The Resurrection and Commission of Jesus Christ

March/April 2020
Volume 55, Number 2

Historical Christianity places great emphasis on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without the literal, bodily resurrection of Christ, there is no Christianity. Paul points out the fallacy of a religion without the Resurrection and says “If Christ be not raised from the dead, … we of all people are the most foolish” (1 Corinthians 15:17, 19). As Stephen Brown puts it, “The Good News is that a dead man got up and walked around.”

Indeed, it is! That Resurrection reminds us that Jesus Christ is alive. What then, are the biblical implications we can draw from the Resurrection? May I suggest eight?

1. Jesus Christ’s atoning work is finished (John 19:30). There is nothing more you can do to add to salvation. You cannot earn it or merit it in any way. Being “good” does nothing to achieve our salvation. Jesus did it all there on the Cross. All we can do is to place our unconditional trust in Christ. Any goodness then that comes from us is because of what Jesus did on the Cross to save us, and is not effective to save us in any sense.

2. God’s power is triumphant (Matthew 28:24)! God has overcome the ultimate enemy of mankind–death. Man has always tried to cheat death, to put the “grim reaper” off for as long as possible. But in the Resurrection, God actually broke the power of death so that it holds no fear for the believer in Jesus Christ. Die we may if Jesus does not return, but it is not permanent! It holds no fear for us!

3. Jesus is whom He said He was: the Son of God (Matthew 28:6). The Resurrection is the verification of His deity. It is one thing to claim you are God in the flesh, but it is another thing to really prove it by doing something only God can do. It is the ultimate proof that Jesus is the “Great I Am.”

4. History is changed forever. No one before this time arose from the dead never to die again. The Resurrection is an historical event as it was confirmed by witnesses and documentary evidence. This means that there is more to life than what we can see, touch, hear, smell, and taste. There is another dimension of existence that the world knows nothing about.

5. Lives are changed (Matthew 24:8). Jesus came to give us real life. We now live no longer from day to day; but we live for eternity. A dead Messiah has no transforming ability, but a Risen Saviour makes us into new creatures. When we trust in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit living within us, teaching us, transforming us, preparing us for life forever with God in Heaven.

6. Our bodies will be raised from the grave, too! The Resurrection of Jesus in His body means that we will be raised in our bodies someday—or that our bodies will be changed in an instant if we are alive when Jesus returns for His Church. We will have a new body that is different—and the same—as our present body.

7. Jesus Christ is alive forevermore! When He arose, He had a new kind of body, one that will never die again. Sin has no effect on Him, and He lives unto God. “Dying once, He all doth save.”

8. Jesus Christ is Lord! His Resurrection shows that He is Lord over death. If He is the Master over death—then He is the Master of everything! The Lord of the atoms is also our Lord—whether or not we acknowledge it. The Resurrection means we owe Him our love, our loyalty, and our obedience to His Word.

Jesus Christ is literally, physically alive. This is the touchstone of real Christianity and of real faith in Christ. Do you have a Saviour? Is He alive or deadYour eternity depends on it!

— Craig Alan Myers

The Resurrection and Commission of Jesus Christ

By Harold S. Martin
Matthew 28:1-20

This is the day we celebrate the bodily Resurrection of Jesus. His resurrection is the central fact of the Christian faith. Other religions refer to the after-life, but they have no living Savior—and so their founders are dead men!

The last verses of Matthew 27 tell about the attempts to seal the tomb of Jesus and to secure it—so no one could steal the Lord’s body.

–Jesus had been crucified and His body was placed in a tomb.
–A guard of Roman soldiers was placed close by—to be sure that no one would disturb the body.
–They did everything humanly possible to keep the body of Jesus in the tomb, but human schemes cannot hinder the plan of God.

Some time early on Sunday morning, Jesus was raised from the dead. John’s account indicates that He had passed through the grave clothes, and left them behind as evidence that He was indeed alive (John 20:5-7).

–The clothes lay there like an empty cocoon.

–There was no sign of struggle.

–The garments were not disturbed.

–Even the wrappings which covered Jesus’ face were folded carefully in a place by themselves.

It is clear from the Gospel accounts—that despite all the announcements given by Jesus, His followers still did not really expect that He would rise from the dead. Matthew 28 tells the story of that first resurrection morning.

1. The Miraculous Resurrection of Jesus (28:1-10)

News of the resurrection came early on Sunday morning when the two Marys came to the tomb to continue their watch.

Mark’s more detailed account says that Salome was with them, and that they came to anoint the body of Jesus (Mark 16:1). But Mark 16:3 says that they were concerned about the large heavy stone which covered the door of the tomb.

(28:1-9) Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who 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 indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold I have told you.”

So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!”

Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” (and Salome) had returned to the tomb to keep a reverent watch just before dawn on Sunday morning. They were concerned about the stone, but as they neared the sepulcher, they noticed that the huge stone was no longer over the door.

–It had been rolled aside.
–The stone was rolled away, not to let Jesus out, but to let the witnesses in.
–In this way, people could verify the resurrection, and see with their own eyes that the tomb was empty.

Jesus came out of the tomb without any witnesses; no human eye had seen it, and no human pen has described it. The resurrection was a supernatural event accomplished by the intervention and activity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. See Acts 2:24 (God orchestrated it); John 2:19 (Jesus did it), and 1 Peter 3:18 (the Holy Spirit had part in it).

Matthew 28, Verse 2 says that there was a great earthquake. An earthquake had occurred also at our Lord’s crucifixion. These are acts which God uses to tell the world to stop and listen. God is saying–important events are taking place; situp and take note.

In verses 34 the angel who appeared is described further. The angel was attired in snow-white garments. His appearance was brilliant. The shock of the angel’s brilliance, and of the unusual earthquake—-scared the soldiers who were on guard duty. They were stricken with fear and became helpless, almost like dead men (28:4).

It took an unusual event to scare hardened Roman soldiers, but the bright flashing countenance of this angel—-paralyzed them with fear. The soldiers were prepared to face human attempts to remove the body of Jesus, but when a heavenly visitor came and moved the heavy stone with ease—they were terrified. (They were scared stiff—and literally became like dead men!)

The women also apparently were frightened, but unlike the soldiers, they were told by the angel not to be afraid. The angel reassured the women that there was nothing to fear, and then invited the women to come and see (verse 6).

And then in tenderness, the angel said,

“I know that you seek Jesus.”

And then in triumph—the angel continued:

“He is not here; for He has risen” (verse 6).

The clause “He has risen” is just one word in the original Greek. If this one word is not true, then the whole Christian message comes crashing down—and there is no hope for us after death. If this one sentence is not true—then all humans die like an animal.

But I saw a beautiful death announcement recently: It did not say that Joanne died, but instead, it said–“Joanne has moved on to her heavenly home.”

Verse 7 says that the angel directed the women to go and tell the disciples that Jesus had been raised from the dead, and that He would meet them in Galilee.

Verse 8 says that the women ran with joy, and with a sense of reverence, to tell this great news to the disciples. And on the way, Jesus met them, and addressed them with the words, “Rejoice!”

Verse 9 says the women fell prostrate before Him and worshiped Him. The phrase “held Him by the feet” (verse 9) was an act of homage. Jesus accepted their worship—and with words of comfort, He told them not to be afraid—-and to tell His disciples to go to Galilee, and there He would meet with them (verse 10).

Matthew is the only one of the four Gospel writers who tells us that Jesus Himself appeared to the women as they went on their way. The women met Jesus—and meeting Him happened because they were obeying the instructions which the angel had given them in verse 7.

The lesson for us is this: Those who seek to carefully follow in the path of obedience—-are the ones who most likely will be met by Jesus. It is interesting to note that:

–women were the first to see the empty tomb. –women were first to see the risen Lord;

Jesus appeared first not to men, but to women! –and women were first to tell the joyful news to the disciples.

God often uses women—with their more tender emotions, to bring people to the Lord Jesus. I don’t believe women are called to be pastors (Jesus chose 12 men to be His teaching disciples—but there are many duties related to church work that women can do).

2. The Silencing of the Soldiers (28:11-15)

News about the empty tomb began to circulate in Jerusalem. The resurrection of Jesus was beginning to cause a great stir in the City.

As the women went on their way to deliver the joyous news to the disciples, some of the soldiers who had been guarding the tomb—-were getting uneasy. They regained consciousness and fled to the city of Jerusalem, and reported to the Jewish religious leaders the things that were happening (verse 11).

(28:11-15) Now while the [women] were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened.

When the [chief priests] had assembled with the elders, and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.”

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

The soldiers who guarded the tomb realized that

they were in a desperate plight.

–The seal had been broken;

–The stone had been rolled away;

–The body was not in the tomb.

The Jewish Sanhedrin met, and they voted a handsome bribe to be given to the soldiers if they would tell the following story: “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept” (verse 13).

The suggestion of the Sanhedrin was really an outrageous story—-but since they absolutely refused to believe the truth—it was about the best story they could come up with. It was unreasonable from several points of view; the most obvious flaw is this: If the soldiers were asleep, how could they know what had happened?

If a witness in court said he was asleep when something occurred, his testimony would be dismissed at once—how could sleeping people know what happened? But the soldiers took the money and did as they were told to do (verse 15).

In verse 14 we learn that the Jewish leaders tried to re-assure the guards by saying in essence that if … Pilate hears about the disappearance of Jesus’ body from the tomb–they will bribe him so that he overlooks it.

Any sincere person who studies the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, must conclude that the resurrection of Jesus is an historic fact, and that it can’t be refuted.

–Jesus appeared to several hundred people after the resurrection.

–The grave clothes were undisturbed;

–and the lives of His followers were radically changed.

But perhaps the most significant evidence for Christ’s resurrection—-is the fact that neither the Jews, nor anyone else, could produce the body of Jesus. All they would have had to do—to disprove the resurrection was to bring the dead body of Jesus to the officials. But they could not do that—because Jesus was not dead—He was alive!

3. The Commission to the Disciples (28:16-20)

Apparently, the women gave the disciples the message which Jesus and the angel at the tomb had conveyed to them. Verse 16 says that the eleven disciples went to Galilee—-to the mountain where Jesus had directed them.

(28:16-20) Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “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.”

When Jesus appeared to the disciples on the mountain—they worshiped Him (verse 17)–and Jesus told them that all power (all authority) was given to Him, in heaven and on earth (verse 18). And then Jesus—-who has victoriously conquered sin and death, gave His disciples the commission for the task of world-wide evangelism (verses 19-20).

a) Jesus says we should “go” (verse 19).

We are to go to others with the message of salvation. We are to go to people even in other nations. This is a call for soul-winning, and for nurturing new believers in the faith. It is a clear New Testament command. It is the New Testament basis for supporting gospel missions.

b) Jesus says we should “make disciples” (verse 19).

The verb “make disciples” means “to carefully teach and model God’s truth.” The command is not merely to make a quick little raid into another country—but to go and live with the people—-and take time to teach, and to work carefully with them, seeking to bring them along gently in the faith.

The task is not only to evangelize and bring people to Christ  but then to carefully instruct and train those who decide to embrace Christ as Saviour.

It is not only a matter of passing out tracts and inviting people to church services. “Making disciples” involves living alongside, and working with, and visiting, and modeling the Christian life.

c) Jesus says we should “baptize” (verse 19).

Those who believe the Gospel message should be taught the necessity of baptism and of church membership. Baptism symbolically unites believers with Jesus Christ in their death to sin and their resurrection to new life.

–Baptism symbolizes submission to Christ and a willingness to live in God’s way.

–Baptism becomes a means of identifying with God’s people.

Those who read all the New Testament references to baptism with an unbiased mind—will conclude that baptism by immersion in water most clearly describes the practice of the New Testament church.

d) Jesus says we should teach believers to obey (verse 20).

When people are baptized–that is not the end of the conversion experience. It is only the beginning–of an ongoing walk with the Lord.

One of the weaknesses of much present day evangelism–is failure to teach obedience to the Word of God. And we are to obey “all things” which Jesus commanded–what He commanded in person, and what He commanded through the New Testament apostles. Our obedience is to be without reservation.

–We are not to select from Jesus’ teachings what pleases us, and neglect the rest.

–We must accept what Jesus said about adultery, as well as what He said about the sin of homosexual conduct.

–We must accept what Jesus said about Hell, as well as what He said about Heaven.

–We must accept what Jesus said about carnal lusting, as well as what He said about the nature of true love.

Obedience involves a lifetime of learning, so that we become more and more conformed to the image of Christ as the years come and go. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) means not only bringing people to Christ, but also teaching converts to follow  Christ.

After Jesus charged the disciples with the task of taking the gospel into the entire world–He gave them the assurance of His presence with them–even to the end of the age.

Jesus is alive—and He promises that we need not go out into life alone, or without His help. Jesus will empower us, and will be a Companion with us as we go about the task of seeking to live by biblical standards. Jesus is not only with us when we gather together for worship. He has also promised to be with us as we scatter to seek to bring others to Christ.

When the Norwegian explorer, Fridtjof Nansen, went on his long trip to search out the North Pole, he took a number of tape recordings along with him. On the tapes, his wife had recorded some songs which she herself sang. She also recorded the chatter of their little baby boy.

In the loneliness of the Arctic midnight–as he was being pulled along on a dog-sled, Nansen listened to the voices of those whom he loved–and he was inspired and encouraged to keep going on.

Just so, when we are tossed by the waves of life, and when the night grows dark, and when our hope seems dim–we can listen to a sweeter voice.

We can hear the Lord Jesus say, “My child, whatever comes your way, be of good cheer–I will be with you right down to the end of the journey.”

Verse 20–“Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Sometimes, we may feel like we’re alone in a cold, unkind world–but as disciples of Christ–we are not deserted. The Lord Jesus is with us daily

–to pardon and forgive

–to sanctify and strengthen

–and, to defend and keep.

Matthew closes with the promise that Jesus will be with us always–as an unfailing Friend.

Lord, remind us often that life is like a vapor–it appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.

Thank you for the death and resurrection of Jesus–and for the fact that by it, He has purchased our redemption. He has paid the price. Those who repent may have their sins forgiven. And some day–because Jesus, who died and was buried–lives

Again and He has promised that because He lives, we shall live also!