(1-8) Now upon the first day of the week.—See Notes on Matthew 28:1-4; Mark 16:1-4.
Very early in the morning.—The original has a more poetic form “in the deep dawn,” agreeing with “while it was yet dark.” The last clause, “certain others with them,” is not found in the best MSS., and may have been inserted by transcribers to bring in the second group, who are named in the other Gospels, but not in this.
Stooping down.—The word was sometimes used alone, as in James 1:25, 1 Peter 1:12, for the act of stooping down to look.
Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.—Excluding, as we must do in such a case, the element of chance, we are left to conjecture the reasons for this special manifestation. Neither of the two travellers belonged to the Twelve. They may possibly have been of the number of the Seventy. May we think that it was in tender sympathy with the trials to which their thoughtful and yearning temper specially exposed them, that their Master thus drew near to them? They had cherished the hope that the kingdom of God would immediately appear (Luke 19:11), and now it seemed further off than ever. And He came, partly, it may be, with altered garb and tone, partly as holding their senses under supernatural control, so that they knew Him not. He was to them as a man of like passions with themselves. (Comp. the appearance to Mary Magdalene, John 20:15.)
And are sad.—The adjective is the same as that used of the hypocrites in Matthew 6:16. The better MSS. make the question stop at “as ye walk,” and then add, “And they stood sad in countenance.” Over and above the authority for this reading, it has unquestionably the merit of greater dramatic vividness.
Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem?—The English is, at least, ambiguous. Better, Art thou alone a sojourner . . .?
Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet.—The words indicate the precise stage of faith which the two disciples had reached. They believed in Jesus as a prophet; they hoped that He would redeem Israel. They had not risen to the belief that He was the Christ, the Son of God. And now even that faith was tottering. The whole narrative suggests that our Lord was choosing this exceptional method of dealing with them as a step in the spiritual education which was to lead them on to the higher truth.
And have crucified him.—Better, and crucified Him, the tense being the same as “delivered.”
Which should have redeemed Israel.—More exactly, He that is about to redeem . . . The two travellers belonged apparently to those who now, as at the time of the Nativity, were waiting for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:38).
To day is the third day .—We note how naturally the disciples fall, from the first, into this method of describing the interval since the Crucifixion.
Early.—Strictly speaking, at day-break, or early dawn.
Peace be unto you.—The words do not appear elsewhere as addressed by our Lord to His disciples, but they were, as we find in Matthew 10:12, Luke 10:5, identical with the customary salutation of the Jews, so that we may fairly assume that here also the familiar words, as before the familiar act, were meant to help the disciples to recognise His presence. St. John records (John 20:19) the same salutation at the same interview.
Have ye here any meat?—Literally, anything to eat, any food. Here again there is an agreement with St. John (21:5). A new crucial test is given of the reality of the resurrection-body. It could be no shadow or spectre that thus asked for food. This we all feel; but the further question, whether there was not only the power to receive food, but a life in any sense dependent upon the laws which govern the bodily life of men, leads us into a region of problems which we cannot solve, and on which it is profitless to dwell. What seems suggested is a spiritual existence capable, by an act of volition, of assuming, in greater or less measure, the conditions of corporeal. We note how the Apostles dwelt afterwards on what now occurred as a proof of their Lord’s resurrection. They had “eaten and drunk with Him” (Acts 10:41).
Beginning at Jerusalem.—There is a manifest break and condensation of the narrative at this point. St. Luke has no personal reminiscences. The second appearance, when Thomas was present, those on the mountain or by the lake in Galilee, are unrecorded by him, and were probably not known. He has before him the plan of his second book, and he is content to end his first with what will serve as a link leading on to it. Assuming his chief informants to have been, not the disciples, but the company of devout women, we have a natural explanation of this comparative vagueness. In Acts 1:8, words that closely resemble these are placed at the end of the forty days, which are there distinctly recognised.
Behold, I send the promise of my Father . . .—As far as St. Luke’s Gospel is concerned, the promise thus referred to would seem to be that of Luke 11:13. The discourses preserved by St. John show, however, that there had been the more recent and more definite promise of the Comforter (John 14:16; John 15:26), and so far St. Luke’s report, vague as it is, presents an undesigned coincidence.
Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem.—Again we have a parallelism with Acts 1:4. The omission of all reference to the return of the disciples to Galilee is at first startling, but it, at least, proves the entire independence of St. Luke’s Gospel, and it may be explained on the very natural supposition that he had no knowledge of further details at this stage of his history, and would not construct a narrative with invented ones.
Until ye be endued with power from on high.—The Greek word is probably to be taken with more of its original meaning than is conveyed by the English. The disciples were to be invested—i.e., clothed upon—with a new power, which was to be as the new garb in which their old nature and its gifts were to manifest themselves, purified and strengthened, but not losing their identity. It is noticeable that this is a very favourite thought with St. Paul. Men “put on” Christ (Galatians 3:27), the “new man” (Ephesians 4:24). In the risen life they are clothed with, and put on, incorruption (1 Corinthians 15:53-54; 2 Corinthians 5:2-4). The word is not used, in its figurative spiritual sense, by any other New Testament writer.
With great joy.—Now, at last, the disciples found the fulfilment of their Lord’s promise that “their sorrow should be turned into joy,” and that joy—the joy of knowing that their Lord and their Friend was at the right hand of the Father—was one which no man could take from them (John 16:20; John 16:22).
Amen.—The word is wanting in the best MSS., as it is also in many in Matthew 28:20, Mark 16:20, and John 20:31. In each case it was probably added by the transcriber in devout thankfulness at the completion of his task