This post is extracted from The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown. It contains the New Rendition, Analysis, and Notes for these verses. Also compare Matt. 28:16–20; Mark 16:14–18; John 20:19–30.
36 While they spoke these things, he stood in the middle of them and said to them, “Peace be to you.” 37 And being alarmed and afraid, they thought they were seeing a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts spring up in your heart? 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that I am he. Handle me and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see me have.” 40 And saying this, he showed them his hands and feet.
41 But while they were still disbelieving from joy and marveling, he said to them, “Do you have anything to eat here?” 42 And they gave him a piece of a cooked fish. 43 And taking it, he ate before them. 44 And he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that it is necessary that everything written in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms concerning me be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you. But you remain in the city until you be clothed with power from on high.”
In the full view of many disciples, not just Peter or the two on the way to Emmaus, the resurrected, glorified Lord appears, complete with his body of “flesh and bones” (24:39), “the Christ” in the fullest sense of this title (see the Note on 24:46). He proves that he is himself, physically resuscitated, by encouraging his gathered followers to examine and touch his wounded hands and feet and to share their meal with him. Luke captures their joyous feelings, their almost disbelieving sight as the Savior stands before them. In our mind’s eye we behold their trembling hands, their weakened knees, their quiet tears, as they stretch their hands to touch his hands and bow their knees to feel his feet (see 1 John 1:1).
Indeed, they know by now the reports from Peter and the two disciples who reside in Emmaus about seeing and talking with the Risen Savior. But might they anticipate, might they hope that he will appear to them, either here or in another setting? They may think such thoughts. Yet, when he comes, “they were terrified and afrighted” (24:37) and “believed not for joy, and wondered” (24:41). This is not a story that they make up to salve their mourning or to make Jesus’ life turn out as he predicts. They are as surprised as anyone else. Thus, their witness is firm; it is to be trusted.
Notably, the Resurrected Jesus features his special relationship to the Holy Ghost, declaring “I send the promise of my Father upon you” (24:49 and the Note thereon). This feature arises even before Jesus’ birth. For example, in the angel’s words to his mother, we read: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee” (1:35). At the coming of Mary to Elisabeth’s home, “Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost” who bears witness to her soul about “the fruit of [Mary’s] womb” (1:41–42). During Jesus’ mortal life, at his baptism, “the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him” and remains with him as illustrated when “Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan . . . into the wilderness” (3:22; 4:1). Thus, this member of the Godhead is ever with the Savior and ever assists him. Above all, the Risen Christ restores the broken fellowship of the eleven and the others. Beginning with Judas’s treachery, continuing with the scattering of the eleven and others at the arrest, and cemented by Peter’s denial, this spiritual and convivial fellowship lies fractured, torn by depression at his death (see 24:17). The gathering of disciples on Sunday evening forms an important step in restoring this comradeship. But Jesus’ sudden appearance among them brings them together in ways that will endure, tyingthem together as witnesses of his return to life.
Unlike the very abbreviated account in John 20:19–23, Luke preserves a more extensive summary of the Savior’s teachings on this occasion. What is more, it seems that here Luke also preserves the broad outline of the Lord’s teachings during the forty-day ministry which he sums up in a few words elsewhere: “speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). It appears likely that the Savior simply begins on this evening to open “their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures” (24:45). Because he reviews matters “written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning [himself ]” (24:44), we are justified in seeing this approach as a beginning of his larger teaching agenda. For, when we take all these passages together, we gain a sense for what he teaches these beloved followers during the next six weeks, starting this night.
Jerusalem now stands large in the lives of Christ’s followers. Previously it looms large for Jesus even in his youth but especially as he approaches the city and the events that will descend on him there. For him, it holds his des- tiny. But his disciples are Galileans. Their inclination will be to return home and to their former occupations, which they do (see John 21:2–3). But the Savior needs to establish these followers in a place where they can carry on his ministry and win souls to his cause. The most natural place is Jerusalem where, as in Galilee, virtually all citizens speak Aramaic, the disciples’ native language. Naturally, as we learn, the Holy Ghost assists them in communicating with others, mostly Jews from distant lands, by giving them the gift of tongues (see Acts 2:4–12). This gift, fulfilling Jesus’ promise to “send the promise of [his] Father” (24:49), links them ever after with the capital city.
24:36 as they thus spake: Luke’s record catches the two disciples literally in the middle of their report to the eleven and to the others present. Such a graphic scene must go back to an eyewitness recollection from someone in the room.
Jesus himself stood: Does Jesus pass through the closed door? Evidently (see John 20:19, 26). The physical restrictions that characterize mortality no longer apply to the Resurrected Lord (see 24:31; D&C 131:7–8).Most manuscripts, including the earliest (P 75), simply read the Greek pronoun autos, with the sense “he himself,” and omit the name Jesus. But the context naturally demands that he be named.
stood in the midst of them: These words open another narrative of an appearance of the Risen Jesus, separating this visitation from the prior experience. Notably, each of the resurrection appearances recorded in the Gospels stands alone and does not tie to other reports, except this one and the account in John 20:19–23.Because of differences, we conclude that these stories and the others that circulated among early church members frame independent proofs of the Savior’s resurrection. The fact that the Resurrected Jesus stands (the verb is emphatic) after arriving has to do with him both taking his place as the central person among his followers— underlined by his physical position “in the midst”—and presenting himself to beloved followers, not to outsiders, as the Risen Lord (see John 20:19).
Peace be unto you: Here we find a translation of the common Hebrew greeting in ancient Palestine, shalōm alēchem. “Peace be upon you.” On the lips of the Risen Jesus, the term of greeting translated “peace” (Greek eirēnē) broadens into a rich set of meanings, including a person’s inner peace, the associated peace with God, and the promise of salvation (see 1:79; 2:14, 29; 7:50; 8:48; 10:5–6; 19:38).Further, the Lord signals with his first words the warm tenor of his visit (see the Note on 1:13).
24:37 were terrified and affrighted: The force of Luke’s double terminology drives home the sudden alarm that the gathered disciples feel at someone surprising them in a secure space, despite the friendly greeting.
seen a spirit: The Greek verb theoreō,“to see,” is not the same as the verb horaōin 24:34 that underscores Peter’s direct, sensory experience with the Risen Savior (see the Note thereon). In contrast, the meaning here is that the gathered disciples think they are witnessing a spectacle of some sort.The term “spirit” (Greek pneuma) in this case stands close to the modern meaning of “ghost.”This word in other contexts points to the spirit of a deceased person (see Heb. 12:23; 1 Pet. 3:19). Presumably, the light in the room is dim, coming only from small oil lamps, and therefore the Savior is hard to discern (see the Notes on 8:16; 11:33).
24:38 troubled: This verb (Greek tarassō), which occurs only twice in Luke’s Gospel, frames an inclusio with its only other appearance, under- scoring the unity of Luke’s report.Like Zacharias previously, the gathered disciples are unsettled and intimidated by a person from the divine world (see the Note on 1:12).
thoughts: Here the term (Greek dialogismos) deals with “torturing doubts.” But in most contexts in Luke’s gospel, the word has to do with evil thoughts that lie at the base of wicked actions and thus expose the person to divine wrath (see 2:35; 5:22; 6:8; 11:34; also Mosiah 4:30; Alma 12:14; D&C 88:109).
hearts: As elsewhere, the heart represents the seat of a person’s mental understanding or mind; in this context the issue has to do with thoughts or doubts (see the Note on 24:25).Some manuscripts, including the earliest (75), preserve the singular “heart.”
24:39 Behold: In one of the most discussed passages in the Gospels, the Risen Jesus begins by inviting those in the room to see his hands and feet, knowing that they carry scars that will identify him to them (see 3 Ne. 11:14–15).In the Gospel reports, incidentally, only Thomas talks about the scars, a feature of the Savior’s resurrected body that he likely learns from others (see John 20:25).
my hands and my feet: The Risen Christ obviously draws the gaze of the assembled disciples to the marks left by the nails (compare John 20:20). The hands and feet, of course, point to the whole body possessed by the now Resurrected Jesus as well as to his power to act and move with divine purpose.Perhaps oddly, Luke does not note the nails in his earlier narrative of Jesus’ crucifixion (see 23:33).
it is I myself: The clause can be translated “I am he,” with a nod toward I AM, the divine name. But the expression seems to be almost an add-on or afterthought and therefore does not possess the sense that the Savior is declaring who he is.
handle me, and see: Often sight coupled with another sense (usually hearing) stands for an entire sensory experience that underlies eyewitness testimony (see 8:10; Acts 28:26–27; Rom. 11:8; 3 Ne. 11:14–15; also 1 John 1:1–3).
a spirit hath not flesh and bones: The Risen Jesus offers, in negative terms, the proper nature of a resurrected body, that is, it consists of flesh and bones and is not a disembodied spirit (see John 20:20, 27; Eph. 5:30; 1 John 1:1),even though some want to see the flesh as not part of the resurrection.The similar expression “flesh and blood” has to do strictly with mortality (see 1 Cor. 15:50; Gal. 1:16; Eph. 6:12; Heb. 2:14).Incidentally, the word “flesh” (Greek sarx) occurs only twice in Luke’s Gospel, here and in a quotation from Isaiah 40, and forms an inclusio that bridges from beginning to end (see the Note on 3:6).
24:40 he shewed: The Greek verb deiknymican mean simply “to show” something so that another can view it. But the term can also bear the sense “to cause to experience” something in a way that the other person experiences it through senses in addition to sight (see LXX Num. 16:30; Deut. 3:24; Jer. 18:17), much as Jesus shows the scars in his body to believers in the New World (see 3 Ne. 11:14–15; also John 20:27).
24:41 believed not for joy: At first glance, the expression seems odd. But Luke’s words exhibit a profound insight into the minds and hearts of those in the room (see also 15:17; the Note on 16:13).In a word, it is beyond belief that the Lord stands before them. Except for Peter, James the Lord’s brother, and the two disciples who come from Emmaus, no one in the room has ever met a resurrected individual (see 1 Cor. 15:5, 7). People’s emotions must be unusually jangled. A similar kind of psychological insight lies in the parable of the prodigal son: “And when he came to himself ” (15:17).
wondered: This same Greek verb, thaumazō,portrays Peter’s ponderous thinking after confirming the empty tomb (see 24:12). At base, it means to be astonished, in a moving way.Incidentally, the Joseph Smith Translation reverses “wondered” and “believed not for joy” ( JST 24:40).
meat: The word, Greek brōsimos,is an adjective that has to do with something edible.The Savior, of course, knows that the gathered disciples are sharing food and that he therefore can offer proof of his resurrected body. More than this, the Risen Jesus renews his fellowship with his followers by joining the meal, thus bridging the divide between his mortal ministry and his postmortal work.
24:42 broiled fish: Although Jerusalem sits about thirty miles from the Mediterranean coast, fish is a common dish in the capital city as shown by the mention of the Fish Gate in an earlier era (see 2 Chr. 33:14; Neh. 3:3; 12:39; Zeph. 1:10). In the New Testament period the Fish Gate is home to the kiosks of Tyrian fish merchants.
24:43 he took it, and did eat: The sensory, corporeal nature of the Lord’s resurrected body comes forcefully forward in these actions. It is not that in his resurrected state he needs food for sustenance but that he offers proof of his return to life.Everyone in the room now becomes an eyewitness of his tangible, resuscitated body that holds within itself promise for all of us.
24:44 the words which I spake unto you: The Savior nods to words spoken previously that he is about to repeat. Most, if not all in the room, will recall what he says next.
while I was yet with you: The Risen Lord distinguishes between this new era inaugurated by his resurrection and the prior one centered on his mortal ministry (see the Note on 16:16). As in other instances, the prepositional phrase “with you” recalls the comradery between Jesus and his followers (see the Note on 22:28).
all things must be fulfilled: Lying at the base of the Lord’s pointer to his prophetic words rests the Greek verb dei, a verb that embodies the sense of divine necessity (see the Notes on 19:5; 24:7).
fulfilled: Both the living voice of prophecy (see 1:20) and the prophetic words embedded in scripture will find fulfillment (see 4:21). Not only the Greek verb plēroō, found here, but also the verb teleō, which bears the mean- ing “to finish, to complete,”apply specifically to Jesus’ ministry as a fulfillment of scripture (see 12:50; 22:37; also 20:17; Acts 13:29).The passive voice “to be fulfilled” implies that the Father is the agent who fulfills the prophesied word of scripture (see the Notes on 12:50; 13:32; 14:11; 16:11; 18:31; 22:37; 24:31).
written: The Lord, of course, is appealing to scripture (see the Notes on 3:4; 4:4).At a minimum, for him the written source is a normative guidefor living. But more than this, scripture discloses the grand elements of his ministry both in mortality and in the following era (see 18:31; 20:17; 2:37; 24:46–47).
the law . . . the prophets . . . the psalms:The Risen Jesus’ words underscore the threefold division of scripture as it is coming to be known in his day (see the Notes on 16:16; 24:27).In the earlier era of Lehi and Sariah, people evidently think of scripture in three parts, but not in the same way that Jesus describes for his followers (see 1 Ne. 5:11–13). More than this, the Resurrected Jesus seems to impute prophetic insight to all of scripture (see Jacob 6:8; 7:11).
24:45 opened he their understanding: Just as the Risen Lord opens the eyes of the two disciples and opens the scriptures to their view (see the Notes on 24:31, 32), he now opens the scriptures for the gathered disciples so that they see the pointers in scripture to himself, bringing them therefore to a proper understanding (see LXX Gen. 3:6, 8), because he possesses the key for the enlightened understanding of the scriptures (see the Notes on 4:25; 11:52; 13:25; also Alma 32:28, 34–35).For the inclusio formed by the verb dianoigō (“to open”), consult the Notes on 2:23 and 24:31.
24:46 thus it behoved Christ: This reading is preserved in a number of manuscripts. But many texts, including the earliest, 75, preserve a shorter reading, “Thus it is written that the Christ . . .”As before, on the Resurrected Jesus’ lips the title Christ carries a definite article that is not translated in the King James Version. In fact, the Risen Jesus is making reference to himself as “the Messiah” or “the Anointed One” (see the Note on 24:26). to suffer:In this recurring theme in the Savior’s words about his Atonement, we grasp how vividly his suffering still weighs on his mind (see 9:44–45; 18:31–33; 24:26; also Acts 1:3; 3:18; 17:3; Mosiah 3:7, 9; D&C 19:16–18; the Notes on 9:22; 12:50; 17:25; 22:15).
the third day: This expression may be important for understanding the day on which Jesus is crucified. As many know, the words “three days” appear in other Gospel accounts when setting out the time that Jesus’ body lies in the tomb (see Matt. 12:40; Mark 8:31; also John 2:19; 3 Ne. 10:9). Luke consistently repeats “the third day” (see 9:22; 13:32; 18:33; 24:7; Acts 10:40; also Matt. 16:21; 17:23; etc.; Mosiah 3:10). If indeed Jesus’ body lies in the tomb for a full three days, then the Last Supper and experience in Gethsemane likely occur on Wednesday and Thursday.But if the body rests in the tomb until the “third day,” counting parts of days as full days as the ancients do, Jesus hosts the Last Supper on Thursday and is crucified on Friday.
24:47 repentance and remission of sins: The heart of the disciples’ preaching is to consist of these two elements. From the days of John (see 3:3) until this moment, repentance is offered as a way to escape the burden of sin. The forgiveness of sins, coupled with resurrection for all, comes forward as a twin blessing of the Atonement.
should be preached: Out of these words springs the Savior’s command that his followers begin missionary work. His words form the authorization for them to start. Effectively, Luke’s quotation of the Lord’s words turns us to his second volume, the book of Acts.
in his name: Just as pupils of other notable teachers, the Lord’s disciples will carry his message by linking his name to it. But his name will mean more than the authority to proclaim his gospel. His name also becomes the vehicle for miracles (see Acts 3:6, 16; 4:10, 30; 16:18; James 5:14–15; Morm. 9:24; D&C 84:65–72) and ultimately for salvation (see Acts 2:21; 4:12; Rom. 10:13; 1 Cor. 6:11).
all nations: The sweep of the Savior’s commission is stunning (see Matt. 28:19). The term translated “nations” also means “Gentiles” (Greek ethnos).In his mortal life, Jesus sends the Seventy among Gentiles in an initial effort to reach out to them (see the Notes on 10:1, 7–8; also 2:31). In modern times, the Lord repeats this charge to reach out to people of “all nations” (see D&C 68:8; 112:1; also D&C 39:15; 84:75) with the stipulation that representatives go with purified and humble hearts (see D&C 84:73; 112:21–22, 28).
beginning at Jerusalem: The disciples’ first missionary task lies in the capital city, an effort that they take up as reported in the early chapters of the book of Acts (see 24:49). Implicit in the Risen Jesus’ words is the notion that the headquarters of this work will lie in Jerusalem and not in his native Galilee, an important shift because Jerusalem is a city with international ties.For the future, Jerusalem will serve as a launching station for the work of the church rather than becoming a magnet that draws people to itself.
24:48 ye are witnesses of these things: In a way, this line forms the summarizing statement of Luke’s Gospel. Within the lines of his record, Luke brings forward a multitude of witnesses of God’s movements from the begin- ning (see the Notes on 1:21, 65; 2:17). More than this, the Savior’s statement here, when combined with the verb apostellō in the next verse, “to send [as a representative],” forms a reaffirmation of the apostolic commission of the Twelve, for it resembles the sending of the Holy Ghost.The term “these things” surely includes “all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us” (Acts 1:21).
24:49 I send: The verb (Greek apostellō) appears earlier in the commissioning of the Twelve and of the Seventy (see the Notes on 9:2; 10:1). In this case, the Resurrected Lord is to send the representative of himself, the Holy Ghost, who will take up his abode with those sent earlier as his authorized apostolic agents (see John 14:16–17, 26).Because in mortality Jesus enjoys the presence of the Spirit in ways that humans do not, due to the nature of his conception and to the manner of the Spirit’s descent upon him at baptism (see 1:35; 3:22), he possesses the right to send that Spirit to his followers.
the promise of my Father: Only here in the New Testament Gospels do we see this terminology for the gift of the Holy Ghost (see Acts 1:4–5; 2:33, 38–39; Gal. 3:14; Eph. 1:13; compare D&C 95:9; 108:5). Evidently, the Savior points to an earlier discussion about the Holy Ghost as the angels do with the women about his suffering and death (see the Notes on 24:6–7).
tarry ye in . . . Jerusalem: Luke does not specify where the eleven are staying. But they spend forty days with the Risen Jesus and, except for the few days spent in Galilee, they otherwise reside in Jerusalem. Their residence brings them to Pentecost, and beyond, which occurs fifty days after Passover (see Acts 1:3, 12; 2:1). In fact, it is in accord with his instructions here that the eleven take up permanent residence in the city. This directive is so significant that the Lord refers in Doctrine and Covenants 95:9 to this former command when instructing Joseph Smith to remain in Kirtland, Ohio, even though his stay would end some five years later (see D&C 64:21).Interestingly, the Lord mentions Jerusalem by name in Doctrine and Covenants 95:9 even though the name of the city is missing from some early manuscripts of Luke, including the earliest, P 75.
endued with power: This expression frames a second reference to the coming of the Holy Ghost (see Acts 1:8; the Note above). This promised manifestation of the Holy Ghost in power, occurring at Pentecost (see Acts 2:1–42), will effectively form “the birthday of the church.”The verb “to endue” (Greekendyō) means “to clothe, to put on,”mirroring a sense of being dressed that we find in the sacramental prayer, “that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son” (Moro. 4:3; D&C 20:77). In Luke, the form of the verb is the middle voice with a passive sense, meaning “to be clothed.”The passive in this case implies the Father as the agent who endows or clothes with power (see D&C 38:32, 38; 43:16; 95:8).
from on high: This phrase occurs only one other time in Luke’s record, at 1:78, forming an inclusio that ties the beginning and ending of the Gospel together.Moreover, the phrase embraces the concept that the power comes from “God’s seat,” from his throne.
Parables, 122, n. 33; Marshall, Luke, 898; Johnson, Luke, 227.