Christ has fulfilled the Scriptures. 24:36-53


Luke concludes his gospel with a third appearance of Jesus to his disciples. During this appearance in Jerusalem, Jesus explains from the scriptures the meaning of his death and resurrection. He then commissions his disciples to be "witnesses" (now to all nations and in the power of the Holy Spirit), he blesses them and then leaves them.

The passage

v36-37. Jesus appears to his disciples and on seeing him, they react in fear. It may be that by just appearing in their midst, the disciples are shocked, but it is possible that there is something about Jesus that takes their breath away. Note that the phrase "and he said to them 'Peace be with you'", is probably not part of Luke's gospel, but is rather drawn from John's gospel, Jn.20:19.

v38-40. Luke emphasizes that Christ's appearing is not ghostly - not just in spirit. This is the real flesh and blood Jesus, although now resurrected and thus transformed. Jesus' comment to Mary of Magdala, "I have not yet returned to the Father", may imply that his transformation is not completed till after the ascension, Jn.20:17. Note, v40 is not found in some ancient manuscripts and may also be drawn from John's gospel.

v41-43. Fear turns to joy. It is difficult to understand why Jesus would ask for food when he obviously didn't need it. Luke probably uses the incident to emphasize the bodily presence of Jesus to his Gentile readers. Jesus may also be bringing his overly enthusiastic disciples back to earth.

v44. Jesus reminds his disciples that everything that has transpired, from his birth to his resurrection, has served to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies concerning the promised messiah. All three areas of the scriptures speak of Christ: the law, the prophets and the writings.

v45-47. Luke gives us a summary of this prophetic truth now fulfilled in Jesus. The messiah will suffer and die, but rise again, and as a consequence, forgiveness of sins is offered to all who repent, both Jews and Gentiles.

v48-49. Jesus had opened their eyes to the meaning of the scriptures and now he promises his disciples that, as "witnesses of these things", they will be supported by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. What they must do now is wait in Jerusalem for the gift of the Holy Spirit."

v50. Jesus and his disciples move out from Jerusalem to the vicinity of Bethany. Here, he blesses them in a typically priestly manner. This images Christ's present priestly role, cf. Heb.8:1ff.

v51. Although often taken as an ascension scene, Jesus' "withdrawal" is more likely the same as in 24:31. The phrase "carried up into heaven" is not found in some of the key manuscripts. It is more likely that Luke has ended his gospel with a resurrection appearance and commissioning.

v52. The disciples then return to Jerusalem.

v53. The disciples continued together in prayer, worshipping at the Temple, and waiting for the promised blessing from on high.

All shook up

Fear is a very real feeling. There are some people who are oblivious to fear, but for most of us, fear is an ever-present experience. Sometimes it sharpens our response, but most times it debilitates us.

In this last recorded appearance of Jesus to his disciples in the gospel of Luke, we see the disciples overcome by fear. Actually, the word chosen by Luke means something like, "shaken up". Jesus "stood among them" and they were "terrified."

It would be unfair to criticize the disciples for their fear. It wasn't an issue of little faith. They were happily minding their own business and then, all of a sudden, Jesus is standing in their midst. That's shock enough, but maybe they thought he was a ghost, or maybe there was something unusual about the risen Jesus. Anyway, Jesus didn't leave them in a state of shock; he brought them down to earth.

The first steadier is a simple request for some food. What we have here is another example of incarnational theology. Jesus is not above us or beyond us; he took upon himself human flesh, with all its frailty, and that flesh was resurrected. Jesus was no ghost; he certainly didn't need to eat, but he still could, and most likely enjoyed it. So, in this little act, Jesus the risen Lord demonstrates that he is still one with us.

The second steadier came in the form of a repeated truth, a kind of creed. In fact, it became the basis of the great creeds of Christendom. In substance, Jesus' exposition of fulfilled prophecy is the gospel - Jesus in his life, death and resurrection gains for us forgiveness of sins, and this for the asking. There is comfort in the restating and reaffirming of these truths. So, Jesus draws the disciples back to substantial truth.

The third steadier is the allocation of responsibilities. There is an old tactic, often used in the local church, that serves to include new members into its life. The trick is to give the new member a job - a responsibility that is theirs and which properly reflects their abilities. For the disciples, it was no new job. All that Jesus did was to restate the job description and widen the target group. They are to be witnesses of the gospel, not just to Israel, but to all people. Of course, this responsibility is ours as well.

So, as the disciples were steadied by these truths, let us also allow them to strengthen our daily walk.


Discuss how the three elements noted above help us to persevere in the Christian life.

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