Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” To be sure, there are a great many lessons and applications to be drawn from Luke’s account of the resurrection and appearance of Jesus; but circle all the occurrences of “words”, “Scripture”, “Law”, etc. in this last chapter and it’s very evident that it wasn’t just the 3-1/2 years of Christ’s earthly ministry that fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. His final appearances and teachings were all instructions to be continual witnesses of the fulfillment of God’s Word in their testimony of Christ and to carry on Jesus’ practice of teaching, witnessing and admonishing others through the Word.
Read verses 1-12
Q: Who is first to quote Jesus’ words?
A: The angels quote Christ’s own words that He personally gave in advance as to these events, their meaning and what actions to take in the shadow of their fulfillment. [Note: Isn’t amazing that even angels know both OT and NT Scripture? See 1 Timothy 3:16 and 1 Peter 1:12.]
Q: What is the key reaction of the women according to v.8?
A: They remembered His words. In spite of all the signs Christ performed in their presence, despite raising at least 3 people from the dead (in particular Lazarus, after being dead himself for 3 days), there was still a lack of understanding of His words. Just as they didn’t fully understand the message behind Jesus’ many signs and miracles, they did not fully understand the message behind THIS sign and miracle. [See Isaiah 55:10-11]
Q: What were the women’s next actions based on? Had they seen the “Living One” yet?
A: They had not seen Him yet (confirmed again in v.24), but having their eyes opened to Christ’s words, they reported everything to the rest. Their actions were based on faith in Christ’s words.
Q: Why did the women’s report seem like nonsense to the others?
A: They did not understand Christ’s words at this point. Their eyes had yet to be opened either by the Living One’s appearance nor by remembering and understanding Christ’s words.
Read verses 13-24
Q: What words are the two men exchanging?
A: Christ’s life and words in comparison with those of the O.T. as evidenced in v.19, “…The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word…”
Q: Is it significant that what they call Jesus, “….the Nazarene, who was a prophet….”?
A: It might indicate that they were convinced He was more than just a “good man” or “teacher”, but not “the Son of David” or “Messiah” that would equate to being the Son of God. Their eyes weren’t fully open to Him yet.
Q: What is the difference in the men’s understanding of Christ’s words vs. that of the women?
A: The women forgot them but at the angel’s reminder – combined with the evidence of the empty tomb – remembered and trusted Christ’s words to be true. The men remembered the words of the Prophet but had not yet come to a point of seeing that His words had been proven true or what they truly meant.
Read verses 25-27
Q: With Whose words did Christ use to open the men’s eyes that they could understand the events of Christ’s own life and words?
A: The O.T., beginning with Moses and working through all of Scripture. He didn’t begin with quotes from His own recent, earthly ministry that would form the basis for the N.T.
Q: According to John 1:1, Who is the Word?
A: Jesus Christ.
Application: Do we truly understand the relationship between the Bible and Christ Himself, that they are One and the same? Having never seen Him, much less seen Him work a sign or miracle as during His earthly ministry, do we understand that the WHOLE Bible is given as our witness to, of, and for Him? And, quite simply, that it’s enough?
Read verses 28-35
Q: What is the significance of the breaking of the bread in the context of this event?
A: The nourishment of the Word of God. Although there may be many other applications and allusions, particularly to the Last Supper, the context of this story focuses on the effect of the Word of God as evidenced by the effect it had on their hearts.
Q: How did Christ respond to Satan in each of the three temptations in Luke 4 and Matthew 4?
A: Jesus quoted Scripture.
Q: What was Christ’s specific response to Satan’s first temptation to turn the stones into bread?
A: Matthew 4:4, “But He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”’”
Q: What is the significance of Christ’s immediate disappearance coinciding with the breaking of the bread?
A: Once their eyes were opened to the Word there was no need for the physical presence of the Messiah. It becomes a matter of faith. The Word is enough.
Read verses 36-43
Q: Sidebar question – No matter what sign or miracle Jesus performed, what did the authorities continue to request of Jesus to prove His authority?
A: They always asked for another sign, something unequivocally proving He was the Christ. They never accepted His message or teaching concerning the Law.
Q: Aside from the obvious appearance out of nowhere and from the dead, what miraculous signs did Christ perform to prove Himself to those present?
A: None. He confirmed His existence through the physical senses: They saw Him, heard Him, spoke with Him, examined Him and observed Him eating.
Read verses 44-47
Q: Instead of a “confirming sign” what does Christ provide?
A: He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and their fulfillment in everything they witnessed in Christ’s life and ministry.
Q: What is the significance of identifying the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms?
A: These are the three main categories into which the Jews ordered what we call the O.T. Christ is the fulfillment of ALL Scripture since He Himself IS the Word.
The power of God’s Word cannot be underestimated in its effect on us personally and those to whom we preach it. The WHOLE Bible is our primary tool and rallying point.
The common denominator of the angels, the women, the men on the road, and the disciples is acceptance of, and obedience to, the Word – not being awestruck by signs and wonders. Both Christ’s pre-resurrection and post-resurrection ministries are centered on the fulfillment of the Word.
The foundation laid through Christ’s disciples was opening their eyes to the Word. Notice that in their ministries as documented in Acts and their own epistles that they continually use the O.T. to illuminate the nature and teachings of Christ.
Just as we are to make the Bible the centerpiece of our discipleship of others, Christ Himself made it the centerpiece of training and discipleship for the founding members of His church.