|The Resurrection of Christ (Kinnaird Resurrection) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Luke’s account of the Resurrection is more than a recounting of events. He interprets those events in light of Old Testament teachings about the Messiah (Luke 24:6-7, 19-27) and in view of Christ’s own statement of His mission (Luke 24:45-47). But Luke’s account does not end with the Resurrection, but the Ascension, reminding us that the risen Christ is to be worshiped (Luke 24:50-53). The Resurrection is God’s seal on the promise of salvation.
Today in the 64th and final sermon from Luke’s Gospel, we find a remarkable resurrection appearance. Nowhere in the records of the resurrection do we have a picture at all approaching in vivid reality this picture of the Risen Christ.
Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 24:36-53 to encourage people to trust in the evidence of the Resurrection (Luke 24:36-44), learn from the witness of the Scriptures (Luke 24:45-49), and respond with a heart of worship (Luke 24:50-53).
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about trusting and worshiping the risen Jesus.
Key Verse: Luke 24:39
Pray and Read: Luke 24:36-53
Throughout his Gospel, Luke emphasizes the importance of walking in faith and avoiding unbelief. He has made it clear that every individual who meets Jesus Christ must make a decision about Him. Christ must be received or rejected. His claims must be believed or denied.
After calling us to believe that Jesus is the Messiah who fulfills the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants (Luke 1-2) and to repent of our sin (Luke 3:1-20) through the sacrificial death (Luke 3:21-23a) of the true Son of God (Luke 3:23b-38), who has power to defeat the enemy (Luke 4:1-13), Luke unveils Jesus’ ministry in Galilee (Luke 4:14-9:50), powerfully contrasting belief and unbelief in a series of events.
Unbelief at the Nazareth synagogue (Luke 4:14-30) contrasts with the faith of the Capernaum synagogue (Luke 4:31-44). After Jesus’ first disciples follow him in faith (Luke 5:1-11), Jesus offends the religious leaders’ unbelief when He forgives sin (Luke 5:12-26). Levi’s faith (Luke 5:27-32) counterbalances the Pharisees’ anger of unbelief when Jesus dines with sinners (Luke 5:33-39). Contrasted with the unbelieving Pharisees’ Sabbath rules (Luke 6:1-11), Jesus appoints twelve believing apostles (Luke 6:12-16).
In his Sermon on the Plain, Jesus explains the blessings of faith and the woes of unbelief (Luke 6:17-26), urging us to put our faith into practice by developing Christ-like love (Luke 6:27-36), Christ-like integrity (Luke 6:37-42), Christ-like character (Luke 6:43-45), and Christ-like stability (Luke 6:46-49).
Then Luke demonstrates the astonishing faith of a Gentile centurion (Luke 7:1-10) and the astonishing resurrection of a widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17). Despite John the Baptizer’s doubt borne in faith (Luke 7:18-35), Luke contrasts a sinful woman’s believing faith with a faithless Pharisee’s whose doubts bluntly deny the clear evidence of Jesus’ Messiahship. (Luke 7:36-50).
Beginning a second preaching tour of Galilee (Luke 8:1-3) with the Parable of the Sower, Jesus teaches that listening faith (Luke 8:8) bears fruit (Luke 8:4-15), brings light (Luke 8:16-18), and practices God’s Word (Luke 8:19-21). To demonstrate listening faith, Jesus, with tenderness and compassion toward the marginalized, exercises His authority over the natural world (Luke 8:22-25), the spirit world (Luke 8:26-39), disease, and death (Luke 8:40-56).
Jesus’ ministry in Galilee ends in Luke 9 as Jesus opens a new phase of ministry, sending out the Twelve (Luke 9:1-9) feeding five thousand with just a few loaves of bread and fishes (Luke 9:10-17), revealing his identity and his mission to his men (Luke 9:18-22), and calling them to a life of surrender (Luke 9:23-27). The Transfiguration confirms Jesus’ identity and coming glory as Messiah (Luke 9:28-36), calling us to the true greatness of faith and servanthood (Luke 9:37-50).
A major shift in Luke’s Gospel occurs at Luke 9:51 (until Luke 18:14), as Jesus turns his attention from ministry in Galilee to a resolute focus towards Jerusalem and his coming suffering. Despite opposition (Luke 9:51-56), Jesus calls for personal sacrifice, even of family responsibilities, in order to concentrate completely on serving the Lord (Luke 9:57-62). As Jesus moves toward Judea and Jerusalem, he sends 72 disciples ahead with a warning that God’s Kingdom is near (Luke 10:1-12). Despite his great sadness toward those who have rejected it (Luke 10:13-16), Jesus focuses on his joy over those who have received salvation (Luke 10:17-24).
When the Gospel shifts gears at Luke 9:51, Luke urges us to prioritize faith over unbelief (Luke 9:57-11:36), warning us to trust the Lord rather than ourselves (Luke 11:37-12:59). Christ then calls us to a Kingdom marked by grace (Luke 13:1-21), repentance (Luke 13:22-35), provision (Luke 14), and redemption of the lost (Luke 15). Luke warns us to prepare for His Return by responding in repentance (Luke 16), obedience (Luke 17:1-19), faithfulness (Luke 17:20-37), and persevering prayer (Luke 18:1-8), and humility (Luke 18:9-14), and complete reliance on Christ (Luke 18:15-17).
True faith is complete reliance on Christ’s provision (Luke 18:18-23), power (Luke 18:24-30), Person (Luke 18:31-34), and mercy (Luke 18:35-43). Therefore, Jesus draws us into His Presence (Luke 19:1-7) and purpose on the planet, “to seek and save the lost,” (Luke 19:8-10), assigning us a mission until He returns (Luke 19:11-27).
Therefore, we must trust Jesus because He is worthy to be praised (Luke 19:28-40), He is the only Hope for a doomed world (Luke 19:41-44), He stands by His Word (Luke 19:45-48), He has ultimate authority (Luke 20:1-8).
Luke calls Jesus our Inheritance (Luke 20:9-16), our Cornerstone (Luke 20:17-19), our Lord (Luke 20:20-26), our Resurrection (Luke 20:27-40), our Messiah (Luke 20:41-47), and our Provider (Luke 21:1-4) as we watch and pray until He returns (Luke 21:5-38). In the Last Supper, Luke identifies Jesus as our Passover Lamb (Luke 22:1-23) and Suffering Servant (Luke 22:24-38). In the Last Supper, Luke identifies Jesus as our Passover Lamb (Luke 22:1-23) and Suffering Servant (Luke 22:24-38). In His arrest, Jesus models prayer in testing (Luke 22:39-46), grace in betrayal (Luke 22:47-53), and strength in trial (Luke 22:54-65). At His trials, Jesus demonstrates that He did not come to threaten us; He comes to assume His Throne (Luke 22:66-71). He does not come to entertain us; He comes to take away our sin (Luke 23:1-12). He does not come to please us – He comes to save us (Luke 23:13-25).
Luke shows us in Jesus’ crucifixion a Man of Forgiveness (Luke 23:26-43), in His death a Man of Righteousness (Luke 23:44-49), and in His burial a Man of Honor (Luke 23:50-56). Luke then proclaims to everyone that Jesus has risen from the dead through the witness of women (Luke 24:1-3), angels (Luke 24:4-8), and His disciples (Luke 24:9-12).
Therefore, now, Jesus waits for you to invite His Presence (Luke 24:13-27) and longs for you to enjoy His Fellowship (Luke 24:28-35). Luke urges us to trust in the evidence of the Resurrection (Luke 24:36-44), to learn from the witness of the Scriptures (Luke 24:45-49), and respond with a heart of worship (Luke 24:50-53).
1. Trust in the evidence of the Resurrection (Luke 24:36-43)
2. Learn from the witness of the Scriptures (Luke 24:44-49)
3. Respond with a heart of Worship (Luke 24:50-53)
Exposition: Note well,
1. TRUST IN THE EVIDENCE OF THE RESURRECTION (Luke 24:36-43)
a. Luke 24:36 - While the Emmaus disciples are giving their report to the Eleven (or the Ten) and exchanging their wonderful experiences, Jesus suddenly appears before them all even though the doors are locked for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). Despite these wonderful encounters, they are paralyzed with fear. It seems they were taken off guard. Jesus greets them, “Peace be upon you”: The standard Jewish greeting, but just imagine the power it had coming from the Lord at this moment (John 24:27).
b. Luke 24:39-42 – Look at my hands and feet: The disciples touch Him to see that this is a real body and that He is the same person (1 John 1:1), and He eats fish in front of them, a powerful proof of resurrection (cf. Acts 10:41). Jesus provides them with evidence that He is the same man who was crucified a few days ago, whom they watched die. Jesus’ resurrection was neither a simple resuscitation of his body nor the appearance of a disembodied spirit. He has a new and glorified body (1 Cor. 15:20-23; 35-49). This is resurrection. Luke strongly emphasizes the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
c. APPLICATION: In 1 John 3:2 we read that when Jesus returns we will be “like Him.” Luke the physician tells us a good deal about the resurrection body. It is real, made of flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). It resembles the ordinary body, as Jesus’ form still bore the scars of the cross. The resurrection body is capable of eating (Luke 24:41). It is not limited by space: Jesus suddenly appeared among them in what another Gospel says was a closed and locked room (Luke 24:36). Wonders await those of us who know Jesus one day.
d. APPLICATION: You can trust in the reality of Jesus’ bodily Resurrection. Nothing is more central to Christianity. It is the assurance of life after death. Jesus’ own followers did not expect Him to rise from the dead. And they were fearful and shocked when He did. The resurrection was supposed to take place only at the end of time. It is because of the Resurrection that we have hope. Paul wrote, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins (1 Cor. 15:17). Paul made this bold statement when there were people still living who were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ earthly ministry. In 1 Cor. 15:1-8, Paul listed Jesus’ resurrection appearances in order over forty days. The resurrection was significant because:
i. It establishes Christianity as a faith that is based in the reality of history. The Resurrection did not happen in the disciples’ minds. It happened in time and space with physical and historical evidence to support it.
ii. It inaugurates the power phase of Christ’s kingship. Resurrection granted Him “all authority” and His dominion now extends to all peoples for all time (Matt. 28:18-20). Paul says He was declared the Son of God with power by the Resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4). He now sits enthroned at God’s right hand (Heb. 1:3-4; 7:25; 12:2) where He makes intercession for believers and the church (Rom 8:29), pouring out blessing on His people (Eph 1:20-21), enabling the church to complete His kingdom goals of disciples from every nation (Matt. 28:19; Rev. 7:9).
iii. It inaugurates a new creation and a new order. Jesus died in an age dominated by sin, death, and the grave, but the Resurrection opened a new era where He lives to God (Rom. 6:9-10).
iv. It is the ultimate vindication of the Son by the Father. The sinless Messiah has now been raised “according to the Spirit of holiness” (Rom. 1:4), establishing Jesus as the righteous judge of all men, a Day God has fixed “in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:31).
v. It assures the resurrections of all persons – some to salvation and others to perdition (1 Cor. 15:12-28).
2. LEARN FROM THE WITNESS OF THE SCRIPTURES (Luke 24:44-49)
a. Luke 24:44-45 – The Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms: This is a reference to the three-fold division of the Hebrew Bible, the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi’im), and the Writings (Ketu’bim). The Psalms is the first book of the Writings and represents them. What Scriptures did Jesus teach them? We might look to see which passages the apostles used to prove the death, burial, and resurrection from the OT. The apostles defended the resurrection in Acts from Psalm 2:7; 16:9-10; 110:1-2.
b. Luke 24:46 - Jesus reveals to them how his death and resurrection are in fulfillment of Scripture – one of the key themes of Luke-Acts. In Luke 16:31 Jesus said that if they were not convinced by Scripture, neither will someone be convinced if someone were resurrected. Here, the Scriptures are misunderstood without belief in Jesus’ resurrection. They work together.
c. Luke 24:47 – Lukan Commission: The salvation Jesus has achieved through His death and resurrection means that repentance and forgiveness of sins can now be preached in His name to all nations. We should read this commission in light of Acts 1:8 which alludes directly to Isaiah 49:6, “I wil give you [i.e., the Servant] as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” They will be his witnesses, going forth in the power of the Spirit from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Isaiah spoke of Israel being witnesses to (or against) all the nations in the end (Isaiah 43:10; 44:8) through the endowment of the Spirit (Isaiah 42:1; 44:3). The apostles preached the open door to the Gospel to all the nations (ethnicities) from Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; Joel 2:28-32; Amos 9:11-12.
d. Luke 24:49 – I am going to send you what my Father has promised: God promised in the OT (Joel 2:28; 3:1-5; Isaiah 32:15; 44:3; Ezek. 39:29) the outpouring of His Spirit on his people in the end-times. He came on Pentecost (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 16-21). The Holy Spirit gives the power needed to be witnesses. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Godhead. He is a person, not an it. He told them to tarry until the promise came, until they were endued with power from on high.
e. APPLICATION: The promise. It is the promise that includes every other one, because everything that the Christian needs is summed up in the Holy Spirit. Do we want cleansing and purity? He is the Spirit of holiness. Do we want joy and peace? All real joy is in the Holy Spirit. Do we need His love? “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Rom. 5:5). Is it power for serving? “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Acts 1:8). Do you need strength? “The Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Rom 8:26). Do we need to pray until the answer comes? “The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (Rom. 8:26). Have you claimed the promise of the Father? Jesus said we would be endued, or clothed with the Spirit. The Spirit doesn’t come from being cultured. He doesn’t come from education. When the Spirit comes, He comes directly. He is our Source. We depend on Him in simple faith. They had to wait on the Holy Spirit to come. Now we receive the Holy Spirit at salvation, but at times in our walk with the Lord there is a sense that we wait on the Lord, to listen to Him. The tarrying prepares our hearts to receive Him, His direction, His power. Tarrying shows us our great need, enables us to put aside the things that hinder, and helps us make room for God’s deeper and fuller work in our lives. Have you claimed the promise of the Holy Spirit? Yes, you received His presence if you were saved, but have you claimed His promise to transform and work in you?
3. RESPOND WITH A HEART OF WORSHIP (Luke 24:50-53)
a. Luke’s Gospel ends with a brief account of Jesus’ ascension. Luke expands on it in Acts 1:1-11. Here he abbreviates the events, giving the appearance that Jesus ascended on the day of His resurrection rather than really 40 days later as Acts clarifies (Acts 1:3). Jesus’ Ascension gives closure to Luke’s gospel and sets the stage for Jesus’ guidance over His church from His authoritative position at the Father’s right hand (Acts 2:3-36).
b. Luke 24:50 – vicinity of Bethany: Bethany is where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus live, Jesus’ home near Jerusalem. Bethany is two miles east of Jerusalem on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. In Acts 1:12, the ascension is on the Mount of Olives, the place where Messiah will return in glory one Day (Zech. 14:4).
c. Luke 24:50 – He lifted up His hands and blessed them: Jesus’ blessing is a priestly act at the end of the sacrifice (Lev. 9:22Num. 6:24-27). He sends the disciples to accomplish God’s purposes – the Great Commission of Luke (Matt. 28:19). Jesus is portrayed as the authoritative mediator between God and His people.
d. Luke 24:51 – He was taken up into heaven: Elijah did the same thing in a whirlwind and a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11), and Enoch was no more because God took him (Gen. 5:24; Heb 11:5). Jesus had told them in the upper room the night before the Crucifixion that He would return to His Father (John 14:2; 16:17, 28). Acts 1:9 tells us a cloud (symbol of God’s presence) took Him out of their sight. Jesus’ ascension is much more significant, establishing his exalted position of glory and power over all of creation.
e. APPLICATION – The significance of the Ascension: The Ascension is important because it declares the earthly ministry of Jesus complete and that His atoning work has been presented faultless and acceptable to the Father (Heb. 4:14-15). This is the moment when the humanity of Jesus is taken up to God and glorified. It is God’s acts of exalting Jesus to the highest place in the universe (Heb. 1:3; Eph 1:20-21). The ascension assures us who are believers that eternal life is a present and future inheritance. The Ascension allowed Jesus to
i. Prepare a place for those who follow Him after death (John 14:2-3)
ii. Make intercession for His followers, assuring their salvation (Heb. 7:25)
iii. Expand His ministry from an earth-bound to a universal, heavenly one, (4) to send the Holy Spirit as an ever-present Help, to convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11), to pour out fullness of His blessing, spiritual gifts, (Eph 4:10-11), and (5) open doors of opportunity for those engaged in His mission (2 Cor 2:12-14; 2 Tim 4:16-18).
f. Luke 24:52 – They bowed in worship: Now they understand who He is, the Son of God, divine and worthy of worship (Isaiah 9:5; Jer. 23:5; Prov 30:4; Micah 5:1). Worshiping something less than God would have been idolatry to these Jewish disciples (Acts 10:25-26; Rev. 22:8-9). Taken up in glory (1 Tim. 3:16), Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (Heb. 1:3). He was welcomed by the Father with these words, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” (Psalm 110:1). The Father had answered the Son’s prayer, “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:5). One day He will return. He said, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory” Matt. 25:31). Paul tells us of one Day when before Him “every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11).
g. Luke 24:53 – continually at the Temple: The Temple had always been a place of prayer. Luke begins and ends his gospel at the Temple at the time of prayer (Luke 1:9). He begins with fear (Luke 1:12) and ends with joy (Luke 24:52). He begins with one priest being blessed (Luke 1:5, 13-15) and ends with the Great High Priest providing a blessing (Luke 24:50-51). What is remarkable is that the disciples, robbed of their Master, are not depressed or discouraged, but instead they are overjoyed. These early disciples had a living faith and a close relationship with God. Being Jews, the Temple is the perfect place to express their faith by praising God. They are still doing it at Acts 1:14.
Are you included in the blessing Jesus gave when we ascended? It is for all who have received Him as Lord, have submitted to His Kingship over their lives, who have asked Him to forgive them of their sins. It is for all who no longer want to walk under the fearful curse of eternal death (1 Cor.16:22). Will you receive forgiveness and submit yourself to this Risen and Ascended Lord right now?
Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1993), .
S. MacLean Gilmour, “Luke,” The Interpreter’s Bible, George Arthur Buttrick, gen. ed., Vol. 8 (Nashville: Abingdon, 1952), 8:430-433.
Paul John Isaak, “Luke,” Africa Bible Commentary, Tokunboh Adeyemo, gen. ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), .
Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1993), 257-258.
David W. Pao and Eckhard J. Schnabel, “Luke,” Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson, gen. eds. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 401-402.
Dwight J. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 504-505, 512-513.
Alfred Plummer, International Critical Commentary on Luke, 5th ed. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1902), 28: .
Laurence E. Porter, “Luke,” The International Bible Commentary, F.F. Bruce, gen. ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 1227.
Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion (Wheaton: Victor, 1991), 674.
Lawrence O. Richards, The Victor Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Wheaton: Victor, 1994), .
A.B. Simpson, The Christ in the Bible Commentary, Vol. 4 (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1993), 4:351-356.
David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996), 151-152.
Mark Strauss. “Luke,” Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Clinton E. Arnold, gen. ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 1:500-501.
Charles R. Swindoll and Bryce Klabunde, The Consummation of Something Miraculous: Jesus’ Trial and Triumph of Redemption. A Study of Luke 16:19-24:53 (Anaheim, CA: Insight for Living, 1995), .
J. Willcock, The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic Commentary on the Gospel according to St. Luke (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1896), 24:601.
Harold L. Wilmington, The Outline Bible (Nashville: Tyndale House, 1999), 559.
 Luke says Jesus’ death fulfills Scripture: (Psalm 118:22/Luke 20:17/Acts 4:11; Isaiah 53:12/Luke 22:37; Psalm 31:5/Luke 23:26; Psalm 22:7, 18; 69:21/Luke 23:34-36; Psalm 2:1-2/Acts 4:25-26; Isaiah 53:7-8/Acts 8:32-33; Psalm 16:8-11/Acts 2:25-28; 13:35; Isaiah 55:3/Acts 13:34.
Luke 2:32 also alludes to Isaiah 49:6 and is quoted in Acts 13:47.
 Other OT references to the departure of supernatural figures: Gen 17:22; 35:13; Judg. 6:21; 13:20. Luke describes the departure of them as well: Luke 1:38; 2:15; 9:33; 24:31; Acts 10:7; 12:10.