About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch. 28:1-10  ch. 28:11-15    ch. 28:16-20


The Resurrection (ch. 28:1 - 10)


Verse 1 tells us that on the first day of the week, meaning Sunday that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” went to the tomb.  The “other Mary might well have been Mary, of Mary and Martha.


Verse 2 tells us that there was another violent earthquake.  This time the quake was brought upon the earth by an angel who came from Heaven and rolled open the tomb.  So we have an earthquake when Jesus dies, when He rises from the dead, and when He returns.


Matthew tells us that this angel sat on the tomb.  The women obviously saw this.


Verse 3 tells us that the appearance of this angel was that he looked as bright as lightning and his clothes were as white as snow.  Some people have suggested that this angel was Jesus, but I don’t think so.  They say this because the appearance of the angel resembles that of Jesus as seen in the book of Revelation. But if this angel was Jesus, I think the text would say so.  Jesus did appear to some women.  The text is clear on that.


In verse 4 we see the guards being very afraid.  They shook so much that they appeared to be dead.  Once again, the appearance of angels, especially to unbelieving men causes great fear.  These men were terrified.


At this point some will point out a discrepancy.  Matthew and Mark speak of one angel while Luke speaks of two.  Some suggest that there were two angels but only one speaks, that is why Matthew and Mark only speak of one.


What I think at present is that there were two angels.  One rolled away the stone that spoke, as seen in verse 5.  The other was standing by as seen in Luke. Luke seems to suggest that both angels were standing by.  It’s quite possible then that the speaking angel left his place on the stone and went to stand by the other angel.


The simple fact of the matter concerning the apparent discrepancies that some point out in the Bible is this.  Not every little detail is mentioned in Biblical accounts, as with in any literature.  We’ve just got a very few details.  Just think of all the moment by moment words that would have been said by Jesus, or by just one person during the three year ministry of Jesus.  Then multiply this by all words said, by all those Jesus came in contact with.  John was write when in his account he said that there were way too many things to record.  In all of these missing details, the answer is found to these apparent discrepancies.  I have no problem with minor variations from one account to another due to this reasoning.   


In verses 6 through 8 the angel understands that the women were looking for Jesus in the tomb.  He tells the women that Jesus has risen from the dead as He predicted He would, and that His followers should return to Galilee to meet up with Him as He also earlier stated.  Yet before there meeting in Galilee we know other things took place.  Peter and John came back to the tomb and saw that Jesus wasn’t there.  Also Jesus appeared to the ten, and then eleven of the disciples before heading to Galilee .


Verse 8 tells us that the women were both filled with fear and joy upon seeing the angels and hearing what they said.  This is often the response of those who meet Jesus or any angel.  This will be the response when we meet Jesus face to face at the end of this age.  Great fear will be upon us because of the awesome nature of Jesus, yet at the same time we’ll experience joy in a way we’ve never known.  The joy will be from the fact we finally meet Jesus and a new life will begin for us at that point.


Verse 9 tells us that while the women were on their way Jesus appeared to them.  They fell at His feet and worshipped Him.  What else could they have done in a time such as this? 


In verse 10 Jesus Himself repeats what the angels said.  He wanted to meet His disciples in Galilee , where it all had started.  This might have been significant.  The final few days of instruction for the most part took place outside of the Holy city of Jerusalem , the city that had forsaken the Messiah, the city that would soon see  destruction less than forty years later.


The Guards Report (ch. 28:11 - 15)


In this section we see the guards go to the Jewish leaders and tell them that the tomb is empty.  The Jewish leaders now have a big problem.  They had secured the tomb so the disciples could not steel the body of Jesus, and now His body has disappeared.  In order to fix this problem they bribed the guards with a large sum of money.  They made up a story that said the disciples of Jesus stole Jesus’ body while they were sleeping at night.


Of course, sleeping on the job would not be a good idea, and that is why the guards were given the large some of money.  If they had really fell asleep on the job they would have certainly lost their means of employment. 


In verse 14 we see the Jewish leaders trying to relieve the guards fear by saying if all this gets to the governor, they’d look after things.  How they’d do that we don’t really know.  They just promised the guards that they’d make sure they would be safe, and the guards had to trust the Jews on this one.


The Jewish leaders were successful in their attempt of spreading the rumor that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body, because many years later, as Matthew penned his account, many people still believed the rumor. 


It is obvious that satan could not get rid of Jesus.  From the birth of Jesus, to the temptation in the wilderness, and to Jesus’ death, satan failed in his attempts to get rid of Jesus.  This false rumor was just another attempt by satan to discredit Jesus and what He had in fact done, and that was to rise from the dead as He predicted would happen.


The Great Commission (ch. 28:16 - 20)    


Verse 16 tells us that Jesus met His disciples on a certain mountain where He prearranged to meet them.  This must have been strange for the eleven.  Here they would have met with Jesus often over the last three years, and now after all that had just taken place they were with Him again.  But things were much different now.  I don’t think we can comprehend how these men must have felt at this moment. 


Verse 17 tells us that when they saw Jesus, they worshipped Him.  Once again, this is a genuine response to meeting the resurrected Lord.  Yet Matthew tells us that some “doubted”.  We know that Thomas doubted in the upper room, but he had repented of that doubt.  Now Matthew tells us that others still doubted, and this was after the upper room appearances of Jesus.  Once again, as I’ve said before, Thomas gets way too much criticism for his doubts. Others doubted as well.


So we have two responses to the appearance of Jesus here, doubt and worship.  This is typical of human nature.  Some of us doubt, and others of us believe and worship.  Some of us doubt and worship at the same time.  But all doubt was removed from these men at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came to them as was promised by Jesus.


In verse 18 we see Jesus coming to the eleven and speaking to them.  He tells them that “all authority in Heaven and on earth” had been given to Him.  Jesus was the final authority over all things, not just in Heaven, but on earth as well.  As Paul so clearly states in 1 Cor. 15, Jesus is the centre of all things.  He is the final authority at this point, and will be until all things are put under His feet.  Then when death, the final enemy of God is subject to Jesus, He’ll come to His Father and place all things under His feet, and that includes Jesus Himself. 


This is why I’m  so “Jesus orientated” in my thinking, and not simply “God orientated”.   Most Christian speak more of God than they do of Jesus. But in fact I believe that God wants us to speak more of Jesus, because as Jesus says here, God has made Him to be the final authority over all things.  Jesus, at present, is the centre of all things.  He’s got the final word.  He’s in charge, and we should recognize Him for that. I do believe that will change at some future point as Paul says, but until then, we should speak of Jesus much more than we do.


I believe that we think we know a good amount about God, but that is so far from the truth.  God is beyond our knowing, and that is why He sent Jesus to us.  Jesus, the God-man is much more understandable to us than God ever can be.


Verse 19 begins with the word “therefore”.  That means what Jesus is about to say is predicated on what He just said.  So, because Jesus has the final authority over all there is, He wants these eleven men to go out and  “disciple all nations”.  The NIV says, “make disciples”, but a word for word translation would speak in terms of “discipling nations”.  I tend to think this is important.  I don’t think Jesus was telling these men to make their own disciples, as they were disciples of Him.  I think Jesus was telling them to “disciple people”, that is, teach them about me.  The emphases is not on producing followers but teaching people, and I might add, teaching them to be followers of Jesus, not followers of the disciples. 


Christian leaders over the centuries have tried to make their own disciples instead of teaching people to be disciples of Jesus.  This only boosts the self image of the Christian leaders, which is the tendency of sinful man.  Jesus’ point here is for these eleven men to go out into the world and teach  them.


Verse 20 tells us what is to be taught.  Jesus says that they should teach all people everywhere to “obey everything He has commanded them”.   The eleven weren’t to teach their own doctrine or their own ideas.  They were to teach exactly what Jesus taught them.  That’s it.  How we’ve strayed from that. 


We should also note that the emphases is not simply on people learning about Jesus, but people “obeying” Jesus once they learned what He taught.  There’s a major difference between the two ideas.  We may like learning about Jesus, but obeying Him, well, we may not like obeying as much.  But there’s no use in learning, if you don’t intend to obey.  You only get judged worse because you know what to do but don’t.


Also in verse 19, part of the discipling process is to baptize people.  Jesus basically says that you disciple nations by having them water baptized and by teaching them to obey me.  This does place some importance on water baptism, and places it at the beginning days when one first hears the words to obey. 


Note that the water baptism is to be performed in the “name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.  This is what Jesus commanded.  But look and see what the disciples actually did in the book of Acts.  Most, if not all of what we see the disciples doing is in terms of the “name of Jesus”.  There’s no discrepancy here.  The name of the Father, Son and Spirit is the same as the name of Jesus, especially since Jesus is the final authority over all things at this point in time.  There has been way too much debate and argument over this.  There’s no need fore these discussions.  


We are to do all things in the name of Jesus.  This simply means that we are to represent Jesus in all we do.  As we represent Him, we also represent the Father and the Spirit, because that is who Jesus represents. 


John tells us that Jesus told His followers that as He was sent out by the Father, so He was sending us out into the world.  Jesus represented the Father to the world.  We represent Jesus to the world.  Therefore by the Transitive Law, we represent Father, Son and Spirit as we represent Jesus. 


Matthew closes his account with some very comforting words of Jesus.  Jesus says, “surely, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age”. Who were these words spoken to?  Were they only spoken to the eleven.  No they weren’t, because they did not live unto the end of this present age.  They were spoken to every believer from that moment onward, unto the very end of the age comes.  These words were spoken to you and I, those of us who have given our lives to Jesus.  And they were spoken to those who will follow us in the faith, until the very last person who gives his or her life to Jesus. 


Some might suggest that what we’ve called the Great Commission was just spoken to those eleven men, and not to other Christians throughout history.  They say this because that was what Jesus was doing.  He was specifically speaking to the Eleven.  Yet when Jesus speaks of being with them “to the end of the age”, which means to all Christians throughout the age, we must therefore believe that the Great Commission was spoken to all Christians throughout history as well.  


This is promise Jesus has given us.  He won’t leave us or forsake us.  He’ll always be with us through His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ.  Such a very comforting way for Matthew to end his account of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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