Special Saturday- Matthew Chapter 28

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

We’ve come to the final chapter of Matthew, and the messages here are incredibly comforting and full of promise.

*Note before we dig into it, I know Saturdays are usually days reserved for lighter or open topics, but I wanted to get this one posted so we can start the New Year fresh with the beginning of the Gospel of Mark. So I hope folks will take a bit of time today to enjoy and reflect on what parts of not only this chapter, but of all of Matthew’s accounts speak most to you.

What we have in this chapter is the cumulation of one of the major foundations of our faith, mainly that Jesus conquered sin and death and Lives.  He is the Alpha and Omega, beginning and the end, and that everything from Genesis to Revelation is summed up in His resurrection.

Here we have the testimony of the Angels of Messiah’s resurrection, His appearance to the women (which is amazing considering women were thought of as insignificant in society), the guards’ confession, Jesus’ appearance to His disciples and His great commission to believers.

It’s interesting that the birth of Christ was witnessed by so few, but those whom the Angels witnessed to were the least of society (the shepherds) but also later with the Magi (Gentiles) from the East. So it’s not surprising that concerning the resurrection, the Angels witnessed to the other least of society (women) and was visible to the soldiers guarding the tomb (Gentiles).

While Matthew doesn’t specify that those guarding the tomb were Romans, he does include that they were soldiers and the Jewish leaders made promise to secure them before the Governor.

Interesting to think about the following passages,

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.   Genesis 1:31

It is finished” ~ Jesus from the cross

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.  Genesis 2:3

So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.  Matthew 27:66  Jesus rested in the Sabbath

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Genesis 1:3 & 5

On the first day God created light, and on the first day the Light came out of the darkness of the grave.

The more I read, the more I am blown away by the intricacies of the Scriptures to reaffirm events throughout the ages, and that God has been orchestrating everything according to His purpose in ways we’d never know or understand without reading the Old and New Testament scriptures.  This is why it’s so incredibly important that believers read all of it, yet sadly the more accessible society is to the Bible, the more ignorant of it people become.

It reminds me of a harsh but true statement made by missionary Jim Elliot when he exhorted, “Those whimpering Stateside young people will wake up on the Day of Judgment condemned to worse fates than these demon-fearing Indians, because, having a Bible, they were bored with it – while these never heard of such a thing as writing.

It’s incredible to me how many Americans and the west in general, even among seminaries and the pulpit are ignorant of Scripture and don’t understand it because they’ve never  taken it as literal and God inspired, and how we’ve got a generation raising kids who’ve never even heard the gospel.

Sorry, got off track a bit, but so many people assume to know Who Jesus is, or what the Bible says when they’ve never studied it. Reading a few chapters, or even reading through it as a book once or twice does not make the Work of God revealed in the Word of God. And it seems like that’s what was going on with the Pharisees and religious leaders.  They had their ideas from Scripture, they followed the law as it worked for them, and created a whole subset of rules for people to follow because it worked even better for them through their influence and power- but they had no clue on Who Jesus was or what God was actually doing.

Notice how the biggest event of the history of this world happened, and the women were filled with joy- yet the pharisees could only think of themselves and what it’d mean to them? Again?

And the soldiers were afraid.  They were hardened men, equipped physically and mentally for every opposition, but without the spiritual equipment, they were afraid and fell into a faint.  Think about the easy assignment they figured they had- to guard a dead body, sealed in a tomb?  And all of a sudden, they have no answers except for that which scared the daylights out of them. They must have been thinking of what would happen to them now that they failed their mission. Surely they had heard the rumors of Jesus’s claim that He’d rise in three days.  Well, here was the Angel proclaiming it.

What did they do with the information? and did as they were taught…
What do people do with it now?  Believe, or make excuses based on what they’ve been taught in secular schools, secular media,  secular science and even in some secular churches..  and try to blind themselves from the truth staring at them?

Just before Jesus ascends to Heaven, He gives His great commission, to tell the world His Gospel. He doesn’t say everyone will believe, or even want to listen.  The commission stands and while many might believe faith in Jesus is a private thing, it is also a faith which depends on telling others about Him that saved us. Whatever might come of telling others about Jesus, it’s not up to us- what is up to us is to tell them.

Matthew’s account of Jesus being alive doesn’t go into as much detail as the other Gospel accounts, but it does give the main points that He was seen by His disciples again after His resurrection, that Jesus is alive, and He is with us always.  We just celebrated the birth of Emmanuel, and now we have Him reminding us of Emmanuel, that “God is with us”, and always will be.

The cumulation of events from His birth to posting a song we usually reserve for Easter, a couple of days after Christmas might be strange to some, but not to those who know we can’t have one without the other.

Hallelujah!

And since this is the end of Matthew’s Gospel, I figured we could watch it…

Have a blessed Saturday all!

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