Thursday, May 1, 2014

Matthew 28 - The Truth of the Resurrection

(My BSF Notes)

We know from our previous study in Matt. 27 that Jesus was dead and Joseph buried His body.  Now in chapter 28 we learn that the grave was empty and the Lord Jesus is Alive!

On the first day of the week following His crucifixion the two Marys, Magdalene and Mary of Bethany went to the tomb of Jesus.  They went there to finish the preparation of Jesus' body.  They would have been very sad and mourning His death.  There had been a violent earthquake and an angel of the Lord came down, rolled back the stone, and sat on it.  Jesus had already risen before the angel came.  The angel came only to open the tomb so they could see that He was not there.

When the women arrived at the tomb, they saw that the angel and stone was rolled away.  "His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow." - Matt. 28:3.  At Jesus' birth "an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around, and they were terrified." - Luke 2:9.  Light is a sign of holiness and power that come from being in the presence of God.   These thing may have showed comfort to the women, because it showed that something from God was happening.  The guards on the other hand were afraid and shook and became like dead men (Matt. 28:4).

The angel told the women "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.'" - Matt. 28:5-7.  Jesus is still risen and has ascended into heaven and continues to reign as fully man and fully God.  They should have expected this.  This is what He promised.  We see God did not forsake Jesus, death is conquered, and we have a living friend and High Priest in Jesus.  God remembered Him and gave Him the authority to raise Himself from the dead.  Jesus is the only person in history that physically rose from the dead.  The resurrection is the foundation and the center of our Christian faith.

The women were the first witnesses of His resurrection.  They were to go tell the good news quickly.  God wants His people to be witnesses in actions and in words.  He wanted to comfort His disciples and to know of His resurrection.  The resurrection has to be accepted personally.  The women hurried and obeyed the angel.  They were afraid yet filled with joy.  Then Jesus appeared to them as they were on their way.  "They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped Him." - Matt. 28:9.

How have you worshipped Jesus with that kind of passion?
Can you relate to their joy?
Do you see an urgency in telling others?

Jesus repeated what the angel had told them.  They should not be afraid, but to go tell the disciples to meet Him in Galilee.  Jesus wanted to meet them personally.  He wanted a one-to-one so He could strengthen them.

As you submit to serving Him you may start with fear, but become joyful just as the women did.  They started being fearful and ended with worship and joy.

The guards saw the angel and the miracle, but did not believe.  Seeing isn't always believing.  Faith comes from God alone.  Jesus' resurrection is good news to some, but bad news to others.  They reported to the chief priests and elders what had happened.  When they heard this, they again were deceitful and devised a plan, a plan to cover it up.  They bribed the soldiers to say that the disciples stole the body.  They did as they were instructed.  "And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day." - Matt. 28:15.

The priests knew the truth of the resurrection, yet they rejected that truth.  Their cover-up showed their foolish pride and the darkness of their souls.  This lie spreads even today with people ignoring the facts.  Jesus rose from the dead.  You can choose to believe it or you can believe the lie.  By believing the resurrection there is hope.  By believing the lie leads to the end - death and eternal suffering.
Jesus' resurrection conquered death showing the power of God.
The resurrection of Jesus gives us hope for eternity.

Matthew 28:16-20 - The Great Commission

When the disciples met Jesus in Galilee, they worshipped Him.  Some doubted.  He charged them to go and make disciples of all the nations.  "All authority in heaven and on earth has been give 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 then to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." - Matt. 28:18-20.  No matter what happens Jesus is in full control and they needed to trust Him and obey.  This is our great commission, too.  We are to share the gospel.  We are to share it with all people no matter what the cultural, racial, social, gender, or political barriers.  They are to be baptized with spiritual and physical baptism.  Our action is proof of our faith.  He promises to always to be with us.  "What, then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?" - Rom. 8:31.

We can start with our friends and neighbors.  A good place to start is with the people we work with and see each day.  God may even call you to be a missionary to another country or He may call you to give financially so others can go.  We must decide what is the best way to tell others the Good News.  Jesus doesn't promise constant success, but He does encourage us to expect results.  But remember the results will be in His timing, not ours.  Jesus has the authority in heaven, on earth, over all people, over us, and over our temptations.  Now use that power and go tell others.  It may be hard, but we must go even if fearful.  He promises to always be with us.

We celebrate Jesus resurrection on Easter.  It's all about the empty tomb.  Early on Friday (This is called Good Friday.) He was put to death and on Sunday He came back to life again.  The resurrection is a huge thing and ripples over the entire world.  Without the resurrection Christianity would fall apart. 

Resurrection is a huge thing to believe.  Maybe you are not really sure about it.  Continue to read and study the Bible and God will reveal Himself and the truth to you.  Ask God to show you the truth and strengthen your faith.  We all fear death and we all will die someday.  The morality rate is 100%.  We don't have to fear death, because of what Jesus did.  We try to eat right, exercise, wear seat belts and helmets.  But all this will not help, we will still die and we still need to be prepared for death.  Jesus is the only one with a plan for death.  We need to listen to what He has to say.  "If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." - Rom. 10:9

The resurrection is the most excited event in your life.  As Christians our faith is based on Scriptures and is our foundation.  All the events in the Bible move toward God's relationship with humanity that had been broken.  Unlike any other religions of the world, it is based on sacrificial atonement.  All other religions founders lived, died, and were buried.  They did not rise to life again and are buried to this day.  Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon faith was killed in 1844 and is buried in Illinois, Charles Russell, founder of Jehovah Witness had a heart attack in 1916 and is buried in Pittsburg; Mohammed, founder of Islam died in 632 and is buried in Saudi Arabia; Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology had a stroke in 1986 and was cremated and his ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean in California; Buddha died at age 83 and was cremated and buried in Nepal.  Only Jesus rose from the dead.

May unbelievers have tried to disprove the resurrection.  It is the most examined event in history.  People have written books trying to disprove it, but now believe.  It cannot be disproved!  We must believe the evidence!  After His resurrection, He appeared to the two Marys.  He appeared to the disciples several times.  He ate food and some even touched Him.  He appeared to Peter.  He appeared to 500 people at one time, believers and unbelievers.  He appeared to His half brother, James who did not believe Jesus was the Son of God until after the resurrection.  He appeared to Paul who hated and persecuted Christians (1 Cor. 15).

Do you believe the resurrection of Jesus?
How do you show your belief in Him?

Jesus is Alive!  We must believe the evidence!

Jesus Christ's commission is for every believer.
The resurrection of Jesus give us power to live for Him.

The book of Matthew started with a baby.  He was called "Immanuel", meaning "God with us".  Matthew ends with Jesus' promise that He will always be with us.

What are you doing to bring the message of Jesus' resurrection to others?
Will you teach others what you have learned from this study?

He will equip you.  Don't wait till you know all the answers.  You never will.  You will be dead before that happens.

This is a happy and joyous end to the study of Matthew.  We have hope in the life to come.  Since this study is over, I will be posting other spiritual insights throughout the summer.  I hope you will continue following my blog.  You can join as a follower or you can sign up to receive an email when there is a new post.  Then next fall BSF will begin with the study of The Life of Moses.  I will post on that starting in September.  May God continue to bless and keep you until He comes again.  Have a great summer and keep the faith, stay strong, and stand firm.

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