Matthew’s account of the gospel ends abruptly, but there are still details of what happened on the day that Jesus arose from the dead.
Verses 1-10 tell the story of the two Marys that come to see Christ’s tomb and instead meet an angel that tells them that Jesus has risen from the dead. This happens on a Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, which was Saturday. The angel opened Jesus’s tomb and struck fear into the guards by his appearance. But the angel did not scare the women and instead told them that Jesus had already left for Galilee and they should go and meet Him. They are also to go and tell the disciples that Jesus has risen from the dead.
Jesus meets the two Marys on their way and tells them to rejoice and to not be afraid. He reiterates the directive to tell the disciples of His appearance as well.
Verses 11-15 tell us about the chief priests bribing the soldiers whose job it was to guard the tomb. The chief priests wanted people to believe that Jesus’s disciples stole His body as the guards slept. You may remember from Matthew 27:62-66 when the chief priests asked Pilate to set a guard to avoid that perception that Jesus rose from the dead. Well now that Jesus actually has been resurrected, the chief priests still want to spread the idea that it was not a divine act but a robbery. Their resistance to what they think God’s will should be has led them to deeper and deeper sins.
To end the book, Jesus meets with His disciples on a mountain in Galilee. Some of them doubt it is Him. In the end, our Lord gives them the great commission to go and spread the good news of salvation to all of the earth: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”
To conclude this rich book as well as our study this evening, a few observations are in order:
1. Despite challenges and great effort to the contrary, God’s will is done.
The scribes, Pharisees, chief priests and many others tried to prevent Jesus from accomplishing His goal of spreading the good news of His coming. However, in the end, their efforts to stop Him actually contributed to the success of God’s plan when He was crucified. Even the mightiest efforts of mankind serve and flow in the direction of the will of Almighty God!
2. In Jesus’s commission, the necessity of baptism for salvation is commanded.
Many followers of Christ would have us believe that we need only accept Christ in our heart to be saved. But the act of baptism in connection with salvation cannot be denied as part of the plan of salvation. See I Peter 3:21-22, Mark 16:16 and Romans 6:1-11:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
3. Salvation is available for every person.
Jesus died for each of us, every human that has sinned and needs reconciliation to God. God’s grace through salvation is not limited to race, creed, nationality, degree of sin or degree of righteousness. There is nothing you could have done that would prevent God’s grace from saving you through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Romans 3:23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Galatians 3:26-29: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Tonight I ask you to look at your life and ask yourself whether you continue in sin or whether your are trying to live for Him. Jesus’s sacrifice was so great that it covers the sins of everyone who has ever lived. But we cannot enjoy the benefit of it unless we repent of our sins, are baptized and try to live for Him.
So tonight I urge you to look into your heart and examine yourself. If you need my prayers, let me know and I will pray for you. If you feel you need further study, let me know and we will study the Bible together. If you feel the need to be baptized, let me know and I will meet you where there is water.
God offers us everything through His Son. We need only to listen and obey.