Problems in Luke's Account of the Resurrection Appearances

Problems in Luke’s Account of the Resurrection Appearances

** (1) Could Peter have met someone other than Jesus on the Road to Emmaus, or could it have been a vision?**

Luke's gospel says:
24:15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 24:16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
If the stranger looked like Jesus, wouldn't they have recognized Him? The second verse about their eyes suggests that they didn't see Him as Jesus. The stranger told them:
24:25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 24:26 Ought not [the Messiah] Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
At first glance, that sounds like something only Jesus would say. However, there a debate with a long history in Judaism over whether the Bible predicted that the Messiah would suffer these kinds of things. Perhaps the stranger merely chose to defend that side of the argument? Never did the stranger directly say that He himself was Jesus or even that Jesus was the Messiah, only that the Messiah would suffer those things.

The two disciples finally recognized the stranger in the breaking of the bread, upon which the stranger vanished. So did the stranger merely break bread according to the longstanding Jewish ritual of breaking bread, or did he perform it in a secret way unique only to Jesus and the disciples? And did the stranger vanish into thin air in front of them or did he escape when they weren't looking?

It's noteworthy here that the other disciples were skeptical about the two disciples' claim. And it's also strange that the two disciples' report was not that Jesus had appeared to both of them, but that "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon (Peter)." Was this appearance just a private vision by or revelation from Peter?

In Mark 16:14, Jesus reprimands the apostles for failing to believe the two disciples. But this verse is in the part of Mark 16 (verses 9-20) that theologians like N.T. Wright often consider to be a later addition to Mark's original gospel.

** (2) When he came to the two disciples, the stranger called them “fools”. Does this contradict Christian teaching?**

Matthew 5:22 says:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca [empty-headed], shall be liable to the judgment: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be liable to the hell of fire.
But in Luke 24:25, the stranger says: "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken". In Luke 11:40 and Matthew 23:17, Jesus calls the pharisees "fools" too.

The explanation I could see for these verses is that either Jesus was not in a brotherly relationship to the people He called fools, or that when Jesus said that the person would be liable to hell fire He did not mean that the person would be guaranteed to be in hell fire or that the person was necessarily always sinning in labeling his brother a fool.

** (3) (A) Why did Jesus order Mary Magdalene not to touch Him in John, yet He let the disciples touch Him in Luke and John and the two Marys held His feet in Matthew?**

In John's Gospel, Mary Magdalene found the tomb empty and told the disciples. Then Peter and John came, found it empty, and left Mary Magdalene at the tomb. Next, Mary met the two angels inside the tomb, and then:
20:15 ...she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
20:16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master
20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
In Matthew' gospel The women go to the tomb and an angel tells them to give the news
to the disciples.
28:9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
Then in Luke 24:39 and John 20:27, Jesus asked the disciples to touch Him to prove that He was real and had a physical body. Why would He do this if He banned the women from touching Him? The only thing I can think of is that the women's touch would have made Him ritually unclean under the Torah, and that the women touched Him before He told Mary Magdalene not to touch Him.

** (3)(B) This account of the women touching Jesus raises the side issue of whether Mary Magdalene saw Jesus twice or the gospels’ chronology is wrong and she saw Him only once.**

In Matthew, (1) the two Mary's go to get the disciples, then (2) find Jesus and hold His feet.
But in John's gospel, (1) Mary brings the disciples to the tomb, then (2) finds Jesus outside the tomb, and He says not to touch Him.

What do you think?

The text does not say that one of the men on the road to Emmaus was Peter. It says that one was Cle’opas and the other is not named.

Verse 33 says that Cle’opas and the other man went back to Jerusalem and found “the eleven” who had gathered together. The eleven was a reference to the Apostles and so Peter the Apostle could not have been the unnamed man on the road to Emmaus.

Read CCC 115 - 117

OK, I did.

20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Anyone got a clue what this means? I thought Jesus ascended during the 3 days?? and why would it matter if Mary touched him at that point? If he was spirit, her hand would not have been able to actually touch him anyway…confusing?

Jesus ascended to Heaven 40 days after the resurrection. See Acts of the Apostles 1:1-9.

He was not just spirit. He had a real body which had been raised from the dead. He was real and alive.

Women did not touch Jewish men. It was not lawful for them to do so and especially so for a rabbi. Only a mother could touch a son or a wife touch a husband. To this day the Orthodox Jews in NYC will indicate that they want their change placed on the counter and will pick it up so that a female cashier does not touch them.

She could touch him when he reappeared in the form of the Eucharist. ***My Father and your Father… My God and your God… ***The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity, where we are united to the Father and to each other through Jesus.

The whole thing is Eucharistic.


You really need separate threads for each of these questions. I have answered the question about calling people fool three times recently.


I suppose thats logical, but the way I read it, by using the word ‘for’ after do not touch me, was basically him saying ‘do not touch me, BECAUSE I have not yet ascended’, which I originally took to mean, there was something going on with his body/spirit, and if she had touched him at this time, it would have ‘messed things up’ somehow, not claiming to know the ins and outs of ascension logistics though.

I tend to think if his reason had to do with normal Jewish traditions, he would have spoken to that.

Hi Timothy.
Cleopas and an unnamed apostle met someone they concluded was Jesus on the road. They went back to the 11 and said that Simon had seen Jesus. I thought that Simon meant Peter because Peter’s real name was Simon. But you are right, it could have been a different Simon.The fact that it says that they went to the “the eleven” doesn’t prove that Peter wasn’t Simon. Remember, even though it says that they went to the eleven, it turns out from John 20 that Thomas (one of the eleven) wasn’t there when they met the “eleven” the first time. So this need not mean all eleven were there already.
In any case, the problem still stands. **They didn’t report to the eleven that Jesus had appeared to both of them, but that Jesus had appeared to Simon, who was only one person. But in Mark 16, it says that Jesus appeared to both of them, but that the eleven didn’t believe those two. The problem is that Mark 16 and Luke 24 say that Jesus appeared to both of the travelers, and in Mark 16 that’s what the two travelers reported. But in Luke 14 the two apostles only report that Jesus appeared to just one of them. It’s strange.

Jesus vanished when the bread vanished down their throats.

I am the bread of life. (John 6:48)

They recognized him in the bread and did not see him after they at the bread. The bread is Jesus.


It says that they recognized Jesus when He gave them the bread, and it says that they recognized Him in the *breaking *of the bread, not that they saw Him when they swallwed the bread or that they saw Him in the bread itself.

Hi Tim.

If Jesus Ascended only on Day 40, this creates a problem.

Jesus stopped Mary Magdalene from touching Him in John’s gospel, and you are saying that it’s because He didn’t want to break the Torah ban on female contact until the Ascension. But in Matthew 28, the women do hold His feet after He resurrects on Day 1. So this is a problem.

This is not to mention that before His crucifixion a woman once anointed His feet with oil and wiped His feet with her hair.

Hi, Tim.

Your explanation there is that:

It isn’t about the exact words you use. It is about 1) anger in the heart, 2) acting in anger toward your brother and, 3) public acts of detraction. Each carries a more severe liability and punishment.

The first sin, anger in the heart, is internal. No words are spoken to anyone else but you feel anger. This leaves you liable to judgement.
The second sin is when you say something to "your brother" with whom you are angry. Your anger becomes external and you hurt the person with whom you are angry with your words. This external sin leaves you liable to "the court" which is a reference to the small claims and civil courts at the gates of the city which could sentence you to prison.
The third sin is a public statement - you call someone a fool publicly. You hurth them and you damage their name in a public setting. This leaves you liable to "the council" which is a reference to the Jewish Sanhedrin, the supreme court of Israel, which could sentence you to death.

But that is not what Jesus said. Jesus didn’t say in Matt 5:22 that it mattered whether you said it in anger or said it publicly. He just said that if you call your brother fool/moronic/dull-minded you are liable to hell fire.

But anyway, in Matthew 23:17 when Jesus calls the pharisees “Fools and Blind”, it sounds like He says it angrily as part of a diatribe against the pharisees, and He says it publicly.

The only way I see to avoid the problem is to say that Jesus wasn’t the pharisees’ brother or that just because you are liable to hell fire doesn’t mean you will get it.

No, the two men did not tell the eleven that Simon had seen Jesus. You have it backwards. The disciples who were with the eleven Apostles told the two men two men about Simon seeing Jesus.

And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Simon had seen Jesus. (Luke 24:33-34)

Those who were with them means the disciples. It was the disciples with the eleven apostles who were speaking.

They didn’t report to the eleven that Jesus had appeared to both of them, but that Jesus had appeared to Simon,

Again, no, you have it backwards. It was the disciples of the eleven speaking, not the two men from the road.

I did not say that they saw him when they swallowed the bread. Those are your words, not mine. I said that they did not see Jesus any longer after they ate the bread.

The whole section of Luke 24 is an analogy of the Mass:

  • Jesus preaches the word to them and their hearts burn - Liturgy of the Word.
  • Jesus appears to them in the breaking of the bread - Liturgy of the Eucharist.

My point is that the whole thing is Eucharistic. Jesus appears in the breaking of the bread, and then he vanishes, just like at Mass today.


You are reading it a bit too literally. You are reading it as a modern, western man reads a newspaper. It was not intended to be read this way.

John and Matthew are two different Gospels written decades apart by two different people for two different audiences. Matthew and John are not trying to teach the same thing nor are they trying to recount history exactly as it happened.

The theme of Matthews Gospel is Jesus as the fulfillment of the Davidic kingship and establishment of his divine kingdom. The theme of John’s Gospel is the covenant/filial relationship of God with man in the person of Jesus Christ and the unity of God with man. They are written with two different messages and that is why we see differences. Differences are only problems when we lose sight of why they were written and the message they are trying to convey to the intended audience. .

And always keep in mind that the point of all the Gospels is salvation. God gave man the Bible so that we can spend eternity with him. Your salvation is the only reason why the Bible exists. My suggestion is to stop comparing and contrasting the Gospels and instead read each Gospel, each chapter, every verse and every single word with this question in mind…

What does God want to learn so that I can be saved?

Comparing and contrasting the Gospels has never done anyone any good but has only lead to struggle and doubt. The first word in the title of this thread is what comparing and contrasting the Gospels will get you - nothing but problems.


If anyone is interested in all of the appearances, see my post in the thread ‘Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearances’.

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