Jesus—His Life and Message: The Resurrection (Part 4)

July 19, 2022

by Peter Amsterdam

In the previous article we read about two disciples, Cleopas and an unnamed companion, who were walking to Emmaus with Jesus (whom they didn’t recognize). They expressed their disappointment about Jesus’ crucifixion, saying, we had hoped that he [Jesus] was the one to redeem Israel.1 They talked about how the chief priests and rulers delivered Jesus to be condemned to death and how He had been crucified. Jesus then began to explain to them the meaning of all that had transpired. And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.2

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. [Jesus] acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.3 

As Jesus and the two disciples approached the town of Emmaus, Jesus acted as if He was going to continue on, perhaps heading to the next town. Because it was late in the day and would soon be dark, and perhaps it was unsafe to travel at night, the disciples urged Him to remain with them. Jesus agreed and he went in to stay with them. It seems likely that they were staying at an inn which provided lodging and food.

When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.4 

When the two disciples reclined at the table with Jesus, they still didn’t know that it was Him. Jesus took bread, blessed it, and gave it to them. This mirrors His actions during the feeding of the five thousand5 and the last supper.6 Jesus acted as the host of the meal, the one who blessed the bread and gave it to the others.

Once Jesus had broken the bread and given it to them, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. Then, once they recognized Him, Jesus disappeared. Throughout the Gospels, we are told that Jesus appeared and disappeared among the believers after His resurrection.7 The book of 1 Corinthians also mentions Jesus appearing to the disciples. The apostle Paul wrote:

I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.8

With reference to Jesus’ disappearance, one author states: With the revelation that Jesus lives, his visible presence is no longer necessary … the appearance displays continuity between the Jesus of earthly ministry and the raised Jesus who sits over the church. Jesus can personally minister to anyone after his death and resurrection.9

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”10 

Once the two disciples knew that it was Jesus who had been with them and had then disappeared, they expressed the effect that Jesus’ presence and words had on them. Jesus’ explanations caused great emotion and excitement.

They rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.11

The two disciples who were originally going to the village of Emmaus wanted to pass on the news that they had seen Jesus, so they reversed course and started walking back to Jerusalem.

Upon arriving in Jerusalem, they found the eleven (the apostles) gathered with others. The Gospel of John tells us that the apostle Thomas wasn’t present when Jesus appeared to the apostles, which would mean that only ten apostles were present, not the eleven, when Jesus appeared. One author explains that Luke takes “Eleven” to be a general way to refer to the group of apostles without Judas, without insisting that all those who remained were present.12 Besides “the eleven,” there were an unspecified number of other disciples who had remained in Jerusalem. The disciples who had turned back from going to Emmaus were prepared to give their account, but before they had a chance, another report came.

The two disciples found the eleven and the others who were gathered together with them. They were told, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” The two disciples then told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. The account of Jesus appearing to Simon (Peter) and the experience of the two disciples gives two separate accounts of witnesses who had seen the resurrected Christ.

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.13 

While the disciples were speaking about Jesus appearing to Peter and to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, Jesus appeared to them. The apostles and the others with them were surprised and scared, thinking that they had seen a spirit.

In order to calm them, Jesus asked them two questions.

He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?”14

The first question has to do with their being troubled and alarmed. They think they are seeing a “spirit,” and the presence of a disembodied spirit was certainly out of the ordinary and would probably be rather startling. The second question has to do with their lack of perception. Why are they having doubts in their hearts, in their inner person? Likely it’s because they weren’t expecting Jesus to be raised from the dead, nor did they expect Him to keep appearing.

See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.15 

Jesus instructed the disciples to look at His hands and feet, to see the wounds He bore from being crucified. This passage, as well as one from the book of John,16 shows that Jesus was nailed to the cross and not just tied to it. Besides looking at His wounds, He instructed them to touch Him, as He wanted them to see that He had a body of flesh and bones and was not a disembodied spirit. One author explains: It is the raised Jesus whose body has been brought back to life. It has characteristics of the physical body, though it carries those characteristics in a way that the old body could not (e.g., this new body will not perish and it can appear and vanish) and in ways that make his initial appearances startling, not the appearance of merely another disciple.17

And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.18 

The phrase while they still disbelieved can be taken in two different ways. It could mean that despite the appearances and words of Jesus, the disciples doubted because it seemed so unbelievable. Another option is to understand it as an expression of amazement. The disciples felt a combination of both joy and amazement.

In asking for something to eat, Jesus probably removed their doubts and any fears they may have had. His sitting at the table with them eating a meal together showed that Jesus wasn’t a ghost or some sort of phantom. His table fellowship with the disciples showed His oneness with them. It also shows evidence that Jesus truly rose from the dead. He appeared to them, spoke with them, and ate with them. There was no question about His resurrection from death.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”19 

Jesus’ reference to my words that I spoke to you referred not to His general teaching, but rather His teaching regarding His death and resurrection.

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”20

Taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”21

Referring to my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you also indicates that the risen Christ is the same person as Jesus who had been with the disciples throughout His ministry. It also points to a new period that has begun, in which Jesus would no longer be physically with them.

Jesus spoke of the Law of Moses, which refers to the first major section of the Old Testament, consisting of the first five books. The Prophets is the second major section of the Old Testament, which consists of the “former prophets” (Joshua through 2 Kings) and the “latter prophets” (the major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; and the minor prophets: Hosea through Malachi). And the Psalms probably refers to the third major section of the Old Testament called The Writings, which contains the rest of the books in the Old Testament.

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”22

Through Jesus’ explanation, the disciples better understood Scripture’s teaching about His death and resurrection, in contrast to earlier on when they lacked in understanding due to some things being concealed or hidden from them.

They did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.23

They understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.24

The first of the three points brought out from Scripture was that Christ should suffer. This doesn’t point to specific Old Testament verses regarding the Messiah’s suffering, but rather to the entire Old Testament teaching on this point. The early church frequently referred to Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 as proof that the Christ must suffer.

The second point is: and on the third day rise from the dead. This Gospel makes it clear that the promise is of a quick resurrection, which is quite different from the usual Jewish hope of a resurrection on the last day. This hope is seen in the Old Testament verse: For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.25

The third point is that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. The future of God’s plan is expressed here. The message of repentance and forgiveness is to be proclaimed everywhere. As it says in the Gospel of Mark, Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.26 Jesus’ instruction was that they begin their mission in Jerusalem, and then eventually move beyond, to take the gospel to all of the world.

You are witnesses of these things.27

The disciples were witnesses of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension. They were commissioned to share their personal experience of the risen Christ, and their mission was to proclaim the message to all nations.

Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”28 

Jesus declared the coming of the Father’s promise. In calling God “my Father,” Jesus pointed to the deep and intimate relationship between the Father and the Son. The Spirit is the Father’s promise, but Jesus says “I will send” Him. Jesus is the channel through whom God’s promises of salvation and of the coming of the Spirit are provided.

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.29

The disciples were instructed to remain in Jerusalem until the time they were clothed with power from on high. The same command to stay in Jerusalem is repeated in the book of Acts.

While staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”30 

The book of Acts points out the importance of the disciples remaining in Jerusalem for the time being, as it was imperative that Jesus’ followers were baptized with the Holy Spirit.


Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

General Bibliography

Bailey, Kenneth E. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008.

Biven, David. New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus. Holland: En-Gedi Resource Center, 2007.

Bock, Darrell L. Jesus According to Scripture. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002.

Bock, Darrell L. Luke Volume 1: 1:1–9:50. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1994.

Bock, Darrell L. Luke Volume 2: 9:51–24:53. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1996.

Brown, Raymond E. The Birth of the Messiah. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

Brown, Raymond E. The Death of the Messiah. 2 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

Carson, D. A. JesusSermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1987.

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Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.

Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to Matthew. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992.

Morris, Leon. Luke. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

Ott, Ludwig. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, 1960.

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Talbert, Charles H. Reading the Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004.

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Young, Brad H. Jesus the Jewish Theologian. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1995.

1 Luke 24:21.

2 Luke 24:27.

3 Luke 24:28–29.

4 Luke 24:30–31.

5 Luke 9:16.

6 Luke 22:19.

7 John 20:19, 26. Luke 24:36.

8 1 Corinthians 15:3–9.

9 Bock, Luke 9:51–24:53, 1920.

10 Luke 24:32.

11 Luke 24:33–35.

12 William F. Arndt, Commentary on Luke (Concordia Publishing House, 1956), 491.

13 Luke 24:36–37.

14 Luke 24:38.

15 Luke 24:39–40.

16 John 20:25.

17 Bock, Luke 9:51–24:53, 1933.

18 Luke 24:41–43.

19 Luke 24:44.

20 Luke 9:22.

21 Luke 18:31–33. See also Luke 9:44, 17:25, 22:37.

22 Luke 24:45–47.

23 Luke 9:45.

24 Luke 18:34.

25 Psalm 16:10.

26 Mark 16:15.

27 Luke 24:48.

28 Luke 24:49.

29 Acts 1:8.

30 Acts 1:4–5.