Matthew 28:1-10 ESV
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went 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 and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”
So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
Going Against Fear
Although Jesus did tell his followers ahead of his death that he would be put to death, but that he would rise again, I don’t believe any of them remembered that, nor did they expect it, for they were caught up in the grief of losing their Lord to death. So, when he was resurrected from the dead, as he said he would be, at least some of them, I know, were surprised, fearful, and/or doubtful.
But, isn’t that how it is with us sometimes, too? God’s Word has told us ahead of time of all the things we should expect to take place in our lives now that we are followers of Jesus, and yet when they take place, we are surprised by them, doubtful or fearful. And, I believe it is because we are forgetful, or else we just didn’t take his words seriously to begin with.
For, Jesus also told his followers the cost of following him, that it means death to sin and self, that it means walking with him in righteousness, and that it also means we will be hated and persecuted as he was. We will be called upon to suffer for the sake of Christ and his gospel of salvation. For, the more we become like Jesus, the more people will separate themselves from us, just like they did Jesus.
But, our Lord is saying to us, “Don’t be afraid!” “Don’t run away.” “Don’t give up hope.” “Go! And tell people the gospel of my salvation so that they, too, can have eternal life with God and freedom from slavery to sin.”
I like how it says here that the women “departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.”
It was not that they all of a sudden felt no fear, but that they went against their fears and did what was right despite their feelings. And, that is how we need to respond to our fears, too. We should obey our Lord by going against our fears in doing what he has called us to do, regardless of what humans may do to us or say about us. And, we should do so with joy, too.
Matthew 28:11-15 ESV
While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
Opposition and Lies
Satan is the father of lies, and he will lie, lie, lie in order to get people not to believe the truth, and to get them to doubt, fear and retreat. He is the master of disguises and deception, and so where God is working Satan is also working in throwing people into confusion, and in getting them to doubt and fear so that they don’t walk in faith and believe God’s Word.
And, he will even get Christians and Christian leaders to spread his lies, too, because they fell for his lies and they were deceived. For, Satan is very clever and subtle and he is good at making his lies sound like truth and in convincing people that the truth is a lie.
For example, there are some really huge lies being spread today within the church and coming from church leaders, too. They have reduced the gospel message to less than half of what it really is in order to exclude the parts they don’t like – the parts which offend the masses. So, they have removed the fact that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and they make our salvation out to be merely an escape from hell, the forgiveness of sins, and the promise of heaven when we leave this earth.
But, they are not content just with giving out a half-truth gospel, which is a lie, but they are also convincing people that those who are still teaching death to sin and living to righteousness, that they are legalists who are teaching works-based salvation. And, so people are being taught to ignore the truth of the gospel, which they believe is a lie, and they end up accepting the lie then as the truth, which is Satan’s ploy.
Matthew 28:16-20 ESV
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus died on that cross not only to save us from our sins and so we can live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him, in fellowship with him, but his purpose for us is also that we might tell others so that they can come to know him, too.
Collectively, the commission for us, his church, his followers, is to first of all “Go.” He didn’t say to invite the unbelieving world into the gatherings of the church so that the preacher could save them. The purpose of the gatherings of the church is for the building up of the body of Christ and in order that we might minister to one another and encourage one another in our walks of faith so that we can go out into the world with the gospel.
If we fill up the gatherings of the church with the ungodly, and especially if we then pattern our gatherings around the felt needs of the ungodly, then the church is no longer the church. But, it is a general gathering of people, comprised of a mixture of those in relationship with Jesus Christ and those who are not, which is geared much toward attracting the world, and so it no longer functions as the church, as God intended.
When the church functions as it ought, then the gatherings are about ministering to the needs of the body of Christ, and helping one another to grow in our walks of faith so that we can survive out in the world in which we live and live holy lives pleasing to God. Then, too, we are prepared to share the gospel of our salvation with the unbelieving world, for we have been encouraged and strengthened in our walks of faith via our times with God and via our times with the body of believers in Jesus Christ.
But, then we are to go out to the world with the intention of sharing with them the gospel of our salvation. How that looks can be as individual as we are, but we should be praying for opportunities to share Jesus with the people we meet and to show them his love and to demonstrate his grace.
We, collectively, as the body of Christ, are to baptize people when they trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives. This does not mean that each one of us individually will be called to do this, though, for we read Paul’s words where he said God did not send him to baptize but to preach the gospel. Others did the baptizing and Paul did the preaching, it appears.
So, there is a distinction Paul made between the gospel and baptism, for water baptism is not required for salvation, but it is something we do as a testimony of our faith in Jesus Christ. For, water baptism symbolizes our death with Christ to sin and our resurrection with Christ to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. So, it is an outward testimony of our inward faith, in good conscience towards God.
And, we are also to make disciples of Christ of people by teaching them what Jesus has commanded us and of our need to walk in obedience to his commands. Our purpose is not just to show them the “plan of salvation,” but it is to lead them to walk with Christ day by day in obedience to him, in fellowship with him, and in his righteousness and holiness. For, we are to lead them to be followers of Jesus, which means we die with him to sin, we live with him to righteousness, and we suffer with him for the sake of his name and for righteousness’ sake, because we are becoming like him.
He Keeps Me Singing
Hymn lyrics and music by Luther B. Bridgers, 1910
There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low,
“Fear not, I am with thee, peace be still,”
In all of life’s ebb and flow.
All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,
Discord filled my heart with pain;
Jesus swept across the broken strings,
Stirred the slumbering chords again.
Feasting on the riches of His grace,
Resting ‘neath His sheltering wing,
Always looking on His smiling face –
That is why I shout and sing.
Though sometimes He leads through waters deep,
Trials fall across the way,
Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep
See His foot-prints all the way.
Soon He’s coming back to welcome me
Far beyond the starry sky;
I shall wing my flight to world’s unknown,
I shall reign with Him on high.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus –
Sweetest name I know,
Fills my every longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.
*copyright status is public domain
Wednesday, September 5, 2018 – Thank You, Jesus!!