Jesus has risen from the grave and is alive. The religious leaders conspire against this truth. Jesus commands us to go make disciples of all nations.
Summary: On that eventful Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb. They discovered that Jesus had risen from the grave. He was alive! They ran to tell the other disciples this great news.
VERSE 1. Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
dawn on the first day of the week. This was the very first moment that they could travel to the tomb. Obviously, this was their biggest priority.
to see the tomb. Many biblical commentators invent clever motives for why Mary and the other Mary went to the tomb. These commentators usually explain that these two went to the tomb in order to anoint Christ’s body for burial. But these commentators overlook what the text itself says. The text says the women went to the tomb to see it. Like many people in grief, these two heroes of the faith went to the gravesite of their beloved, perhaps in mourning.
VERSE 2. Behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from the sky, and came and rolled away the stone from the door, and sat on it.
an angel … descended from the sky. How would a movie director film this scene? Perhaps the mighty angel would descend through the atmosphere at some blistering speed, perhaps tens of thousands of miles per hour. Perhaps the angel would thud into the ground, distorting it and sending out an energy pulse in all directions that distorts the world. Perhaps just with a thought, the angel effortlessly causes the great stone to roll away, probably at blistering speed.
sat on it. To sit upon something is to rule over it. Kings sit on a throne. The angel sits on the stone, which signifies death. Thanks to Jesus Christ, death itself has been conquered.
His appearance was like lightning. Artists usually portray angels as obese caucasian babies with blond hair and blue eyes. But this angel is nothing like that.
His appearance is like lightning. That does not means something like, “I washed my clothes in a new type of laundry detergent, and now they are bright.” More likely, it means that lightning is gleaming from the angel.
This phenomenon is echoed in other places in the Bible:
Daniel 7:9. I watched until thrones were placed, and one who was ancient of days sat. His clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool. His throne was fiery flames, and its wheels burning fire.
Jeremiah 23:29. “Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (NIV translation)
Matthew 17:2. He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as the light.
Matthew 28:3. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
Revelation 1:14. His head and his hair were white as white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire.
the guards. That is, the Roman centurions.
became like dead men. The presence of this one angel was so terrifying that an entire company of Roman centurions, the mightiest warriors on the planet, collapsed in terror.
Daniel 10:7. I, Daniel, alone saw the vision; for the men who were with me didn’t see the vision; but a great quaking fell on them, and they fled to hide themselves.
VERSE 5. The angel answered the women, “Don’t be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus, who has been crucified.
the women. Unlike the mighty Roman centurions, these two women did not collapse in terror. As prayerful, holy people, authentic Women of God, they probably had a certain level of familiarity with other-worldly phenomenon, such as this mighty angel.
Don’t be afraid. The mighty angel tells them what God has been telling humans for millennia: “Do not be afraid.”
VERSE 6. He is not here, for he has risen, just like he said. Come, see the place where the Lord was lying.
he has risen. This is all the explanation these two women needed.
Come, see the place. We doubt the women needed this visible proof. Perhaps it was for the sake of later needing to convince the faithless apostles.
VERSE 7. Go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead, and behold, he goes before you into Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.”
Go quickly. Quickly. Suddenly. Urgently. When it comes to announcing Jesus Christ, there is no time to waste. Get to it. Now.
from the dead. Unlike the two holy women, the faithless apostles will need it spelled out for them with exacting detail. Previously, when Jesus himself had told them he would rise from the dead, they debated among themselves what “rising from the dead” meant. Now it comes back to them. He meant it literally.
Galilee. During Christ’s suffering and crucifixion, the apostles had a severe lack of courage. Almost all of them ran away, or at least kept their distance. Since then, they were too frightened and too scattered to be able to act. They were incapable of coming to see Jesus Christ at this point. It was probably for their sake that Jesus Christ deferred his meeting with them. They probably needed the time in order to get the team back together and muster their faith and courage. They were completely unlike these two women, who had faith and courage, right now.
you will see him. The apostles did not have much faith in what Jesus told them. Consequently, their meeting Jesus face-to-face is deferred to some point in the future. But the two women have a very different experience, as we see in verse 9.
VERSE 8. They departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring his disciples word.
fear and great joy. They were simultaneously afraid, yet also filled with joy. This is a strange mixture of feelings.
Rudolph Otto spoke of this, calling it Mysterium Tremendum. God is simultaneously both …
- Mysterium: A fascinating mystery that draws us in.
- Tremendum: A tremendous force that frightens most of us. Think of God up on the mountain, thundering and splitting the earth in two.
quickly. Suddenly. Urgently. When it comes to announcing Jesus Christ, there is no time to waste. Get to it. Right. Now.
bring his disciples word. The mighty apostles were faithless. Now they reap the due reward for their lack of faith. They are be among the first to witness the resurrection. In the divine plan of revealing the truth, they had to take a back seat. They would learn the greatest truth ever, from women. In those days, one would imagine, for male leaders to learn of great truths from women was not, shall we say, laudible.
Often, those who lead churches and denominations are not people of great faith, even though they try to make it seem otherwise. They are rarely on the cutting-edge of revelation from God. God seems to favor relatively obscure people, ones who have great faith and will actually act on it.
VERSE 9. As they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” They came and took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.
Jesus met them. These two women had great faith, great love. Now Jesus blesses them for it.
Rejoice! That is, “Greetings!”
took hold of his feet. The women recognized Jesus. They recognized him right away. Contrast that with the experience of the faithless apostles. On the road to Emmaus, they didn’t even recognize who he was. And Thomas doubted, even when standing face-to-face with Christ.
John 20:17. Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold me, for I haven’t yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”
worshipped him. They fell to their knees and worshipped Jesus Christ. This was an immediate reaction to the presence of Jesus Christ. This is an unmistakeable act of worshipping the divine. Their actions are righteous and holy, untainted by doubt, unlike some of the apostles in verse 17, who persisted in doubt and refused to worship him.
And if Jesus was not divine, he would have stopped them. Otherwise, they would all be committing idolatry. Elsewhere in the Bible, angels stop people from worshipping them.
VERSE 10. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go tell my brothers that they should go into Galilee, and there they will see me.”
Go tell my brothers that they should go. There are some striking similarities between what the Lord Jesus Christ says to the women here, and what the angel had said to them in verses 5-7:
|Verses 5-7||Verse 10|
|First words: Don’t be afraid||First words: Don’t be afraid|
|Mission: Go quickly and tell his disciples||Mission: Go tell my brothers|
|Where to go: Galilee||Where to go: Galilee|
|Result: There you will see him||Result: There they will see me|
Even though these two Women of God were already on their way and probably needed no authentication from God, Jesus Christ gave it to them anyway.
Sometimes we perceive that God is calling us to go into a new direction. After we take a step of faith and make a concrete move in that direction, God may well give us some attestation. That is, a special sign that shows us we’re moving in the right direction.
VERSE 11. Now while they were going, behold, some of the guards came into the city, and told the chief priests all the things that had happened.
VERSE 12. When they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave a large amount of silver to the soldiers,
had taken counsel. That is, “devised a plan.” It was a sinister plan, involving conspiracy and bribery.
The English word “devised” is interesting. Its first four letters are “D-E-V-I,” just like the word “Devil” or “Divisive.” And it is often used in contexts that denote a sinister thing. The reverse is the word “create,” which denotes good things. God created the universe. Artists create masterpieces.
Say that. It is easy to see through this conspiracy between the religious leaders and the soldiers . . .
- The soldiers would not have fallen asleep, for if they did, the punishment was execution.
- The soldiers could not admit to falling asleep, for that admission would mean execution.
- If they really had fallen asleep, they wouldn’t be able to claim they knew what happened to the body.
VERSE 15. So they took the money and did as they were told. This saying was spread abroad among the Jews, and continues until today.
Summary: The eleven disciples went to a special location at a mountain in Galilee. That was where Jesus had arranged for them to meet him. He was there. They fell down and worshipped him, something they would have reserved for God and God alone. He told them he had all authority, both in heaven and on earth. And he had a job for them.
they bowed down to him. That is, they worshipped him.
some doubted. But on second thought, not all of them get it right. Even now, with the evidence of the resurrection standing there before them, they still doubt.
Some Christian leaders are like this. They work hard to make people think they are great pillars of faith and authentic Men of God. But actually, faced with the truth itself, they do not conform to the mythos they create about their own identity.
If you had been one of the apostles, what would you have done? Worship? Or doubt? We would hope we would react like the two women, rather than the apostles who doubted. But we do not know. In any case, we pray that God opens our hearts ever more, so that we can see Jesus Christ as those women did.
VERSE 18. Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.
in heaven and on earth.Jesus Christ and his disciples to claim that he has authority over ALL. That is very threatening to the religious leaders. And to the Roman Empire.
VERSE 19. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Father … Son … Holy Spirit. Where is the Holy Trinity defined or alluded to in the New Testament? Here are the verses we found.
Go. Previously, they had sequestered themselves into the Upper Room. But now it was time to stop hiding their faith. Jesus Christ commanded them to GO. They were to leave their Upper Room. Their faith in him was to no longer to be a secret.
They were to go. They were to go out into the world. They would no longer be confined to a certain locale and culture. Now, the message would propagate outward to the world. Jesus Christ is for both Jew and Gentile, male and female. He is for people of every culture and race, language and tongue. It is incumbent upon us to go should his message from the rooftops of every nation on earth!
Their faith in Jesus Christ was not to be locked up or hidden away. It wasn’t to be kept a secret or a private matter. No, their faith was to be a light that shined everywhere. It was meant to be shouted from the rooftops.
How about you? Do you keep your faith in Jesus Christ a secret? Is it finally the time for you to go? Is it time for you to start talking with non-Christians about Jesus Christ? Is it time for you to do evangelism?
make disciples. They were to train people in the ways of Christian discipleship. That is comes in two parts: baptism, and then teaching.
baptizing them. The first step in becoming a follower of Jesus Christ is to make a public proclamation of your faith and get baptized. Jesus commands his disciples to baptize. They are to lead non-Christians to faith in Jesus Christ and baptism. This is the ministry of evangelism.
Sure, one can have a private intellectual faith without baptism. And sure, people arrive at an internal faith prior to the moment when they get baptized. Otherwise, they would not get baptized. But here, Jesus commands baptism. This is a both-and approach. There is an internal faith, which is coupled with an external action. Baptism is the starting point of discipleship. Baptism is followed by discipleship, as the next verse says.
In the ministry of evangelism, we share the news of Jesus Christ with people who don’t know him yet. Some of those non-Christians will wish to become his followers. We lead them to faith in Jesus Christ and baptism.
Jesus himself tells us how to baptize people into the faith: “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” That’s called a Trinitarian baptism. Some churches perform baptism “In the name of Jesus” only. But this is not biblical. It does not obey what Jesus commanded.
Jesus himself refers to all three Persons of the Trinity.
How about you? Do you desire to do that? If not, how can you develop a desire to do it? What practical steps can you take to evangelize others?
The Lord Jesus calls us to take his Gospel to the whole world. Here are the key Bible verses about this »
VERSE 20. teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
teaching them. After people get baptized into the faith, we are to teach them. We are to mentor new believers to walk with Jesus Christ, in full obedience to his will. This is the ministry of discipleship. Teaching takes on many aspects:
- Individual mentoring
- Individual study
- Small Group discussion
- Listening to great preaching
Many people believe that Jesus is talking here about one-on-one mentoring. That’s the process where an experienced follower of Jesus Christ individually mentors a brand new believer, or perhaps a long-term believer who has recently been awakened.
How about you? Do you have any believers that you are mentoring? If not, how can you develop a desire to do it? What practical steps can you take to disciple others?
to observe all things that I commanded you. This tells us what we are mentoring people about. It isn’t necessarily the intellectual content of the faith, even though there’s a lot of that and its great. It isn’t necessarily the thousands of tidbits about one’s denomination of choice. No, we’re helping people learn to walk with Jesus Christ, in full obedience to his commands. Are you familiar with the commands of Jesus? Here are the commands of Jesus we have found in the Gospel of Matthew.
I am with you always, even to the end of the age. The LORD God promises to be with us always, even to the ends of the world. Read more »
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.