Luke 24:32
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
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(32) Did not our heart burn within us . . .?—More accurately, Was not our heart burning . . .? the tense both of this and of the other verbs implying a continuous and not a momentary state or act.



Luke 24:13 - Luke 24:32

These two disciples had left their companions after Peter’s return from the sepulchre and before Mary Magdalene hurried in with her tidings that she had seen Jesus. Their coming away at such a crisis, like Thomas’s absence that day, shows that the scattering of the sheep was beginning to follow the smiting of the shepherd. The magnet withdrawn, the attracted particles fall apart. What arrested that process? Why did not the spokes fall asunder when the centre was removed? John’s disciples crumbled away after his death. When Theudas fell, all his followers ‘were dispersed’ and came to nought. The Church was knit more closely together after the death that, according to all analogy, should have scattered it. Only the fact of the Resurrection explains the anomaly. No reasonable men would have held together unless they had known that their Messianic hopes had not been buried in Christ’s grave. We see the beginnings of the Resurrection of these hopes in this sweet story.

I. We have first the two sad travellers and the third who joins them.

Probably the former had left the group of disciples on purpose to relieve the tension of anxiety and sorrow by walking, and to get a quiet time to bring their thoughts into some order. They were like men who had lived through an earthquake; they were stunned, and physical exertion, the morning quiet of the country, and the absence of other people, would help to calm their nerves, and enable them to realise their position. Their tone of mind will come out more distinctly presently. Here it is enough to note that the ‘things which had come to pass’ filled their minds and conversation. That being so, they were not left to grope in the dark. ‘Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them.’ Honest occupation of mind with the truth concerning Him, and a real desire to know it, are not left unhelped. We draw Him to our sides when we wish and try to grasp the real facts concerning Him, whether they coincide with our prepossessions or not.

It is profoundly interesting and instructive to note the characteristics of the favoured ones who first saw the risen Lord. They were Mary, whose heart was an altar of flaming and fragrant love; Peter, the penitent denier; and these two, absorbed in meditation on the facts of the death and burial. What attracts Jesus? Love, penitence, study of His truth. He comes to these with the appropriate gifts for them, as truly-yea, more closely-as of old. Perhaps the very doubting that troubled them brought Him to their help. He saw that they especially needed Him, for their faith was sorely wounded. Necessity is as potent a spell to bring Jesus as desert. He comes to reward fixed and fervent love, and He comes, too, to revive it when tremulous and cold.

‘Their eyes were holden,’ says Luke; and similarly ‘their eyes were opened’ {Luke 24:31}. He makes the reason for His not being recognised a subjective one, and his narrative affords no support to the theory of a change in our Lord’s resurrection body. How often does Jesus still come to us, and we discern Him not! Our paths would be less lonely, and our thoughts less sad, if we realised more fully and constantly our individual share in the promise,’ I am with you always.’

II. We have next the conversation {Luke 24:17 - Luke 24:28}.

The unknown new-comer strikes into the dialogue with a question which, on some lips, would have been intrusive curiosity, and would have provoked rude retorts. But there was something in His voice and manner which unlocked hearts. Does He not still come close to burdened souls, and with a smile of love on His face and a promise of help in His tones, ask us to tell Him all that is in our hearts? ‘Communications’ told to Him cease to sadden. Those that we cannot tell to Him we should not speak to ourselves.

Cleopas naively wonders that there should be found a single man in Jerusalem ignorant of the things which had come to pass. He forgot that the stranger might know these, and not know that they were talking about them. Like the rest of us, he fancied that what was great to him was as great to everybody. What could be the subject of their talk but the one theme? The stranger assumes ignorance, in order to win to a full outpouring. Jesus wishes us to put all fears and doubts and shattered hopes into plain words to Him. Speech to Christ cleanses our bosoms of much perilous stuff. Before He speaks in answer we are lightened.

Very true to nature is the eager answer of the two. The silence once broken, out flows a torrent of speech, in which love and grief, disciples’ pride in their Master, and shattered hopes, incredulous bewilderment and questioning wonder, are blended.

That long speech {Luke 24:19 - Luke 24:24} gives a lively conception of the two disciples’ state of mind. Probably it fairly represented the thought of all. We note in it the limited conception of Jesus as but a prophet, the witness to His miracles and teaching {the former being set first, as having more impressed their minds}, the assertion of His universal appreciation by the ‘people,’ the charging of the guilt of Christ’s death on ‘our rulers,’ the sad contrast between the officials’ condemnation of Him and their own fond Messianic hopes, and the despairing acknowledgment that these were shattered.

The reference to ‘the third day’ seems to imply that the two had been discussing the meaning of our Lord’s frequent prophecy about it. The connection in which they introduce it looks as if they were beginning to understand the prophecy, and to cherish a germ of hope in His Resurrection, or, at all events, were tossed about with uncertainty as to whether they dared to cherish it. They are chary of allowing that the women’s story was true; naively they attach more importance to its confirmation by men. ‘But Him they saw not,’ and, so long as He did not appear, they could not believe even angels saying ‘that He was alive.’

The whole speech shows how complete was the collapse of the disciples’ Messianic hopes, how slowly their minds opened to admit the possibility of Resurrection, and how exacting they were in the matter of evidence for it, even to the point of hesitating to accept angelic announcements. Such a state of mind is not the soil in which hallucinations spring up. Nothing but the actual appearance of the risen Lord could have changed these sad, cautious unbelievers to lifelong confessors. What else could have set light to these rolling smoke-clouds of doubt, and made them flame heaven-high and world-wide?

‘The ingenuous disclosure of their bewilderment appealed to their Companion’s heart, as it ever does. Jesus is not repelled by doubts and perplexities, if they are freely spoken to Him. To put our confused thoughts into plain words tends to clear them, and to bring Him as our Teacher. His reproach has no anger in it, and inflicts no pain, but puts us on the right track for arriving at the truth. If these two had listened to the ‘prophets,’ they would have understood their Master, and known that a divine ‘must’ wrought itself out in His Death and Resurrection. How often, like them, do we torture ourselves with problems of belief and conduct of which the solution lies close beside us, if we would use it?

Jesus claimed ‘all the prophets’ as His witnesses. He teaches us to find the highest purpose of the Old Testament in its preparation for Himself, and to look for foreshadowings of His Death and Resurrection there. What gigantic delusion of self-importance that was, if it was not the self-attestation of the Incarnate Word, to whom all the written word pointed! He will still, to docile souls, be the Interpreter of Scripture. They who see Him in it all are nearer its true appreciation than those who see in the Old Testament everything but Him.

III. We have finally the disclosure and disappearance of the Lord.

The little group must have travelled slowly, with many a pause on the road, while Jesus opened the Scriptures; for they left the city in the morning, and evening was near before they had finished their ‘threescore furlongs’ {between seven and eight miles}. His presence makes the day’s march seem short.

‘He made as though He would have gone further,’ not therein assuming the appearance of a design which He did not really entertain, but beginning a movement which He would have carried out if the disciples’ urgency had not detained Him. Jesus forces His company on no man. He ‘would have gone further’ if they had not said ‘Abide with us.’ He will leave us if we do not keep Him. But He delights to be held by beseeching hands, and our wishes ‘constrain’ Him. Happy are they who, having felt the sweetness of walking with Him on the weary road, seek Him to bless their leisure and to add a more blissful depth of repose to their rest!

The humble table where Christ is invited to sit, becomes a sacred place of revelation. He hallows common life, and turns the meals over which He presides into holy things. His disciples’ tables should be such that they dare ask their Lord to sit at them. But how often He would be driven away by luxury, gross appetite, trivial or malicious talk! We shall all be the better for asking ourselves whether we should like to invite Jesus to our tables. He is there, spectator and judge, whether invited or not.

Where Jesus is welcomed as guest He becomes host. Perhaps something in gesture or tone, as He blessed and brake the bread, recalled the loved Master to the disciples’ minds, and, with a flash, the glad ‘It is He!’ illuminated their souls. That was enough. His bodily presence was no longer necessary when the conviction of His risen life was firmly fixed in them. Therefore He disappeared. The old unbroken companionship was not to be resumed. Occasional appearances, separated by intervals of absence, prepared the disciples gradually for doing without His visible presence.

If we are sure that He has risen and lives for ever, we have a better presence than that. He is gone from our sight that He may be seen by our faith. That ‘now we see Him not’ is advance on the position of His first disciples, not retrogression. Let us strive to possess the blessing of ‘those who have not seen, and yet have believed.’Luke 24:32-35. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us? — This reflection of the disciples, on this affair, is natural and beautiful. It is as if they had said, How strange it is that we should not have discovered him sooner, when we found his discourses have that effect upon us, which was peculiar to his teaching. For did not our very hearts glow within us, with love to God and our Divine Instructer, as well as to the truths which he made known to us by opening the Scriptures? They found the preaching powerful, even when they knew not the preacher; it not only made things of the greatest importance very plain and clear to them, but, together with a divine light, brought a divine warmth into their souls, and kindled therein a holy fire of pious and devout affections: and this they now notice for the confirming of their belief, that it was indeed Jesus himself who had been talking with them all the while. And they rose up the same hour — Not being able to conceal such good news, or to defer the publication of that which they believed would give their brethren such joy, as they felt in their own breasts; they therefore, late as it was, rose up from their unfinished meal, that very hour, and made all possible haste to Jerusalem, that they might declare to the other disciples the wonderful story, and give them full assurance of their Lord’s resurrection. They were, however, in some measure prevented: for, immediately upon their arrival, the apostles, with the women, accosted them with this declaration, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon — Before he was seen of the other apostles, (1 Corinthians 15:5,) he had, in his wonderful condescension and grace, taken an opportunity on the former part of the day, (though where or in what manner is not recorded,) to show himself to Peter, that he might early relieve his distresses and fears, on account of his having so shamefully denied his Master. The generality of the apostles had given little credit to the reports of the women, supposing that they were occasioned more by imagination than reality. But when a person of Simon’s capacity and gravity declared that he had seen the Lord, they began to think he was risen indeed. And their belief was not a little confirmed by the arrival of these two disciples, who declared that the Lord had appeared to them also, and gave a circumstantial relation of all that had happened.24:28-35 If we would have Christ dwell with us, we must be earnest with him. Those that have experienced the pleasure and profit of communion with him, cannot but desire more of his company. He took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. This he did with his usual authority and affection, with the same manner, perhaps with the same words. He here teaches us to crave a blessing on every meal. See how Christ by his Spirit and grace makes himself known to the souls of his people. He opens the Scriptures to them. He meets them at his table, in the ordinance of the Lord's supper; is known to them in breaking of bread. But the work is completed by the opening of the eyes of their mind; yet it is but short views we have of Christ in this world, but when we enter heaven, we shall see him for ever. They had found the preaching powerful, even when they knew not the preacher. Those Scriptures which speak of Christ, will warm the hearts of his true disciples. That is likely to do most good, which affects us with the love of Jesus in dying for us. It is the duty of those to whom he has shown himself, to let others know what he has done for their souls. It is of great use for the disciples of Christ to compare their experiences, and tell them to each other.Our heart burn within us - This is an expression denoting the deep interest and pleasure which they had felt in his discourse before they knew who he was. They now recalled his instruction; they remembered how his words reached the "heart" as he spoke to them; how convincingly he had showed them that the Messiah ought to suffer, and how, while he talked to them of the Christ that they so much loved, their hearts glowed with intense love. This feeling was not confined to them alone. All the followers of Jesus know how precious and tender are the communications of the Saviour, and how the heart glows with love as they think or hear of his life, and sufferings, and death.

He opened to us - He explained to us the Scriptures. See Luke 24:27.

This narrative shows us,

1. How blind people may be to the plainest doctrines of the Scriptures until they are explained to them. These disciples had often read or heard the Scriptures, but never, until then, did they fully understand that the Messiah must suffer.

2. It is proper there should be those whose office it is to explain the Scriptures. Jesus did it while on earth; he does it now by his Spirit; and he has appointed his ministers, whose business it is to explain them.

3. If people attempt to explain the Bible, they should themselves understand it. They should give their time and talents to a suitable preparation to understand the sacred volume. Preaching should consist in "real," and not "fancied" explanations of the Scriptures; the real doctrines which "God" has taught in his word, and not the doctrines that "men" have taught in their systems.

4. Here was convincing evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. This was but one of many instances where Jesus convinced his disciples, contrary to their previous belief. In this case the evidence was abundant. He first satisfied them from the Old Testament that the very things which had happened were foretold; he then dissipated every doubt by showing "himself" to them and convincing them that he was truly the Christ. There was no chance here for deception and juggling. Who would have met them and talked with them in this way but the real Saviour? Who would have thought of writing this narrative to help an imposture? What impostor would have recorded the dulness of the disciples as to the plain declarations of the Old Testament, and "then" have thought of this device to prop up the narrative? Everything about this narrative - its simplicity - its tenderness - its particularity - its perfect nature - its freedom from all appearance of trick - shows that it was taken from real life; and if so, then the Christian religion is true, for here is evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.

32-34. They now tell each to the other how their hearts burned—were fired—within them at His talk and His expositions of Scripture. "Ah! this accounts for it: We could not understand the glow of self-evidencing light, love, glory that ravished our hearts; but now we do." They cannot rest—how could they?—they must go straight back and tell the news. They find the eleven, but ere they have time to tell their tale, their ears are saluted with the thrilling news, "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon." Most touching and precious intelligence this. The only one of the Eleven to whom He appeared alone was he, it seems, who had so shamefully denied Him. What passed at that interview we shall never know here. Probably it was too sacred for disclosure. (See on [1746]Mr 16:7). The two from Emmaus now relate what had happened to them, and while thus comparing notes of their Lord's appearances, lo! Christ Himself stands in the midst of them. What encouragement to doubting, dark, true-hearted disciples! There was a mighty difference, no doubt, between Christ’s preaching and his ministers’: he preached as one who had authority, not as the scribes, not as ordinary ministers, but with more majesty and power; but as to the saving efficacy of his words, that depended upon his will; where he pleased to put forth such efficacious grace, there his words became effectual; where he did not, they were not so: Christ preached in the hearing of hundreds, who yet continued unbelievers, and perished in their unbelief. There is a great deal of difference also between one minister’s preaching and another’s; some kind of preaching of itself makes men’s hearts to freeze, others make them to burn; but where preaching makes our heart to burn within us, Christ throws in the coal, which the best preacher doth but blow up: only the Spirit of God is pleased to work (as Erasmus saith) secundum quod nactus est organon, according to the instrument it worketh by, and to concur with rational and spiritual means in order to rational and spiritual ends. But wherever any soul is baptized with fire at hearing a sermon, it is also baptized with the Holy Ghost. Christ will not always cure blind eyes with clay and spittle, though he did it once. These were disciples before the fire was kindled in their hearts; Christ’s preaching did but blow it up. We ought so to speak in our preaching, so to open and apply the Scriptures, as our discourses may have a rational tendency to make the hearts of our hearers to burn within them, not so as to make them dead, and sleepy, and cold, or lukewarm; and then to know that it must be Christ’s work to inflame them, when we have said all that we can say. And they said one to another,.... After Christ was gone, being surprised at what happened, that they should not know him all that while; and that as soon as they did, he should disappear, or withdraw himself in this manner:

did not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures? concerning himself, his sufferings, death, and resurrection, which are in Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. The Scriptures are as a sealed book to men, learned and unlearned; and none so fit to open them as the lion of the tribe of Judah: he did open and explain them to these his disciples, as well as conversed with them about other things, as they travelled together; and his words came with such evidence, power, and sweetness, that they were ravished with them; their minds were irradiated with beams and rays of divine light; their hearts were warmed and glowed within them; they became fervent in spirit, and their affections were raised and fired; they found the word to be as burning fire within them; and they now knew somewhat what it was to be baptized with fire, which is Christ's peculiar office to administer; see Psalm 39:3 they seem as it were not only to reflect on these things with wonder and pleasure, but also to charge themselves with want of thought, with inattention and stupidity; since they might have concluded from the uncommon evidence, force, and energy with which his words came to them, who he was, seeing no man could speak as he did, and with such effect as his words had.

And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
Luke 24:32-33. Οὐχὶ ἡ καρδία ἡμῶν καιομένη ἦν ἐν ἡμῖν;] Was not our heart on fire within us? The extraordinarily lively emotions are, as in all languages, represented under the image of burning, of heat, of being inflamed, and the like, Wetstein and Kypke in loc.; Musgrave, ad Soph. Aj. 473. Hence the meaning: Was not our heart in an extraordinarily fervent commotion? Comp. Psalm 39:4; Jeremiah 20:9. Quite naturally the two disciples abstain from explaining more fully the excitement of feeling that they had experienced, because such an excitement, comprehending several affections, rises into consciousness, as divided into its special elements, the less in proportion as its experiences are deep, urgent, and marvellous. The connection of the question with what precedes is: “Vere Christus est, nam non alia potuit esse causa, cur in via eo loquente tantopere animus noster inflammaretur,” Maldonatus.

ὡς διήνοιγεν κ.τ.λ.] without καί (see the critical remarks) adds the special to the general asyndetically, in which form that which is urgent and impressive of the recollection expresses itself.

Luke 24:33. αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ] Certainly after such an experience the meal of which they had intended to partake was immediately given up. They had now no more irresistible necessity than that of communicating with their fellow-disciples in Jerusalem, and “jam non timent iter nocturnum, quod antea dissuaserant ignoto comiti, Luke 24:29,” Bengel.Luke 24:32-35. After Jesus’ departure.32. Did not our heart burn] Rather, Was not our heart burning?

while he talked with us] Rather, to us. “Never man spake like this man,” John 7:46.Luke 24:32. Καιομένη, burning) much and for long. [A most blessed sensation!—V. g.]—ἦν, was) They observed the fact more afterwards than during the actual continuance of the burning sensation.—ἐλάλει ἡμῖν) He spake to us. This means more than with us [which is however the Engl. rendering].—[διήνοιγεν, He opened) The Scripture is opened out, when “the understanding” is opened, Luke 24:45.—V. g.]Verse 32. - And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way? better rendered, was not our heart burning within us, while, etc.? Did not our heart burn - while he talked - opened. (οὐχὶ ἡ καρδία ἡμῶν καιομένη ἦν - ὡς ἐλάλει - διήνοιγεν)

The A. V., as usual, pays no attention to the graphic imperfects here. They are speaking of something which was in progress: "was not our heart burning (finite verb and participle) while he was speaking, and was opening the scriptures?"

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