Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bible Study Notes in Matthew- Chapter 28

Matthew 28


-Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus had cast out seven demons, was, along with James and John’s mother Mary, there first to bring anointing spices for His body. They were wondering how they would get in to the tomb with the large stone in front of it, but they found it had been rolled away (Mark 16:3). An angel of the LORD came with a great earthquake and rolled the stone away, and the guards who were protecting the site, according to Matthew’s gospel, became incapacitated from fear and were in the state of comatose like dead men. Since they went out of consciousness, it stands to reason they never actually saw the risen Christ and could go along with the deception they were paid off to keep in confidence (Matthew 28:11-15).

-This all happened in the early morning hours of the first day of the week after the Sabbath, which was Sunday. Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene there in the garden according to John and Matthew’s gospels, but she is told not to cling to Him (a statement meant to say there is much to be done) as she and the other Mary worship at His feet (Matthew 28:9, John 20:11-18), but to go and tell of this resurrection and coming ascension to the Father to the disciples. This is what will initiate the Kingdom eventually in all its fullness with the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. If Mary had kept clinging onto this earthly, incarnate One of the Godhead, the Kingdom would be stuck to a single location. But, and this was Jesus’ point, the message must now be spread all over not being contained in one spot.

-The recognition is slow and fear abounds, but the Savior’s appearances begin to erase the unbelief and skepticism as Jesus’ predictive words start to be remembered and joy abounds in this miracle of miracles. He is no longer in the tomb! He is raised and will go before them to Galilee as well as have other appearances in Jerusalem!

-*Application* The resurrection makes all the difference in the world to our faith. If we believe that God is raised from the grave we can be saved (Romans 10:9). Without the resurrection our faith is worthless (1 Corinthians 15). With the resurrection, however, we have eternal hope and joy forever no matter what the situation is here on this earth. We have multiple and detailed accounts of the events of Christ Jesus’ resurrection. Over 500 people witnessed the risen Savior before His ascension back to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:6) including the disciples that surrendered their lives and well-being for the King. They would have never sacrificed so much for a fraud. They had nothing to gain by a deception in this matter. What changed them was real and should strengthen our faith to live boldly for the risen Lord!

-The next intriguing account we get from Matthew is the cover up to the resurrection that was perpetrated by the religious elders and counselors when some of the guard came to them with the news of what had taken place. These guards were paid off with a sufficient sum of money to keep up the front of a lie in spreading false information that the disciples had come by night and stolen the body while they slept. The guards knew that if they had not taken the money and been found to have not done their job, they would have quite possibly been in immense trouble (Acts 16:27-30). This was a good deal for them to escape possible punishment and make themselves a profit at the same time. To them it must have seemed a win-win situation, but this heresy infected the Jewish people. Who knows how many were affected and prevented from hearing the truth of the gospel in a clear-unadulterated fashion even to this day. These guards were more than likely dazed and confused over the appearance of the angel at the tomb and never actually got to see the risen Savior as far as we can discern. The Scriptures state that they fell as dead men in total shock and fear (Matthew 28:4), so they could have easily convinced themselves that what they experienced was a hoax I suppose. Nevertheless, they had been privy to the most incredible miracle of all time, yet they denounced it for pay.

-Therefore, we see in this passage two parties that were in the wrong. The religious leaders who wanted to cover up the propagation of the revelation and resurrection of Christ were certainly at fault. But also, the guards were of ill character to choose financial gain over the truth in a matter. *Application* There are times in our lives when we also face decisions of this kind. What kind of character do you have? Would you be willing to lay down your job and family’s stability to do the right thing in your place of work? My perception today is that there are cowards everywhere who will not stand up for the things of God for the benefit of the almighty American dollar. It makes me sick to think of where our country is headed because we simply will not take a stand for what is true and right because we are afraid of losing a job and financial security with health benefits. Before you go and judge these guards for selling out, make sure you are not doing the exact same thing. Christ’s Kingdom wants sold-out soldiers willing to leave family and die for the cause, not weak money loving cop-outs who care too much for the pleasures of this world (Matthew 13:22; 19:29, Acts 21:13, 2 Timothy 2:3-4). This may seem radical, but it is certainly what Jesus taught and the early Christians lived out. What are we going to do with that? God wants you to live boldly and speak as you ought (Ephesians 6:20).

-Matthew gives little focus to the resurrected work of Christ compared to some of the other gospel writers. He makes mention that Jesus had appeared to some in the region of Jerusalem, but His primary meeting place for worship and instruction would be back in Galilee at a designated mountain (Matthew 28:10, 16).

-Incredible truths on how we are to go about our business as believers are revealed as Jesus gives His disciples, and us, His great commission. He was sent by the Father, called to do a work, which He completed. He was about to send His Hoy Spirit in complete fullness to indwell the believer for amazing power and work in the spreading of the Kingdom. Let’s take a careful look into the aspects of this commission so that we can obey the Lord’s directives and commands.

-As He concludes with the fact that all authority in earth and Heaven had now been given to Him as He had completed His task in saving the world from sin (Matthew 28:18), He tells us what and how to increase His Kingdom the proper way. He begins with the word therefore. This indicates that we are fighting for His purposes through the victory and authority He has already won. The word “go” is a participle and should have the connotation “while you are going.” *Application* This refers to the manner in which we should be operating our lives as believers. We should never put our Savior on the shelf and act like He doesn’t fit in with our lives in any way. We always represent the King in every place. There is to be no dichotomy between the secular and the sacred in our lives. We are to be totally His everywhere we go and in everything that we do. You are just as much a minister in the grocery store or at work as you are in the church building.

-The imperative command in this commission is “to make disciples of all nations.” Disciple making is the key ingredient to building His Kingdom on this earth. *Application* Discipleship is hard work and will take time. We must use the principle laid out by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:2 to his young learner, Timothy. We must invest in people that will take the Word and train others for the perpetual increase of the knowledge of the LORD. Pour into people for the purpose of making them disciples of Christ Jesus and followers of the true Way. In time all the world will know of Him and then the end of the age will come (Matthew 24:14).

-The manner we are to make disciples is by baptism in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism is immersion. They must not only be baptized by water in obedience to His command, remembering though this is not a requirement for salvation (Luke 23:39-43), but also baptized into His Spirit as a believer sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). We are also instructed to teach them to observe everything that the Lord commanded. This all revolves around loving the Lord with all the heart, mind, soul, strength (every ounce of everything), and loving our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. All else supernaturally flows out of these two commands. And in fact Jesus gives us an even better and new command that we can love one another with His love (which is not in our own strength anymore, but by the Holy Spirit), total agape, as we go through life (John 13:34-35).

-Christ Jesus finally taught us that He is always with us in this commissioned work in which He sends us. He will never leave us or forsake us in the mission (Hebrews 13:5). He is the paraclete, the “One who comes alongside” through His Spirit.

-*Application* Be renewed and energized by this ancient but very relevant commission today. While you are going along life’s way, make disciples everywhere you can by doing the works of Christ who is with you and gives you the strength to do His perfect will. You can make a difference for His Kingdom!

Verses to Memorize: Matthew 28:6, 18-20





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