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Luke 24:1-53: Jesus' Resurrection
Individuals: Take time to think back about your past week. Where have you seen God work in your life or answer prayer? Write down any prayer requests you have.
Group: Open the study by sharing life updates, reviewing highs and lows of your past week, or sharing prayer requests and praises.
Icebreaker: What Easter traditions do you have in your family or church? Which tradition is your favorite?
All: Begin the study with a word of prayer, asking God to open your heart for today’s study. You can also pray for any prayer requests now, or save that for the end.
What is the context for this passage?
It’s been an eventful week in the life of Jesus. It starts out with him riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, with people praising him and shouting, “Hosanna!” (Luke 19:28-44). He ends up at the temple, where he makes the religious leaders angry by condemning their practices of selling sacrifices in the temple to make a profit (Luke 19:45-48). Jesus continues to teach throughout the week, drawing many crowds (Luke 20-21).
When the time for the Passover comes, Jesus and his disciples participate in the tradition by sharing the Passover meal in what we call the Last Supper (Luke 22:7-38). There, Jesus reveals that one of his close disciples will betray him, another will deny him, and they will all flee. Of course, his disciples are offended that he would say such a thing about them, but in the hours ahead, every prophecy Jesus made that night will come true.
After the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples go out to the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39-46). Jesus asks them to keep watch and pray while he prays, but they continually fall asleep. Jesus prays that God will find another way to complete his plan, but he submits to God’s will. During this time, a crowd appears, and Judas Iscariot, one of his close disciples, betrays him with a kiss (Luke 22:47-53). A scuffle ensues, and in the end, Jesus is arrested. All of his disciples flee.
Jesus spends a long night of trials, going back and forth between religious leaders and Roman rulers (Luke 22:54-23:25). Even though he can find no wrong in Jesus, Pilate hands Jesus over to the crowd to be crucified. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and led out to be crucified (Luke 23:26-49). People continue to heap insults on him. At the moment of his death, the sky grows dark and the earth shakes. The curtain in the temple is torn in two. Jesus has become the perfect sacrifice.
At the end of the day, Jesus’ followers take his body off the cross and bury him in a donated tomb (Luke 23:50-56). And there he lays. It is now the morning of the third day after Jesus’ death.
Read today’s passage: Luke 24:1-53.
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
Read the passage again.
Explore a different version if you have one available. If you are online, here is Luke 24 in NIV through Bible Gateway. You can change the version by using the dropdown menu at the top right of the page.
Try to summarize the passage in your own words.
Answer these three questions about the passage:
1. What does the passage say about God?
God has the power to raise people from the dead. The two men in gleaming clothes (presumably, angels) explained that the Son of Man (Jesus) would be raised on the third day. This was to fulfill prophecy, and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that God is the one who raised Jesus from the dead.
God sends messengers to make sure people understand his plan. In this story, the two men at the tomb and Jesus himself were the messengers God used to help people understand his plan. The men at the tomb reminded the women of Jesus’ words. Jesus opened the Scriptures to the two men on the road and to the disciples. God wanted to make sure there was no misunderstanding about what had just taken place. Today, God sends messengers as well in the form of pastors, missionaries, and other spiritual leaders. Even you can be God’s messenger to help others understand the good news.
Jesus knew the Scriptures and everything he must suffer. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see that Jesus knew the Scriptures—even starting at age of 12, he was at the temple amazing people with his knowledge of Scriptures (Luke 2:41-52). In today’s passage, Jesus is again showing his knowledge of Scripture by explaining to them all the prophecies about the Messiah—Jesus.
God can close people’s hearts and minds or open them. When Jesus talked with the two men on the road, the men “were kept” from recognizing Jesus (vs. 16). Later, their eyes “were opened” so they could recognize Jesus (vs. 31). These are both passive voice (sorry...in my day job I’m an editor), which leaves us to wonder, who is the one behind the scenes orchestrating when these men would recognize Jesus?
Later in the passage, the same thing happens with the disciples. The disciples didn’t understand either, but here, the passage uses active voice: “he [Jesus] opened their minds” (vs. 45). This clarifies the answer to our question. God himself (in his triune nature) opens the minds of people to understand the good news.
2. What does the passage say about people?
People follow tradition. The reason the women were at the tomb was to put spices on Jesus’ body, as was the tradition at the time. This tradition is what led them to the good news that Jesus had risen from the dead.
People are curious and confused when they come upon the unexpected. The women at the tomb wondered why the tomb was empty. They were confused. Jesus’ body should have been there! They only understood the significance after the two men in gleaming clothes explained it to them. The disciples and the two men on the road to Emmaus had the same response when they heard the news. They were confused and wondered what had happened.
People’s response to spiritual beings is usually fear. When the women at the tomb encountered the two men in gleaming clothes, they responded in fear by bowing down with their faces to the ground. The disciples had a similar fear response when Jesus appeared in their midst. They were startled and frightened. What would your reaction be in these situations? My guess is that it would be much the same.
Some people need to see the evidence for themselves. After the women told the disciples about their encounter at the tomb, Peter had to go see for himself. He ran to the tomb and saw exactly what the women had said—the tomb was empty. Similarly, Peter and the rest of the disciples didn’t respond with belief until Jesus appeared to them in person. They had to experience the risen Christ for themselves.
People tend to talk about current events. As the two men walked on the road to Emmaus, they were discussing everything that had been happening. They were talking about Jesus, his crucifixion, and this news from the women that Jesus was alive. If you had heard this news, wouldn’t you have talked about it too?
Some people are hospitable to strangers. After talking with Jesus for a while, the men on the road to Emmaus invited him—someone they hadn’t yet recognized as Jesus—into their home for the night. They showed hospitality that many of us today are hesitant to offer.
People need a reminder of Jesus’ words. In all three scenes in this chapter, the people—followers of Jesus—needed a reminder of Jesus’ words and the Scriptures. They hadn’t yet put everything together that Jesus would rise from the dead, even though Jesus himself had told them. They needed that extra reminder in the moment for them to really understand and believe. So when people need a little extra explanation to understand the Scriptures, be patient with them. Even Jesus’ closest followers needed a reminder.
Some people are slow to recognize Jesus and believe. Even after Jesus opened the Scriptures to the men on the road and explained to them everything in the Scriptures concerning himself, the men still didn’t recognize who Jesus was. It wasn’t until he broke bread with them that their eyes were opened and they recognized him. And then they asked, “How could we have missed that?” If people are slow to understand but are open to listening, keep telling them about Jesus until their eyes are opened.
People like to share exciting news. Each time someone’s eyes were opened to the good news of Jesus’ resurrection, they went to share the news. The women went to tell the disciples. The men of Emmaus did the same. When the disciples heard and understood, they went to the temple and shared the news. Who do you share your good news with? Who will you share the good news of Jesus with?
People worship Jesus when they encounter him and believe in him fully. By the end of this chapter, Jesus’ followers finally understand what had happened and fully believe that Jesus had indeed been raised from the dead. They had encountered the resurrected Jesus, and it changed their lives. Their first response was to worship him.
People are filled with joy at the good news of Jesus’ resurrection. Not only did Jesus’ followers worship him, they were filled with great joy because of this news. How do you respond when you hear the news of Jesus’ resurrection? Are you filled with great joy?
3. What does the passage say about God’s plan?
God’s plan was for Jesus to defeat sin and death. The reason Jesus died on the cross was to pay the penalty for the sins of all human kind. The only way that this sacrifice could be made complete was for Jesus to rise from the dead, proving that he had defeated sin and death once for all. The gleaming men at the tomb reminded the women of this, and Jesus discussed this with both the men of Emmaus and the disciples.
God’s plan was for his followers to preach a message of repentance and forgiveness. After Jesus had outlined the Scriptures to the disciples, he told them that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name. The passage uses passive voice again, so it doesn’t directly say who will be doing the preaching, but the assumption is that those who are listening—Jesus’ disciples—would be the ones preaching.
God’s plan was to send the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ followers. After his teaching is complete, Jesus promises to send something to the disciples, something that would clothe them with power from on high. We know from other passages that Jesus is promising to send the Holy Spirit.
How does the passage fit into the overarching story of the Bible?
Sometimes it’s easier to understand a passage if you have a little outside knowledge from other passages in the Bible. This section will help provide that outside perspective.
The purpose of Jesus coming to earth may have been to die for our sins, but his resurrection is what gives us hope. The resurrection is what makes the gospel the “good news.” If Jesus had died on the cross and stayed dead, Christianity would be nothing. By resurrecting, Jesus conquered sin and death for all time. This alone is enough to make this passage significant.
But that’s not all his resurrection did. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his followers so that they would know that he had risen from the dead. He explained to them how all of his actions led up to the fulfillment of Scriptures about the Messiah. He promised to send the Holy Spirit. And it is through this that his followers were filled with the confidence and power to preach the good news. They were confident that Jesus had risen from the dead and was the Messiah. When they received the Holy Spirit later, they received the power to teach and spread the news about Jesus. They had the endurance to deal with hardships without wavering. They had the desire to preach the same message as Jesus: repent and be saved. Their persistence in spreading the gospel and maintaining the integrity of Scripture is the reason that you and I know about Jesus today.
Individual: Answer the following questions thoughtfully for yourself.
Group: Pose these questions for discussion.
All: If you are willing to share, I’d love to hear your thoughts to these questions. Feel free to use the comment section to start a discussion about this passage.
What else strikes you about this passage?
How does the passage affect how you view God? How you view yourself?
How does this passage affect how you will live your life?
For Bible Essential studies, you can use my thoughts as your devotional, or you can download and use the journaling sheet to work through the passage on your own. If desired, you can then compare your thoughts to mine. Journal sheets can be downloaded and used now or later. They can be printed and filled in by hand or saved and filled out electronically. Journal sheets are available for individual or group use.
If you plan to lead a group study, a PowerPoint presentation is also available.
You can access these resources by clicking here: Luke 24 Resources