Luke 24

The Word Made Fresh

1On the first day of the week at dawn the women returned to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. 2They discovered that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they entered it they didn’t find Jesus’ body. 4While they were pondering this, two men dressed in brightly shining clothes suddenly were standing beside them. 5They were terrified and bowed over, faces to the ground, but the men said, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? 6Remember how he told you while he was still in Galilee 7that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, but on the third day would rise again.”

8Then they remembered what he had said, 9and when they returned from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and the others. 10It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles, 11but it sounded like silly words to them, and they didn’t believe what they were saying.

12But Peter left and ran to the tomb. He stooped to look inside, and saw only the linen cloths there. He went home in amazement.

13On that same day two of them were going to Emmaus, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14They talked about the things that had happened, 15and as they talked Jesus himself came and walked with them, 16but they didn’t recognize him. 17Then he asked them, “What were you discussing as you walked along?”

17They stopped, with sad faces, 18and one of them, Cleopas, answered, “Are you just a visitor to Jerusalem, and don’t know about the things that have happened there the last few days?”

19He asked, “What things?”

They told him “The things about Jesus of Nazareth. He was an outstanding prophet of God who performed great deeds and spoke great words before God and all the people. 20But our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to die, and he was crucified. 21We had hoped that he was the one who would rescue Israel and set us free. Today is the third day since all this happened. 22Some of the women in our group surprised us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23but they didn’t find his body buried there, and they came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it empty as the women had said, but they didn’t see him.”

25Then Jesus said, “How foolish you are, and how slow you are to believe all that the prophets have said. 26Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27Then, beginning with Moses, he explained everything the prophets had said about himself in all the scriptures.

28As they neared the village he walked ahead of them as if he were going on his way, 29but they begged him, “Stay with us! It is almost evening, and the day is nearly over.” Then he went in to stay with them. 30And while he sat at the table with them he took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he disappeared right in front of them! 32They said to one another, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us while he spoke with us on the road, explaining the scriptures to us?”

33Then they got up immediately and returned to Jerusalem. They found the eleven and their other companions gathered, 34and they were saying, “The Lord really has risen! He appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened to them on the road, and how they realized who he was when he broke the bread for them.

36While they were talking, Jesus himself stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 37They were shocked and terrified, thinking they surely were seeing a ghost. 38He asked them, “Why are you frightened? Why are you doubting? 39Look at my hands and feet and see that it really is I. Touch me and see – a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” 40And while he was speaking he showed them his hands and feet. 41They were filled with joy, but still disbelieving and wondering. Jesus said to them, “Do you have anything to eat?” 42They gave him a bit of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate it right in front of them.

44Then he said to them, “I told you while I was still with you that everything written about me in the law of Moses, and in the prophets and in the psalms must come to pass.” 45Then he explained the scriptures to them and said, 46“It is written that the Messiah is to suffer and will rise from the dead on the third day, 47and repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning with Jerusalem. 48You have witnessed these things. 49And I am going to give you what my Father promised. So, remain here in the city until you have received power from on high.”

50Then he led them out to Bethany and lifted his hands over them to bless them. 51While he did this he went from them and was carried up into heaven. 52They worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem joyfully, 53and they were constantly in the temple praising God.


1-12: At sunrise they returned to the tomb — Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and some other women (compare the list at Luke 8:2-3) — with their spices. The first thing they noticed was that the stone (which Luke failed to mention before) was rolled away. They entered the cave and found the body missing. Two “men” (later identified as angels in verse 23) in “brightly shining clothes” suddenly appeared and told them Jesus had risen just as he had said to them. They went and told the disciples and “all the rest,” who do not believe them, but Peter, perhaps with a rooster’s crow echoing in his head, decides to check it out. He finds the linen cloths lying there, has no idea how to interpret the data, and goes home, or wherever they are staying while in town. However, later in the chapter, (verse 34) Luke reveals that Peter had indeed seen the Lord, apparently in another setting).

13-27: Sunday morning is the beginning of a workday in ancient Israel, so the Sabbath restrictions on travel do not apply. Two followers, Cleopas and another man, are walking the seven miles to the village of Emmaus (exact location now unknown). The name Cleopas appears nowhere else in the scriptures, but some speculate that it may be the same man as the Clopas mentioned in John 19:25 (Clopas, the husband of Mary, the parents of James the Lesser, who was one of the Twelve). Whoever this Cleopas and his friend might be, as they walk, a stranger joins them and asks what they are discussing. They tell him about the events in Jerusalem and he chides them for not knowing the prophets.

28-33: They invite him to stay the night in Emmaus with them. As they sit at table he breaks and blesses some bread, and they suddenly recognize that it is Jesus. Jesus immediately is gone, no explanation given, and they hurry back to Jerusalem to report the sighting.

34-35: Back in Jerusalem with the disciples we learn that there has been another sighting by Peter, something not reported in any of the other gospels.

36-43: While they are talking Jesus suddenly appears. Given the information that Cleopas and the other man did not immediately recognize him we are perhaps not surprised that he would have been able to wander in unnoticed until the moment he chose to reveal himself. He shows them his wounds and asks for something to eat to prove his is not a ghost.

44-49: Jesus gives them the same lesson he had given Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus, and tells them that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. He tells them they are to wait in the city until they have been “clothed with power from on high,” a reference to the Day of Pentecost described in Acts 2.

Each of the four gospels has a different ending. Luke emphasizes three aspects of Jesus’ leave-taking. First, there is the repeated insistence that everything that happened to Jesus, especially his suffering and death, happened in accordance with the scriptures — meaning the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets.

Second, Luke emphasizes repentance and the forgiveness of sins, an emphasis that begins with the preaching of John the Baptizer (see 3:3). We are mistaken if we take this as Law — repent and you will be forgiven, but if you don’t repent you’ll go to you-know-where. It is not a command; it is an invitation. We are invited to repent, to spend our lives turning ourselves over to the one who made us, because the one who made us can make us whole. As we repent, it is not so much that we receive forgiveness, but rather that we discover it.

Third, Luke emphasizes Jesus’ instructions for them to remain in Jerusalem until they receive power. He wants to make sure that we understand that the disciples of Jesus did not begin their work of spreading the good news until they were specifically empowered by the Holy Spirit to do so.

50-52: They leave Jerusalem and walk to Bethany where Jesus is carried up in a scene that reminds us of Elijah’s ascension (2 Kings 2:11). Luke ends his gospel with the disciples in the temple worshiping, assured that Christ is alive and watching over them.


Jesus has completed his work as God’s son sent to live among us and teach us about God’s love for us. Worship is our response to this great good news, and we should strive to seek God’s presence and guidance in our lives.