Luke 24:52
And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(52) They worshipped him.—These words also are absent from most of the best MSS. If they stand as part of the text, we must remember that they describe the attitude of prostrate adoration.

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).

Luke

THE TRIUMPHANT END

Luke 24:36 - Luke 24:53
.

There are no marks of time in this passage, and, for anything that appears, the narrative is continuous, and the Ascension might have occurred on the evening of the Resurrection. But neither is there anything to forbid interpreting this close of Luke’s Gospel by the fuller details contained in the beginning of his other treatise, the Acts, where the space of forty days interposes between the Resurrection and the Ascension. It is but reasonable to suppose that an author’s two books agree, when he gives no hint of change of opinion, and it is reasonable to regard the narrative in this passage as a summary of the whole period of forty days. If so, it contains three things,-the first appearance of the risen Lord to the assembled disciples {Luke 24:36 - Luke 24:43}, a condensed summary of the teachings of the risen Lord {Luke 24:44 - Luke 24:49}, and an equally compressed record of the Ascension {Luke 24:50 - Luke 24:53}.

I. The proofs of the Resurrection graciously granted to incredulous love {Luke 24:36 - Luke 24:43}.

The disciples were probably assembled in the upper room, where the Lord’s Supper had been instituted, and which became their ordinary meeting-place {Acts 1:1 - Acts 1:26} up till Pentecost. What sights that room saw! There, when night had come, they were discussing the strange reports of the Resurrection, when, all suddenly, they saw Jesus, not coming or moving, but standing in the midst. Had He come in unnoticed by them in their eager talk? The doors were shut. How had this calm Presence become visible all at once?

So little were they the enthusiastic, credulous people whom modern theories which explain away the Resurrection assume them to have been, that even His familiar voice in His familiar salutation, tenfold more significant now than ever before, did not wake belief that it was verily He. They fled to the ready refuge of supposing that they saw ‘a spirit.’ Our Lord has no rebukes for their incredulity, but patiently resumes His old task of instruction, and condescends to let them have the evidence of two senses, not shrinking from their investigating touch. When even these proofs were seen by Him to be insufficient, He added the yet more cogent one of ‘eating before them.’ Then they were convinced.

Now their incredulity is important, and the acknowledgment shows the simple historical good faith of the narrator. A witness who at first disbelieved is all the more trustworthy. These hopeless mourners who had forgotten all Christ’s prophecies of His Resurrection, and were so fixed in their despair that the two from Emmaus could not so far kindle a gleam of hope as to make them believe that their Lord stood before them, were not the kind of people in whom hallucination would operate, as modern deniers of the Resurrection make them out to have been. What changed their mood? A fancy? Surely nothing less than a solid fact. Hallucination may lay hold on a solitary, morbid mind, but it does not attack a company, and it scarcely reaches to fancying touch and the sight of eating.

Note Luke’s explanation of the persistent incredulity, as being ‘for joy.’ It is like his notice that the three in Gethsemane ‘slept for sorrow.’ Great emotion sometimes produces effects opposite to what might have been expected. Who can wonder that the mighty fact which turned the black smoke of despair into bright flame should have seemed too good to be true? The little notice brings the disciples near to our experience and sympathy. Christ’s loving forbearance and condescending affording of more than sufficient evidence show how little changed He was by Death and Resurrection. He is as little changed by sitting at the right hand of God. Still He is patient with our slow hearts. Still He meets our hesitating faith with lavish assurances. Still He lets us touch Him, if not with the hand of sense, with the truer contact of spirit, and we may have as firm personal experience of the reality of His life and Presence as had that wondering company in the upper room.

II. Luke 24:44 - Luke 24:49 are best taken as a summary of the forty days’ teaching.

They fall into stages which are distinctly separated. First we have {ver. 44} the reiteration of Christ’s earlier teaching, which had been dark when delivered, and now flashed up into light when explained by the event. ‘These are my words which I spake,’ and which you did not understand or note. Jesus asserts that He is the theme of all the ancient revelation. If we suppose that the present arrangement of the Old Testament existed then, its present three divisions are named; namely, Law, Prophets, and Hagiographa, as represented by its chief member. But, in any case, He lays His hand on the whole book, and declares that He, and His Death as sacrifice, are inwrought into its substance. ‘The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ Whatever views we hold as to the date and manner of origin of the Old Testament books, we miss the most pregnant fact about them if we fail to recognise that they all point onwards to Him.

Another stage is marked by that remarkable expression, ‘He opened their mind.’ His teaching was not, like ours, from without only. He gave not merely instruction, but inspiration. It was not enough to spread truth before the disciples. He did more; He made them able to receive it. He gives no lesser gifts from the throne than He gave in the upper room, and we may receive, if our minds are kept expectant and in touch with Him, the same inward eye to see wondrous things out of the Word.

Luke 24:46, by its repetition of ‘and He said,’ seems to point to another stage, in which the teaching as to the meaning of the Old Testament passes into instructions for the future. Already Jesus had hinted at the cessation of the old close intercourse in that pathetic ‘while I was yet with you,’ and now He goes on to outline the functions and equipment of the disciples in the future period of His absence. As to the past sufferings, He indicates a double necessity for them,-one based on their having been predicted; another, deeper, based on the fitness of things. These sufferings made the preaching of repentance and forgiveness possible, and imposed on His followers the obligation of preaching His name to all the world. Without the Cross His servants would have no gospel. Having the Cross, His servants are bound to publish it everywhere.

The universal reach of His atonement is implied in the commission. The sacrifice for the world’s sin is the sole ground of remission of sin, and is to be proclaimed to every creature. Mark that here the same word is employed in connection with proclaiming Christ’s Death as in John’s version of this saying {John 20:23}, which is misused as a fortress of the priestly power of absolution. The plain inference is that the servant’s power of remission is exercised by preaching the Master’s death of expiation.

The ultimate reach of the message is to be to all nations; the beginning of the universal gospel is to be at Jerusalem. The whole history of the world and the Church lies between these two. By that command to begin at Jerusalem, the connection of the Old with the New is preserved, the Jewish prerogative honoured, the path made easier for the disciples, the development of the Church brought into unison with their natural sentiments and capacities.

The spirit of the commandment remains still imperative. ‘The eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.’ A wise and Christlike beneficence will not gaze far afield, and neglect things close at our doors. The scoff at the supporters of foreign missions, as if they quixotically went abroad when they should work at home, has no point even as regards Christian practice, for it is the people who work for the distant heathen who also toil for home ones; but it has still less ground in regard to Christian conceptions of duty, for the Lord of the harvest has bidden the reapers begin with the fields nearest them.

The equipment for work is investiture with divine power. A partial bestowment of the Spirit, which is the Father’s promise, took place while Jesus spoke. ‘I send’ refers to something done at the moment; but the fuller clothing with that garment of power was to be waited for in expectancy and desire. No man can do the Christian work of witnessing for and of Christ without that clothing with power. It was granted as an abiding gift on Pentecost. It needs perpetual renewal. We may all have it. Without it, eloquence, learning, and all else, are but as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.

III. Luke 24:50 give us the transcendent miracle which closes the earthly life of Jesus.

We cannot here enter on the large questions which it raises, but must content ourselves with simply pointing to the salient features of Luke’s condensed account. The mention of the place as ‘over against Bethany’ recalls the many memories of that village where Jesus had found His nearest approach to a home, where He had exercised His stupendous life-giving power, whence He had set out to the upper room and the near Cross. His last act was to bless His followers. He is the High-priest for ever, and these uplifted hands meant a sacreder thing than the affectionate good wishes of a departing friend. He gives the blessings which He invokes. His wish is a conveyance of good.

The hands remained in the attitude of benediction while He ascended, and the last sight of Him, as the cloud wrapped Him round, showed Him shedding blessing from them. He continues that attitude and act till He comes again. Two separate motions are described in verse 51. He was parted from them,-that is, withdrew some little distance on the mountain, that all might see, and none might hinder, His departure; and ‘was carried up into heaven’ by a slow upward movement, as the word implies. Contrast this with Elijah’s rapture. There was no need of fiery chariot or whirlwind to lift Jesus to the heavens. He went up where He was before, returning to the glory which He had with the Father before the world was. The end matches the beginning. The supernatural birth corresponds with the supernatural departure.

We have to think of that Ascension as the entrance of corporeal humanity into the divine glory, as the beginning of His heavenly activity for the world, as the token of His work being triumphantly completed, as the prophecy and pledge of immortal life like His own for all who love Him. Therefore we may share the joy which flooded the lately sorrowful disciples’ hearts, and, like them, should make all life sacred, and be continually in the Temple, blessing God, and have the deep roots of our lives hid with Christ in the glory.24:50-53 Christ ascended from Bethany, near the Mount of Olives. There was the garden in which his sufferings began; there he was in his agony. Those that would go to heaven, must ascend thither from the house of sufferings and sorrows. The disciples did not see him rise out of the grave; his resurrection could be proved by their seeing him alive afterwards: but they saw him ascend into heaven; they could not otherwise have a proof of his ascension. He lifted up his hands, and blessed them. He did not go away in displeasure, but in love, he left a blessing behind him. As he arose, so he ascended, by his own power. They worshipped him. This fresh display of Christ's glory drew from them fresh acknowledgments. They returned to Jerusalem with great joy. The glory of Christ is the joy of all true believers, even while they are here in this world. While waiting for God's promises, we must go forth to meet them with our praises. And nothing better prepares the mind for receiving the Holy Ghost. Fears are silenced, sorrows sweetened and allayed, and hopes kept up. And this is the ground of a Christian's boldness at the throne of grace; yea, the Father's throne is the throne of grace to us, because it is also the throne of our Mediator, Jesus Christ. Let us rely on his promises, and plead them. Let us attend his ordinances, praise and bless God for his mercies, set our affections on things above, and expect the Redeemer's return to complete our happiness. Amen. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.They worshipped him - The word "worship" does not "always" denote religious homage. See the notes at Matthew 2:11. Compare Luke 14:10. But here it is to be remarked,

1. That they offered this worship to an "absent" Saviour. It was "after" he left them and had vanished out of their sight. It was, therefore, an act of religion, and was the "first" religious homage that was paid to Jesus after he had left the world.

2. If "they" worshipped an absent Saviour - a Saviour unseen by the bodily eye, it is right for "us" to do it. It was an example which we "may and should" follow.

3. If worship may be rendered to Jesus, he is divine. See Exodus 20:4-5.

52. worshipped him—certainly in the strictest sense of adoration.

returned to Jerusalem—as instructed to do: but not till after gazing, as if entranced, up into the blue vault in which He had disappeared, they were gently checked by two shining ones, who assured them He would come again to them in the like manner as He had gone into heaven. (See on [1752]Ac 1:10, 11). This made them return, not with disappointment at His removal, but "with great joy."

Ver. 52,53. We never before read of any act of adoration which the disciples performed to Christ. Their faith was now come to the highest pitch. They did no longer look upon him only as one sent of God, a great Prophet, nor only as the Son of David, the promised Messiah; in the mean time not rightly taking the notion of the Messiah, but looking upon him as one who should be a temporal saviour, and deliverer of his people; they now believe him to be the eternal Son of God, being so manifested by his resurrection from the dead, and ascension into heaven before their eyes. According to his commandment, they return to Jerusalem, full of joy:

and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. It is said, Acts 1:13,14, that being returned they went into an upper room, and continued in prayer and supplication. Some think that this upper room was appendant to the temple. But continually here may reasonably be interpreted often, or ordinarily, or at temple hours of prayer; as the morning and evening sacrifice are called the continual burnt offering, Exodus 29:42 Numbers 28:3. Their work was to praise and bless God. It is not said for what, but easily understood: as for other mercies, so more especially for his sending the Messiah for our redemption, and the confirmation and perfecting their faith in him. And they worshipped him,.... Not with a civil worship, as he was sometimes worshipped by men, in the days of his flesh, who, though they took him for some extraordinary person, knew him not to be the Son of God; but with religious worship as God: for by his resurrection from the dead, Christ was declared to be the Son of God, and both by that, and by his going to his Father, his ascension to heaven, the disciples were more confirmed in his proper deity, and divine sonship; and therefore worshipped him as God; by calling upon his name, ascribing blessings and honour, and glory, to him; by making him the object of their reverence and fear; and by trusting in him; and by doing every religious act in his name, and which they ever after continued to do:

and returned to Jerusalem: as they were ordered, where they were to tarry and wait for the pouring down of the Spirit: and this they did

with great joy; for though their Lord was parted from them, and was gone to heaven, this did not cause sorrow, as did his death, but, on the contrary, joy, even great joy; partly because of the glory he was entered into, and possessed of; and partly on account of what he was gone to do for them; to appear in the presence of God for them, to make intercession for them, to take possession of heaven in their name, and to prepare a place for them, as well as to receive gifts for them; and now they return to Jerusalem with great cheerfulness, in full hope and expectation, yea, assurance of faith, that they should shortly receive the promise of the Father.

And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 24:52. Καὶ αὐτοί] and they on their part, after the Lord was separated from them (and was taken up into heaven). To the ἀνεφέρετο εἰς τ. οὐρ. corresponds in this place the equally suspicious προσκυν. αὐτόν (see the critical remarks on Luke 24:51 f.), which is referred to Him who was exalted to heavenly dominion.

μετὰ χαρᾶς μεγάλ.] at this final blessed perfecting of their Lord Himself (John 14:28), and at the blessing which they had just received from Him. “Praeludia Pentecostes,” Bengel. “Corpus suum intulit coelo, majestatem suam non abstulit mundo,” Augustine.Luke 24:52. μετὰ χαρᾶς μεγάλης, with great joy, the joy of men convinced that their Lord was risen and gone up to glory, and that great events were impending in connection with the promise of the Spirit.52. returned to Jerusalem] For fuller details see Acts 1:3-12.

with great joy] as Jesus had promised (John 16:20; John 16:22). It is remarkable that they shewed great joy now that they were losing for ever the earthly presence of their Lord. It shews their faith in the promise that His spiritual presence should be even nearer and more precious (John 14:28; John 16:7).Luke 24:52. Προσκυνήσαντες, having worshipped Him) In that attitude, which is described in Acts 1:11 [“Looked stedfastly toward heaven—Stand ye gazing up into heaven”]. Therefore Christ must be God.—χαρᾶς, with joy) No longer now were they missing with sad regret the sight of the Lord. This was a prelude to Pentecost. John 14:28 [“If ye loved Me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father”]. [No doubt they rejoiced both concerning what was passed, and concerning what was promised in time to come.—Harm., p. 613.] So it is recorded of the Eunuch and Philip, Acts 8:39 [“The Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip: and he (the eunuch) went on his way rejoicing”].Verse 52. - And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. This "great joy," on first thoughts, is singular till we read between the lines, and see how perfectly they now grasped the new mode of the Lord's connection with his own. They knew that henceforth, not for a little time as before the cross, not fitfully as since the Resurrection, but that for ever, though their eyes might not see him, would they feel his blessed presence near (see John 14:28; John 16:7). One question more connected with the Ascension presses for an answer. Much modern criticism regards this last scene simply as one of the ordinary disappearances of the forty days, and declines to admit any external, visible fact in which the Ascension was manifested. But St. Luke's description. both in his Gospel and in the Acts, is plainly too circumstantial to admit of any hypothesis which limits the Ascension to a purely spiritual elevation. At the end of his earthly ministry, the evening before the cress, Jesus asked back his glory: "Now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own sell, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (John 17:5). The Ascension and consequent session at the right hand was the answer to the prayer of Christ. It was necessary for the training of the first teachers of Christianity that the great fact should be represented in some outward and visible form. "The physical elevation," writes Dr. Westcott, "was a speaking parable, an eloquent symbol, but not the truth to which it pointed, or the reality which it foreshadowed, The change which Christ revealed by the Ascension was not a change of place, but a change of state; not local, but spiritual. Still, from the necessities of our human condition, the spiritual change was represented sacramentally, so to speak, in an outward form He passed beyond the sphere of man's sensible existence to the open presence of God" ('Tim Revelation of the Risen Lord'). The session at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19) cannot designate any particular place. The ascension, then, of Jesus is not the exchange of one locality, earth, merely for another we term heaven. It is a change of state; it is a passing from all confinement within the limits of space to omnipresence.
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