Luke 24:13-17 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.
When the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus to ask him if he was the Messiah. Rather than answer them, “Yes”, or, “No” Jesus told them to go back to John and report what they had seen and heard. “The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” (Matthew 11:5).
When we think on the subject of Jesus’ resurrection we are reminded that during Jesus’ ministry others were brought back from the dead. Most recently, Lazarus, Jesus’ friend, had been brought back. Let’s look at some of the others and see how they relate to Jesus’ resurrection.
During Jesus’ ministry, we have a record of three times that Jesus called someone back from death to life. There may have been more but they are not recorded in the Gospels.
The first seems to have been…
The widow’s son. Let’s look at Luke 7:13-15. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
This event seems to have been unplanned so far as Jesus was concerned. Jesus and his disciples in the earlier travels came to the little town of Nain. If the present-day town is the same one named in the Bible we know a little about it. The word “Nain” means “Beauty” or, “A Pleasant Place”. It is an Arab village in northern Israel. It may have been along the road they would have taken to Nazareth, or perhaps they were traveling to Capernaum. They were interrupted in their journey when they saw a crowd coming out of the village following an open casket. Luke reports that the dead person was the only son of a widow. Therefore she would have been dependent upon him for support. Jesus, Luke tells us, had compassion for the woman. He came alongside and touched the case her son was lying in. He then commanded, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” Now, people, please use your imagination and picture the scene. Men, 4 to 6 of them, would have been carrying the case on their shoulders. Then he set up and began to speak — No, we don’t know what he said — the pallbearers must’ve been quite shocked. They did follow up with the proclamation that God had sent a great prophet to them and “they glorified God”!
In another event, soon after, we see a second person brought back to life.
The ruler’s daughter. Let’s read on Luke 8:52-54. And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” 53 And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.”
Moving on from the young man at Nain. Jesus crossed the Lake of Galilee and cast out a legion of demons. This would have been a Gentile town because the people there were herding pigs. Jews don’t eat pigs!
As they were returning through the region Jesus was approached by a desperate man. That man’s young daughter was sick and appeared to be dying. Jesus accepted the request for help and as he was traveling towards the sick girl a woman came up behind him and touched his robe. That one touch, based on her faith, healed the woman who had been sick for many years.
After the interruption caused by the woman’s healing a friend of Jairus, whose daughter was dying, came to them. He reported that it was too late! The little girl was dead! Jesus told Jairus to not be afraid — only believe!
When they came to the house the crowd had already arrived to begin the mourning process. It was their practice to bury the dead immediately. Jesus told the crowd to get out of the way because she was not dead, only sleeping! I assure you those people knew what death was like. Yet, Jesus, more than once, used the term “sleep” instead of death. The crowd, under protest, made way for the Lord. Jesus took her by the hand and called, “Child, arise.”
Even though Jesus told them not to tell anyone I am pretty sure they could not keep the news to themselves. I can imagine the ruler of the synagogue looking at his 12-year-old daughter and saying, “I gotta tell somebody!” That’s the kind of news that’s hard to keep to yourself.
Now these two, along with Lazarus later, were brought back to life only to return to death at a later date. In fact, all who might have been restored to life throughout history were raised only to die again. Now, that’s not necessarily bad. They had been on the other side of the veil. As such, they knew what was waiting when it came time for them to die and stay dead!
We are assured that…
Jesus’ resurrection was more. Let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 15:20-23. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Jesus’ resurrection was not simply a coming back from the dead. If that had been the case he would have been subject to all the human weaknesses and would’ve died again! Jesus’ death was planting the seed of a new humanity.
This new humanity was probably the same humanity known by Adam and Eve before they sinned! This is a new life in which the body is made perfect. Jesus would have looked quite different from the people who had seen him die. The last image they saw was beaten and bloody. There is a continuity between the physical body of Jesus before and after his resurrection. That continuity was not just in appearance! I believe, after death, we will look very much like we do in life. I know, many people hope for a 20 something body! However, since gray hair is a crown of glory, gained by a righteous life, I am not ready to give up the gray hair and wrinkles that I’ve earned!
Evidence of Jesus’ changed body is the reaction of those who knew him.
Mary Magdalene did not recognize him. Let’s look at John 20:14. Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
Mary came to the tomb on the first day of the week. The body that had been prepared for burial by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus was expected to be waiting for the women’s final ministration. Comparing the accounts in the four Gospels it seems that the women set out just before the break of day. As they arrived at the tomb it had become daylight and the first thing they saw was the stone rolled away from the door. They turned and hurried back into the city to tell the men that his body was missing. Simon Peter, and we believe John, came to the tomb and saw the empty grave clothes. Mary Magdalene stood weeping outside the tomb.
Two men, angels, appeared where the body of Jesus should have been. One of them asked Mary why she was weeping. When she answered them she turned and saw another person. That person was the resurrected Jesus. She thought he must’ve been the gardener who took care of the graves. She did not recognize him until he called her name. Immediately she fell at his feet! He asked her not to cling to him because he had to go to the Father. He instructed her to go tell the disciples that she had seen him.
Apparently, the second interaction of Jesus with his disciples was…
On the road to Emmaus. Let’s turn to Luke 24:30-31. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.
As the day went on two of his disciples were going to a village called Emmaus. It’s a journey of about 7 miles from Jerusalem. They were engaged in intense conversation as they walked. Jesus walked up to them and asked what they were talking about. One of them, named Cleopas, had a question for him. “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that happened there in these days?” Jesus simply said, “What things?” And they begin to tell him all about the mighty prophet, Jesus of Nazareth, and all the things he had done! In effect, they gave Jesus the first gospel witness! He, in turn, gave them the first in-depth review of the Bible proving that the Christ should suffer and enter into his glory.
Two men urged Jesus to stay with them that night. They sat down to a meal together. Jesus prepared to break the bread and bless it. When he did they realized who he was and immediately he disappeared. Needless to say, they had lost their appetite! They hurried back to the city where the other disciples were only to be told that they too had evidence of the risen Lord.
Jesus’ closest disciples needed proof. Let’s read on Luke 24:36-39. As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 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.”
Suddenly, the risen Lord was in the room. Traditionally, it is assumed that Jesus simply came through the wall! I realize that the door was locked but that has never hindered God before.
When Peter was arrested and being held for trial he was chained to a guard in a locked prison. While he was sleeping the door of the prison opened, an angel woke him up, the chains fell off and he was escorted into the street. He thought he was dreaming! Note that the angel opened the door rather than passing through it. I believe the locked door of the upper room was opened and Jesus entered it. I have no problem with Jesus appearing there in the same manner that he “disappeared” in Emmaus.
In another example, Philip shared the gospel with the Ethiopian eunuch, baptized him, and disappeared! Praise God! He can do these things any way he wants to!
Jesus’ resurrection restores creation’s glory. Let’s look at Romans 8:18-21. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
The glory that is to be revealed to us! The KJV translates it as “revealed in us”. I am not a language scholar but I prefer “in us” to “to us”.
When Adam and Eve fell into sin they subjected the world to suffering. Jesus, the first-fruits, began the process of restoring all things. God will give us bodies to live in when the current physical body fails. I don’t know how he will do that. I believe the Scriptures teach we will have bodies. In fact, those bodies may already be waiting our coming. We currently live in an earth suit. We are going to live in a heaven suit. We will not be ghosts drifting around on the clouds with our harps in hand. Thank God!
The physical resurrection of Jesus and his eternal possession of a physical resurrection body confirms the goodness of God’s original creation (Genesis 1:31). When we receive our resurrection bodies we will be like him (1 John 3:2). In the mind of God we have already been raised with him (Ephesians 2:6-7). Consequently, we should focus on things that are above rather than on the temporary things of earth. We have died with him, we have been raised with him. Therefore, we should put on a lifestyle that reflects his glory (Colossians 3:1-4 and 12-17). The power of his resurrection enables us to participate in a wonderful new world. The curse of sin will be ended. Read Revelation 21-22 and see for yourself!
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.