Scriptures

Matthew 28

Introduction

‘After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 28:1-10

Jesus Has Risen

Because it was after the Sabbath was over when the women proceeded to the tomb, this tells us that the resurrection of Jesus happened on the first day of the week, that is, Sunday morning, Mark 16:2 / Mark 16:9 / Luke 24:1 / John 20:1.

The Resurrection

When we take into account all the Gospel records, a good clear picture can be constructed.

1. It was very early on the Sunday morning, as the sun was coming up, Matthew 28:1 / Mark 16:2 / Luke 24:1 / John 20:1.

2. Mary Magdala and the other Mary were going to anoint Jesus with spices, Matthew 28:1 / Mark 16:1 / Luke 24:1 / John 20:1.

3. John records only the experience of Mary of Magdala.

She saw that the stone had been ‘taken away’ from the entrance of the tomb, the stone had been moved from the entrance during the night. The other Gospels say that the stone was ‘rolled back’, ‘rolled away’, clearly it was out of the groove in which it had to be to cover the entrance, Matthew 28:2 / Mark 16:4 / Luke 24:2 / John 20:1.

4. The guards had seen this occur and were much afraid, it was done by an angel and accompanied by an earthquake, Mark 16:5 / Matthew 28:2-4.

5. Although there were two angels present, Mark 16:5 / Luke 24:4 / John 20:12, one of them spoke to the women telling them that Christ had risen, Matthew 28:5-6 / Mark 16:6 / Luke 24:4-6.

6. Jesus had gone on the Galilee and they will meet him there, Matthew 28:7 / Mark 16:7.

7. This was in accordance with Jesus’ earlier statements, Luke 24:7-8.

8. The women went to tell the disciples as the angel had told them, Matthew 28:8 / Mark 16:7 / Luke 24:9 / John 20:2.

9. As they were afraid, they told no one else, Mark 16:8.

10. On meeting the disciples, Mary was distressed and didn’t seem to believe what she had heard from the angel as she says, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him’. As we know they hadn’t removed Jesus, Jesus had removed Himself.

11. Only Peter and John believed initially, both ran to the tomb and found only the cloth Jesus had been wrapped in. Luke 24:11-12 / John 20:3 / John 20:7.

The Appearance Of Jesus

He asked them to tell the disciples and Peter. The women fled away very frightened. The angel told the women to invite the disciples and Peter’ to meet Jesus in Galilee. Since Peter was himself a disciple, it seems unusual that he would be singled out and receive a special invitation.

Perhaps it was because the Lord knew that Peter would no longer feel himself worthy to be counted as a disciple after having denied Him, and therefore, Jesus gave him a special invitation to the meeting. What tenderness the Lord showed!

The women went to tell the apostles what they had learned. Immediately Peter and John ran to the sepulchre to confirm their report. A little later Mary Magdalene stood weeping near the tomb.

Suddenly Jesus appeared to her, but she did not recognise Him until He called her by name. He told her to go to His brethren to tell them that He would ascend unto the Father. This she quickly did.

About this time Jesus appeared to the other women, possibly including Mary Magdalene. The stories of His appearances raised the hopes of the apostles who had been as lost as sheep without a shepherd after the crucifixion.

Other reports came to their ears. Christ had shown Himself to two disciples walking in the countryside on the road to Emmaus and had been seen by Cephas, Peter.

Even so, they must have been startled when later that day Jesus suddenly appeared in their midst as they were gathered in a closed room.

But the lacerations of His body soon convinced them that the One who stood before them was their Master in the flesh. He showed them that He was not in the form of a spirit by eating a broiled fish in their presence, Luke 24:43.

The apostles no longer doubted the resurrection of Jesus, except for Thomas who was absent. When told of these events, he declared, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ John 20:25.

Just a week later Jesus again appeared to the disciples. This time Thomas was present. Christ addressed Himself to Thomas and said, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ John 20:27

Thomas did believe as he cried out, ‘My Lord and my God.’ The fact that the apostles, and especially Thomas, were turned from scepticism to belief is one of the strongest proofs of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

Later Christ appeared to seven disciples at the Sea of Galilee and again to the eleven on a mountain. We are told that He presented Himself to 500 at one time and also to James, 1 Corinthians 15:6-7.

Finally, He appeared to all the apostles at His ascension into heaven, forty days after the resurrection. As Jesus spoke with them, giving them His final words of exhortation, He ascended into the clouds of heaven and was seen by them no more.

The Significance Of The Empty Tomb

The importance of the resurrection of Jesus is summed up by Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:14-15 / 1 Corinthians 15:17. Jesus died to atone for our sins.

But we could not know that He did so unless we also knew that He arose from the grave, for one who did not have the power to conquer death would not have the power to forgive sins. Only in the light of the empty tomb does the cross have significance.

Furthermore, the resurrection of Jesus demonstrates the possibility of our resurrection. If He could conquer death for Himself, He can overcome it for His disciples. The Christian’s hope of eternal life is inseparably connected with the resurrection of Jesus.

The resurrection of Christ also shows that Jesus brought an end to the old covenant and its law when He died on the cross. The Mosaic Age in which Israel had been living for 1500 years ended at Calvary. There Jesus blotted out ‘our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.’ Colossians 2:14.

From that time forth all men, Jews and Gentiles, have lived in the Christian Age and are subject to the laws of Christ as recorded in the New Testament.

The Guards’ Report

‘While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priest’s everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.’ Matthew 28:11-15

As the women leave the site, the chief priests were told by the guards what had happened and as we can imagine, they weren’t very happy.

The chief priests and the elders decide to come up with some devious plan, that is, they would bribe the guards with a large amount of money. They were to tell the governor that someone had come along during the night and stolen Jesus’ body.

There’s no way the guards could deny what happened at the tomb and under Roman law, the soldiers would have been executed for letting a sealed and guarded tomb be entered. This is why the chief priests and elders told them they would keep them out of trouble.

The religious leaders basically promise that they will lie on behalf of the soldiers in order to discourage belief in the resurrection. This lying rumour succeeded, as it was spread among the Jews.

The good news is, the disciples believed, and they went on to preach about the resurrection of Christ, Acts 2:36, and later Jew named Saul would have a personal encounter with the risen Lord, Acts 9:1-16.

The Great Commission

‘Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.’ Matthew 28:16-17

If you remember Jesus had not long appeared to His disciples to reassure them that He had indeed been raised from the dead. During that time, He promised them that He would meet them at a mountain somewhere in Galilee, Matthew 26:32 / Matthew 28:7 / Matthew 28:10. It would have been a very long walk from Jerusalem to Galilee.

It’s interesting that when they saw Jesus, they worshipped Him, but some still doubted. The reason for the doubt here is possibly because Jesus must have been a little distance away, maybe some of them didn’t recognise Him at first, as we shall see in Matthew 28:18. It’s important to point out that the ‘doubting’ here isn’t in relation to their faith but in relation to identifying Jesus from a distance.

Keeping His Appointment

It’s a sad truth that within many of our congregations, we always have those who are late, they’re late for worship, late for Bible study, late for any event that the church has planned. They’re never late for work or family events, which does beg the question of priorities.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Christ made an appointment to meet His disciples in Galilee, and that appointment He kept.’

He kept it in spite of:

1. His sleeping disciples

2. His betrayal

3. They’re forsaking Him

4. His death

5. His burial

6. Peter’s denial

7. The big lie

8. The unbelief of many.

The only persons who didn’t meet Christ on that mount in Galilee are those who didn’t go there to keep their appointment.

Coffman, in his commentary, goes on to say.

‘In like manner, now Christ keeps His appointments with His disciples, despite similar lapses on their part, and what are those appointments?

They are:

1. To meet him in baptism

2. At the Lord’s table

3. In the trials of life

4. In death

5. In the judgment to come.

Only those who will not obey Him shall miss the joy of meeting the Lord in those appointments, but in the case of the judgment, all shall keep that appointment, whether they desire to do so or not.

The time for excuses is over, if Christ can keep His appointment after enduring everything He went through, then surely, we can keep our appointments and come together at the appointed time to worship Him and study His Word!

‘Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’ Matthew 28:18

It’s here we find the possible reason for the doubting of some, Mathew 28:17, notice Matthew records, ‘then Jesus came near’, this suggests that He was a little distance away.

This would explain why some doubted, they didn’t recognise Him from a distance, whilst others recognised Him straight away. The good news is that when He did come closer to them, the doubts would have gone, and all would have believed.

All Authority

When Jesus says, ‘all authority’ has been given to Him, He means exactly that, all authority, not some but all. The word ‘authority’ comes from the Greek word ‘exousia’ which Thayer defines as, ‘the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed.’

It was Jesus who gave up the riches of His heavenly home to become human, 2 Corinthians 8:9 / Philippians 2:5ff / John 1:1ff. it was Jesus who was tempted but yet didn’t sin, Hebrews 4:15.

It was Jesus who remained faithful to God the Father all the days of His life, despite going through the suffering and shame of the cross, Philippians 2:8ff.

As proof of His faithfulness, God raised Him from the dead, which is why He can now say that He has been given all authority over heaven and earth.

Because Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, then surely this speaks loudly about His Deity, He really is God, He really is the Son of God, John 1:1 / John 20:28 / Acts 20:28 / Romans 9:5 / Philippians 2:6 / Hebrews 1:8 / Titus 2:13 / 2 Peter 1:1 / 1 John 5:20 / Revelation 1:8 / Colossians 2:9 / John 14:9.

This means that every person is subject to Jesus’ authority with the exception of the Father, 1 Corinthians 15:27.

When Jesus ascended to the Father, He sat down on His right side. Then He poured out the Holy Spirit onto His apostles which proved that His reign as King had begun, Acts 2:1-36.

The kingdom which is His church began on the day of Pentecost and Jesus is its head on both the earth and in heaven, Ephesians 1:22-23. He has all authority over heaven and earth, hence why He’s called, the ‘King of kings and Lord or Lord’s’, 1 Timothy 6:15.

The Scriptures clearly teach that He is reigning over His kingdom right now with all authority and that He will hand over His kingdom to the Father when He comes again, 1 Corinthians 15:24ff.

He will continue to reign until all His enemies have been put under His feet, notwithstanding, the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death, 1 Corinthians 15:24-25.

‘Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ Matthew 28:19

In all four Gospels we see that Jesus commissions the disciples to take the good news to the world, Matthew 28:19 / Mark 16:15-16 / Luke 24:46-47 / John 20:21-23.

Go

The word ‘go’ here carries with it the idea of continuous action, they were to continually go, it wasn’t a one-off act but a continuous act. to keep on going.

Make Disciples

Notice that they were to make disciples, the word ‘disciple’ comes from the Greek word ‘matheteuo’, which Thayer defines as ‘to be the disciple of one; to follow his precepts and instruction; to teach’.

In other words, a disciple is someone who is taught and follows the teaching of another. Surely this teaches us that people need to be taught before they become a disciple, Luke 14:25-33.

All Nations

The Greek words, ‘ta ethne’ means every ethnic group. Jesus wants the disciples to make disciples in every ethnic group of the world, Mark 16:15 / John 20:21. And please know that ‘all nations’ means exactly that, we can’t pick and choose who we share the Gospel with, it means all people from every country there is in the world, despite their ethnicity or background.

No one is to be exempt from hearing the good news, Acts 10:34-35 / Galatians 3:28ff / Colossians 1:6 / Colossians 1:23 / 1 Timothy 2:4 / 2 Peter 3:9.

Baptising Them

For the life of me, I simply don’t understand why so many people are resistant to be baptised when Christ clearly teaches here and in other places, Mark 16:16, that they need to be. If baptism is an option and not really needed, then why would Christ command it?

Why does the New Testament teach the importance of baptism over and over again if it wasn’t necessary for salvation? Anyone who wants to truly follow Jesus must be baptised in order not only to have their sins forgiven but also to receive the ‘gift’, not ‘gifts’ of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38.

In The Name Of The Father And Of The Son And Of The Holy Spirit

In the Book of Acts, we see that people were baptised ‘in’ the Name of Jesus, Acts 2:38 / Acts 10:48 / Acts 19:5, which simply means by the authority of Jesus.

But here Jesus says people are to be baptised ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’.

Take a moment to look at the word ‘in’ and then look at the footnote in your Bible where it tells us that the word used is actually the word, ‘into’.

Do you see the difference this makes? In Acts, the Greek word used is the word, ‘en’ which refers to a person being with the authority of the name of Jesus.

Here in Matthew, it’s the Greek word, ‘eis’ which is used which means ‘into’, in other words when a person is baptised, they are baptised ‘into’ a relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

And so, when a person is baptised, they are baptised with the authority of Christ and at the same time they enter a relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Please note that although three names are given, they are one name. In other words, the unity and oneness of God are being taught in this verse. There are three persons in the Godhead, and each has a name, but their name is one

‘And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ Matthew 28:20

Teaching Them To Obey Everything I Have Commanded You

If anyone claims to be a Christian, the proof is seen in their obedience to Christ’s teachings, John 14:15 / 1 John 4:19. It’s such a shame that some so-called Christians, just pick and choose which teachings they will follow. Obeying everything means obeying everything, 1 Corinthians 4:6 / 2 Peter 1:3 / Jude 1:3.

We also see that everything which Christ taught His disciples was to be taught to others. This shows us the importance of Bible study and getting to know exactly what Christ taught, in order words, for us to teach others what Christ taught.

Yes, it’s true, in its context, the Great Commission was given to the apostles, but we still have a responsibility to share that same good news with others today, 2 Timothy 2:2.

Before His ascension, Jesus gave His disciples this commission. It’s recorded in different forms in the first three Gospels. Although He had previously given them a limited commission to go only to the Jews, His new commission was worldwide in its scope, Mark 16:15-16.

Unlike the law of Moses, the gospel story is intended for those of every race or nationality who will accept Jesus as their Saviour. Christians cannot allow racial prejudice to confine their efforts to proclaim Christ.

The conditions of salvation as given in the commission are simple. A sinner must believe in Christ, repent and then be baptised. Baptism is to be into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit rather than into the Name of Jesus only.

The blessings of forgiveness of sins and salvation come as a result of one’s baptism rather than preceding it. Jesus states, ‘He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved,’ Mark 16:16.

Notice that Jesus gave them ‘signs’ to confirm their message, Mark 16:17-18, it’s very important to remember that Jesus is speaking to His disciples and He gave them signs to confirm the message.

What was the purpose of miracles in the ministry of Christ, or the apostolic age? Their design must be consistent with the lofty theme of redemption.

Of the early disciples who were endowed with spiritual gifts, Mark declares, ‘Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.’ Mark 16:20.

The function of the ‘signs’ was to ‘confirm’ the revelatory process, i.e., the word of truth being communicated from God to man, Hebrews 2:3-4.

Of special interest in these passages is the term ‘confirm,’ ‘bebaioo’. The word denotes evidence that establishes the validity of the divinely-given word.

The supernatural gifts of the primitive age, therefore, had as their design the establishment of the credibility of Christ and His spokesmen, and so ultimately, the validation of their message, namely, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Saviour of the world!

Now observe this very important point. If it can be established that those early miracles do corroborate the testimony of Christ, and those commissioned by Him, and further, that the recording of these events in the New Testament was designed to perpetually accomplish that function, then it stands as demonstrated that the repetition of such signs is not needed today.

The fact is, that’s exactly what is affirmed by the apostle John. He declares that the ‘signs’ of Christ, which he records in his Gospel account, ‘are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.’ John 20:31.

Even those who claim that God is working miracles today when asked if they believe that the recorded miracles of Christ in the New Testament are sufficient to establish faith in Him will answer affirmatively.

It ought to be abundantly clear, therefore, that since the miracles of the Bible continue to accomplish their original purpose, there is no need for a repetition of them today. They are not being replicated in this age!

If these verses only apply to the apostles, then what about the Great Commission? Would that only apply to them and not to us today? Matthew 28:19-20 / Mark 16:15-16.

Well, the apostles have given the Great Commission, but we have the responsibility to share that good news with others too, even today, 2 Timothy 2:2.

The Gospel of Mark closes with a note about the results of the great mission Jesus entrusted to the apostles. After He had ascended back to heaven, they went out and began to preach everywhere, just like Jesus told them, Mark 16:19-20. The Lord blessed their revelation of the Gospel message with signs to confirm it, just as He said He would.

I Am With You Always

Jesus knows exactly what’s coming next for the apostles, it wasn’t going to be easy, prison, persecution, and even death were all awaiting them in the not too distant future and so Jesus promises them that He will be with them through it all, He wouldn’t abandon them, Acts 12:1-2 / Matthew 18:20 / Acts 18:10.

The same promise is for us today as Christians, God is omnipresent and powerful, He knows exactly what’s going on in each of our lives, Hebrews 1:3 and He promises never to abandon us, Romans 8:28 / Hebrews 13:5-6 / 1 Peter 3:12.

To The Very End Of The Age

Jesus here isn’t saying that He will be with His disciples until they die, this promise goes way beyond this, after all, wouldn’t He be with them when they do eventually die anyway? Luke 20:38 / John 14:1-3 / 2 Timothy 1:10. He’s referring to the end of the Christian age, judgment and the end of the world.

The time is coming when the world will come to an end, 2 Peter 3:1-13, no one knows when this will happen, Matthew 24:36, but until it does the church has the huge responsibility to take that good news, concerning Jesus out to the masses, Mark 16:16.

Although at times this seems like an impossible task, we need to remember that Jesus would never have commissioned it, if it wasn’t possible.

It’s all too easy to get comfortable with the salvation that we have in Christ and to look forward to eternal life, but at the same time, there is a sense of urgency to try and reach the lost. When we look at our world, it can sometimes feel overwhelming, and we begin to think there’s no way we can reach everyone.

Maybe we should focus on the people who are in our ‘world’, our families, friends and neighbours, our work colleagues etc, whilst remembering we’re not responsible for making Christians, Acts 2:47 / 1 Corinthians 3:7-8, we’re responsible for sharing the message.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted."

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