A Manual For Discipleship

 

Disciples – See Christ’s Mission Power

In Matthew 26 we saw the perseverance of Jesus in His mission. In Matthew 27 we saw the price Jesus paid on the cross to complete His mission. Now in Matthew 28 we will see the power produced by His mission.

 

Why did they crucify Jesus?

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ marked the low point of human history. What makes it so dark and sinful is that those who orchestrated the crucifixion did it knowing that Jesus was innocent of any crime or wrongdoing.

Evidence of this is seen early in Jesus’ ministry when the religious representative Nicodemus showed that he and the other religious leaders knew Jesus to be a teacher from God based on what he said to Jesus which was, "we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him" (John 3:2). When Nicodemus spoke to Jesus he said, "we know," which indicates that not only Nicodemus knew who Jesus was but those whom he was representative of in the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees. But these same religious leaders (except for Nicodemus) were not willing to accept God’s heavenly plan. Rather than accept Jesus, His message and mission of redemption, they turned on Him in a jealous rage and arranged for His murder (Matthew 12:14; John 19:7). Jesus was the embodiment of goodness and deity. Jesus did miracles, healed the sick, fed the hungry, loved the children, and taught the truth. Those Jesus ministered to and saw Him minister naturally looked upon Him with favor and this led the religious leaders to envy Jesus (Matthew 27:14). Was envy and jealousy the only reason that they crucified Jesus? Or was there something or someone else behind this crucifixion? Why did they crucify Jesus?

No less than seven times people recorded to have recognized that there was no fault in Jesus: Judas said Jesus was innocent – Matthew 27:4; Pilate’s wife knew Jesus was a "just man" – Matthew 27:19; Pilate found no fault in Him – John 18:4; Herod found no fault in Jesus – Luke 23:15; The thief on the cross beside Jesus said "this Man has done nothing wrong" – Luke 23:41; The centurion overseeing the crucifixion said, "Certainly this was a righteous Man!" – Luke 23:47; and later the centurion comments, "Truly this was the Son of God!" – Matthew 27:54. If they knew Jesus was innocent, why did they crucify Him?

Why would a disciple such as Judas, who had been trusted by Jesus (i.e. Jesus let him oversee the money donated to His ministry – John 12:6), who had walked in sight of Jesus for three years, heard Him teach, seen His miracles such as feeding 4,000, feeding 5,000, stilling a stormy sea, healing countless people, raising the dead and a host of others, how could one in Judas position betray Jesus? Why did Judas agree to arrange the betrayal of Jesus?

I believe there was a deeper, darker influence behind the crucifixion of Jesus. This influence doesn’t in any way diminish the responsibility and blame for crucifying Jesus, but we need to understand the primary evil influence behind the crucifixion of Jesus.

Under the Influence and Power of Satan

The answer to the above questions surrounding why Jesus was crucified, I believe is clear, Satan was behind the crucifixion of Jesus and  those who resist Jesus, are under the influence of Satan. This is not to minimize the sinner’s responsibility for their sin in any way. If the sinner turned to Jesus, they would have power against the devil, but because they do not, they wittingly or unwittingly fall into his camp. There are some truths about satanic influence that we need to take to heart here.

First, those who refuse to follow Jesus are under the influence, the power of Satan as seen in the life of Judas. That Satan influenced Judas betrayal of Jesus is seen in the words:

  • John 13:27 – “Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”   [1]

At some point Judas grew impatient or rebellious toward the will of God in Jesus and began to plot his own plan. At the point that Judas thought he knew better than God and rejected Jesus, at that point Satan got a foothold in his life that led to the betrayal.

Second, those who are unsaved are under the power of Satan. This is a truth that the sinner is oftentimes unaware of. A sinner may think that when posed with a need to decide to accept Jesus that they can remain neutral by not deciding. But there is no neutrality; you are either for or against Jesus. Jesus said this with the words:

  • Matthew 6:24 - “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  [2]

But not only that, the truth of the matter is that those who for whatever reason refuse to receive the gospel of God in Christ are under the influence and power of the devil. Jesus also pointed this out bluntly to the religious leaders who opposed Him when He said:

  • John 8:44 -  “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”  [3]

Those who reject Jesus end up acting more and more like the one, Satan, whom they are either knowingly or unknowingly serving.

In the first epistle of John the apostle John is inspired to write:

  • 1 John 5:19 – “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”  [4]

That unbelievers are under the influence of Satan is also stated in the following verses:

  • Ephesians 2:1-3 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”  [5]

Those who reject Jesus are under the influence and power of the devil that deceives and sways people to fulfill his ends. Later in Ephesians it describes this spiritual war that is a reality when Paul is inspired to write:

  • Ephesians 6:12 – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” [6]

When you reject Jesus, you put yourself under the direct influence of Satan. You are either for Jesus or against Jesus; there is no middle ground. Jesus said:

  • Matthew 12:30 - “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”  [7]

Third, any sin opens the door to satanic influence. The apostle Paul was inspired to refer to this when he wrote:

  • Ephesians 4:25-32 – “Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,27 nor give place to the devil.28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”  [8]

According to these verses when we indulge in sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit as well as “give place to the devil.” When the door is opened, (even a crack) to Satan by sin, you can expect havoc in the sinner’s life.

Fourth, Jesus took Satan’s best shot on the cross; Jesus took the most intense acts of evil and Satan’s best effort to thwart the plan of God, and showed His power is supreme. This glorious truth is explained in the epistle to the Colossians where Paul is inspired to write:

  • Colossians 2:13-23 – “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”  [9]

On the cross Jesus made a way for our life slates to be wiped clean of sin. On the cross Jesus made a way for forgiveness of sin. On the cross Jesus publicly defeated Satan and his hoards triumphing over them in a total rout. On the cross Jesus proved the shallowness and impotence of religious pursuits and worldly ways and drew all people to Himself.

In Jesus we have victory over anything that Satan can throw at us. Paul expressed this in the following way:

  • Romans 8:31-39 – “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written: 1 “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  [10]

In the last parts of the gospel of Matthew we see Satan’s attempt through sinful men to thwart God’s plan in Christ. In every instance the power of Jesus is superior. God’s plan would not and could not fail as the early apostles came to know and preach. We see this in the words of Peter at Pentecost when he was inspired and empowered to say:

  • Acts 2:22-24 - “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—23 “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;24 “whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”  [11]

God knew about the mission of Christ, that he would go to the cross and that He would rise from the dead. Satan, at best, was a pawn in the plans of God. Satan thought he could destroy Jesus, but what Satan purposed for evil, God used for the greatest good. Glory to God!

Let’s take a look at the particular impotent efforts of the adversary and how Jesus defeated him.

The "large stone"

Matthew 27:57-61 – "Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him.59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb."

After Jesus had "yielded up His spirit" (Matthew 27:50 – Jesus didn’t merely die, He willfully yielded up His spirit) on the cross, His body was taken by Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, wrapped in clean linen and laid in a new tomb (Matthew 27:57-60a). Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary," remained outside the tomb mourning their loss. These two women knew where Jesus’ tomb was (Matthew 27:61). (Some liberal critics of the resurrection have postulated that when the two women returned on Sunday to the tomb of Jesus that they came to the wrong tomb and mistakenly thought the stone had been removed and Jesus had been resurrected. This is preposterous!)

A "large stone" was rolled over the opening in the tomb where Jesus was laid. If you go to Israel today and visit the Garden Tomb you see that not only was the stone rolled in front of the tomb entryway, but it was rolled into a groove that would have kept it in place. In his book The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Josh McDowell quotes T.J. Thornburn as stating the following about this stone:

"This stone was used, ‘as a protection against both men and beasts. . . . It usually required several men to remove it.’ Since the one rolled to the entrance of Jesus’ tomb was intended to prevent an expected theft, it was probably even larger than what would normally have been used!

‘Indeed, concerning the tremendous weight of the rock, Thorburn remarks: ‘A gloss in Cod. Bez. [a phrase written in parenthesis, within the text of Mark 16:4 as found in a (fourth) century manuscript (Codex Bazae in the Cambridge Library)] adds, ‘And when he was laid there, he (Joseph) put against the tomb a stone which twenty men could not roll away.’" [12]

Think of the effort that was made to keep Jesus in that tomb; twenty men huffing  and  puffing, straining and struggling to roll that huge stone into place. Alfred Edersheim, (quoted in The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict) states:

"And so they laid Him to rest in the niche of the rock-hewn new tomb. And as they went out, they rolled, as was the custom, a ‘great stone’ – the Golel – to close the entrance to the tomb, probably leaning against it for support, as was the practice, a smaller stone – the so-called Dopheg. It would be where the one stone was laid against the other, that on the next day, the Sabbath though it was, the Jewish authorities would have affixed the seal, so that the slightest disturbance might become apparent." [13]

Why was it so important to the enemies of Jesus that the tomb be sealed?

The Seal

Matthew 27:62-66 – "On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate,63 saying, "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’64 "Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first."65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how."66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard."

A.T. Robertson explains the method of sealing the tomb of Jesus:

"probably by a chord stretched across the stone and sealed at each end . . . . The sealing was done in the presence of the Roman guards who were left in charge to protect this stamp of Roman authority and power. They did their best to prevent theft and the resurrection, but they overreached themselves and provided additional witness to the fact of the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus." [14]

The Pharisees were very particular about keeping the letter of their laws, but their obsession with keeping Jesus in that tomb was something that caused them to make an exception. On the day after Jesus died, a Sabbath day, they went together to Pilate to get him to put a Roman seal on the stone covering the tomb where Jesus’ lay. They were pulling out all the stops to put an end to the teaching of Jesus. Their efforts and the stone they sought to use depicts a spiritual truth for us that we need to examine.

The Large Stone and Seal – Cold Hard Religion’s Best Effort to Thwart the Mission of Christ

What we need to see here is that despite the efforts to thwart God’s plan of salvation in Christ, God took what evil people meant for bad and turned it out for the greatest good. In spite of all the efforts of the army of evil to stop Jesus’ work of redemption, Jesus proved greater and more powerful in every way. What do the large stone and seal mean? The "large stone," and the "seal," represent the efforts of man to keep Christ shut up and dead in people’s lives. The hearts of the religious leaders were as hard and cold as the stone they used to try and shut Jesus up in that tomb. Throughout the ministry of Jesus He taught that religion is not the way to salvation. Religion is seeking God based on what man must do. Religion emphasizes dos and don’ts, laws, efforts of people and the guilt that comes when people fail in their own strength. Religion always ends up in frustration and failure because people are never able to do enough to please God in their own strength. This is one of the primary messages in the gospel of Matthew. Jesus said of the religious leaders:

  • Matthew 23:4-5,27-36 - "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.5 "But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. . . 27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.28 "Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.29 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,30 "and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’31 "Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.32 "Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.33 "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?34 "Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,35 "that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.36 "Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation."

"They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." (Matthew 23:4). That’s what religion does, it lays a heavy weight on people, and it uses guilt and fear to weigh people down and makes seeking God hard and heavy. God never intended for people to relate to Him on the basis of guilt. We should feel guilty for our sin and such guilt should lead us to repent, but we should not serve God out of guilt, but rather out of love. Religious pursuits of God lead to guilty burdens and heaviness of heart. How can we be freed from our burden of guilt?

Not Religion But Relationship

No matter how hard and cold the heart of people can get, or how much they try to keep Jesus out of the picture or out of prominence in people’s lives, God in Christ has the power and can move any stone meant to keep Jesus out of the picture of people’s lives. God can move any stone from the heart of people put there in an attempt to shut out the truth of the resurrection. God can move any stone in any heart through His Son Jesus Christ. But only God can move the stone.

Jesus taught that to be His disciple and please God a righteousness that exceeded that of the Pharisees need to be attained to. He taught this in the opening words of the Sermon on the Mount when He said:

  • Matthew 5:20 – "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

The Pharisees were the most religious people of the day and yet Jesus said to enter the Kingdom of Heaven one had to exceed "the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees." This testifies to the futility of trying to religiously relate to God. In Matthew 23 quoted above we saw that Jesus’ assessment and criticism of the Pharisees was that they focused on the outside image of themselves rather than on the inward heart condition. Jesus wants our hearts.

Jesus instructs people to give Him our heavy religious burdens and come to Him. This is what He meant when He said:

  • Matthew 11:28-30 – "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Jesus tells us that the way to God is not through a religious organization or work, but through a Person, Himself. Jesus says, "Come to Me." Jesus calls us to a relationship with Him not a religious effort or work on our part. God’s plan is to relate to Him personally.

The Power of God Can Move Any Stone

Matthew 28:1-4 – “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.2 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.3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.”  [15]

Those who oppose the and try to refute the resurrection of Jesus sometimes state that those who went to the tomb on Sunday went to the wrong tomb. But this is a stretch at best. In Matthew 27:61 it states:

  • Matthew 27:61 – “And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.”  [16]

Now it is true that women were prohibited from education in the time of Jesus, but even the uneducated would remember the tomb of a rich man, a special tomb, that they had been to the day before.

If it took twenty men to roll the stone in place to cover the mouth of the tomb, how could a few women move the stone when they went there after three days? This was their concern as the Gospels state:

  • Mark 16:1-5 – "Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.3 And they said among themselves, "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?"4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large.5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed."

They knew they couldn’t move that stone, perhaps on the way they simply prayed and put it into the hands of God. Little did they know that God had already provided for the moving of the stone. He sent an angel to move the stone. Moving this stone was no big deal for God; he delegated the job to an angel.

Just as we said earlier that the large stone and seal are symbols of an attempt to keep Jesus out of sight and dead to people, we see that God can easily move that stony obstacle away from the hearts of people when they receive Jesus.

Why Was The Stone Moved?

Remember, Jesus was already out of the tomb and from the Gospel accounts we see that walls did not deter him. We read in John’s account:

  • John 20:19-23 – "Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.23 "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." (See also Luke 24:33-43).

Apparently Jesus was able to pass right through doors. Surely He was able to pass through the walls of the tomb as well! So why was the stone moved? The stone was not moved to let Jesus out, the stone was moved so that these people could look in and see that Jesus had risen from the dead; He powerfully conquered death, just as He said. The angel from God said:

  • Matthew 28:3-6 – "His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.6 "He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay."

Jesus was already risen, the stone was simply an impediment to seeing that truth and God removed it so that they Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" could be the first to see this glorious truth.

God is seeking to remove the stone from your life today; the stone of heaviness, the stone of religion, any stone that is keeping you from His Gospel truth of Christ’s resurrection power. Whether that heavy stone is due to religion, a works righteousness mentality, or struggle in one’s flesh, in Christ it can be removed. And it doesn’t matter if the stone is big and put in place by Satan himself, God can move it. That is good news friend.

The Importance and Power of the Resurrection

Now we come to the greatest proof and demonstration of the power of God, the resurrection.

Matthew 28:5-6 – “But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.6 “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”  [17]

The angel calmly comforted those who were learning of the resurrection of Jesus for the first time. The resurrection is powerful and awesome and must have been shocking to those first witnesses. Jesus wasn’t there, “He is risen, as He said.” Those are powerful words. Why are they powerful?

It was extremely important that the stone be moved from the tomb entrance and these women learn of the resurrection of their Savior Jesus Christ. Over three hundred (300!) verses are devoted to Jesus' resurrection in the New Testament. It is extremely important for believers to grasp and recognize the import of the resurrection because without it our faith is futile.

The resurrection is the linchpin, the power of the Christian faith. The resurrection is God’s exclamation mark on the work of His Son Jesus Christ. The resurrection is the evidence of the completion of Christ’s work and that it was acceptable to God for atonement and forgiveness of sin. Therefore, what place and purpose does the resurrection have in the life? What power does the resurrection manifest?

First, The Resurrection is a Powerful Sign For Unbelievers.

The resurrection is a powerful sign for unbelievers. This means that in light of the resurrection, there is no excuse to not come to Jesus for salvation. Jesus stated:

  • Matthew 12:38-41 – "Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You."39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.41 "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here."

The resurrection is one of the most well documented and provable events in history and as such unbelievers should take it to heart and come to the Lord. If any skeptic truly seeks out the truth of the resurrection, they will come to see the truth of it. Many have sought to study the resurrection in an effort to refute it only to find that it truly happened just as He said it would and ultimately came to faith in Christ (Matthew 28:6). (See Who Moved The Stone by Frank Morison, a skeptic who came to Christ when he investigated the resurrection). Before you forget about the resurrection and whether or not the gospel is for you, you need to check it out and see for yourself. If you fail to do so, you will not only miss out on the meaning and purpose you were created for, but you will miss out on eternal life.

Second, The Resurrection has the Power to Destroy Doubt.

Jesus gave the ultimate answer to anyone who would antagonistically say to Him, "Show me!" His answer was His power over death displayed in the resurrection. Read what Jesus said to those who doubted:

  • Luke 24:38-43 – "And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?39 "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, "Have you any food here?"42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.43 And He took it and ate in their presence."

The reality of the resurrection destroys doubts because if Jesus is raised from the dead, than any and all other obstacles to belief in Him are eliminated.

Third, The Resurrection is a Declaration That Jesus is The Son of God, God

While those who follow God are often called “sons of God,” Jesus was referred to uniquely as, “the Son of God” (Matthew 8:29; 26:63-64; John 10:36). Don Stewart explains the significance of Son of God” as a title of Jesus when he states:

The title “Son of God” indicates the relationship the Father had with the Son. The Son was equal to the Father [John 1:1-3,14], yet He, unlike the Father, became a man. IN doing so, He put Himself in a position of submission in which He obeyed the will of the Father. The sonship refers to His position as servant, not His nature as being less than God.

We may say therefore that Jesus, though the same substance as the Father, took that relationship of Son upon Himself by submitting to the wishes of the Father. As the Son He is no less God, He is merely taking on the role of a servant to show us what God is like and what He requires of us. [18]

The resurrection is important to establishing and revealing that Jesus is the Son of God. The apostle Paul was inspired to say that through the resurrection, Jesus is declared to be the Son of God. We see this in Romans where it states:

  • Romans 1:1-4 – “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures,3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”  [19]

The resurrection is the Spirit’s way of pointing unbelievers to take notice of who Jesus is, the Son of God, God in the flesh. 

As Son of God, Jesus is higher than the angels as shown in the following verses:

  • Hebrews 1:1-5 – “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For to which of the angels did He ever say: 1 “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”?”  [20]

Jesus is higher than the angels AND IS EQUAL WITH GOD. We see this in the following verses.

As the Son of God Jesus is the second Person of the Triune Godhead as the baptismal formula indicates:

  • Matthew 28:19 - “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,”  [21]

As the Son of God Jesus is God and should be honored with the same honor as the Father, as seen in the following verses:

  • John 5:22-23 - “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,23 “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”  [22]

Jesus the Son of God shares in the Father’s glory. We see this in the following verses:

  • John 17:1-5 – “Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,2 “as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.4 “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.5 “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”  [23]

You can’t have the Father without the Jesus His Son and you can’t have the Son Jesus without the Father. You can’t see Jesus as less in nature and substance than God the Father; if you do, you lose both. The Scripture states this in the following verses:

  • 1 John 2:23-24 – “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.”  [24]

It is through faith in Jesus the Son of God that a person is saved from their sins and given eternal life as seen in the following verses:

  • John 3:18,36 - “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. . . 36 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  [25]
  • John 6:40 - “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”  [26]
  • John 20:30-31 – “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”  [27]

Now all of this is declared and validated as true through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Fourth, The Resurrection Proves Jesus’ Teachings Are True, Authoritative and Powerful.

Jesus’ resurrection validates and confirms that what He said was true. Jesus is faithful to His word. Not only that, but the resurrection demonstrates that Jesus has the power to fulfill His word. Jesus walked His talk; He backed up what He said by doing what He said He would do.

In Matthew 16 it states:

  • Matthew 16:21 – “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”  [28]

The promise of the resurrection was something emphasized by Jesus in His mission and ministry. Had He not risen from the dead, all of what He said would have been proven a lie. But since He did rise from the dead, all that He said is proven truthful.

Without the resurrection Christianity would be relegated to the scrap heap of all other religions. The power of the resurrection is indispensable to Chr9istiaintiy and is what sets Christianity apart from mere religion (i.e. mans’ pursuit of God) and puts it in the realm of relying on the finished work and power of Jesus Christ in death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Without the resurrection, there is no redemption or acceptable atoning work because the resurrection is God’s stamp of acceptance and approval on the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Without the resurrection, what Jesus said and taught are mere empty words. With the resurrection, the words of Christ are full and powerful.

It was on the basis of the resurrection that Peter and Paul proclaimed the Gospel powerfully because the resurrection confirmed the truth of it:

  • Acts 2:22-24 - "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—23 "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;24 "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it."

Peter preached the gospel fearlessly in Jerusalem, the very City where Jesus had been publicly executed on the cross. What the Spirit used powerfully was the fact of the resurrection. When Peter preached the gospel on Pentecost, the empty tomb of Jesus was just a stones throw away. There was no denying the power of Jesus to fulfill His promise to rise from the dead (Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31-32; 9:10-11; Luke 9:21-22; John 2:19-22).

Paul explained the power and indispensability of the resurrection to Christianity when he was inspired to write:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:12-20 – "Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep."

The resurrection proves the authority and power of Jesus teachings.

Fifth, The Resurrection Is the Power of the Gospel.

The resurrection is central to the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ; you cannot accept Jesus without accepting the resurrection. You would not want to accept Jesus without the resurrection because without the resurrection Jesus becomes just another teacher. Worse than that, without the resurrection Jesus becomes a liar who misled people to think He would rise from the dead. And without the resurrection Jesus become just another impotent teacher. But with the resurrection, the gospel is infused with power over death, with the power of reality and truth. Peter said in his sermon at Cornelius’ house:

  • Acts 10:34-40 – "Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.35 "But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.36 "The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—37 "that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:38 "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.39 "And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.40 "Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly,"

To the Corinthians the apostle Paul writes:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,"

The resurrection is central to the power of the gospel message. There is no gospel without the resurrection. The gospel has no power without the resurrection.

Sixth, The Resurrection Demonstrates the Power For Life Available to the Believer.

When the apostle Paul discusses the practical application of the righteous life he does so referring to the resurrection because if the resurrection is possible, all other obstacles in life pale in comparison. If God in Christ had the power to defeat death, every other obstacle in life pales in comparison. Read how Paul includes reference to the resurrection as demonstrating the power of God available to the believer:

  • Romans 6:4-14 – "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.5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,6 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.7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (See Philippians 3:10)

The power of God demonstrated in the resurrection is the same power that is made available to the believer to live life. The apostle Paul wanted every believer to know this and said so through Divine inspiration when he wrote:

  • Ephesians 1:15-21 – "Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come."

Indeed Paul was inspired to write that knowing this power was of the utmost importance for people:

  • Philippians 3:7-11 – "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

The resurrection is not simply a theological truth or something that happened millennia ago. The resurrection shows us the power of God that is at our disposal in life now! Disciple, you need to know and apply the power of the resurrection to your lives!

 

Seventh, The Resurrection Gives the Believer Power by Giving Them Hope for The Future.

The resurrection empowers the believer to encounter the unknown future and the unknown of death because Jesus has conquered death and gone one before us to prepare a place for the believer. The resurrection gives the believer hope at the point of death and beyond as the following verses state:

  • John 11:25 – "Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."
  •  
  • 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 – "So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."55 "O Death, where is your sting? 1 O Hades, where is your victory?"56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
  •  
  • Philippians 3:20-21 – "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself."

The resurrection of Jesus is the proof that He is able to remove any stone in your life that is keeping you from Himself. That gives us hope. Peter said it best when he was inspired to write:

  • 1 Peter 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”  [29]

Getting Rid of That Heavy Stone Burden of Sin

We have said that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day heaped religious burdens on those who they ruled. Life is filled with burdens that weigh us down. These burdens keep us from soaring with the Lord. How can we rid ourselves of the heavy stony burden?

We need to first realize that no matter the form our burden takes, it is sin. Either our burden is the result of sin generally or it is the result of sin in particular that we have done. The Bible states:

  • Psalm 38:4 – "For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me."

Once we accept that we are weighted down by sin, we need to bring our sinful burden to the LORD:

  • Psalm 55:22 – "Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved."

Jesus is the One who bore our burden of sin for us and when we put our faith in Him, give Him our burden by faith, and believe in Him, He has the power and will remove our burdens from us. As Isaiah wrote:

  • Isaiah 53:4-6 – "Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (See also 1 Peter 2:21-24)

We need to receive the gift of salvation offered in Christ (John 1:12; Romans 6:23) and by faith trust Jesus to take away our burdens of sin. The heart of the gospel is the resurrection of Jesus because when you believe in the resurrection of Jesus, you are saying you believe everything else he said. Paul put it this way:

  • Romans 10:8-9 – "But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

What is it to believe in your heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead? Is it not to trust in faith that the stone meant to shut Him up in that cold hard tomb has been rolled away? It is to believe that Jesus really is able; He has the power to take away your burdens of sin. Confess then that Jesus is Lord for having done this, and that by the power of the resurrection He is able to forgive sin.

What Should We do With the Power of the Resurrection of Christ?

There is no greater, more important, more powerful truth in all of history than the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. But what do we do with it? The final verses of this gospel tell us what to do with the resurrection.

Share the Power of the Resurrection

Matthew 28:7-8 - "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."8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word."

When the stone is removed from your life, go and tell others about it! When you’ve experienced the power of the resurrection of Jesus in your life, share it! This is our faith response. Just as these first witnesses saw the stone removed and ran to tell others; so too should we run to tell others what Jesus has done.

Look at the example of the first disciples, what did they do when they learned of the resurrection power of Jesus? They shared it and they shared it powerfully in the Spirit. Just read the book of Acts to see how the resurrection was the historical event used by the Spirit to empower the message of the gospel.

Rejoice Over the Power of the Resurrection

Matthew 28:9-10 – “And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”  [30]

One of the first things Jesus said to the disciples about the resurrection was, “Rejoice!” That’s what we should do too. Rejoice that Jesus has raided from the dead and go share joyfully that truth with others.

Expect Opposition to the Power of the Resurrection

Matthew 28:11-15 – “Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened.12 When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,13 saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’14 “And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.”15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”  [31]

Here we see a final picture of the depth of the sin of those who oppose Jesus. They would rather stubbornly cling to their lie and resort to bribery in an effort to cover up the resurrection truth, than to bow before the manifestation of God’s power in the resurrection of Jesus. That’s the way some people are. They will turn a blind eye to all the facts and cling to their fantasies. What is interesting here is that the chief priests bribe the soldiers and then instruct them to say that, “His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.” Now thin about this, if the soldiers were asleep, how would they know it was the disciples who stole the body? You see here is the folly of opposing the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. Those who rebel against the authority of God not wanting to be held accountable to anyone but themselves have concocted many a false story to try to explain away the resurrection. But each false explanation is as preposterous as the one concocted by the chief priest in these verses. Don’t fear opposing views of the resurrection, in the end they are always wrong and inept.

In a recent UPI article entitled, Faith: Historians Say Resurrection A Reality, historians, after years of critical research are finally coming to see the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. An excerpt from the article reads:

Wednesday, 11 April 2001 18:57 (ET)

Faith: Historians say Resurrection a reality
By UWE SIEMON-NETTO, UPI Religion correspondent WASHINGTON,

April 11 (UPI) - "If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and our faith is also empty," the Apostle Paul wrote only a few years after the Crucifixion (1 Corinthians 15:14).

The Resurrection narrative in all four gospels is the one story on which all Christian hope is fixed. Is it a ruse? Was it the figment of the scared disciples' hysterical imagination that Jesus appeared to them after his execution? The late Pinchas Lapide, a Jewish New Testament scholar, considers this suggestion of 19th and early 20th-century liberal theologians preposterous: "This band of disciples was beaten and weary. Yet almost overnight it transformed itself into a victorious faith movement," he wrote. "If this had occurred simply on the basis of auto-suggestion and self-deceit, it would have been a much greater miracle than the Resurrection itself."

In a dramatic turnaround from post-Enlightenment skepticism, historians are now inclined to give much more credence to the New Testament accounts of the Resurrection than their predecessors. "There is so much evidence pointing to its veracity," wrote professor Juergen Spiess of Marburg University in IDEA, a German Protestant news service.

According to Spiess and several other historians, Christ was probably crucified on April 7 of the year 30. If this is so, the Resurrection occurred on April 9, a Sunday.

There have always been doubters claiming that Jesus never died on the cross. Mohammed denied it. But the Biblical passion stories are backed up by at least one irreproachable secular source: The Roman historian Tacitus (55-120 A.D.) wrote that the "founder of this sect (the Christians) was executed during the reign of (emperor) Tiberius by the Governor Pontius Pilate" (Tacitus, annals XV). "This corroborates Scripture," Spiess explained. "Historians work like lawyers," he continued, "They reconstruct past events on the basis of sources, evidence and eyewitness accounts."

Helga Botermann, a professor at Goettingen University, has shown that in researching the Good Friday and Easter events, the evangelist Luke followed the same methodology used by modern historians. Luke, a Greek physician, "endeavored to present the facts as they had happened. He used eyewitness accounts and -- in the Book of Acts -- his own recollections." Botermann went on to state, "Luke wrote for his contemporaries, who were capable of judging his account of these facts with which they were familiar either from their own experience or the reports of others. "Thus there is no justifiable reason to approach his rendering of history with prejudicial skepticism ... Luke's sources were also his critics. This makes it very unlikely that he embellished his story willfully with his own prejudices or intentions." Spiess sees Christ's empty grave as a key piece of evidence for the veracity of the Resurrection story. Here he agrees with William Lane Craig, arguably one of America's finest Christian apologists.

In an article published in Truth Journal, Lane pointed out that even "the earliest Jewish polemic presupposed the empty tomb." It simply interpreted this phenomenon differently. "In Matthew 28, we find the Christian attempt to refute (this)," Craig wrote. "That polemic asserted that the disciples stole away the body. The Christians responded ... by reciting the story of a guard at the tomb, and the polemic in turn charged that the guard fell asleep." The long and the short of this dispute is, though, that both sides provided evidence for the empty tomb, Craig said.

Pinchas Lapide, the Jewish scholar, added another point favoring the Resurrection account. The first people to find the grave empty and encounter the risen Christ were women. But women had such a low standing in Hebrew society at that time that their testimony would not have even been considered in court. Hence, Lapide reasoned that anybody trying to fake a story in 1st-century Palestine would hardly have presented women as his prime witnesses.

Another argument against the Resurrection narrative survived in multiple variations for almost 2,000 years and was eagerly picked up by rationalist German scholars of the late 18th and 19th centuries. Christ, they averred, did not actually die on the cross, but was taken down and placed alive in the tomb. He escaped to convince his disciples that He had raised from the dead.

Even Friedrich D. E. Schleiermacher, the father of modern theology, embraced this theory no serious scholar believes anymore. Craig fields two arguments against it: "1. It would have been virtually impossible medically for Jesus to have survived the rigors of his torture and crucifixion, much less not to have died of exposure in the tomb. "2. A half-dead Jesus desperately in need of medical attention would not have elicited in his disciples worship of him as the exalted Risen Lord and Conqueror of death."

Apart from that, the Risen Christ had too many eyewitnesses for the Resurrection story to have been invented. Many saw him between his Resurrection and his Ascension. All four gospels, the Book of Acts and Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians relate their stories. "Can one invent this," asked Spiess, the Marburg historian.

Half a century ago, liberal theology's attacks on the veracity of the Resurrection story began to die down. This occurred at Marburg University where theologian Ernst Kaesemann took issue with the historical skepticism against Jesus, a skepticism ardently promoted by his own teacher, Rudolf Bultmann. Kaesemann's new approach was much later echoed by the late New Testament scholar Norman Perrin of the University of Chicago: "The more we study the tradition with regards to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based." "If one wants to have assurance, one must read the New Testament," Marburg University's Juergen Spiess wrote. Commented William Lane Craig: "The resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation for the origin of the Christian faith." (Emphasis added.) [32]

The resurrection is a fact of history and is true, not because some group of historians have finally come to admit it, but because God says it! There is no body in the tomb where Jesus lay and the stone has been moved to reveal that truth to all. There is no stone that could have kept Jesus in that tomb. No effort or plan could keep Jesus in that tomb. The same is true in our lives. No stone is too heavy that Jesus cannot move it out of our lives. The power of the resurrection of Jesus demonstrates the almighty power of God.

Make Disciples – The Powerful Purpose of God

Matthew 28:16-20 – “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 “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,20 “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.”  [33]

Here now we have come full circle for our study. Not only are we to share the truth of the gospel and the power of the resurrection, but we are to make disciples, learners, those who are taught and understand God’s word and who are able to share it and make other disciples. The Great Commission given by Jesus is the powerful purpose of the church and His disciples. It is found in verses 18 to 20 in Matthew 28. What are the particulars of this powerful purpose of God for us? 

The Authority of Jesus is Rooted in the Resurrection

 

The final verses of Matthew’s gospel state this clearly.

Matthew 28:18 – “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”  [34] 

The Great Commission is based on the authority of Jesus (28:18), and that authority is rooted

in the power of the resurrection.  All authority belongs to Jesus who has risen from the dead. No

other power or authority can come against His power and succeed. Jesus commands us to go

with all authority and therefore we go in His authority and can go with confidence.

 

Where Do We “go” to make disciples? Where Do We Start?

 

Matthew 28:19a -  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, . . .”  [35]

Jesus said, “Go therefore” (Matthew 28:19). But where does Jesus expect us to go? Are we all

called to the foreign mission field?  It’s important to note that this command to “Go” from Jesus

is not only for those who go into the foreign mission field. (There are indeed some who are

called to the foreign mission field.) If that were the case many could simply dismiss this

command as not pertaining to them. A study of the word “Go” reveals that it is translated from

the Greek term POREUOMAI (Strong’s #4198).  The grammatical form of this Greek term is

important to a proper interpretation here. Grammatically POREUOMAI is an Aorist/Passive

Deponent/ Participle. The aorist tense in the Greek language means a word, “is characterized by

its emphasis on punctiliar action; that is, the concept of the verb is considered without regard for

past, present, or future time.” [36] Passive deponent means the term refers to a, “subject as being

the recipient of the action.” [37] And lastly, a Greek participle, “corresponds for the most part to

the English participle, reflecting “-ing” or “-ed” being suffixed to the basic verb form.  The

participle can be used either like a verb or a noun, as in English, and thus is often termed a

“verbal noun.”[38] With this in mind, we therefore need to see “Go” as implying the idea of, “to

be going on one’s way,” or “to proceed from one place to another.”

 

Jon Courson in his Tree of Life Commentary – Matthew  states:

 

            “The Great Commission then takes on a much broader perspective than what we usually think of as ‘missionary mentality.’ We’re to be sharing and teaching wherever we’re going, whatever we’re doing.” [39]

 

This has great significance for us because it broadens the call of Christ’s Great Commission to all of us and expands the call to something disciples should always be looking to do.

Make Disciples

Matthew 28:19b – “. . . and make disciples of all the nations, . .” [40]

The term “disciple” is translated from the Greek word MATHETES (Strong’s #3101), which

refers literally to one who is, “a learner; pupil; disciple.”  The sharing of the gospel is not simply a distribution of information but should be a process whereby the one receiving the gospel is then taught the truth of God’s word. A disciple is one who receives the gospel, learns the truth of God and then shares it with others in a way that other disciples are made.

Notice, Jesus said, “of all nations.” The disciple is to reach out to all humanity impartially. There is no prejudice or bigotry in the life of a disciple.

The Power of God

 

Matthew 28:19c – “. . .  baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”  [41]

Baptism is an outward expression of an inward work. Baptism symbolizes death to the old sinful person and resurrection in Christ to a new and living spiritual life. And this symbol of the gospel is to be performed in the name of the Triune Godhead. The authority of the Three Persons of the Trinity marks the validity of God’s work in the person being baptized.

Teaching in the Power of God

Matthew 28:20 - “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.”  [42]

The word, “teaching,” is translated from the Greek term DIDASKO that means, “to teach” (Strong’s #1321 - didavskw µ, did-as´-ko). This Greek word is formed from the primary verb of DAO ( davw) which means, “to learn.” Therefore, “teaching,” is the communication of information in a way that another can receive it and learn it. .[43]

The word “teaching” is in a Greek grammatical form that implies a continuous ongoing action (Present/Active/Participle). This is something that ought to always be occurring in the church amongst disciples.

Conclusion

 And what is it that that is to be taught? It is what we have studied in the pages, chapters and verses of the gospel of Matthew. The birth, life, words, prophecies, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are called by Jesus to go and make disciples, to be fishers of men, to follow in the foot steps of Jesus who taught us that there is a way that exceeds a mere religious pursuit of God, there is a spiritual Spirit-filled heart relationship with God. The gospel of Matthew is a Manual for Discipleship. May God make us disciples and enable us by His Spirit to make disciples. Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

 



[1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12] Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville. TN: Thomas Nelson Pub.) 1999. p. 232

 

[13] Josh McDowell, Ibid. p. 232-233

 

[14] Josh McDowell, Ibid. p. 233

 

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18] Don Stewart, What Everyone Needs To Know About Jesus, (Orange County, CA: Dart Press) p. 83-84

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32] Faith: Historians Say Resurrection A Reality, By UWE SIEMON-NETTO, UPI Religion correspondent

 

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]Tense Voice Mood, (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship) 1994.

[37]Tense Voice Mood, (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship) 1994.

[38]Tense Voice Mood, (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship) 1994.

[39] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Commentary - Volume 2, (Jacksonville, OR: Tree of Life Publishing) 1993. p. 383

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.