Let us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 27:11-56.
Last week’s look within Matthew 27 took us from Pilate to the Cross. Today we’ll be closing out the Gospel According to Matthew. It’s been a long journey through this Gospel, and I’ve really enjoyed our time in the Word these several weeks.
Matthew 27:57-28:20 (ESV)
Matthew 27:57-61 (ESV) | Jesus Is Buried
57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
Matthew 27:62-66 (ESV) | The Guard at the Tomb
62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
Notice how the chief priests and the Pharisees still insist in their unbelief that Jesus was an impostor. Their motivation is one of fear and envy, though. Notice that they were not the least bit comforted for having put a blasphemer to death (such was the false-accusation against Christ). Had their actions been borne of faith in a Living God, what would they have to fear of an “impostor”? But they lacked faith, and the god they served was not the One True GOD. As Jesus told them directly, they served their father the devil, who was a liar from the beginning.
John 8:39-47 (ESV) | You Are of Your Father the Devil
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
And now these schemers find themselves in opposition to the Son of God. They now scheme to prevent the prophecy of Christ’s Resurrection from coming to pass… as if the will of men could in any way hinder the Will of God. These men have deluded themselves into projecting onto the disciples some scheme of stealing the body and claiming the resurrection. The protection they set in place is overkill for preventing a band of Galileans from stealing a corpse… yet it is a pathetic attempt to stop the Hand of God.
Matthew 28:1-10 (ESV) | The Resurrection
28 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
The guards fainted. It is so frustrating to hear modern-day false prophets/teachers speak so flippantly about encounters with heavenly beings. Now, as for the women, the angel told them not to be afraid and gave them the good news of His resurrection. Yet, as they departed they were still with fear and great joy. Interesting how such seemingly opposing emotions can coexist for a time. Clearly the fear experienced was as great as the joy brought by the good news. Notice here that Jesus appears to them again to tell them “Do not be afraid”. That’s awesome. Jesus showed up, while they were on their way filled with fear and joy, to comfort them and confirm the word of the Lord spoken to them by an angel.
Matthew 28:11-15 (ESV) | The Report of the Guard
11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
And still not a hint of repentance to be found. Truly these chief priests and the elders were condemned in their unbelief. A miraculous sign, and angelic being, and an empty tomb in keeping with the prophecy of Jesus concerning His own death and resurrection was performed in front of a most hardened and credible witness… the very guard they put in place to secure the tomb… and their hearts remained of stone. Indeed this lie persists unto this day, in many forms, some even within groups claiming to be the church, denying the real death and bodily resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our atoning sacrifice.
Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) | The Great Commission
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
At this point, Matthew has presented the story of Christ’s fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah to his Jewish audience. Where other writers share more of what takes place after the resurrection, Matthew sums it up rather quickly and then closes with what we refer to as the Great Commission. The Apostle Paul summed up the sequence of events succinctly in his letter to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (ESV) | The Resurrection of Christ
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Indeed we can rest assured that the account of His death and resurrection is credible, reliable, and true.
Until Next Week
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at foreshadowing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ found in the Old Testament as we move into advent season and Christmas. I’m not yet sure how our Gospel Wednesday will proceed after this holiday season, but we will continue spending time in God’s Word and sharing it with the readers of this blog.
Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus,