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Home arrow Daniel arrow Luke 24:36-53: Appearance in the Room
Luke 24:36-53: Appearance in the Room Print E-mail
Sunday, 29 December 2013

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Luke wrote his gospel so that we could be certain about Jesus.  He tells Theophilus that he has written an orderly account so that he could have certainty concerning the things you have been taught (1:4).  Luke writes so that we can be certain about His birth, certain about His life, and certain about His death and resurrection.  So he tells us about the life of Jesus with great detail.  He tells us about how His birth came about and who witnessed it.  He tells us about His early life before His ministry began.  He tells us about His miracles: healing of lepers, feeding of thousands, raising the dead.  He records His teaching: on money, on Heaven and Hell, on being His disciple.  And He tells us how the religious leaders rejected Him and handed Him over to the Romans to be crucified, only to rise again on the third day, just as He had predicted.  Luke gives us all these details and more so that we can be certain that Jesus is both our Lord and Savior.

After the resurrection, Luke tells us of two appearances of Jesus: on the road to Emmaus and in the room to the rest of the disciples.  As we consider this second appearance this morning, Luke gives us three final realities to be certain about concerning Jesus: the resurrection, the mission, and the ascension.  Let’s consider these together as we finish our study of Luke’s Gospel.

Be Certain of the Resurrection (v. 36-43)

At this point on Easter Sunday, Jesus has not yet appeared to all of the disciples.  They are still trying to figure out what is going on.  The two disciples who had seen Jesus on the road had told them their story, but they still doubted.  Again, we see in their reluctance to believe the truth that they were not going to be easily convinced.  These men needed proof to believe in the resurrection.  And they got it.  Look at verses 36-37.  As they are discussing the report given by the two disciples who saw Jesus, He comes and stands among them.  Yet, when they see Him, they think that He is a spirit, some type of ghost or apparition.  Jesus does two things to show them that He is not a spirit.

First, He lets them see and touch His hands and feet.  Look at verses 38-40.  As we have said before, they should have believed.  Jesus told them that He was going to be killed in Jerusalem and that three days later He would rise from the dead.  But they just did not believe and so He shows them even more grace.  He has already offered His body for their sins at the cross and now He offers it again.  He holds out His nail-scarred hands and lets them touch His wounds.  He wants them to know that He has really died and really come back to life. 

Second, He eats a meal before them.  Look at verses 41-43.  Not only does He show them His hands and feet to prove that He is no spirit, He also eats in front of them.  A spirit would not be able to eat fish, but Jesus can.  His eating is a second proof that He is no spirit.

All of this points to the reality that Jesus was bodily raised from the dead.  He did not come back as a spirit or a bodiless soul.  He came back with a resurrected body.  Paul teaches us more about such a body in 1 Corinthians 15:35ff, but we see the evidence of it even here.  Jesus’ body is physical, it can be touched and can eat.  Even though it is not limited by space and time like our current bodies are, it is still a physical body.  In other words, it can walk through walls and vanish into thin air, while also being able to be touched and to eat.  It will be similar to our current bodies, but not the same, for this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53).  We get a glimpse of this reality in the resurrection of Christ.  Such a glimpse should cause us to be certain of the resurrection of Christ and not only that, but to be certain of our own resurrection as well.  It is almost too good to be true, as we see with the disciples, but it is true.  We can be certain.

Be Certain of the Mission (v. 44-49)

Jesus then addresses the disciples in verses 44-49.  Look at verses 44-47 with me.  These are important verses.  I wanted us to memorize them because they are a good summary of the mission of Christ.  He had come to fulfill what the Scriptures had said about Him.  Once again we see that the Old Testament is all about Jesus.  The three divisions mentioned here (the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms) represented all of the Jewish Scriptures.  Just as Jesus had done for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, He now does for the rest of them.  He opens their mind to understand how the Old Testament was all about Him.  We cannot read the Law and the prophets and the psalms without looking for Jesus.  If we do, we miss the point.  The disciples were trained (over the next forty days until the ascension) to see Jesus in all the Scriptures.  Thus, we should not be surprised when their writings repeatedly make connections with the Old Testament.  They are simply interpreting in the way that Jesus taught them. 

Yet, what did the Old Testament say about the mission of the Messiah?  Jesus summarizes: Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  This is what the Old Testament said that the Messiah would do and this is what Jesus has done.  He came, He suffered, and He came back from the dead on the third day.  What did His life and death and resurrection accomplish?  The simple answer is that it accomplished the forgiveness of sins.  This is what Jesus did for us at the cross.  He died in our place, for our sins, so that we could repent and be forgiven.  The New Testament will unpack this glorious reality, but Jesus makes it plain: He died and was raised for our forgiveness.

We see in the mission for Jesus our own mission as His followers.  Look at verses 48-49.  These men were eyewitnesses to what Jesus had done.  They had seen the miracles and heard the teaching.  They watched Him being nailed to the cross and felt the scars after He came back from the dead.  They saw the Scriptures fulfilled.  They were witnesses to the good news of His death and resurrection for sin.  From now on their mission in life will be to spread this good news from Jerusalem to all nations.  Yet, they cannot do this in their own power, so Jesus tells them to wait until they are clothed with power from on high.  He is referencing the giving of the Spirit which took place at Pentecost (Acts 2) and was also foretold in the Scriptures. 

We could call these verses the ‘Great Commission’ in Luke.  It is similar to the ones we see in John and Matthew.  The content is always the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection for sins.  The response is to repent and believe in Jesus, following Him as Savior and Lord.  The scope is not just one nation or some nations, but all nations.  And the power is always supplied by the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.  This is the commission that Jesus gave to the disciples.

Be Certain of the Ascension (v. 50-53)

Although Luke does not give us the timeframe here, he tells us in Acts that there were forty days between the resurrection and the ascension.  Thus, it stands to reason that Jesus taught the disciples more about the coming mission during that time.  Luke concludes his Gospel by giving us a brief account of the ascension of Jesus.  Look at verses 50-53.  As we have seen in this Gospel, the account is simple.  Jesus blesses the disciples and ascends to Heaven.  They worship Him and continue blessing God in the Temple.

Yet, what is the significance of the ascension?  First, we see in these verses that the disciples recognize Jesus for who is and worship Him as God.  Some do not believe that the disciples thought Jesus was God, but such a thought is refuted by this passage.  He blessed them and they worshipped Him.  Second, their response of worship indicates the goal of the gospel, namely the glory of God.  They knew what Jesus had done for them and it caused them to worship Him.  The promise is that all men who hear the good news and turn from their sins to trust in Jesus as Savior will spend their lives worshipping Him.  Finally, we know from other places in the New Testament, that the ascension teaches us that the work of our redemption is finished.  When His work was done, Christ left the earth and sat down at the right hand of the Father. 

The babe that Mary laid in that manger so long ago is now seated on the throne of Heaven.  He is there even now interceding on our behalf.  The author of Hebrews writes: Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).  Amazing.  Just as He began at the cross, Jesus is praying even now for our forgiveness.  He left the disciples to return to the Father as our Redeemer.  Can you imagine that scene in Heaven when the Son sat down at the Father’s side?  The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Immanuel, the slain Lamb of God, took His seat once and for all.  When He rises again to come to earth, history will end, and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.  Until then, the Risen King sits enthroned, interceding on behalf of His Bride and preparing Her for the coming Kingdom.

Luke wrote his Gospel so that we could be certain.  Certain about the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.  Certain about all that He has done, is doing, and will do for His people.  Maybe you are here this morning and you are just not certain if you want to really follow after Jesus.  Let me encourage you with everything that I am, be certain that Jesus has lived and died for your sins.  Be certain that He was raised again on the third day so that you could repent and be forgiven this morning.  Do not doubt, just believe.  Follow after the enthroned King today.

If you are a follower of Christ, then let me remind you of your mission: You are witnesses of these things.  We may not be eyewitnesses like those first disciples, but we are witnesses nonetheless.  This word from Jesus changed the trajectory of their lives forever and it should change ours as well.  Jesus put you on this planet to be His witness.  You are here to be a witness of the good news of Jesus Christ.  And it will cost you.  In fact, our word for ‘martyr’ comes from the word translated witness in this text.  We must take up our cross and lay our lives down to take the gospel to our neighbors and the nations.  We are to be certain and we are to be witnesses.  Through the power that only the Spirit can provide, we are to be witnesses for Jesus Christ for the good of others, the forgiveness of their sins, and for the glory of the King, till every tongue, tribe, and nation is gathered to worship before His throne.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~


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