Monday, January 28, 2013

Matthew 28 - The King's Victory and Commission

LINK: Matthew 28


Sunday at Sunrise

He is RISEN! This proves the Kingship of Jesus Christ! He fulfilled His claim that He would lay down His life and take it up again (John 10:17-18).

The order of events can sometimes be confusing when looking at all four accounts. I will try to explain it all in order. 

Before sunrise, an earthquake happened and an angel rolled away the stone and frightened the guards of the tomb (Matthew 28:2-4).

At early dawn, the women who followed Jesus brought spices to anoint His body. The women mentioned were Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2, Mark 16:9), the "other" Mary who was the mother of James and Joses and wife of Clopas (Mark 15:40; John 19:25), Salome (Mark 16:1), and Joanna (Luke 24:10). We do not know who the "other women" included (Luke 24:9). Since women bring people into the world, it was only appropriate that at least two mothers would be the first to discover the empty tomb! 

Mary left to go and tell Peter and John (John 20:1-2). While she was gone, the other women saw two angels who told them Jesus had RISEN (Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7; Luke 24:4-8). The Matthew and Mark accounts focus on only one angel.

Mary came back with Peter and John to tell them that Jesus was not in the tomb, but she did not know that He had risen (John 20:2).  Isn't it funny that John, the author, would say that he beat Peter in a foot race back to the tomb (John 20:4)? They saw the linen wrappings but still did not understand that Jesus had risen (John 20:9).  So, they went back to their homes. 

Many commentators believe that Mark ended his gospel here and an anonymous writer added Mark 16:9-20. They believe this was done shortly after A.D. 100.

This next event is not recorded in Matthew but helps in understanding the chronology of events and might be helpful to read.

240. Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene: Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18

241. Jesus appears to the women: Matthew 28:8-10

The women were told by one of the angels to tell the disciples. Then they saw Jesus on the way and worshiped Him! Amazing that the first two appearances were to women!

His third appearance was to Peter and is not described but mentioned in Luke 24:34 and 1 Corinthians 15:5.

242. Religious leaders bribe the guards: Matthew 28:11-15

Those soldiers who had fainted because they saw the angel roll away the stone had to be hushed up, but not even a bribe from the religious leaders to make the soldiers say the body was stolen could counteract the truth of His resurrection because of so many witnesses! 

The following events are not in Matthew's gospel but help with understanding the chronology of events:

Later in the Day

243. Jesus appears to two believers traveling on the road: Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-34


244. Jesus appears to His disciples: Luke 24:35-43, John 20:19-23

Eight days later

245. Jesus appears to Thomas: Mark 16:14, John 20:24-31

Two weeks later

246. Jesus appears to seven disciples: John 21:1-14 

247. Jesus challenges Peter: John 21:15-25

Three weeks later

248. Jesus gives the great commission: Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:15-18

Jesus commissioned His followers to go on the basis of His authority. The Greek word here is exousia, and it means "official right or power." In addition, He commissioned them to go to all the nations. The Greek phrase for "all the nations" is panta ta ethne. This does not mean political nations with man-made boundaries but all the different people groups of the world as they tend to understand and define themselves by language, lineage, or socio-cultural factors. This is the clearest mandate for world evangelization given, but if you have been reading along with the Bible Book Club, you have probably learned that, from the beginning, God has always wanted to bless all nations (Genesis 12). Through the whole Old Testament and the four Gospel accounts, it is clear that God has always wanted to bless all nations!  See the REFLECTION section for more about this.

249. Jesus appears to the disciples in Jerusalem: Luke 24:44-49

Forty days later (Ascension Day)

250. Jesus ascends into heaven: Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:9-12

Fifty days later

251. Pentecost: Acts 2

Read about it in Acts 2 of the Bible Book Club, and join me for the rest of the New Testament!  

REFLECTION - Please read this!!!!!!!!!

In 1988, I had the honor of going to Bangkok, Thailand with a team of seventeen people. Most mornings, our leader and teacher on the trip, Steven Hawthorne, expounded on God's heart for the nations. Here is an article he wrote that summarized what I learned from being under his leadership for 2 1/2 months. It deals with a much better exposition of Matthew 28:19-20 than I could ever give. Please take the time to read it. You will be blessed.

MANDATE ON THE MOUNTAIN by Steven C. Hawthorne

The original sidebar has been omitted from the above article. So I have included it in this post: 
"The Great Commission and the Great Commandment" by Steven Hawthorne
The "Great Commission" of Matthew 28 has been seen as a counterpart to the so-called "Great Commandment," in which Jesus points to the most important of all commandment of Scripture. In the familiar passage (Matt 22:25-37, with parallel accounts in Mark 12:28-34 and Luke 10:25-37), Jesus says that the "greatest" of all biblical commandments is love for God and love for neighbor. Many significant evangelical voices have put the two imperatives side-by-side as a way of expressing the full responsibility of Christians in the world.
How does the Great Commandment relate to the Great Commission? They are often presented as balancing equals, corresponding to different dimension of human need. the Great Commission is thought to focus on spiritual issues, while the Great Commandment is considered to address physical and social matters. But when they are held side-by-side as responses to human need, there can be confusion about how to integrate them as Christian mission.
Different: Historical Achievement and Constant Imperative
We may better see how the two commands work together if we respect how they are different. Comparing them as though they were equal may result in us failing to pursue either fully.
Loving God and our neighbors with devotion and service is not something which can ever be completed. Love is something that can only grow over time and must be pursued at all times. But the Great Commission is a global, historic achievement, a task to be completed. In spite of popular understanding, the Great Commission is not a command to do evangelism as often as one finds possible. It is a mandate entrusted to all of Christ's followers to accomplish a work that requires many generations of labor that at the end of history will be finished.
Same Focus: Both are For God 
Try to balance or compare the Great Commandment and the Great Commission may be missing the point of either one. In neither of them is the pre-eminent focus on human need, spiritual or otherwise. the primary end of both is relational reality directed toward God. Though we often pay more attention to "love your neighbor" in the Great Commandment, the main point of Jesus' words it that God would be loved with heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the essential outcome of the Great Commission is equally for God, that He would be served by obedient disciples in every people. 
The point is not just to love God, but to labor that He will be loved. The greatest way of loving our Lord is to see that He is worshiped, followed, and loved in every people. Furthermore, we have been given something greater than merely extending our own love to neighbors. We have a mandate to transform entire neighborhoods by multiplying those who love one another as Christ commanded.
How They Work Together
Neither can be prioritized above or below the other. Ultimately, neither can happen without the other. We cannot evangelize the peoples without excelling in love. And we cannot consider our evangelization to be complete unless people are growing in love for God and obeying Him by loving their neighbors. 
From Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, Fourth Edition edited by Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne. 

Be sure to read the articles above and consider taking the entire Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course! Classes usually start in mid-January so if you are reading this according to the traditional Bible Book Club schedule, you might not be too late to join a class! 

Check out their website for a course in your area HERE!

No matter where you are in your walk with God, this class will challenge and encourage you! I took it in 1987, and I often grade for the class now. I never cease to love the "shot in the arm" it gives me as I review the things I learned. 

If there is not one in your area, you can also take it online. It is well worth the investment of time and money. 

If you are still in doubt, take the first two lessons for free online! 

In addition, HERE is a great article and acronym for thinking about Jesus in you!


Lord, thank You for giving us a clear purpose for our lives. May we obey You by loving You and our neighbor and taking the Good News of Jesus to all the peoples of the earth. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 
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