:32-35, reports that after Jesus vanished, the two Emmaus disciples got up and returned to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven and others, and reported how the risen Jesus had made Himself known to them.
Read Luke 24:36-43 - A SPIRIT DOES NOT HAVE FLESH AND BONES
36 Now while they were telling these things, Jesus Himself suddenly stood in their midst and *said to them, "Peace be to you." 37 But they were startled and frightened, and thought that they were looking at a spirit. 38 And He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why are doubts arising in your hearts? 39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you plainly see that I have." 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and astonishment, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42 They served Him a piece of broiled fish; 43 and He took it and ate it in front of them.
v. 36a: Now while they were telling these things" - The "they" who were "telling" are the two disciples from Emmaus, and the "things" they we telling were what the risen Jesus had revealed to them.
v. 36b: "Jesus Himself suddenly stood in their midst" - As the Emmaus disciples were relating their experience, Jesus suddenly materialized among them. This group included the eleven apostles, the Emmaus disciples, and other followers who aren't identified or numbered. Luke also doesn't tell us where the group was when Jesus appeared to them. Mark said they were sitting at a table(Mark16:14) and John located them inside a locked room. (John 20:19).
v. 36c: "and *said to them, 'Peace be to you.'" - This is the traditional Hebrew greeting shalom aleichem, which literally refers to an absence of conflict between those being greeted.
v. 37a: "But they were startled and frightened" - Given the testimony of the recent encounter with the risen Christ the group had just heard from the Emmaus disciples, we might think they should have been prepared for this encounter but, instead of being joyful, they are surprised and terrified.
v. 37b: "and thought that they were looking at a spirit." - i.e., like they were seeing a ghost. Despite Jesus' repeated foretelling of His resurrection, they believed He was dead-totally and finally.
v. 38a: "And He said to them, "Why are you frightened, - The apostles have been living in a state of fear and complete upheaval for days and with this, they now think they're seeing a ghost!
v. 38b: "and why are doubts arising in your hearts? " - The word used for "doubts" (Gk. dialogismos [dee-al-og-is-mos'] lit. confused reasoning). Their doubts include not only confusion over the actual physical reality of the body they are seeing, but questions about the reality of the resurrection itself.
v. 39: "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you plainly see that I have." - Now Jesus proceeds to give them tangible proof that He is, in fact, completely alive in bodily form. First, He invites them to fully examine Him with their eyes in order to confirm that, indeed, He's a solid object standing (not floating, not fading in and out) in their midst. When He says, "that it is I Myself," he's challenging them to inspect every detail of His appearance from head to toe in order to show them that He's the very same man they have lived and walked with for three years. Then He invites them to confirm his solid, warm, and living form by touching him. The verb "touch" is in the imperative case, a command to do as He says.
v. 40: "And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet." - His hands and feet still bore the marks of crucifixion, as reported in John 20:20, 27. Thus, they could not be seeing His double or an impostor; they were seeing the living, breathing, walking, and talking Christ Himself!
v. 41: "While they still could not believe it because of their joy and astonishment, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" - Ah! Recognition is beginning dawn on them, and they are clearly elated. But to further confirm that His resurrected body is normal and human in every respect, Jesus declares that He's hungry and wants something to eat!
v. 42: "They served Him a piece of broiled fish" - This would be the common food of the disciples-the ancient Jewish equivalent of a cheeseburger.
v. 43: "and He took it and ate it in front of them" - He chewed up and ate the fish before there eyes. Only a man with a normal body could do this. It would have removed any shred of doubt about the nature of His resurrected body.
Observation: In relating the story of these passages, Luke has an obvious apologetic purpose-to prove that Jesus' death and bodily resurrection were real events, e.g.: (1) that Jesus was resurrected after His documented death on the cross (i.e., a fact completely certified by the Roman authorities); (2) that He was resurrected with a normal physical body, as opposed to being some sort of spirit or ghost; (3) that both his death and resurrection are an established facts in history, as attested by many witnesses who saw Him die, together with the 500+ people who saw Him after the resurrection; and (4) by the fact that very soon after Jesus was resurrected, his followers were suddenly and incredibly transformed from a group of confused and frightened people into a new, purpose-driven people whose message about the living Christ and a coming kingdom-often preached at the risk of their lives-eventually changed an entire empire, and since then, the whole world.
Read Luke 24:44-48 - HE OPENED THEIR MINDS
44 Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all the things that are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, "So it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.
v. 44: "Now He said to them, 'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all the things that are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.'" - Jesus has previously demonstrated the physical reality of His resurrected body by inviting His disciples to inspect him, touch Him, and watch Him eat food. Now, taking the next step in the revelation process, Jesus first reminds them of what He had told them earlier and helps them to understand the Scriptures, which had predicted the Messiah's suffering and rising from the dead on the third day, along with Scriptures proclaiming repentance and remission of sins that were to be preached in His Name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem.
• Other than "the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms," Luke doesn't specify which of His earlier words that Jesus now uses to re-educate His disciples, but they surely included His passion predictions in 9:22 (i.e., that He would be rejected by the Jewish religious leaders) and 18:31-33 (i.e., spelling in detail what was going to happen to Him in Jerusalem), which taken together, predicted His suffering, His death at the hands of the Jewish leaders, as well as His resurrection on the third day, which were all events that were perfectly in accord with the writings of the prophets.
v. 45: "Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" - This is reminiscent of the Emmaus disciples' encounter with the risen Jesus. Once again, Luke doesn't tell us the Scriptures that Jesus used to enlighten them. We can imagine Isaiah 53:7: "He was oppressed and afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth." Or perhaps, Hosea 6:2: "He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him." And Joel 2:32a: "And it will come about that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Will be saved".
v. 46: "and He said to them, "So it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day," - The point of this verse is the spiritual imperative: That Jesus' death and resurrection were both absolutely necessary in order to fulfill God's providential plan to save humanity and reverse the impact of sin on the creation.
v. 47a: "and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name" - In one simple sentence, this is Jesus' mission statement to His disciples. They are told to proclaim two things: (1) repentance and forgiveness of sins and (2) that would be proclaimed in the name of Jesus-the Messiah-who is the One who makes this forgiveness possible.
v. 47b: "to all the nations." - The disciples are to proclaim this message "to all the nations" (Gk., ethné, lit. all peoples everywhere, which by definition includes Gentiles).
v. 47c: "beginning from Jerusalem." - This proclamation was to begin in Jeruslaem, but will not end in Jerusalem. Acts 1:8b afterward specified: "you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth." And that's our mission field today. The initial proclamation will take place on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem with Peter's sermon (Acts 2), which will emphasize the great theme of vv. 46-47 (above), namely: (1) the suffering and death of the Messiah (Acts 2:23, 36); (2) His resurrection on the third day (Acts 2:24, 31-36); and (3) the proclamation of repentance for forgiveness of sin for all nations (Acts 2:17, 21).
v. 48: "You are witnesses of these things." - A witness, by definition, is a person who has seen and experienced an event and can personally testify as to the truth of it. So, these disciples can testify to having seen Jesus after His resurrection (vv. 36-49); and they can likewise testify to having seen Him ascend to heaven (vv. 50-53). They will testify to these facts, not as hearsay but from their own personal knowledge. Jesus left them with no other plan. Now, after this, these disciples will go forth and testify as to what they have seen, and some of them will be killed as a consequence.
• There is still no other plan. We may not have seen the risen Christ with our own eyes, but we have experienced Him in our lives. Amen? Our responsibility-our assigned mission-is to tell this story as we have experienced it, and to do so at a cost, if necessary.
Luke 24:49 - CLOTHED WITH THE POWER FROM ON HIGH
49 And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
v. 49: We know this refers to the Holy Spirit, who has been promised by God the Father. In fact, the coming of the Holy Spirit had previously been announced by John the Baptist as a sign the Messiah had come (Luke 3:15-17). The Holy Spirit, when it came, would enable the disciples to fulfill their mission as "witnesses" (v. 48). This same Spirit indwells every believing Christian at the moment of salvation, and in this age, though we have never seen the resurrected Christ with our own eyes, the Spirit equips and empowers us to accomplish the same mission to: "be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8).
APPLICATION-The Plan for Witnesses:
1. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are facts in history that have been established by the testimony of witnesses. Jesus death on the cross was certified by the Roman authorities and His resurrection on the third day was seen by his eleven apostles and afterward seen by over 500 people.
2. As His witnesses, the mission plan Jesus gave His disciples as was to proclaim repentance and forgiveness in His name. Jesus told them that His mission plan would start in Jerusalem but the message would ultimately be proclaimed to all the nations. The Book of Acts reports in detail how this was accomplished from the day of Pentecost all the way through Paul's third missionary journey. There was no other plan.
3. As a key element of His plan, Jesus promised that His Father would clothe His witnesses with the Holy Spirit. In this age, the same Spirit indwells every believing Christian at the moment of salvation and equips them to be witnesses for Jesus Christ who proclaim repentance and forgiveness in His name. There is still no other plan.