Luke 24 Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Luke 24
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
SECOND SECTION

THE PERFECT TRIUMPH

CHAPTER 24:1–48

A. Over the Might of Sin and Death. LUKE 24:1–12

1Now [But] upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared [end verse with “prepared,”1], and certain others with them. 2And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. 3And they entered in, and [having entered in they] found not the bodyof the Lord Jesus.2 4And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout,behold, two men stood by them in shining [glittering] garments: 5And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye theliving among the dead? 6He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake untoyou when he was yet in Galilee, 7Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into thehands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8And they remembered9[or, called to mind] his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told [reported3]10all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them,which told these things unto the apostles. 11And their words seemed to them as idletales, and they believed them not. 12Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.4

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

General Remarks.—In the history of the Resurrection and Ascension also, Luke preserves the same character which we have already more than once remarked in him. In that which he communicates in common with the two other Synoptics, he is less detailed and exact than they, so that he must rather be complemented from them, than they, on the contrary, from him. But, on the other hand, he furnishes us new contributions to the knowledge of the Risen and Glorified Lord, the contents and tendency of which are in the most beautiful agreement with the broad humanistic character of his gospel, as will appear from the expositions of the individual accounts. The appearance on the evening of the first resurrection day he relates, Luke 24:36 seq., much more at length than John, and that our historical faith in a visible Ascension rests almost exclusively on his testimony, as well at the end of the gospel as at the beginning of the Acts, scarcely needs mention. Respecting the history of the Resurrection and its Enantiophanies in general, comp. LANGE on Matt., Luke 28. After that which is there so admirably remarked, we are at liberty to occupy ourselves exclusively with the account of Luke. “In resurrectione et vita, quam ostendit quadraginta diebus, reficimur el delectabilibus pascimur argumentis.” Bernard of Clairvaux.

Luke 24:1. Very early in the morning, ὅρθρου βαθέος, or, according to the reading of A., C., D., [Cod. Sin.] with an unusual ancient genitive βαθέως, see TISCHENDORF, ad loc. The account is immediately connected with Luke 23:56, and the women of whom Luke here makes mention can be no others than those of whom he has said, Luke 24:55, that they had come with Jesus from Galilee. Altogether arbitrary, therefore, is Bengel’s remark: aliœ, quœ non venerante Galilœa. Since Luke, Luke 24:10, mentions three of these women by name, and then adds, αἱ λοιπαὶ σὺν αὐταῖς,, the company, according to his account, consisted at least of five. Mary Magdalene all the Evangelists mention. Matthew and Mark speak of the other Mary, the mother of James. Mark mentions as third only the name of Salome, while Luke, in her stead, places Joanna as third. It may be that this difference may be explained from their having gone in two divisions to the grave (Lange); although it is, on the other hand, a question whether a going out in company at so early a morning hour is not psychologically more probable. It is difficult to establish anything certain here, but at all events, unreasonable, where the account of the one Evangelist complements very well that of the other, but does not exclude it, to consider difference and opposition, without further inquiry, as words of like signification.

Luke 24:2. The stone rolled away, τὸν λίθ.—By whom it had been rolled away appears from Matthew; with what unnecessary propositions and anxieties the women on the way to the grave had occupied themselves is related to us by Mark. After Mary Magdalene had viewed the stone that was rolled away, she hurries back to the city to bring this intelligence to Peter and John (John 20:2 seq.); this Luke is silent about, but, on the other hand, he describes to us the terror and joy of the other women in a vivid manner.

Luke 24:4. Two men.—“The angels are designated according to that form of manifestation which they had in the view of the women.” Meyer. As respects the well-known controversy as to the number of the angels, we are satisfied, instead of occupying ourselves with all the harmonistic schemes that have been in earlier or modern times thought out, to remind the reader rather of the well-known word of Lessing in his Duplik, where he, with a liberality strange to most of the modern critics, wrote: “Cold discrepancy-mousers, do ye not then see that the Evangelists do not count the angels? The whole grave, the whole region round about the grave, was invisibly swarming with angels. There were not only two angels, like a pair of grenadiers who are left behind in front of the quarters of the departed general; there were millions of them; they appeared not always one and the same, not always the same two; sometimes this one appeared, sometimes that; sometimes on this place, sometimes on that; sometimes alone, sometimes in company; sometimes they said this, sometimes they said that.”

Luke 24:5. Why seek ye.—In the redaction of the angels’ discourse in Luke, it is especially the groundlessness of the seeking of Him in the mansions of the dead who already is actually living, which especially comes into the foreground. The difference in the account of the angels’ address is an internal argument for its truth, since the women, in the agitation of the moment, could not possibly have stated correctly, and with diplomatic exactness, the intelligence heard, Enough that all the Evangelists concur in the main matter. “Thus is the fact of the first announcement of the resurrection of Christ represented to us, not in the form of its abstractly objective course, but taken together with its living working in the living image of the first Easter harmonies which it called forth. But these harmonies now do not present themselves in the measured mood of a unisonous choral, but in the form of a four-voiced very agitated fugue.” Lange.

Luke 24:6. When He was yet in Galilee.—The reminder of that which the Lord had uttered particularly in Galilee takes in Luke the place of the direction to go into Galilee, as the place where the Risen One should be seen again, as he, moreover, communicates afterwards no Galilean appearance whatever. The prophecies of the Passion, which the women had forgotten, were known to the angels. Why it is psychologically impossible that the women should now first remember again the predictions of our Lord’s resurrection if He had really so definitely uttered them (Meyer), we do not comprehend.

Luke 24:9. Told all these things.—Obediently to the express command of the angel, which Matthew and Mark state. The mood in which they return from the grave is also, in particular, not stated to us more particularly by Luke; on the other hand, we owe to him the account that they proclaimed the joyful message in a yet wider circle than merely to the Twelve, as we soon after shall learn, Luke 24:22–24, yet more particularly from the journeyers to Emmaus. Respecting the here-named women themselves, see on Luke 8:2, 3.

Luke 24:11. As idle tales, ὡσεὶ λῆρος, nonsense and superstitious gossip, crazy talk. Dutch: ydel geklap. That they also brought the intelligence with the same result to the ἀδελφοῖς of the Lord (Acts 1:14) is undoubtedly possible (De Wette), but by no means proved. The individual experience of the Magdalene, who is connected in Luke 24:10 also with the other women, and, according to John 20:18, gives her individual account, is, for brevity’s sake, passed over by Luke. It appears, however, from his condensed account, that she too found no better reception than the other messengers of the Resurrection.

Luke 24:12. Then arose Peter.—Comp. John 20:2–10. John is here unmentioned, but from Luke 24:24 it appears, at all events, that several of the disciples on this morning had gone to the grave. Had Luke, as Baur supposes, wished to place in the background the appearance vouchsafed to Peter by the narrative of the appearance which the journeyers to Emmaus experienced, then he might just as well have left this whole narrative of the apostles’ visit to the grave entirely unmentioned. As to the rest, in view of the brevity of Luke’s account, it cannot be a matter of surprise that he speaks of μόνα, but does not mention the σουδάριον (John 20:7).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. See LANGE on the parallels in Matthew and Mark.

2. “The re-awakening of the dead Christ has, humanly apprehended, something so sublimely touching and beautiful, that if it were a fable, as it is not, the truth of history would be wished for it.” Herder. To have comprehended the great miraculous fact on its purely human side especially, and to have described it, and thus to have brought it yet nearer to us on this side than was done by Matthew and Mark, this belongs to the incontrovertible merits of Luke.

3. The announcement of the Resurrection by angels, like that of the Nativity, was in the highest degree worthy of God, and the receptivity of the women for the objectively present angelophany was conditioned by their subjective frame of mind. No inventor would have contented himself with one or two heavenly messengers, when in the Christmas night a whole throng of the heavenly host had come down to earth. A Resurrection without such extraordinary circumstances would have been a spring without flowers, a sun without rays, a triumph without triumphal crown.

4. A remarkable agreement exists between the awakening of the first and of the second life of our Lord upon earth. In both beginnings we see doubters and anxious ones quieted by a heavenly messenger. In both the attendant circumstances are related at length, but over the commencing point itself of the life and of the Resurrection of our Lord there remains a mysterious veil. He is awakened by the power of the Most High, as He by the same power had been conceived (Luke 1:35; Rom. 6:4). By His Resurrection He becomes manifest as God’s Son (Rom. 1:4), as He had been named even before His birth (Luke 1:32).

5. The Resurrection of our Lord is, first, the Restoration of the life which appeared to be quite ended, while the broken bond between soul and body is again knit together; secondly, a Continuance of the previous life, wherewith the consciousness of its identity again awakes (Luke 24:39), the memory returns, and the objective fact acquires also subjective truth for the Risen One Himself; finally, the Glorification of the former existence, whose burdens now all fall away, so that the Risen One shows Himself entirely different from before, without being on that account another.

6. The Scripture testifies that Christ rose with a truly human body, from an actual sleep of death, in the literal sense of the word, out of the grave. Condemned, therefore, is the Docetic representation, by which either the reality or the identity of His body is doubted, or the manner of His resurrection so represented that it becomes entirely impossible to conceive a true corporeality (see, for instance, the essay of F. KUHN: Wie ging Jesus durch des Grabes Thür? Bonn, 1838). But not less is the coarser or more refined rationalistic interpretation, according to which the revivification of the Lord becomes only the awakening out of a seeming death, against the Scripture and the Christian consciousness. How would it be possible that the double expression of the self-consciousness of the Lord (Rev. 1:18), “I was dead, and behold I am alive again,” should contain in its second part objective, in the first only subjective, truth? Finally, we reject the one-sided symbolical interpretation, according to which the Resurrection history is regarded only as an unessential involucrum of religious ideas, not as a fact in itself (Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Strauss).

7. The possibility of the Resurrection of the Lord from the dead is a priori controverted by those who, in Pantheistic or Rationalistic wise, ignore every essential distinction between spirit and matter. Over against this we have simply to bring to mind that the justice of the fundamental anthropological views of unbelief is yet in no wise proved. To explain the possibility of the Resurrection so perfectly that one clearly sees that it, according to natural laws, not only can take place, but also must take place, is a preposterous requirement, since the fact precisely by such an explanation would lose the character of a miracle, and sink out of the class of the Miracula down into that of the Mirabilia. Enough that the possibility is grounded in the personality of the Lord, for whom death, not less than sin, as we have already previously reminded the reader, may be called something entirely and utterly preternatural. It is a folly to dispute about this possibility with such as deny the miraculous deeds of the earlier period of His history. Only when these latter are proved or allowed can we go farther, and find it also assumable and rational that He, although bodily in the grave, could not see corruption. Whether we have to conceive His Resurrection as the fruit of a quiet but regularly proceeding development in the grave, very much as in the dead pupa the arising life of the butterfly is, as in a closed laboratory, developed, or whether we have rather to assume a magnificent transition, in consequence of which the hitherto entirely senseless corpse in an instant was, as it were, streamed through with Divine life—this is a question to the decisive answer of which all fixed historical data are wanting to us. Enough that we have to conceive of the Lord’s Resurrection as being both the proper work of the Son (John 10:18), and as also a miraculous act of the Father (Acts 2:24). Whoever takes our Lord for that which He, according to His own word and according to that of His apostles, is, accounts the raising again of the God-man, wonderful as it is, as being in the highest sense of the word perfectly natural, since the presupposition becomes Christologically unreasonable that He should have remained in death. As to the conception of the miracle itself, there deserve here to be compared the weighty remarks of Schenkel, in GEZLER’S Protestant. Monatsblatt, 1833, and by Rothe in his Abhandlung zur Dogmatik in the Theol. Stud. u.Krit., 1858, i.

8. For the Lord Himself the hour of the Resurrection was, without doubt, an hour of blessed joy and glorious triumph, and then also an hour of hopeful preparation for the different revelations which He on the very first day bestowed on different friends in different places. We stand here at the entrance of one of the most remarkable transition periods of His outer and inner life, of a character almost like the transitions in His twelfth or thirteenth year. From henceforth He enters into an entirely different relation to His foes and to His friends, to the world of spirits, to the kingdom of darkness, to death and the grave, yea, in a certain measure, even to the Father. Hitherto we have learned to know Him as the Son who must yet become perfect and learn obedience by that which He suffered (Heb. 2:10; 5:8); now we find Him entirely perfected and purified, as it were, at the foot of His throne.5 An hour like this He had on earth never yet seen, and not less than at the Baptism (Luke 3:21), may we suppose Him now also to have consecrated the new life in prayer to the Father. Nay, as His whole first life may be named a preparation for His suffering and death, so now did His second life become a preparation for the hour of ascension. Perverted as it is essentially to identify Resurrection and Ascension (Kinkel, Weisse), as little may we forget that the two are most intimately united. With every day which removed our Lord farther from the empty grave He drew nearer and nearer to His waiting crown, and the blessed celebration of His victory coalesced with the still preparation for His coronation in an admirable unity, so that He, even on the first day, might speak of an entry into His glory, Luke 24:26. Yet scarcely do we venture to enter more deeply into this sanctuary. If we cannot even express what a glory and blessing is reflected in the Lord’s Resurrection, what must then the experience have been? In the appearances of the Risen One has His glory become most clearly visible for the finite eye, and to them we have, therefore, above all things, to give heed if we will learn to know Christ and the power of His Resurrection, Phil. 3:10. The fulness of detail with which Luke communicates to us the fourth appearance compensates in rich measure his silence respecting the first and the second, while the third, Luke 24:34, is only intimated by him. Respecting the number and sequence of these appearances, see LANGE, Matthew, p. 540 seq.

9. In view of the supreme moment of this miraculous fact, we cannot be at all surprised that it has been in manifold ways glorified by Christian art. Painting owes to it masterpieces of Raphael, Tintoretto, Paul Veronese, Caracci, Rubens, and others. In the most of these pictures Christ appears surrounded with heavenly glory, as He breaks the bands of death and swings the banner of victory, while the watchers of the grave are trembling and fleeing. Yet, in view of the difficulties of representing the moment of the Resurrection itself, perhaps the efforts to paint what immediately preceded or followed it deserve the higher esteem. The journey of the holy women to the grave, and the second appearance to Mary Magdalene, both by Ary Scheffer, belong to his most admirable masterpieces. Hymnology has been enriched by the Resurrection with the exquisite lays of a Gregory the Great, Ambrose, Gellert, Klopstock, Claudius, Manzoni, and others, [and our own Hastings, whose “How calm and beautiful the morn,” is scarcely equalled.—C. C. S.] The scene of the Easter bells in Faust has bestowed on Goethe a part of his own earthly immortality.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

General Points of view:—The Resurrection of the Lord—I. In relation to the history of the world. The vanquishing of the might of sin and death, which had revealed itself in all manner of forms, as well among Israelites as among the heathen nations; the implanting of a new principle of life in man and in mankind. The empty grave the boundary between the old and the new economy, 2 Cor. 5:17. The triumph of the might of light over the might of darkness in the course of the history of the world, typically expressed in the triumph of the second Adam over all the powers of darkness and death. II. In relation to Israel. The sublimest expectations of the Old Testament are fulfilled, Ps. 16:9, et alibi, and what there was typified in Joseph, David, Israel, that, namely, the way of humiliation led to the highest glory, was realized in unexampled measure. The triumph of the King of Israel, the beginning of the temporary overthrow, rejection, hardening of Israel, and yet also the pledge of its final re-establishment. The empty grave the dumb and yet eloquent accuser of the Messiah’s murderers. III. In relation to the Apostles and first friends of our Lord. His Resurrection the foundation of their renewal to a life of faith, hope, and love, after that all with His death had appeared lost. The Easter morning the commencement of a new period for every one among them and for their whole body. The certainty that their Master lives, bestows on their spirit new life, on their heart new joy, on their feet new strength, on their future, new hope. Even unbelief has seen itself forced to the acknowledgment that a transformation such as becomes manifest in the circle of the disciples between Good Friday and Whitsunday, can only be explained by their having believed in the great fact which the Easter morning proclaims. But how this subjective certainty could have arisen, unless from the objectively present fact, no apostle of unbelief has been able to explain to us in a way which, psychologically, and, much less, historically, has even any degree of probability. IV. In relation to Jesus Himself. The Resurrection is: a. the satisfactory solution of the otherwise entirely inexplicable events of His life, whereby the otherwise disturbed harmony of His life is again restored; b. the crown of His miraculous deeds, especially of His raisings from the dead; c. the seal of His declarations in respect to His own person and to His condition after His death; d. the decisive step on the way to His glorification, after the status exinanitionis now lay forever behind Him. V. In relation to the foundation of the Kingdom of God in general, the Lord’s Resurrection is the indispensably necessary condition, without which the coming forward of the apostles, the conversion of thousands of Jews, and the union of many thousand heathen with them in one spiritual body, must have remained something entirely inexplicable. VI. Nay, for the whole Doctrine of Salvation, Jesus’ Resurrection is the conditio sine qua non of the personal redemption, renovation, and resurrection of all His people. The certainty of reconciliation is not perfectly assured so long as it has not become manifest that the sacrifice of the Son has been accepted by the Father; on this account, also, Paul lays yet more weight upon the Lord’s Resurrection than even upon His death (Rom. 5:10; 8:34). a. The type, b. the ground, c. the power, of our Lord, we find offered only in faith on the Christ who has personally arisen from the dead, and it is by this great fact of the Easter morning that, a. the possibility, b. the certainty, c. the glory of our own resurrection, so far as we believe on Him, is triumphantly confirmed. All this offers to the Christian homilete on the highest feast of the church a so infinite wealth of points of view and considerations, that we can scarcely conceive how any one who has experienced in himself, at least incipiently, the truth of the apostle’s word, Gal. 2:20, could ever be able on this feast to complain that he had entirely preached himself out.

On the Section.—The first Easter morning; the realm of nature a symbol of the realm of grace, a. the gloomy night, b. the much-promising dawn, c. the breaking day.—The first pilgrims to the Holy Sepulchre: a. how mournful they go thither, b. how joyful they return.—The experience of the first female friends of our Lord on the day of His Resurrection a proof of the truth of the declaration, Ps. 30:5. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.—The stone rolled away.—How on Easter morning it began to be bright: 1. In the garden; 2. in the human hearts; 3. over the cross; 4. for the world; 5. in the realm of the dead.—The first Easter gospel: 1. The hearers; 2. the preacher; 3. the message; 4. the fruit of the sermon.—How unbelief mourns precisely for that which was to give it the first ground of hope.—The empty grave viewed not joyfully, but doubtfully.—The Easter morn a festal day for the angels of heaven also.—The fruitless seeking of the living among the dead: 1. Of the living Christ in the grave; 2. of the living Christian in the dust of the earth.—“He is not here,” for the first and only time the absence of Christ a source of inexpressible joy.—The coincidence and the diversity between the first Christmas night announcement and the first Easter morning announcement.—Jesus’ Resurrection the confirmation of His earlier and the pledge for the fulfilment of His later words.—Of how many words of the Master does the Christian become mindful at the view of the empty grave!—No command was on the Resurrection morning so often given and carried out, as that to proclaim the joyful message to others also.—The distinction between the unbelief of the first apostles and friends of Jesus in His Resurrection, and that of modern criticism.—Only the Risen Saviour Himself was able to put an end to the doubt and sorrow of His first friends.—They doubted, that we might not need to doubt.—The empty grave viewed by a fallen apostle; he: 1. Longingly entered it; 2. carefully examined it: 3. found it empty; 4. left it thoughtful.—The lovely harmony of the Easter evening arising from the manifold sharp dissonances of the Easter morning.

STARKE:—QUESNEL:—What one will do for love to Christ he must accomplish very soon and carefully.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—No stone is so great but the mighty Providence of God can lift it.—Believers often find Jesus not as they seek Him.—CANSTEIN:—The angels have ten times served the Son of God from His manifestation in the flesh to His Ascension.—God has many means and ways to comfort the terrified; if He does it not through the holy angels, yet it comes to pass through the angels of the church.—Bibl. Wirt.:—With God there is no respect of persons; to Him a woman is as good as a man, &c., Gal. 3:28.—The holy angels abide by the word of Christ.—CANSTEIN:—To forget Christ’s word brings trouble.—Sometimes weak women must be evangelists to men, that ought to be so strong.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—The secret of the Resurrection passes all men’s reason and thoughts.—Jesus, the Supreme Good, is worthy that we leave not off till we find Him.—OSIANDER:—Faith and unbelief wrestle sometimes in a man.

ARNDT:—The first rays of the glory of Christ in the dawn of the Easter morning: 1. The stone rolled away; 2. the glittering angels; 3. the hastening women.—KRUMMACHER:—In the miracle of the Resurrection we behold: a. the glory of the Father, b. the glory of the Son, c. the glory of the elect.—NITZSCH:—The happiness of the disciples of Jesus to be revivified by the resurrection of their Head.—FLATT:—The morning of the Resurrection of Jesus: 1. How it diffuses the brightest morning twilight over the earth, and in its light the morning of eternity beams kindly upon us.—W. HOFACKER:—The open grave of the Risen One: 1. An arch of His triumph; 2. a bow of peace denoting heavenly favor and grace; 3. a door of life for the resurrection of our spirit and our body.—RIEGER:—How God wills not that we should seek and anoint a dead Jesus in the grave.—AHLFELD:—The celebration of the first Easter.—SOUCHON:—The Easter preaching of the angel.—STIER:—The Resurrection of Christ the true comfort of all believers: 1. In tribulation; 2. in sin; 3. in death.—RAUTENBERG:—Easter among the graves: 1. The stone of the curse is rolled away therefrom; 2. there dwell angels therein; 3. the dead are gone out therefrom.—The great Easter consolation: 1. For sorrowing love; 2. for the troubled conscience.—SCHMID:—Easter the most glorious feast: 1. Of the most glorious joy; 2. of the most glorious victory; 3. of the most glorious faith; 4. of the most glorious hope.—JASPIS:—How we may celebrate Easter in the right spirit.

Footnotes:

[1]Luke 24:1.—The clause which follows in the Recepta, καὶ τινες σὺν αὐταῖς, is probably, as Kuinoel already conjectured, an interpolation from Luke 24:10. The words are wanting in B., C., [Cod. Sin.,] L., 33, Vulgate, Itala, and others, and are rejected by Lachmann, Tisohendorf, [Meyer, Tregelles, Alford.]

[2]Luke 24:3.—The words of the Recepta, τοῦ κυρίου ̓Ιησοῦ, are omitted in D. but appear in all the other uncials, and though rejected by Tisohendorf and marked as doubtful by Van Oosterzee, are retained by Lachmann, Meyer, Alford. Tregelles omits τοῦ κυρίου, following one Cursive, and some Versions. The great weight of authority, therefore, is for the words in question. A concordance of the Acts will show that “The Lord Jesus” is a favorite appellation with Lake, as Alford remarks. But the concurrence of both appellations would, as he also remarks, be quite sure to provoke the erasure sometimes of one and sometimes of the other, thus leading to a doubt of the genuineness and the consequent omission of both.—C. C. S.

[3]Luke 24:9.—Revised Version of the American Bible Union.—C. C. S.

[4]Luke 24:12.—Although Luke 24:12 is wanting in Cod. D. and moreover in the Syriac, Itala, Jerome, &c., yet it appears to be original and genuine, and only to have been omitted, because it appeared to conflict with Luke 24:24. An interpolator would, in the interest of harmony with John 20:1–10, not have neglected to mention also the ά́λλος μαθητής. The very incompleteness and fragmentariness of the report is an argument for its genuineness.

[5][The author, of course, by the word “purified” has anything in mind but a purification of the Sinless One from sin. But He is now purified even from the sinless infirmities which appertain to humanity as yet unglorified.—C. C. S.]

And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
B. Over the Despondency of Unbelief. LUKE 24:13–45

1. The Appearing to the Disciples of Emmaus (Luke 24:13–35)

13And, behold, two of them went [were journeying] that same day to a village called14Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs [stadia]. And theytalked together of all these things which had happened. 15And it came to pass, that, while they communed [were conversing] together and reasoned [or, were discussing], Jesus himself drew near, and went [journeyed] with them. 16But their eyes were holdenthat they should not know him. 17And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have [are interchanging] one to [with] another, as ye walk, 18and6 are [why are ye] sad? And the [om., the] one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and [the only stranger in Jerusalem who] hast not known the things which are come to pass there inthese days? 19And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before Godand all the people: 20And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned 21to death, and have crucified him. But we [for our part7] trusted that it had been he which should [was to] have redeemed Israel: and beside all this [or, yet even8 22with all this9], to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and [But also, ἀλλὰ καί10] certain women also of our company made us astonished, which wereearly at the sepulchre; 23And when they found not his body, they came, saying, thatthey had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the womenhad said: but him they saw not. 25Then he said unto them, O fools [ye without understanding, ἀνόητοι], and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:26Ought not Christ to have suffered [Was it not needful that the Christ should suffer11these things, and [so] to [om., to] enter into his glory? 27And beginning at [from] Moses and [from] all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures thethings [written] concerning himself [him12]. 28And they drew nigh unto the village,whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 29But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day [now13]is far spent. And he went in to tarry [stop] with them. 30And it came to pass, as he sat at meat [reclined at table] with them, he took [the] bread, and blessed it, andbrake, and gave to them. 31And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and hevanished out of their sight [ἄφαντος ἐγένετο ἀπ̓ αὐτῶν]. 32And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn [Was not our heart burning] within us, while he talked withus by the way, and [om., and14] while he opened to us the Scriptures? 33And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together,and them that were with them, 34Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared toSimon. 35And they told what things were done [took place] in the way, and how he was known of [recognized by] them in [the] breaking of [the] bread.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Luke 24:13. Two of them.—Not of the Eleven, from whom, Luke 24:33, they are definitely distinguished; nor even necessarily of the Seventy, who must not be conceived as a definitely established college; but of the wider circle of disciples who were now together at Jerusalem. Cleopas, Luke 24:18, accidentally named, because he appears speaking, is not the same with Clopas, John 19:25, but—Cleopatrus. In respect to the other, the conjectures are legion; some have understood Nathanael (Epiphanius), Simon (Origen), Luke (Theophyl. Lange), Peter, on the ground of Luke 24:34, and many others. The last conjecture rests upon a misunderstanding,—the next to the last has something for it, on account of the fulness of detail and the visible predilection with which this whole occurrence is delineated by Luke. Perfect certainty herein is, however, impossible, and also unnecessary.

Emmaus.—Mentioned also by JOSEPHUS, De Bell. Jud. vii. 6, 6. Comp. 4:1, 3. Not to be confounded with the city Emmaus, in the plain of Judæa, which lay 176 stadia from Jerusalem, was called in the third century Nicopolis, and by a misunderstanding of some ancient expositors was taken for the birth-place of Cleopas. The fathers Eusebius and Jerome already confounded the last-named city with our place, whose situation has been long uncertain. It appears that we have to seek the here-mentioned Emmaus nowhere else than in the present Kulonieh, which lies two full leagues from Jerusalem. Comp. among others, SEPP, l. c. iii. p. 653; and ROBINSON, Bib. Res.—Sixty stadia =1½ German miles, 7½ Italian miles, [=6¾ English miles]. It lay west from the capital, and the way, therefore, went past the graves of the Judges, by the old Mizpah, the dwelling place of Samuel, through a beautiful, charming district. But if it was ever manifest that nature alone cannot possibly satisfy the heart that has lost its Christ, it was on this day the case. Even into the sanctuary of creation do these wanderers take the recollection of the scenes of blood and murder, whose witnesses they had been in the last days. What they are conversing on together, we hear them themselves (Luke 24:18 seq.) make known more in detail. Apparently we may conceive that our Lord, in the form of a common traveller, came behind them and soon overtook them.

Luke 24:16. But their eyes.—According to Mark 16:12, the Lord appeared to them ἐν ἑτέρᾳ μορφῆ, and this, too, would of itself have sufficiently explained why they did not know Him at once. In no other form did He stand so ineffaceably deep before their souls as precisely in the form of His Passion and death. They are, moreover, not thinking of His resurrection, and least of all of His being immediately near, and how could they in this quiet, vigorous, dignified traveller, be able to recognize the Crucified One, languid in death. It is, however, not to be doubted that, with this natural, a supernatural cause must have concurred, or rather that our Lord used this ἑτέρα μορφή as a means to manifest Himself so to them that they should not at once recognize Him. The expression ἐκρατοῦντο τοῦ, points to a definite design of His love; He will remain yet some moments concealed before He at once makes their joy perfect. Comp. Luke 24:31. Had He wished at once to be recognized, He could at once have so revealed Himself that no doubt would have been possible.

Luke 24:17. And why are ye sad?—If we expunge with Tischendorf, on the authority of D., Syr., Cant. (B., L. have variations), the words καί ἐστε, we then get instead of a double only a simple question: What manner of discourses are they which ye, walking along mournfully, interchange with one another? At all events it appears clearly that He who interrupts their conversation wishes to induce them to grant Him a participation in their sadness. What He already knows He wishes to hear from their own mouth, and begins, therefore, with a question of the kind with which shortly before He had already introduced His revelation of Himself to Mary; while He then for a while is significantly silent, until Cleopas, sometimes speaking alone, sometimes relieved by his companion, has told everything which lies so heavily upon the heart of both. Without doubt, He not only became silently displeased at their unbelief, but also rejoiced over their love, although Cleopas, in the beginning of his reply, makes sufficiently manifest his dissatisfaction at being suddenly disturbed by a troublesome third party.

Luke 24:18. Art thou the only stranger in Jerusalem.—He takes the questioner for a παροικῶν, not exactly on account of the somewhat peculiar dialect (De Wette), but because he in a settled inhabitant of the capital would not have been able at all to conceive such an ignorance, and perhaps, also, because this traveller now, like themselves, after the Passover lamb had been eaten, seemed to be about to leave the capital. That, moreover, as a rule, every stranger must also have heard what now fills the whole capital and their own hearts, that they suppose is anything but doubtful.

Luke 24:19. Concerning Jesus of Nazareth.—Now the stream of their lamentations over their disappointed expectations breaks loose. From οἱ δὲεἶ πον it appears that both spoke, without its being possible precisely to distinguish their words, as some (Paulus, Kuinoel,) have attempted to do. Their anguish of heart is especially remarkable, since it showed what the Lord was in their eyes and remained, even in the moment when they had seen their dearest hope vanish. The official name CHRIST, they do not now take upon their lips, but respecting the name Jesus of Nazareth, they presuppose that it is sufficiently familiar to every one, in and out of Jerusalem. That He, although He had been reckoned among the transgressors, was a prophet and extraordinary messenger of God, such as, with the exception of John, had not appeared in Israel for centuries before, this admitted of no doubt. As such He had attested Himself by word and deed, not only in the eyes of the people, but also before the face of God—(ἐναντίον), and even after His death, it is impossible for them to mention the name of this ἀνήο otherwise than with reverence and love. They are not afraid to declare that in respect to Him an irreconcilable difference of opinion exists between them and the chiefs of the people. While these latter had delivered Him over to the punishment of death, they on the other side hoped that it had been He that should have redeemed Israel (ἠλπιζομεν, in the Imperf.) Of what nature their hope and the redemption expected through Him was, they do not more particularly make known. But enough, whether their expectation had had a more political or more religious direction, the grave was the rock on which it had suffered shipwreck. Perhaps after a short pause they continue almost rather to think aloud than to instruct the stranger, to whom their discourse, supposing that He was entirely a stranger, must have been almost unintelligible: “But it is true (ἀλλά γε, although we had cherished such hope, even hitherto had not wholly given up hope) it is also,” &c. This comes besides all this to make their feeling of disappointment yet greater. The first and second day, therefore, they had still had a weak hope, but now that also the third day is already half elapsed without the enigma having been solved, they do not venture longer to surrender themselves to this hope.

Luke 24:22. But also.—Thus they begin in the same moment when they are complaining over lost hope yet still to speak of that which to-day had somewhat fanned up again the already almost extinguished spark, in order finally to end with the acknowledgment of utter uncertainty and discouragement. Some women of the company of the friends of the Nazarene (ἐξ ἡμῶν) had astounded them, ἐξέστησαν (comp. Acts 2:12), so that they had entirely lost possession of themselves, and no longer knew what they had to think about the whole matter. Early in the morning, they said, these had gone to the grave, and had in all haste come back with the account that they had seen an appearance of angels, which had said to them that He was alive. (Καὶ ὅπτ., besides that they had not found there what they sought, they had, moreover, seen what they did not seek, and had heard what they could not believe.) It is worthy of note, how the Emmaus disciples in an artless manner confirm the narrative of the visit to the grave, and the experience of the Galilean women. At the same time it appears from the immediately following: καὶἀπῆλθόν τινες τῶν σὺν ἡμῖν, that according to Luke also, not Peter alone (Luke 24:12), went to the grave, but also others, so that by this plural the visit to the grave among others by John (Luke 20:2–10), is tacitly confirmed. According to Stier, we should not by τινὲς ἐξ ἡμῶν even understand apostles at all, but members of the more extended circle of disciples, to which these two also belong, who on the other hand had also instituted the requisite investigation, so that on this day there had been thorough confusion and distraction. Possible undoubtedly. But, however this may be, this investigation had led to no happy result. It is true, they had found it, sc. τὸ μνημεῖον, as the women had said, that is κενόν, and so far, they could make no objection to the credibility of their account. But further than this the deputed disciples had been as far from discovering anything about the angels as about the Lord, and if He had really risen, could it be then that no one had seen Him Himself?—But Him they saw not.—The last word is a sufficient excuse for their believing themselves obliged to bid farewell to all hope.

Luke 24:25. Then He said unto them.—In the demeanor of the supposed stranger there must have been something that irresistibly impelled them to speak continually more confidentially to him, as he on his side suffered them without disturbance to pour out their hearts. Nothing would have been easier than just as with Mary, to turn their sorrow into joy by the utterance of a single word; but the Lord designs to bestow on them something higher than a transient, overwhelming impression. Now His turn came to speak, and when they think He will now begin deeply to commiserate them, He begins, on the other hand, in all severity to rebuke them. He assumes the tone of an experienced Rabbi, and gives them to understand that the cause of their whole inward suffering lies entirely within themselves. He calls them ἀνόητοι, unreceptive on the intellectual side, καὶ βραδεῖς τῇ καρδία, τοῦ πιστεύειν ἐπὶ πᾶσιν, κ.τ.λ upon this last here the emphasis visibly falls. That they had believed something He does not dispute, but their faith had been one-sided, and had, therefore, been able to kindle no light in the dark night of their soul. Here also, want of understanding and sluggishness, discouragement of heart and will, stand simply alongside of one another, but so that we have to understand the second as the deepest ground of the first. It was so dark before their eyes for the reason that they had been so slow of heart to the belief of the whole truth. Not so much from the head to the heart, as rather from the heart to the head, does divine truth find its way, and no one can here understand what he has not inwardly felt and experienced.

Luke 24:26. Was it not needful?—The Lord speaks of a necessity that was grounded in this truth—namely, that all these things had been foretold. That which had been a matter of offence to them had been for this very reason, according to a higher order of things, inevitable, and they could not possibly have been so driven hither and thither if they had given such heed as they ought to the prophetic annunciations respecting the suffering Messiah.—And (thus) enter into His glory.—What had seemed to them incompatible with the glory of the Messiah was precisely the appointed way thereto. The Lord does not mean that He is already entered into His glory (Kinkel, a. o.), but speaks as one who has now come so near to His glory as that He sees the suffering already behind Him. (Supply δεῖ, Meyer); εἰσελθεῖν, designation of the glory as a heavenly state.

Luke 24:27. And beginning, ἀρξάμενος.—Emphatic indication of the consecutive character of His discourse, so that He began with Moses, and afterwards went on to all the prophets, in order to demonstrate to them therefrom what in these related to His person or His work. It is true, “it is much to be wished that we knew what prophecies of Jesus’ death and glory are here meant,” (De Wette), but when the critic continues: “There are not many to be found which admit of application to this,” then above all things the inquiry would be authorized, whether his Hermeneutics stand in full accord with those of the Lord Jesus, and if not, whether the former might not submit to a revision according to the principles of the latter. Whoever consults the manifold expressions of Jesus and the apostles in reference to the prophecies of the Messiah, needs not to grope around here in entire uncertainty, if only he does not forget that our Lord here probably directed the attention of His disciples less to isolated passages of Scripture than to the great whole of the Old Testament in its typical and symbolical character. Truly an hour spent in the school of this Master is better than a thousand elsewhere.

Luke 24:28. He made as though, προσεποιεῖτοἅπαξ λέγομενον in the New Testament (except in the clause John 8:6). On a dissimulation which would make a more or less set defence of our Lord’s sincerity requisite, we have here, of course, no right to think. He could not act otherwise if He would still retain the character hitherto assumed; He will not act otherwise, because He will not only enlighten their understanding, but also make trial of their heart; He would actually have gone farther had they not held Him back with all the might of love. Apparently He now shows Himself ready to say farewell to them with the usual formula of benediction, but already they feel themselves united to Him by such holy bonds that the thought of separation is entirely unendurable. Entreating with the utmost urgency, they invite Him in (παρεβιάσαντο, comp. Luke 14:23; Acts 16:15), and point Him to the sun hurrying to its setting, in the living feeling that their spiritual light also will set if He should leave their company. They wish to remind Him that He cannot possibly continue His journey in the night (comp. Gen. 19:2, 3; Judges 19:9), and desire that He should therefore turn in with them; since probably one of them possessed a dwelling at Emmaus, where a simple supper was awaiting them.

Luke 24:30. He took the bread.—It will scarcely need any intimation that here it is only a common δεῖπνον, not the Holy Communion that is spoken of, and still less a communio sub una specie, which Romish expositors undertake to prove, e.g., SEPP, iii. p. 656, with an appeal to this passage. On the other hand, we might find a proof here that the κλάσιςτοῦ ἅρτου (Luke 24:35), in the New Testament, is not as a rule the same thing as the Lord’s Supper. The guest simply assumes, on the ground of a tacitly acknowledged superiority, the place of the father of the house, and utters the usual thanksgiving, to which, according to the Jewish rite, three who eat together are expressly obliged. See BERAC. f. 45, 1. But whether He has anything peculiar in the manner of breaking the bread and uttering the blessing that reminds them of their association with the Master in earlier days, or whether they now discover in His opened hands the marks of the wounds, or whether He Himself refers them back to a word uttered before His death,—enough: their eyes are now opened. Διηνοίχθησαν, according to the antithesis with Luke 24:16, intimation of a sudden opening of their eyes, effected by the Lord Himself, and for which He has used as a means, Luke 24:35, the breaking of bread. In consequence of this they now recognize Him, who up to this moment had been wholly unknown, so that they are not only fully persuaded of the identity of this person with Jesus of Nazareth, but at the same time also inwardly know Him in His full dignity and greatness.—And He vanished out of their sight, ἄφαντος ἐγένετο, ex ipsorum oculis evanuit.—Not in and of itself, perhaps (see MEYER, ad loc.), but in connection with all that which we learn further respecting the bodily nature of the Risen Redeemer, the expression appears undoubtedly to give us to understand a sudden vanishing of the Lord, a becoming invisible in an extraordinary way, not αὐτοῖς, but ἀπ̓ αὐτῶν (Beza), in which, of course, we need not exclude the thought that the Lord used therefor the confusion and joy of the first moment after the discovery. See below, in the Doctrinal and Ethical remarks.

Luke 24:32. Was not our heart burning within us, καιομένη.—Expression of extraordinary emotion of soul. Ps. 39:3; Jer. 20:9. If one could have asked the disciples of Emmaus whether they had meant an affectus gaudii, spei, desiderii or amoris, upon which the expositors dispute, they would have failed, perhaps, to give a satisfactory answer. Enough—they will express an indefinable overpowering feeling on the way during the Lord’s instruction (loquebatur nobis, id plus est quam nobiscum, Bengel), and even by that ought to have recognized the Lord, so that to them it is now even incomprehensible that their eyes were not earlier opened. It is a good sign for their inner growth that at this moment it is not the breaking of bread, but the opening of the Scripture which now stands before the eye of their memory.

Luke 24:33. The same hour.—The day has indeed yet further declined than in Luke 24:29, but if it were even already midnight, they must now hastily return to Jerusalem, in order to announce the joyful message. What the women do at the express command of the angel, and Magdalene, at the command of the Lord, this the two disciples carry out at the impulse of their heart. The meal, also, they leave apparently untouched (comp. John 4:31–34), and know no higher need than together to make the event known. As commonly, so here also the labor of love is rewarded with new blessings; since they come to give, they receive for their faith an unexpected and longed-for strengthening. Here we have indeed one of the few cases in which it might in good earnest have been questioned, whether it was more blessed to give or to receive.

The Eleven gathered together.—As appears from John 20:19, with closed doors, which, however, were soon opened to the brethren who even as late as this, desired admission. Then are they for a greeting received with a jubilant choral: “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon!” “One of the most glorious moments in the Easter history, an antiphony which God has made.” Lange. They answer then, on their side, with the narrative of that which happened to them in the way (Luke 24:35), and how the Lord had been recognized by them in the (ἐν), not exactly at the breaking of bread (which would not suit so well to the miraculous representation, Luke 24:31). Thus do they spend an hour of blessed celebration, which, without their knowing it, becomes again the preparation for an evening appearance.

Luke 24:34. Hath appeared unto Simon.—There is no ground for understanding this ὥφθη of a merely transient, momentary seeing, as Stier, ad loc. will have it. Without doubt we must here understand an appearance, which not less than that, e. g., bestowed on the women deserves this name. He was, therefore, the first of all the [male] disciples on whom the privilege was bestowed, according to Chrysostom: ἐν ἀνδράσι τούτῳ πρῴτῳ, τῷ μάλιστα αὐτὸν ποθοῦντι ἰδεῖν, or μἀλιστα χρήζοντι. Unquestionably this appearance was that which had preceded that to the Emmaus disciples, after Peter had already heard the friendly καὶ τῷ ΙΙέτρῳ (Mark 16:7). Chased hither and thither by fear and hope, he had probably wandered around the city in solitude. Perhaps he had just come back from the visit to the grave, which Luke has described, Luke 24:12, (John 20:2–10), and is asking himself whether, even if the Master is again in life, there is also hope that he shall see Him; when this supreme privilege becomes his portion. What there took place between him and the Master has remained a holy secret between both, which even his fellow-apostles have not sought to inquire into, but have rather respected. However, even by this, the later appearance by the sea of Tiberias and the reinstatement in his apostolic function did not become superfluous for Peter, and we must, therefore, so far regard the comfort and the refreshment which was given him in this hour as a preliminary, although already a rich and blessed one.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The appearances of the Risen Lord were for His first disciples of altogether inestimable value. Their understanding was thereby healed, partly of doubt, partly of injurious prejudices; their heart was thereby comforted when it was burdened by sadness, the sense of guilt and anxiety for the future; their life was thereby sanctified to a life of spiritual communion with Him, of united love among themselves, of vigorous activity, and immovable hope. The period of forty days after the Resurrection of the Lord was at the same time the second period in the history of the training and developing of His apostles, one which was noticeably diverse from the first.

2. The appearances of the Risen One present on the one hand a remarkable coincidence, on the other hand a remarkable diversity. All agree in this, that they fall within the sphere of the senses, beginning or ending in a more or less mysterious manner, and for the purpose of showing that the Lord was really alive, and that He was for His friends ever the same as before His death. They may, therefore, all be named in the fullest sense of the word revelations of His glory, sometimes of His love, sometimes of His wisdom, then again of His knowledge and of His faithfulness; yet, at the same time, each appearance has something which characterizes it above others, even as the colors of the rainbow are different from one another and yet melt into one another. Before Magdalene the Risen One uses no food; she recognized Him at a single word. The instruction respecting the Scriptures which was bestowed upon the Emmaus disciples, Thomas does not also receive. His unbelief sprang from another source, and was revealed in another way than theirs. Only one appearance (John 21:1–14) is accompanied by a miracle. In the others the First Fruits from the dead stands Himself as the Miracle of miracles before us. At one time He instructs the erring ones before, at another time after, the hour of meeting again; here His appearance flashes by like a lightning stroke, there it is like the soft, lovely shining of the morning sun. Before Mary we see Him appear especially in His High-priestly, before the Emmaus disciples in His prophetic character, while He reveals Himself in the evening appearance as the King of the kingdom of God, who legitimates and despatches His ambassadors. The form also in which He comes to His disciples is different (Mark 16:12), even so the way in which He persuades them that He is alive. All are prepared for His appearance in different ways, but each one again finds in the meeting an individual necessity satisfied. With the Emmaus disciples He proceeds a way sixty stadia long. Past the women He slowly hovers as an appearance from the higher world. The appearance before Mary and the women bears on the side of the Lord the tenderest, that before the disciples, without and with Thomas, the most composed, that before James, before Peter, at the sea of Tiberias, the most mysterious; that on the mountain in Galilee, that before the five hundred brethren (1 Cor. 15:6) the most sublime, that before the Emmaus disciples the most human, character. No wonder that John comprehends the appearances of the Lord under the general conception of His σημεῖα (John 20:30), and that the history of all these different revelations has been at every age considered as one of the mightiest supports of our faith in the historical reality of the Resurrection.

3. The appearance before the Emmaus disciples bears in the whole narrative an inner stamp of truth which can be better felt than described. It is unreasonable to wish to correct, word by word, the brief notice (Mark 16:12, 13), by the detailed account of Luke; but this is evident enough, that both relate the same thing, and as respects the discrepancy between Luke 24:34, and Mark 16:13, one must be utterly out of his place in the psychological sphere if he could not see how in a circle like this in a few moments faith and unbelief might dispute the mastery with one another. If we assume either (Bengel) that they at the beginning (Luke) believed and afterwards (Mark) doubted, or the reverse (Calvin), there will in neither case be anything hard to understand in the representation that the Eleven and those with them at the beginning received the journeyers to Emmaus with believing joy, but yet so long as they had themselves not seen the Master, were agitated by so many difficulties and doubts that the Lord, in a certain sense, might reproach them with their ἀπιστία, Mark 16:14. Whoever barely strains words, without trying the spirits, will never understand the deep harmonies of the Easter history. If we take pains to do the latter, we find in the fulness of detail with which Cleopas speaks of his hopes and fears, and the only half-intelligible mention of the third day, in the outspoken condemnation of their chief priests and leaders before an utter stranger, in the word about the burning heart, such a truth, freshness, and naturalness that we can scarcely refrain from writing the apostle’s words, 2 Peter 1:16, upon this leaf of the Resurrection history also. The same may be said of the appearance to Peter; there is, alas, wanting to us a more particular account in reference to this entirely unique scene, worthy of the pencil of a Raphael, but some compensation for this lack is offered us by the recollection that the frugality of the Evangelists on this very point, the embellishment of which must have been for the inventor an irresistible temptation, affords a new proof for its faithfulness and credibility. The same inner character is displayed by every appearance in greater or less measure, if closely considered; and so far from the force of this proof admitting of weakening by the oft-repeated objection: Why did not the Lord show Himself to His enemies? (see as far back as ORIGEN, Contra Celsum, ii. Luke 63, and elsewhere) this very thing is a new proof of His holiness, wisdom, and love. His holiness could not do otherwise than account those who had resisted the Light of the world, even to death, unworthy of this honor. His wisdom forbade Him by an outward appearance to constrain them to a faith which at best would have filled them with new earthly expectations, while He besides this foresaw plainly enough that no appearance before Caiaphas, before the chief priests, or before the leaders, would accomplish the desired purpose. Comp. Luke 16:31; John 12:10; Matt. 28:11–15. Nay, His love reveals itself in this also, that He veils the full glory of the Resurrection from hostile eyes. That the Son of God had not been accepted in His servant’s form might yet be forgiven, but if He had been viewed in the glory of His new life, and even yet stubbornly rejected, this would have admitted no other retribution than an irrevocable judgment. Our Lord would thus, if He had appeared without success before His enemies, have made the preaching of the Gospel among them entirely impossible, for how could He have yet sent His ambassadors without prejudice to His dignity, with the hope of any fruit, to those who, after mature consideration, had again despised Him and thrust Him from them? Would not rather an appearance to them have been in direct conflict with the peculiar nature and the special purpose of His new life? Would the testimony of the Sanhedrim have really been then more likely to have been acceptable to any one than that of His disciples, whose persevering unbelief in the fact of His Resurrection was only overcome after much difficulty, and therefore, at all events, forbids us to consider them in this point as superstitious? If we take all this together, there is indeed not a single ground why in the Church of the Lord the jubilant tone of “The Lord is risen indeed,” should resound in the least more weakly than on the first Easter evening.

4. The appearance before the Emmaus disciples is one of the strongest proofs of the high value which the Lord places upon the prophetic Scriptures, and upon the predictions of His suffering and of His glory. Whoever denies either the existence or the importance of these Vaticinia, finds himself not only in decided conflict with the believing church of all centuries, but also with the Lord Himself.

5. The whole conversation of our Lord with these disciples has a strong symbolical character, which Christian Ascetæ and Homiletes have ever brought to light with visible predilection. (See below.)

6. “When Jesus in temptation holds our eyes, so that the soul neither can nor may recognize, that is good, for soon will joy, light, and comfort follow; but when the sinner holds his own eyes, and will not recognize Jesus, that is evil, for he incurs danger of eternal blindness and darkness.” (Starke.)

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. Ps. 133:1.—The way from Jerusalem to Emmaus a devious way, whereupon the Great Shepherd of the sheep who is risen from the dead (Heb. 13:20), seeks the wanderers.—About what do disciples love best to speak when they are intimately together?—The living Christ the Third in every Christian friendship.—Jesus is already near to us, even when we believe Him yet distant.—The invisible Witness of our hidden communings with our friends.—“Why are ye so sad?” this is the question with which the Risen One, on the feast of His Resurrection, comes to all the weary and heavy-laden.—The publicity of our Lord’s history a palpable proof of its truth.—Our Lord demands the full confidence of His disciples, not for His sake, but for their sake.—Jesus’ prophetic mission carried out by His words not less than by His deeds.—The complaint of disappointed hope: 1. How sorrowful it sounds when the Lord abides in death; 2. how quickly it is silenced when it becomes plain that He is risen indeed.—Love to the Lord stronger than shaken faith and frustrated hope.—Him they saw not: 1. The deepest sorrow of the Easter morning; 2. the source of the highest Easter joy.—How good it is, with our unbelieving difficulties and complaints not to go away from Jesus, but directly to Him.—The rebukings of the risen Lord not less sweet than His most pleasant visitations.—Want of understanding in the spiritual sphere born of sluggishness of heart.—One-sidedness in faith.—The Scripture cannot be broken, John 10:34.—The connection between suffering and glory for Christ and the Christian: 1. Suffering prepares the way for glory; 2. suffering is transformed into glory; 3. suffering endured heightens the enjoyment and the worth of glory.—Word and spirit: 1. One must already know the Scripture if the Lord is to explain it to us; 2. the Lord must explain it to us, if one is to understand the Scripture well.—The heaviest trials of faith often immediately precede the most glorious visitation of grace.—“When only No appears, only Yea is meant.” [Wenn lauter Nein erscheinet, ist lauter Ja gemeinet.]—WOLTERSDORF:—“Abide with us,” &c., admirable text for New Year’s Eve, at the last communion of the year, and when not? What this prayer: 1. Presupposes; 2. desires; 3. obtains.—The prayer in the evening hours: 1. Of the day; 2. of the kingdom of God; 3. of life.—The Lord allows Himself not to be called on in vain.—Even yet must our eyes be open if we are to become rightly acquainted with the Prince of life.—Even yet the Lord reveals Himself to His people in surprising, unmistakable manner, but even yet for only brief fleeting moments.—How our Lord yet reveals Himself to His disciples in the breaking of bread (Communion at Easter). In this we may show how the risen Lord at the Communion: 1. Still seeks like disciples; 2. still satisfies like necessities; 3. still requires like dispositions; 4. still prepares a like surprise, as at and after His appearance to the disciples at Emmaus. The burning heart of the genuine disciple of the Lord.—The communion of saints: 1. Most ardently sought; 2. blessedly enjoyed; 3. richly rewarded.—The appearance to Peter: 1. A proof of the love of Jesus, a. Jesus appears to the fallen Peter, b. to Peter first, c. to Peter alone; 2. an inestimable benefit for Peter; it bestowed on him, a. light instead of darkness, b. grace instead of the feeling of guilt, c. hope instead of fear; 3. a welcome message of joy for the disciples of Emmaus; it served, a. to strengthen their faith, b. to determine the demeanor of all in reference to Peter, c. to prepare them for new revelations at hand; 4. a school for us, a. of faith, b. of love, c. of hope.—Christ our life: 1. What life would be without Christ, Luke 24:13–24; 2. what it may become through Christ, Luke 24:25–31; 3. what it must be for Christ, Luke 24:32–35.—The living Christ the best guide; come and see how He: 1. Kindly seeks out His own; 2. lovingly listens to them; 3. graciously instructs and rebukes them; 4. wisely proves them; 5. ineffably surprises and rejoices them.—The manner in which our Lord reveals Himself to the disciples at Emmaus a prophecy of the surprise which He reserves in heaven for His people.—The returning Emmaus disciples teach us: 1. To look back thankfully; 2. to look around lovingly; 3. to look upward and forward hopefully.

STARKE:—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—When one speaks of Jesus and remembers His death, yea, His Resurrection, then does he live.—CANSTEIN:—Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.—In sadness and temptation Christ appears not to be present, but He is there, only we know Him not.—With melancholy people we must always go to the bottom if we will heal and make them sound.—Oh! that Christ among so many Christians were not a stranger! John 1:26.—An intimate conversation of teachers and hearers remains not without blessing.—If great people will not have evil said of them, neither must they do evil.—BRENTIUS:—Faith and unbelief have, especially in the hour of temptation, a hard battle.—The soul will have Jesus Himself.—Comfort belongs not to the erring until they have come to thorough knowledge of their faults.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—Nothing is harder than faith.—The grounds of our faith are the prophetic Scriptures, 2 Peter 1:19.—HEDINGER:—The sun is bright, indeed, but not to a blind man.—Christ is the best Expositor of the Holy Scriptures.—Let the course of this life be burdensome as it will, we come yet at last to the goal.—LANGII Opera:—O how rare are examples of those who receive a rebuke so that they for that love a teacher better.—Prayer is a firm cord which holds the Almighty, who also is glad to be held.—Opened eyes of the understanding distinguish spiritual men from natural.—Where Jesus hides Himself, there it is time to rise and neither to hope for rest nor joy till we have found Him again.—Even unbelievers may yet become believers,—despise not that which is weak.—Every Christian for whom God has done great things is bound to relate the same.—LUTHER:—Only see how God with special providence guides His people.

HEUBNER:—Love to the Risen One is a true bond of friendship.—Jesus is often not among us because we speak not of Him.—Oft is God long hidden to us and His ways a riddle.—Jesus knows very well what oppresses thee.—Jesus wins from His disciples the confession of their faith.—Who only lives in earthly hopes, cheats himself.—The hearts of men hope where there is nothing at all to be hoped for, and despond where hope shows itself near by.—The glory of the Risen One is the prize of His suffering.—The saints are never more zealous, never keep faster hold of God, than when they fear to lose Him.—Christ the best comfort in the evening of life, better than Cicero de Senectute.—The more unbelief spreads itself abroad, the more should we pray that the Lord may abide with us.—Every enjoyment is sanctified through Christ.—At last there comes after trials and gloom the blessed hour of revelation.—There comes a time when Jesus never vanishes again.—Jesus’ words inflame the heart; the words of Christless men are cold and powerless.—The journey of the disciples to Emmaus an image of our journey of life.—The new life of the disciples of Jesus after His Resurrection as a presage of the future blessed life.—The progress from weak to strong faith.

On the Pericope.ARNDT:—The twofold Easter celebration: 1. Of those whose eyes are holden; 2. of those whose eyes are opened.—RUDELBACH:—The soul-winning art of Jesus.—CHR. PALMER:—By what do we know the nature of the living Saviour, although we do not see Him?—BRASTBERGER:—The blessed condition of a soul that knows and believes: The Lord Jesus is risen indeed.—FRESENIUS:—True Christians as spiritual pilgrims who are sometimes weak, sometimes become strong.—AHLFELD:—The pilgrims of Easter evening.—PALMER:—The leadings of Providence which the Risen Saviour causes His disciples to experience.—SOUCHON:—Jesus scares away sadness.—STIER:—When must and oughtest thou to believe that the Risen Saviour is peculiarly near to thee?—Dr. W. HOFFMANN (Luke 24:26):—The Divine Must.—RIEGER:—The Risen Saviour a companion in journeying who certainly is glad to company with us, and in what way He companies with us.—DIETZ:—The gradual rising of the Easter light in the soul of man: 1. How mournful life is without Easter light; 2. What bars the way to our hearts against the Easter light; 3. how in the soul of man the Easter begins to dawn; 4. how the full Easter light rises in his soul.—BOBE:—The intercourse of the Risen One with the disciples of Emmaus as an intimation where we are to seek and find the Lord.—BURK:—The wished-for abiding of the Lord with His people.—The holy employment of the living Jesus.—VON HARLESS:—The way to faith on the Risen One.—RAUTENBERG:—Easter in our way through the world; it here becomes Easter when the Risen One: 1. Shows Himself to us; 2. instructs us; 3. gives us strength to return home.—Shall we also constrain the Risen One to abide with us?

Footnotes:

[6][Luke 24:17.—Cod. Sin. has here a singular variation; instead of ἐστε σκυθρωποί, it has εσταθησαν σκυθρωποι. If this be genuine, it would depict the displeased silence in which the disciples stood for a moment on being interrupted, as they supposed, by an unsympathizing stranger, broken at last by the reply of Cleopas.—C. C. S.]

[7][Luke 24:21.—Expressed by the ἡμεις ἠλπίςομεν instead of the simple ἠλπίζομεν.—C. C. S.]

[8][Luke 24:21.—That is, as Bleek explains it, “notwithstanding these hopes which His prophetic works and words justified, it is already the third day after His crucifixion.”—C. C. S.]

[9]Luke 24:21.—Καί after ἀλλά γε is with good reason received into the text by Lachmann and Tischendorf, [Meyer, Tregelles, Alford,] according to B., D., [Cod. Sin.,] L.

[10][Luke 24:22.—The ἀλλά in Luke 24:21 and this in Luke 24:22 appear to indicate how the mind of the speaker was repelled from one conjecture to another, finding none tenable—C. C. S.]

[11][Luke 24:26.—“Παθεῖν καὶ εἰςελ.=παθόντα εἰσελ. It was not the entering into His glory, but the suffering, about which they wanted persuading.” Alford.—C. C. S.]

[12][Luke 24:27.—Αὐτοῦ, not αὑτοῦ.—C. C. S.]

[13]Luke 24:29.—́́Ηδη. Reading of B., [Cod. Sin.,] L., Cursives, Vulgate, Coptic, Slavonic, &c. Bracketed by Lachmann. [Omitted by Tischendorf; accepted by Meyer, Tregelles, Alford.—C. C. S.]

[14][Luke 24:32.—The και of the Recepta appears to have been interpolated to connect the clauses. B., D., [Cod. Sin.,] L., 33, Cant., Origen do not have it. See Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Meyer, Tregelles, Alford.]

And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
2. The Appearing at Evening (Luke 24:36–45)

(Parallel with Mark 16:14–18; John 20:19–23)

36And as they thus spake, Jesus [he15] himself stood in the midst of them, and saithunto them, Peace be unto you.16 37But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposedthat they had seen a spirit. 38And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and whydo thoughts arise in your hearts [heart17]? 39Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

40And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.18 41And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat [anything to eat, βρώσιμον]? 42And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, 43and of a honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them. 44And he said unto them, These are the [my19] words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Luke 24:36. He Himself stood.—As appears from John 20:19, though the doors were closed. Suddenly He stands there, without any one knowing how He has come in, ἐν μέσῳ, id significantius quam in medium, Bengel. They hear the voice which they would have known again from thousands, and which repeats the wonted salutation of peace, which, however, from these lips and in this moment had an infinitely higher significance, which involuntarily reminds the disciples of the farewell benediction, John 14:27. With this word begins the evening appearance, which we unhesitatingly venture to name the crown of all His appearances on the Resurrection day. Till now He has satisfied individual needs, but now He comes into the united circle, into the first church of His own. No appearance had been so long and so carefully prepared for as precisely this; all that had been seen or heard besides on this day, were so many single beams which were to be concentrated into this focus. In no appearance, moreover, did our Lord reveal Himself with so many infallible signs (Acts 1:5), and so victoriously overcome the unbelief of His first witnesses, as here. For their whole inner life, yea, for the founding of the kingdom of God upon the empty sepulchre as its foundation and corner-stone, was this evening of the highest significance and greatest worth. Nor can we wonder, then, that not less than three Evangelists give testimony to what here took place, each in His peculiar way. Mark, who visibly hurries rapidly to the end, does this only briefly in Luke 24:14, and proceeds, Luke 24:15 seq., to the general concluding account John places before our eyes what here took place, on its most inward spiritual side, and relates, moreover, that Thomas to-day was not in the company. Luke, on the other hand, maintains his character as Historiographer, by communicating the external course of what here took place, and with special detail, as physician, gives the visible and sensible proofs of the new life and corporeality of the Lord. Without making any further distinction between hours and days, he lets this evening appearance, with which for the true and inner life of the apostles everything was decided, coalesce with the last commands of the departure of the Lord as He blessed them, Modern criticism which would prove that our Lord, according to Luke, went to heaven on the very day of His Resurrection, and that, according to Mark, from a closed chamber, had here, therefore, in view of the fragmentary character of these last lines of the Evangelical history, an exceedingly easy work, but has unequivocally shown its lack of good will to connect these fragments into a well-ordered whole. We believe ourselves fully in the right when we consider Luke’s account respecting the evening appearance as ended in Luke 24:43, and see in Luke 24:44 the beginning of the last promised precepts which the Lord, according to all the Synoptics, imparted to His disciples shortly before His departure from the earth.

Luke 24:37. Terrified and affrighted.—From John 20:20, also, it appears that the disciples only became joyful after the Lord had shown them His hands and side, and that they, therefore, even a moment before, were terrified and affrighted. Even the manner of His entrance must have contributed to this, and however much they had begun to be prepared by all the events of the day for this meeting, yet this surprise must have come upon them the more strongly as the message of the angels had directed them to Galilee, and they, therefore, could by no means reckon on an appearance of the Master in the midst of them this very evening at Jerusalem. In their heart now prevails, as at evening in nature, a mixture of light and darkness. There is no longer the hopelessness of spirit, the bewilderment and uneasiness of early morning. The need of speaking together about the many enigmatical, nay, self-contradictory experiences of this day, has united them. In the hearts of some a spark of faith has arisen at Simon’s account; it is these who with joy greet the Emmaus disciples (Luke 24:34). With others, however, even after the account given by these latter, the understanding yet reluctates to yield adherence to that which the heart above everything desires. To these doubts is now added fear of the Jews, anxious care for the future; grounds enough for the Lord in His appearance to rebuke them in His peculiar way (Mark 16).

Luke 24:38. Why are ye troubled.—With this question begins the rebuke of unbelief. They believe that they see a departed spirit which has returned from Hades, φάντασμα, an umbra veiled in the semblance of a body, and, therefore, in a certain sense, a dead man; He will show them that it is He Himself who stands living before them, and this not in a seeming but in a real body, although one in the commencement of its glorification. We must represent to ourselves the immeasurable contrast between the mood of our Lord, who has peace and gives peace, and over against that the feelings of those who, as it were, will with trembling hands, scare back the supposed spectre into the spiritual world, and through their unbelief disturb our Lord’s enjoyment of the noblest evening of His life—this must we do in order to comprehend the whole value of the condescending goodness with which He in this address stoops to those of little faith. He asks them why thoughts, that is, scruples of a discouraging nature, doubting and gainsaying thoughts, arise in their hearts, since they without such wretched misgivings ought at once to have recognized Him as their living Master, and now He even encourages them to do what He had not even permitted to Mary. In order to convince them not only of the reality but also of the identity of His appearance, He will have them feel His hands and feet, nay, Himself, His body, and, moreover, especially the exposed places which bear the traces of the wounds of the cross. “But not merely as the signs of His crucifixion for the identification of His body did the Saviour show His wounds, but manifestly as signs of victory, proofs of His triumph over death. Moreover, therefore—and this is properly the deepest sense of His entering salutation—as the signs of peace, the peace of the sacrificial death, of the completed atonement.” Stier.

Luke 24:40. He showed them.—To the word He added, therefore, the deed of His love. Apparently they now actually touched with reverence the places indicated. Therefore John could afterwards justly speak of that which their hands had handled (1 John 1:3), and it becomes doubly explicable why Thomas so decidedly demanded just this sign. He will in no respect be inferior to the others.

Luke 24:41. While they yet believed not for joy.—A profoundly psychological expression, which betrays the hand of the Evangelist-physician, and makes palpable to us the overwhelmingness of the joy which John (Luke 24:20), not without indirect retrospect to the promise of the Lord (Luke 16:22), so strikingly describes. First, the fact in their eyes was too terrible for them to be willing to believe. Now, it is too glorious for them to be able to believe. The anxiety as to yet possible illusion is the last dam which yet checks the stream of joy. In a similar temper of mind Jacob, perhaps, was, Gen. 45:26.—But now that matters have come so far, our Lord rests not until He has completely accomplished His work on His disciples.

Luke 24:42. Broiled fish … honey-comb, ἀπὸμελισσ.—Honey of bees, such as in Palestine is frequently found in clefts of the rock and in hollow trees, so that it may literally be said of the land: “a land flowing with milk and honey;” to be distinguished from the honey of grapes and dates, which even at the present time is everywhere there prepared and exported in various forms, and which appears to be spoken of in Gen. 43:11. The here-named viands constituted, perhaps, the remains of the already ended supper of the disciples, who, perhaps, during the last days had, in the upper chamber of the unknown house in which our Lord celebrated His last Passover and elsewhere in the capital, a definite place of meeting. The objection that in the Old Testament angels also had eaten without possessing a true human body, could now no longer arise in the hearts of the disciples, since they had previously touched Him. Without further delay our Lord takes the food and eats it before their eyes, and they—drank with full draughts from the cup of the most blessed delight.

In this word and in this sign consisted, according to our opinion, the rebuke of the unbelief which Mark, in his summary statement (Luke 24:14), designates as the characteristic feature of this particular appearance. We account this, at least, as much more probable, than that our Lord, even after and besides that related by Luke, should have embittered the joy of this evening to His disciples by the holding of a severe preaching of repentance after they had recognized and believed Him. Then we should also have to assume that they had brought up something in their own excuse, as indeed, according to JEROME, Advers. Pelagium 2. in quibusdam exemplaribus el maxime in Grœcis codicibus, they did, where we read respecting the apostles: “Et illi satisfaciebant, dicentes: sœculum istud iniquitatis et incredulitatis substantia est, quœ non sinit per immundos spiritus veram Dei apprehendi virtutem, idcirco, jam nunc revela justitiam tuam.” The internal improbability of this addition, however, strikes the eve at once, but it deserves note how precisely that part of the evening appearance, which John exclusively relates, reveals again entirely the spirit of this apostle, visibly alludes back to a part of the farewell discourse, and is related also with the contents of the Synoptical gospels, comp. John 20:21 with Matt. 10:40; Luke 24:22 with Matt. 10:21, 22; and Luke 24:33 with Matt. 28:18. The second greeting of peace which he mentions, Luke 24:21, we are to place after all related by Luke, and to regard as the beginning of the farewell which our Lord actually takes, with His command and His promise, Luke 24:21–23. Peace is, therefore, here in the fullest sense of the word the first, and peace the last tone of the harmonious Resurrection-bell.

Luke 24:44. And He said unto them.—So far to be parallelized with Mark 16:15–18 as this, that Luke, on his part also, adds immediately to the evening appearance some commands and promises of our Lord, which He uttered shortly before His departure, although it is undoubtedly possible that Luke 24:44, 45, still belong to the history of the evening. Yet it is, in view of the intimate connection of the different elements of discourse, Luke 24:44–49, more probable that Luke here also already relates by anticipation what took place immediately before the farewell, comp. Acts 1:4–8. Not that the whole didactic activity of the Risen One is, therefore, here described in general (Ebrard), but out of the rich treasure of the bequest of his Lord’s word, the third Evangelist also, on his part, communicates various things, without its being possible, in Luke 24:44–49), to show the place where a mention of the forty days, Acts 1:3, had to be inserted. Whether Luke, however, in the Acts, followed another tradition than the gospel in respect to the conclusion of the history of Jesus’ life, we believe that we must doubt. At least we find in the two narratives of the Ascension not a single feature contradictory to other features. For the Evangelist certainly gives by no means assurance at the end of his first book that our Saviour went on the very day of His Resurrection to Heaven. He here leaves the time entirely unmentioned, while he in the second work gives more particular explanations thereupon.

These are My words.—A somewhat abrupt beginning, which, however, does not by any means allude back to what immediately precedes. Our Lord, on the other hand, holds here, before He parts from His disciples, a grand retrospective review of His now almost accomplished earthly career. Even in the last meeting He holds up before their eyes the mirror of the Scriptures, to which He had so often directed them, and speaks of the days when He was yet with them, as of a period forever closed, which should now no more be continued through bodily manifestations.

In the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms.—As our Lord previously also had not satisfied Himself with bringing up several times, out of different parts of the Scripture, particular prophecies, and even before His death had given testimony to the Old Testament as a whole, Matt. 23:35, so does He here also bring up the three chief portions of the canon, in order to indicate therewith that He points to the Scripture in its unity. The Psalms are here named as the beginning of the Hagiographa, and, at the same time, as the portion which in this contains the directest Messianic elements, even as the prophets do, and these two are therefore joined together as one by the omission of an article between.

Luke 24:45. Then opened He.—As elsewhere in the Scriptures, so also in Luke, it is emphatically placed first, that not only the Scripture must be opened for the understanding, but also the understanding and the heart for the Scripture, in order to understand the truth aright. See Luke 24:32; Acts 16:14; and comp. Ephes. 1:18. Whether the Evangelist means the mediate or immediate opening of the understanding cannot, in view of the brevity of the expression, possibly be decided; but, unquestionably, it was such an one as was brought into effect directly by the Risen One Himself. How necessary this was even to the apostles of the Lord had been sufficiently shown by their scandal at His death, and their unbelief as to His Resurrection. What fruits it bore is to be seen on the first Whit-sunday, and afterwards in their epistles. Had it been indubitably certain that Luke was relating something that belongs to the first evening, we should then, perhaps, be able to suppose that he has in mind the same symbolical act of our Lord which is described John 20:22. In view of the brevity and the fragmentariness of the sacred narrative, it is, however, difficult to state here anything trustworthy.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. See on the parallels in Mark and in John.

2. The evening appearance gives us weighty information as to the corporeality of the Risen Redeemer. As is known, there has sometimes been ascribed to the Risen One a common human body, and everything which the sacred narratives contain that is mysterious surrounding His coming and going has been placed to the subjectivity of the Evangelists, and sometimes it has been asserted that He only showed Himself in a seeming body to His people (Kuhn, Marheinecke, Zeibig, and others). In opposition to both, this appearance especially gives us ground to assume that He bore a true but not common, a glorified, but not a merely seeming human investment; in a word, the same body, but with entirely different properties. In order to become acquainted with the nature of this His body, we are not, as so often is done, to apply our own conceptions of such a vehiculum as the standard of judging the evangelical narratives, but directly the reverse, to form our conception of a matter to us empirically entirely unknown, from and according to the evangelical narratives. The whole polemics of unbelief (e.g., STRAUSS, ii. p. 674) proceeds from the unprovable proposition that what holds good of a man not yet dead must also hold good of one risen. Precisely because here every analogy is wanting, it is also entirely inadmissible to borrow from our daily experience an argument against an account of an entirely unique condition. With greater right may we from the seeming contradictions of their statements, which we may well believe did not remain concealed from the Evangelists, thus derive an indirect argument for its strict objectivity. If we inquire, therefore, what conception we, according to their historically credible account, have to form of a glorified body, and especially of that of the Lord, we obtain about the following answer: It is palpable, not only as a whole, but also in its different parts; raised above space, so that it can in much shorter time than we transport itself from one locality to another; gifted with the capability, in subjection to a mightier will, of being sometimes visible, sometimes invisible. It bears the unmistakable traces of its former condition, but is at the same time raised above the confining limitations of this. It is, in a word, a spiritual body, no longer subject to the flesh, but filled, guided, borne by the spirit, and yet none the less a body. It can eat, but it no longer needs to eat (“Aliter absorbet terra aquam sitiens, aliter solis radiis candens,” AUGUSTINE, Ep. 49. “Cibo minime utebatur ad necessitatem, sed ut veritatem humanœ suœ naturœ suis comprobaret;ZWINGLI, in Hist. Dom. Resurr. p. 60); it can reveal itself in one place, but is not bound to this one place; it can show itself within the sphere of this world, but is not limited to this sphere. Thus does the Resurrection of the body appear before us adorned with a threefold character of true freedom and beauty, and we are not surprised that with all the attractiveness of our Lord’s appearance to His people, yet, nevertheless, something mysterious respecting His personality hovered before their eyes, of which they were scarcely able to give an account to themselves, See, for instance, John 21:12.

3. Even so does the evening appearance deserve to be named a brilliant revelation of the inner life of the Risen One. There is a reflection of heavenly peace diffused over His whole being, and the comparison between the forty days of His second life and those of His temptation in the wilderness furnishes matter for a continuous antithesis. His whole previous life lies as a completed whole before His eyes, and the marks of the nails which He bears have become the honorable insignia of His love, and yet it is plainly shown that His word, “It is I Myself,” is, in the most extended sense of the word, true, and that death has indeed changed His condition, but not His heart. As the appearance at the Sea of Tiberias, John 21:1–14, shows a noticeable coincidence with the miraculous draft of fishes, Luke 5:1–11, so also does this evening appearance with the walking of our Lord at night upon the water of the sea, John 6:15–21. There also He finds His disciples terrified, but rejoices and composes them by lovingly assuring them of His nearness, and stills with a single word the storm which had risen in their heart. Just such appearances as this could afterwards give His witnesses the right to utter themselves in so decided a tone as Peter, e.g., Acts 10:40–42.

4. Christian Anthropology has to thank this appearance of the Lord for declarations which confirm the specific distinction between spirit and body, define the conception of spirit, and raise above all doubt not only the objective, but also the subjective, identity of the man before and after his death.

5. In the Lord we behold the image of that perfection prepared beyond the grave for all His people, a peace subject to no disturbance, a glorified body that no longer checks the spirit, but serves it; a clear, yet no longer painful, recollection of the previous life, with its now accomplished conflict; a blessed fellowship and reunion with all who are here connected with us by bonds of the Spirit; an unimpeded continuation, for the glory of God, of the activity interrupted by death. This, and yet far more, which no eye hath seen and no ear hath heard, will the life of the Resurrection be for the subject and for the King of the Divine kingdom.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

And at evening time it shall be light, Zech.14:7.—The King of peace in the midst of unquiet subjects.—The Easter feast a feast of Peace.—How faith on the Risen One bestows peace: 1. In the doubting understanding; 2. in the disquiet of conscience; 3. in the sorrows of life; 4. in the fear of the future; 5. in the view of death.—Unbelief embitters to itself even the most exquisite hours of life.—How the Lord gradually lifts His people to the participation of His peace.—“It is I Myself:” 1. The Lord feels that He is the same; 2. He shows that He is the same; 3. He will as the same be recognized and honored by His own.—When the disciple of the Lord is doubtful, the Risen One still shows him His hands and His feet, nailed through for His everlasting salvation.—Not all unbelief is equally guilty.—“When I was yet with you,” the looking back out of the future into the present life.—The prophetic Scripture the best key: 1. To the enigma of the manifestation of Christ; 2. to the enigma of the life of the Christian.—As a WHOLE will the Scripture be regarded and esteemed.—Not to isolate, but to combine, the way to the knowledge of the truth.—Our Lord: 1. Kindles the light for the eye; 2. opens the eye to the light.

HEUBNER:—Jesus Himself seeks out His disciples to strengthen them.—In reference to the realm of spirits, unbelief, superstition, and faith are to be carefully distinguished.—The Christian should be unterrified even amid the presentiments of a higher world.—The Lord will hereafter be yet recognizable even as Man.—The marks of Jesus’ wounds are fearful to His enemies, precious to His friends.—The difficulty of faith in Christ exalts its value and its power.—Christ’s love is not altered by His exaltation.—He received from them bodily food, and they receive spiritual food.—The Resurrection of Christ impresses on His words the seal of truth.—The understanding of Scripture is indispensable to religion.

On the Pericope.—HEUBNER:—The first evening which the Risen One spent in the midst of His disciples.—The blessed consequences of the Resurrection of Jesus to His disciples.—The certainty of the testimony of the disciples for the Resurrection of Jesus.—ARNDT:—The Easter evening, what did it bring to the apostles? what did it bring to us all? 1. Full certainty; 2. deep peace; 3. apostolic power.—PALMER:—Our Lord’s: 1. Greeting; 2. commission; 3. promise (John 20:19–23).—DIETZ:—What is the way in which one arrives at Easter peace?—ALBRECHT:—What the glorious gift of Christ has brought us with His Resurrection: 1. Peace before us; 2. within us; 3. among us; 4. around us.—KRAUS-SOLD:—Where do we find the peace of God which the world cannot give?—AHLFELD:—What the Lord has brought to His people from the grave: 1. Himself; 2. His peace; 3. the last seal of His Resurrection (comp. John 20:22).—COUARD:—The blessed activity of the Risen One in the circle of His disciples.—BOBE:—Whereby do we attain to a blessed faith?—See further on John 20:19–23.

C. Over the Opposition of Israel and the Heathen World. (Intimated LUKE 24:46–48)

46     And [He] said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to [written that the Christ should suffer and should20] rise from the dead the thirdday: 47And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among48[or, for] all nations, beginning at [from] Jerusalem. And [om., And] ye are witnesses of these things,

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Luke 24:46. And He said unto them.—In the organic articulation of this last chapter of Luke there is found a noteworthy climax. After he, in the narrative of the first Easter Message, has pointed us to the victory which the Risen One had accomplished over the might of sin and death, he has in a triad of appearances delineated the triumph which He celebrated over the doubt and unbelief of His first disciples. But the nearer the Lord comes to the final goal of His earthly manifestation, so much the more strongly does it come into view that the conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah is continually pressing forward ad altiora. It is true, His words only testify by intimations as to the victorious hope with which He casts a parting look upon the whole Jewish and heathen world before He bids His disciples the last farewell. Here also He begins with the mention of the word, in order then with a promise of the Spirit to conclude His meeting with His own and His instructions to them.

Thus it is written.—Yet once again a γέγραπται, as at the beginning of His first life. We might assume (Meyer) that ὅτι was meant to indicate the cause why He had opened their understanding (Luke 24:45), if here the thread joining the different elements were not so slack that it perhaps appears better not to undertake the stating of any connection. The mention of the Resurrection on the third day is perhaps an indirect proof that at least these words of our Lord were not uttered on the day of His Resurrection. Here also, as to the rest, as in Luke 24:26, and throughout the Apostolic writings, suffering and glory are inseparably joined together.

Luke 24:47. And that … should be preached, κηρυχθῆναι also depends upon γέγραπτι and sets forth to us the preaching of the Gospel among the Gentiles and Jews, as the fruit of the Divine predetermination and of the fulfilment of the prophecies. According to Matthew and Mark also, the Lord, upon His departure from the earth, gives a commission for a general preaching of the Gospel, but in Luke again it bears a peculiar character. It is, first of all, a κήρυγμα ἐπ̓ ὀνόματι Ἰησ., that is, a preaching which takes place on the basis of this name, and therefore borrows the significance and authority from Him in whose name and in whose commission it takes place. Withal it must proceed from Jerusalem, and from there spread itself over all the nations. Comp. Acts 1:8. A proof of our Lord’s great love of sinners on the one hand, and of the world-vanquishing destiny of the Gospel on the other hand, and which in the broad Pauline Gospel of Luke stands surely in its just place. Finally, while elsewhere there is only mention of the Gospel in general, here in particular μετάνοια and ἅφεσις τῶν ἁμαρτ. are spoken of. Even as was the case with John the Baptist, and afterwards with the apostles, see Acts 2:38; 3:19; 26:18.

Luke 24:48. Witnesses of these things.—Meyer, who here perhaps binds himself almost too strictly to the letter, insists on referring this τούτων not only to our Lord’s death and Resurrection, but also to the just-mentioned commission for the proclamation of the Gospel. But precisely because they were to carry out this latter they could not at the same time be witnesses thereof, and, strictly speaking, the Ascension of the Lord, which at this moment had not yet taken place, would have had then to remain excluded from their testimony. Nowhere are the apostles represented as witnesses of that which they themselves accomplished, but everywhere as witnesses of that which the Lord had done. Therefore, we think it is better to refer τούτων to all the here-named facts of the life of the Lord, which was concluded by His departure to the Father, the great centre of which was, however, the Resurrection, comp. Acts 1:8, and 22.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The preaching of the Gospel proceeding from Jerusalem directed to all nations, the fulfilment of the prophetic word, Ps. 110:2; Is. 2:2–4; Micah 4:2–4.

2. The preaching of Repentance and Forgiveness most intimately connected together. The μετάνοια is an alteration of the inward disposition, which precedes πίστις, upon which latter the ἅφεσις τῶν ἁμαρτ. follows. The faith, however, in this latter, which is granted and received freely, must of itself lead to ἁγιασμός, the continuation of μετάνοια.

3. Christian missions here appear before our eyes as an institution of the Lord Himself, and as a holy vocation of the church. The apostles have not to remain at Jerusalem until the last Jew shall receive their testimony, but, on the other hand, after having there made the beginning, they must then as soon as possible extend as widely as possible the circle of their activity, and found the kingdom of God by means of their testimony. All which in the activity of supposed or real successors to the apostolic commission does not coincide with the actual witnessing function is here indirectly, but plainly enough excluded. Precisely, then, when the messengers of the Gospel are nothing more and nothing less than witnesses, do they walk in the footsteps of Him who Himself has been The Faithful Witness upon earth, John 20:22; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 1:5.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The institution of the preaching of the Gospel the last and noblest command of our Lord.—The command to begin the preaching of the Gospel at Jerusalem: 1. Surprising to the enemies; 2. beneficent for the friends of the Lord; 3. honorable for Himself.—This command a proof of: 1. The historical truth; 2. the heavenly origin; 3. the blessed goal of the Gospel.—As the Gospel proceeded from Jerusalem so will it return to Jerusalem.—Even yet the inner renewal must begin nowhere else than from the sinful Jerusalem in the heart.—The Commission for the preaching of the Gospel: 1. What must be preached? 2. in what name? 3. from whence? 4. how far abroad?—What the world owes to the last commandment of the Lord.—The preaching of the Lord a testimony: 1. Of Whom? 2. through Whom? 3. for Whom?

STARKE:—Christ directs His disciples to the Scripture not less than His enemies.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—Repentance, forgiveness, &c., the blessed fruits of Christ’s Resurrection.—Without repentance no forgiveness.—OSIANDER:—The apostles’ writings concerning Jesus are a genuine testimony, for they have testified to what they saw and heard, and, moreover, have received from heaven. Who, then, would not believe them?—HEUBNER:—The main substance of the Christian preaching is Repentance, and Forgiveness of sins.—The Risen One is Lord of the earth.—Whoever gainsays the apostles gainsays Jesus.

Footnotes:

[15]Luke 24:36.—The ̔Ιησοῦς of the ‘Recepta, accepted even by Scholz, is omitted by some authorities, by others placed aftor ε͂στη. An explicative addition, occasioned by the beginning of a lesson.

[16]Luke 24:36.—There is no ground for regarding this Easter greeting of the Lord, with Tischendorf, as not genuine. What Lachmann, however, has bracketed, ἐγώ εἰμι, μὴ φοβεῖσθε, a reading of G., P., &c, appears to have been taken from John 6:20.

[17]Luke 24:38.—̓Εν τῆ καρδία. Internally more probable reading of Lachmann and Tischendorf, [Meyer, Tregelles, Alford,) after B., D., Itala. [Cod. Sin. agrees with the Recepta.—C. C. S.]

[18]Luke 24:40.—Tischendorf omits this verse, on the authority of D. and some Versions. Tregelles brackets it. Meyer suspects it of being, as well as κ.λ.α. Εἰρ. ὑμ. in Luke 24:36, an interpolation from John 20:19, 20. Alford retains it, remarking with force, that if it were interpolated from John we should certainly have in some MSS. πλευραν instead of ποδας, either here only or in Luke 24:39 also.—C. C. S.]

[19]Luke 24:44.—Οἰ λόγοι μου. Tischendorf, according to A., D., K., L., U., [X.,] 33, Coptic, Cant., &c.

[20]Luke 24:46.—According to the reading of Tischendorf, οὓτως γέγραπται παθεῖν, κ.τ.λ., [Meyer, Tregelles, Alford. Lachmann brackets the suspected words.—C. C. S.] The addition of the Recepta: καὶ οὕτως ἕδει, appears to have been interpolated for the sake of perspicuity, and is wanting in B., C.1, D., [Cod. Sin.,] L., Coptic, Æthiopian, Itala, &c.

And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
THIRD SECTION

THE GLEAMING CROWN

CHAPTER 24:49–53

The Prophetic Promise; the Priestly Benediction; the Kingly Glory

(Parallel with Mark 16:19; Acts 1:3–9)

49And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem [om., of Jerusalem21], until ye be endued with power from on high. 50And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.51And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried upinto heaven.22 52And they worshipped him,23 and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:53And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.24 Amen.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Luke 24:49. I send the promise of My Father.—Here the Lord speaks of the Holy Ghost, comp. Acts 1:4–8, whom He had often before His death repeatedly promised, and He calls Him an ἐπαγγελία πατρός, not quia sibi promissum (Grotius), nor merely inasmuch as God has promised the bestowment of the gifts of the Spirit by prophetic oracles (Meyer), but with retrospective reference to utterances like John 14:16, et alibi, and to the symbolical act, John 20:22. That this first actual, but yet preliminary and prophetical, communication of the Spirit did not, therefore, exclude a later but abundant communication on the day of Pentecost lies in the nature of the case. The meaning of our Lord is given more fully by Luke when he, Acts 1:4, makes Him speak of the promise of the Father, η̊ν ἠκούσατέ μου.

Καθίσατε.—The command which Luke gives to remain in the Capital is in conflict with Matthew (De Wette) only if we consider the silence of the former respecting the Galilean appearance as a denial, and forget that this last command was only given after this and immediately before the Ascension of the Lord. The remaining at Jerusalem was to be not only a μένειν, but a retired, although temporary and not long continued καθίζειν, because they must there wait till the promise of the Spirit was fulfilled, and they were not to wait in vain, but to be clothed with δύναμις ἐξ ὕψους, in consequence of the fulfilment of the promise of the Father. It is noticeable how Luke, at the end, as also at the beginning of his gospel, Luke 1:35, unites most intimately the conceptions of Spirit and power, without, however, entirely identifying them. As to the rest, we must compare Acts 1 with this whole concluding address and with the account of the Ascension, and in the treatment of this first chapter of Acts there will be occasion to discuss both more at length.

Luke 24:50. He led them out.—Out of Jerusalem, where He was, together with His disciples, on the fortieth, as well as on the first day.—As far as Bethany (ἕως εἰς, as far as to the neighborhood of Bethany. The reading of Lachmann, who has πρός B., does not appear to us worthy of acceptance.) The statement of the Acts that the disciples returned from the Mount of Olives is only apparently in conflict with this, if we consider that it was over this mountain that the way to the beloved Bethany passed, which lay on its eastern declivity; then the proceeding to this mountain, from whose summit our Lord appears to have ascended, may be called a leading out to the neighborhood of Bethany, although our Lord no longer entered into the last-named place. Perhaps, also, the name Bethany was given, not only to the particular village, but also to the whole region round about, to which also the Mount of Olives belongs. Thus, also, is the tradition justified which designates as the actual place of the Ascension, not the plain, but the middle of the three summits of the Mount of Olives, while, according to it, the angelic appearance shortly after the Ascension took place upon the highest summit. See SCHUBERT, l. c. ii. p. 519.

He lifted up His hands.—Comp. Lev. 9:22. After the prophetical promise, there follows the high-priestly benediction, as it were from the threshold of the heavenly sanctuary into which He is about to enter. “Jam non imposuit manus.” The Epistle to the Hebrews, with its Pauline coloring contains the more particular elaboration of this beautiful image, in which the nature and destiny of the whole earthly and heavenly life of the Lord are, as it were, completely symbolized. In the midst of (ἐν), not after (μετά), thus blessing is He parted from them. Διέστη ἀπ̓ αὐτῶν, He goes back a few steps from them, and immediately after that He is taken up. The passive ἀνεφέρ. does not require us to understand angels or other means by which He was lifted up from the earth, but it leaves room, at all events, for the cloud of which Luke, in His more particular account, Acts 1:9, speaks.

Luke 24:52. With great joy.—Even in such little additions the fresh Pauline character of Luke does not belie itself. That they could now rejoice, in spite of the separation, nay, even over the departure of the Lord, because He was thereby exalted unto glory, and they should now soon receive the promise of the Father, is a speaking proof of the great progress which they in this forty days had made in this school of the best of Masters.

Luke 24:53. In the temple.—More particularly defined “in the upper chamber,” which probably belonged to the buildings of the temple, Acts 1:12; 2:1. In the Doxological conclusion of his gospel also, Luke shows himself a genuine Paulinist, comp. Rom. 11:36

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Although the account of the Ascension at the end of the Gospel of Luke, considered entirely by itself, and from a strictly historical point of view, does not perfectly satisfy us, yet the course of his representation offers us an advantage not to be rejected, that we from it learn so much the better to understand the near connection of the Resurrection and the Ascension. Over against the historical arbitrariness which almost identifies the Resurrection and the Ascension, as though the forty days had produced no essential alteration in the condition of our Lord, stands the shallow external interpretation, as though He after His Resurrection had continued to live yet forty days on earth in a wider or nearer circle, indeed, in separation from other men, and now, on the fortieth, is to be supposed to have exchanged converse with men for the society of angels. The one opinion, as little as the other, does full justice to the miracle of the Ascension. Without doubt, it must be apprehended as a special, and that as the last, stage in the history of the earthly manifestation of our Lord, but, at the same time, as a necessary consequence and as the most excellent crown of His Resurrection. “The Ascension of the Lord was the completion of the Resurrection and the perfect expression of the exaltation.” Martensen. Or to use Tholuck’s language (Stund. Christl. Andacht, p. 524): “His Resurrection is a Glorification, yet not a full Glorification.” From this position it causes comparatively little difficulty that Luke does not so sharply distinguish the appearance at the end of which the Ascension took place, from the other. Had the last appearance of our Lord not ended with the Ascension, then we should have had decidedly to assume that the one before the last had ended with such a miracle, whether with a visible or invisible one. “The opponents of the history of the Resurrection could, therefore, not have got the least advantage, even if they had succeeded in setting aside the actual history of the Ascension. The whole history of the Resurrection has an Ascensional character; the whole history of the Resurrection is to be regarded as a giant tree of His Ascension in the wider sense, as the crown of which the actual Ascension stands forth. Our opponents, therefore, with the setting aside of it, would only have cracked the summit of the tree, or rather, only have broken off a branch of the same. For the apostles, the Ascension was self-evidently understood from the Resurrection.” LANGE, L. J., ii. p. 1766.

2. By this, however, it is by no means meant that the actual fact of a bodily visible Ascension of our Lord on the fortieth day is doubtful, or of subordinate importance. It has been asserted, among others, by Meyer, that quite early a twofold tradition grew up in this respect. According to the former, our Lord ascended to heaven on the very evening of the Resurrection (Mark, Gospel of Luke), according to the other, not till the fortieth day (Acts). But the indefinite statement in Mark, Luke 16:19: μετὰ τὸ λαλῆσαι αὐτοῖς, surely does not constrain us to assume that our Lord, according to this gospel, ascended immediately after the preceding utterances; just as well might it be deduced from Luke 24:20 that the disciples, on the very same night or the following morning, had begun to preach and to do miracles. And, as it respects Luke, is it conceivable that he in his gospel should represent our Lord as leaving the earth in the night-time, when He had already at evening revealed Himself at Emmaus, and had appeared at least three hours after to the Eleven? In truth, unless we will invent absurdities for the Evangelist, it seems that we are constrained to assume that he, by the statement of a more exact chronology in the Acts, has not contradicted his gospel, but decidedly complemented it; how, moreover, assuming that his earlier account contained an actual incorrectness, could he have omitted to recall this, at least, with a brief word? Were his more detailed narrative to be put to the account of a later more or less mythical tradition, the pious invention would certainly not have contented itself with a final act of our Lord’s life so little pompous and brilliant, and if Luke, at the conclusion of his first work, had already the design of writing afterwards the history of the apostles also, he might, even in the interest of his historical pragmatism, consider it as desirable to touch here on our Lord’s Ascension only with a brief mention, and at the beginning of the history of the kingdom of God to come back more particularly to it. In no case can the course of the event itself offer convincing ground for doubt and contradiction. It may be called laughable, when some, in reference to the body of our Lord in the beginning of its glorified condition, will be talking about the laws of gravitation and the force of attraction. Heaven, it is true, is everywhere where God reveals His glory, but nothing hinders us, on the position of the Scripture, from supposing a locality of the creation where God permits His glory to be seen more immediately than anywhere else, and to conceive our Lord as repairing directly thither. Though it has been said a thousand times and repeated that we are not to understand heaven as a place, but as a condition, and must not here speak of a ποῦ, but only of a πῶς, yet we confess that we can only conceive the enjoyment of this condition as experienced in a locality where one is separated from this visible world. An exaggerated spiritualism might here easily mislead to Acosmism and Pantheism. And finally, as respects the often advanced objection, derived from the partial silence of the sacred authors, this silence appears to us neither so general nor so inexplicable as has been already countless times asserted. Respecting that of Matthew, see LANGE on Matthew, p. 561. John evidently knows a visible Ascension, Luke 3:13; 6:62; 20:17, and must have assumed it, unless we are to suppose that he doubted of the fulfilment of such words uttered by his Master Himself. With Peter it is, 1 Peter 3:22, also distinguished as a separate statement from His Resurrection, even as the descent into hell. Even so with Paul, Ephes. 1:19, 20; 2:5, 6; 4:8–10; Rom. 8:34; Col. 3:1, and in the Epistle to the Hebrews there is even almost more weight laid upon the Ascension of our Lord than upon His Resurrection. In short, in reference to most of the epistles we must agree with the opinion: “Even though the outward fact is not here found, yet so much the more is the dogmatically important consequence of the thus effected exaltation, the sitting at the right hand of God, found throughout the whole New Testament, and that in expressions which also indicate the event itself” (SCHMIDT, Bibl. Theol. d. N. S. i. p. 189). And as respects the gospels, all of them have set forth the Risen One in His glory, although two of them are silent as to the moment in which He has ascended this highest degree. Nay, this Ascension itself, the final goal of the earthly manifestation of the Lord, what is it itself in its turn but a transition to a new, but by no means to a last, period of His miraculous history? Here, according to our opinion, lies the deepest ground of the seemingly enigmatical phenomenon, that the miracle on the Mount of Olives is not placed more strongly in the foreground. No final point, but a point of rest, is it. The Lord is indeed gone away, but in order to return again, and the whole heavenly life into which the Ascension introduced Him is only a great interval, comprehending centuries, between His first and His second appearance. The angels themselves declare it: the history of the Lord in relation to the earth is with the Ascension not accomplished, but is only momentarily interrupted, in order afterwards to be continued. If a John and a Matthew in this hope saw the Lord ascend, why should they then feel themselves peremptorily obliged to fix the last moment of their being with Him with such diplomatic conscientiousness, as though thereby between the Master and the earth all connection were now and forever done away?

3. Respecting the idea of the Ascension in connection with the corporeality of our Lord, and respecting the distinction of the Lutheran and the Reformed conception, Dogmatics and the History of Doctrines must speak. “Oh, that we might yet learn to stop at the right place!” R. Stier.

4. Our Lord’s bodily and visible Ascension is the worthy crown of the history of His earthly life. Many a word that He uttered is thereby most strikingly confirmed (John 6:62; 20:17; Matt. 28:18, et alibi), and the harmony of the events of His life becomes only through this miracle perfected. A second death, even had it been ever so soft, would have taken away the whole significance of His Resurrection, and the poetical expression (Hase): “Even as Moses’ grave, so was His never seen,” can only elicit an exclamation of astonishment and displeasure. “He a grave, He, who swallowed up death eternally!” (Olshausen). Whoever contents himself with saying that He went to the Father, although one does not know how, where, or when, such a one lets his history end with an unsatisfactory note of interrogation, and unthankfully repels the satisfactory solution which His first witnesses have given. Now, His manifestation displays itself to our eye as a ring whose ending is lost again in its beginning, while both Bethlehem and the Mount of Olives bear the stamp of a still and hidden, but even thereby heavenly greatness. And as the Ascension of the Lord thus first diffuses over His person a perfectly Satisfying light (John 6:62; 16:28), so does this event stand as well with the incipient perfection as with the happy continuation of His work in direct connection. Never would the apostles without this miracle have been freed from the last remains of their earthly-minded expectations; now did they, on the other hand, become by this very means capable of receiving the Spirit of truth, of love, and of power. Never, so long as the visible presence of the Lord on a spot of earth had remained, could a kingdom have been founded that embraced all nations, and as little would, in this case, the Church have been able to maintain herself without an incessant intervention of continually increasing miracles. Now, raised above all finite limits, the Lord reigns everywhere where His word is preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, and, far from bringing any harm, it is His departure which for His people has become a source of incalculable gain (John 16:7). This whole event reveals the full glory of the kingdom of God, is surety for the highest blessing of the kingdom of God (Luke 24:49), and prophesies the final perfection of the kingdom of God. No wonder that the Ascension also has been painted and sung by the Christian art of all ages. We have only to mention the names in the first sphere, of Raphael, Peter Perugino, Titian, Paul Veronese, Ricci, Raphael Mengs, and others, and in the other the venerable Bede, Tersteegen, Lavater, Knapp, Luis de Leon, not to mention many Others.

5. Superficially considered, the homage which the apostles bring to the glorified Saviour appears to be more or less on a level with the reverence which often was rendered to the kings of the Orient, especially to the King of kings, the Messiah. See Matt. 2:2; 20:20. But if we consider that this homage was now offered by the disciples of the Lord at the moment when they see Him crowned with superhuman glory, and honor in Him more than ever the bearer of the Divine nature and majesty, then we shall hardly be content with the assertion that our Lord was here worshipped in His Messianic dignity, but must, on the contrary, acknowledge that He here, not only on account of His kingly rank, but also and above all, for His Divine nature, deserves the honor of adoration. Thus do we find in Luke 24:52 an intimation how the command, John 5:23, must be understood and followed.

6. The command of our Lord, before His departure, that His disciples should remain at Jerusalem, testifies as well to His wisdom as the final promise of the Holy Spirit gives witness of His love and might. But, at the same time, there lies in the manner in which His first friends fulfilled this command (Acts 1:12–14), an apologetic element that must not be overlooked. With one accord do the disciples remain together; this is the first blessing of the exaltation of our Lord; now that their visible centre is wanting, the young church feels the necessity of an inward union more intimate than ever. Undisturbed and publicly are they ten days continually together; a proof that they had not stolen the corpse, and that the Jewish council itself does not believe its own charge. Composed and quietly do they wait; this is what no excited enthusiasts do. Praying do they expect the fulfilment of the promise of the Lord; the miracle of Pentecost was thereby a direct hearing of prayer, of whose inestimable blessing the consideration of the history of the apostles will now give further testimony.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The friends of the Lord are brought unto the school of waiting; therewith is their inner training perfected; so then; so previously (Jacob, Moses, David, &c.); so even yet.—“I will send upon you the promise of My Father.” Thus can only the Son of the Father, none of the servants, speak; how altogether differently Elijah, 2 Kings 2:10.—The Benediction of the departing Lord: 1. The crown of His earthly manifestation; 2. the symbol of His heavenly life; 3. the prophecy of His coming in glory.—The Lord departs in order to remain.—The exalted King of the kingdom of God, the worthy object of the most reverential homage.—How can the disciples return with great joy to Jerusalem? 1. Faith sees in this farewell the highest glorifying of Jesus; 2. Love thinks of His gain, not of its own loss; 3. Hope waits unshaken for the fulfilment of all His promises.—Jerusalem the grave of the Old, the cradle of the New, Covenant—The inward connection of the young Church with the old Israelitish temple.—God’s glory the last word of our narrative, at the same time the concluding word of our whole gospel, and the final accord of the whole history of the world.

The Ascension of our Lord in its high significance: 1. For Himself, a. the confirmation of His words, b. the clearing up of the events of His life, c. the beginning of His most powerful and blessed activity; 2. for His apostles, a. the perfection of their training, b. the energy of their labor, c. the prophecy of their future; 3. for His people all, a. the Ascension the honor of mankind (Heb. 2:5–9), b. the way of the renewal of the sinner (the Holy Spirit), c. the source of the joy, rest, and hope of Christians.—The Ascension a hearing of the Lord’s own prayer, John 17:5.—The feast of the Ascension the feast of the coronation of the Lord. This coronation: 1. The end of the Saviour’s strife; 2. the beginning of the highest honor; 3. the source of the richest blessing; 4. the pledge of the most blessed hope.—What sees the Christian when He on the Ascension morn directs his look believingly towards heaven? (comp. Acts 7:56): 1. A glorified Son of Man; 2. an Almighty King; 3. an ever near Friend; 4. an open place of refuge; 5. an approaching triumph. But to see all this, we must (Luke 24:55), even as the first Christian martyr, be: a. a disciple of the Lord, b. filled with the Holy Spirit, and c. have our eyes directed towards heaven.—Heaven and earth considered in the light of the Ascension morn.—The Ascension the last palpable revelation of our Lord on earth: 1. His majesty; 2. His wisdom, a. time, b. place, c. witnesses, d. circumstances, e. consequences, of the Ascension; 3. His beneficent faithfulness to His own, comp. Matt. 28:20.

STARKE:—OSIANDER:—Whom God sends into the holy ministry, them does He also equip with the necessary gifts.—To the receiving of the Holy Spirit there belongs a patient waiting in prayer and consideration of the word.—Whom Jesus blesses, he is and remains blessed.—Beautiful and edifying is it when parents depart from the world, for they even thus bless their children.—BRENTIUS:—Christ has at His Ascension bequeathed us the blessing, why do we longer fear the curse?—Bibl. Wirt.:—Jesus departed to prepare the place.—HEDINGER:—Thus have we then a sure and open entrance to the sanctuary that is within the heavens, Heb. 10:19, 20.—J. HALL:—Rejoice, oh thou holy soul, for thy last conflict also shall be crowned with triumph.—The fellowship of the Spirit makes a fellowship in the worship of God.—Servants of God labor, pray, suffer, and praise God in fellowship.—OSIANDER:—Jesus is ours also, with all His treasures, therefore let us praise and glorify Him with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

HEUBNER:—The place of the Passion of Christ also the place of His glorification.—With blessing did He come, with blessing did He part.—How different this blessed parting from that on the cross !—The apostles showed after the Resurrection far more reverence for Jesus; they had a sense of His Godhead, therefore we read here for the first time: they worshipped Him.—Worship befits Christ, else would He not have received it.—The disciples return back, in prayer unseparated from Christ, no longer alone.—ARNDT:—The Ascension of Christ the perfection: 1. Of His prophetical; 2. of His high-priestly; 3. of His kingly, office.—SCHLEIERMACHER:—The promises of the departing Redeemer.—PALMER:—The lovely position in which the departing Redeemer hath left us behind in this world: a. above our heads we have an opened heaven, b. above our eyes a blessed home, and c. under our feet the way which the feet of the Lord have smoothed and hallowed.—RUPERTI:—Why do we stand after the Saviour has ascended and look towards heaven?—SCHMID:—What the earth is to them who look after the Risen Saviour towards heaven.—Why does the Saviour point us at His Ascension to the Holy Spirit?—AHLFELD:—The last will of our Lord Jesus Christ.—STEINMEYER:—The separation through the Ascension is the source of true union.—SOUCHON:—The comfort which the Ascension of Jesus Christ assures to us.—THOLUCK:—The refreshing thoughts to which the history of the Ascension leads us: 1. The place of His suffering the place of His parting; 2. veiled is His beginning, veiled is His exit; 3. the conclusion of His ways is blessing for His people; 4. He has departed from us and yet has remained to us; 5. He remains veiled from His people till He shall appear in brightness.—W. HOFACKER:—The significance of the Ascension-day: 1. As a day of the richest and most glorious blessing; 2. as a day of the grandest homage; 3. as a day of the most joyful encouragement.—HARLESS:—The way to the blessed understanding of the Ascension of Christ.—VON KAPFF:—The Ascension of Christ as: 1. The glorification of Jesus; 2. of our human nature; 3. of our whole earth.—SCHUUR:—Heart and soul towards heaven! 1. Here is darkness, there is light; 2. here is strangeness, there is home; 3. here is combat, there is victorious palm; 4. here is sorrow, there is bliss.—FLOREY:—The Ascension of our Lord the crown of His glory.

Compare further on this whole section the well-digested essay of Dr. H. G. HASSE: Das Leben des verklärten Erlösers im Himmel, nach den eigenen Aussprüchen des Herrn, ein Beitrag zur Bibl. Theol. Leipsic, 1854, and Die Christl. Glaubenslehre, herausgegeben von dem Calwer Verein, 2 Theil, 2 Abthlg. pp. 266–286, Stuttgart, 1857.

Footnotes:

[21]Luke 24:49.—The ̔Ιερουσαλήμ of the Recepta is decidedly spurious. [Omitted by B., C.1, D., Cod. Sin., L., Itala, Vulgate, &c.—C. S.]

[22]Luke 24:51, 52.—The words: ἀνεφέρέτο εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν and προσκυνήσαντες αὐψόν are, remarkably enough, omitted by the same authorities—D., several copies of the Itala, &c, see Tischendorf. Apparently the eye of the copyist slipped from και α(νεφερετο) to και α(υτοι), and he overlooked προσκυνησαντες, while he confounded αυτοι with αυτον. We thus comprehend better (against De Wette), how this was omitted, than how it should have been interpolated if not original. [Cod. Sin. omits the words; a much more important fact than their omission in D.—C. C. S.]

[23]Luke 24:51, 52.—The words: ἀνεφέρέτο εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν and προσκυνήσαντες αὐψόν are, remarkably enough, omitted by the same authorities—D., several copies of the Itala, &c, see Tischendorf. Apparently the eye of the copyist slipped from και α(νεφερετο) to και α(υτοι), and he overlooked προσκυνησαντες, while he confounded αυτοι with αυτον. We thus comprehend better (against De Wette), how this was omitted, than how it should have been interpolated if not original. [Cod. Sin. omits the words; a much more important fact than their omission in D.—C. C. S.]

[24]Luke 24:53.—In some MSS. αινουντες και, in others και ευλογουτες are wanting. Perhaps errors of a wearied hand at the end of tho Gospel. At all events, the number and the weight of the authorities, [B., C.1, Cod. Sin., L. omit α.κ., D. omits κ.ε.,] is not so great as to make it needful with Griesbach to suspect the former or with Tischendorf to omit the latter.

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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