He Is Risen: Matthew’s Account. 28.1-20

He Is Risen; He is Risen Indeed!Apocalyptic Events At Tomb: Matt. 28.1-8
This section is Matthew’s conclusion to his five-part book. He has faithfully told the story of Jesus as the New Moses and concludes with the account that shook the roots of the old creation and ushered in the new creation. In the final paragraph, he commissions the workers of the kingdom for this new age which has successfully invaded the present evil age.

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.”

Jesus resurrection was the central focus of early Christian preaching. When the earth shook, the guards at his tomb also shook. They were not up for such an encounter. They had no grid to put the events of the morning through. The shaking of the old creation and the emergence of the new creation in Jesus had begun. It was the first day of the new creation.

Jesus Meets Woman: Matt. 28.9-11

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.”

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened.

This small scene is unique to the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus appears unexpectedly and the woman shows great love and reverence by touching the risen body. Jesus brings this touching to a halt by sending the woman to his disciples which he now calls brothers. It shouldn’t be lost that the first teachers about the resurrection were women sent by Jesus to teach men. His encounter with the woman replaces sadness with joy. Matthew makes three points:

Point #1: The body of Jesus was a real body which could be touched.
Point #2: By using the term brothers for his disciples he had restored what had been lost by their rejection. Therein is the mercy of God.
Point #3: The risen Jesus appears to people not to satisfy their personal needs but to send them on a mission. The disciples could no longer cling to their old relationship with Jesus, they now encountered the same Jesus, but received a new mission. Encounters with Jesus lead to mission, nothing has changed.

False Teaching About Resurrection: Matt. 28.12-15

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.

While the women bring the good news to the disciples, the guards go to the chief priests and elders who create  a lie to counter the good news. The solution of the Jewish leaders was to bribe the Roman soldiers. Having failed to prevent the resurrection, they are reduced to trying to render it unbelievable. This may have been an ever present problem to Matthew’s church as it still is to the church today.

Jesus Comes to His Church to Commission It: Matt. 28.16-20

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. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This final paragraph is unique to Matthew. It is the key to understanding his whole of his Gospel. The words of Jesus may be divided into three sayings:

Saying #1. The Announcement Of His Authority: Because he died and was resurrected, Jesus had received total power over the universe. This power enables him to initiate a universal mission. What all believers and unbelievers alike will see and experience at the end of time, the church will see and experience from the death-resurrection onward — the power of God to do his work.

Saying #2. The Commissioning Of His Disciples: This commissioning is divided into three parts.

Part #1: The disciples were sent into the world to make disciples. The whole gospel of Matthew has explained what being a disciple means. In short, it means to follow Jesus by obeying his teaching and doing his works.
Part #2: The second part tells them that they should baptize these disciples into this new relationship with God as a marked sign that death to the old creation and birth into the new creation had occurred.
Part #3: They are told that they should involve themselves in all areas of what Jesus taught. This means to imitate Jesus in preaching and performing miracles. They must do the words and works of Jesus.

Saying #3. The Final Promise to Sustain: The final word takes the disciples into the future from their present experience until his return at the close of the age. Here is Jesus consoling and strengthening his disciples. He will not be an absentee landlord. He will be with them as his name from the beginning of the book reveals — he is God-with-us. This is the all-powerful Jesus setting his dynamic rule into his new people so they may do his continued his work on earth. The picture is completed by Matthew not showing Jesus ascend as in Luke and Acts. He is pictured as coming to his church and remaining with it all the days to the end of the age.

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