In keeping with the trajectory of his Gospel, the focus of Matthew is the launching of Messiah’s kingdom. From his lineage (1:1-18) to John’s announcement (3:2) to the baptism of Jesus and God the Father’s authentication (3:13-17) to the announcement of Jesus coming out of the wilderness (4:17) to the recruiting of all Jewish disciples for his inner circle Matthew is about the coming kingdom of heaven on the earth. Now comes the initiation of the kingdom of heaven.
Resurrection Is Authentication
The resurrection is the litmus test. Jesus said, “I will rise again!” Matthew recorded this, for example, in 16:21, “From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised on the third day.” In asking for the tomb to be sealed (27:62-63), the rulers use his prediction to request this action of Pilate. Hence, no resurrection would have been the de-authentication of His message, and he would be one more rabble rouser troubling Israel.
However, the resurrection is the evidence that “all authority” had been given to him in heaven and on earth. He displayed it in the healings and the raising of the dead. But his resurrection is the incontrovertible evidence that his claims were genuine and his work on the cross was indeed “the lamb of God (John 1:29) who took away the sins that all the sacrifices could but point to. Later, Paul puts it this way, “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not (I Cor 15:13-15).
Bite One, the Announcement (6)
The morning after the Sabbath (1), these two faithful women arrive early at the tomb, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. Matthew reports an earthquake, an angel, an open tomb, and catatonic guards. Here is the announcement in three sound bites.
He is not here
He has risen
Come and see
He is not in the grave. He is the risen Lord! Come, examine the evidence.
Bite Two, the Command (7)
Again, three soundbites inform these women what to do because Jesus is about to hold court in Galilee.
Prepare to meet
Be quick to meet Him. Encourages others to join you. He is always prepared to meet you.
Bite Three, the State of the Women (8)
Excited (can you hear them reporting?)
The fear of the Lord is normal. Joy is the result of engaging with Him. Excitement should be evident
Bite Three ((9-10)
Can you even begin to imagine the next scene? The man they knew and loved and watched die on the cross is suddenly standing before them, very much alive and talking with them. He confirms the words of the angel, and they worship him.
Through His Word, He meets, greets, and comforts us today.
Bite Four, the Spin Doctors to the Rescue (11-15)
Matthew records the very predictable human response to being threatened. Payoff and fabricate a scenario, cover for your minions. This bite was unnecessary for Matthew’s purposes, but the Holy Spirit prompts its inclusion, for it will close the loop on 27:62-66.
Bite Five, the Actions of Jesus 16-20
He comes to them
He speaks to them
He commissions them
He still comes, He still speaks, He still commissions.
- The authority of God powers the commission
- The commission is perpetual, always in force “While going”
- The commission is the battle plan of the kingdom of heaven—make disciples of all nations
- As they become disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
- Teach them how to observe all I command you
God the Father gave the authority to Jesus, King of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
The present active participle commission indicates that they (we) are to be engaged in the battle plan wherever we go, whatever we are doing. Always alert to capture an opportunity to make (winning a soul), teach a soul.
Matthew has completed his task. He has recorded the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus has accomplished the work of the promised Messiah. The redemption promised to Eve has become a reality. The commission of Jesus will fulfill the promise to Abraham that the Covenant would bring spiritual blessings to the nations.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!