Monday, March 27th, 2023
the Fifth Week of Lent
the Fifth Week of Lent
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Contending for the Faith Contending for the Faith
Contending for the Faith reproduced by permission of Contending for the Faith Publications, 4216 Abigale Drive, Yukon, OK 73099. All other rights reserved.
Contending for the Faith reproduced by permission of Contending for the Faith Publications, 4216 Abigale Drive, Yukon, OK 73099. All other rights reserved.
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on Matthew 28". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ ctf/ matthew-28.html. 1993-2022.
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on Matthew 28". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/
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In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week: The phrase, "In the end of the Sabbath" (opse de sabbaton) is difficult to interpret. The Greek word opse can mean "late" or can also be translated "after," and MacArthur suggests that "well after" is yet another viable possibility (306). Likewise, the phrase, "as it began to dawn," can refer to the coming of daylight or can be taken as an idiom referring to the beginning of a new ceremonial day, which for the Jews begins at sunset.
The time frame Matthew describes may refer to the dark hours that follow the end of the ceremonial Sabbath, or it can refer to the next morning’s daylight. Broadus suggests that Matthew allows for the night following the Sabbath to be reckoned as part of the Sabbath, even though technically a new day has begun. (583) If so, then Matthew departs from the common custom of reckoning ceremonial days from sunset to sunset and allows for "daylight" to mark the beginning of a new day. Broadus further notes that scholars such as Morrison and Meyer vigorously defend this interpretation and that by this time in Jewish history there are two common ways of reckoning time, one where day is added to night and the other where night is added to day. (583) Broadus suggests the difficulty of this verse vanishes when we see Matthew as thinking of "day-night" (583). Thus, late in the "day-night" should be interpreted as meaning the women come to the tomb at the end of the night (darkness), at sunrise on what we commonly call Sunday morning.
came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher: At once we see the love and devotion of the women who now make their way in pre-dawn darkness to the tomb. Matthew mentions Mary Magdalene and another Mary, the mother of James the Less, (27:56; 26:61). Mark 16:1 adds Salome, and Luke 24:10 lists Joanna. These women come to the tomb expecting to find the body of Jesus.
His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
The events of verses 2-4 apparently occur before the arrival of the women. The chronology is difficult to ascertain, but it seems clear that as the women are on their way to the tomb an angel descends, Jesus arises, and the guards who at first are paralyzed with fear eventually flee to the city to report the awesome events. Matthew seems to struggle in describing the angel and his work. Matthew simply says, "his countenance was like lightning"—the angel’s face and body are blindingly bright. MacArthur suggests that God has transmitted to the angel some of His Shekinah glory, and his dazzling clothing suggests the purity and holiness of God (309)
And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
And for fear of him the keepers did shake: One must sympathize with the guards who are only doing their duty and who expect an uneventful night. Upon seeing the angel and no doubt being rocked by the earthquake, they fall to the ground, paralyzed with fear. The word "shake" is the same in the Greek as that for "earthquake." The soldiers are so terrified that they, like the ground around them, quake violently.
and became as dead men: How long the guards lie paralyzed with fear is not stated. Some suggest the guards are still lying on the ground when the women arrive. The guards’ fear, however, does not come from their having failed to secure the tomb—a failure that could potentially end in their own death—it comes from their encounter with deity. In the presence of this miracle, the guards are powerless to do anything but fall to the ground as dead.
Today how lightly Christians sometimes approach the majesty of God, never realizing the awesome Power before which we, too, cannot stand.
And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
From John’s account, we learn that Mary Magdalene, upon arriving and seeing the tomb empty, hastens away to tell Peter and John (John 20:1-2). John 20:2 says, "They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him." Apparently, it is during her absence that the angel appears to the other women to proclaim Jesus’ resurrection. In her haste Mary misses this announcement. Later, however, she will encounter the Lord first hand (John 20:15-18).
While the guards are terrified and paralyzed with fear, the remaining women are told to "Fear not." These precious disciples can stand with courage knowing that God has only the best in store for them. The one whom they seek, whom they think is dead, is alive. They have come seeking a "dead man"; they will leave seeking a "risen Savior."
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
"He is not here, for he is risen" no doubt thrills these women. "As he said" no doubt causes a flood of memories to sweep over them as they recall the predictions of Jesus (Luke 24:8). Now His words have come true. All that stands before them now is an empty tomb. The place where He had been lovingly laid was empty but their hearts are full—full of wonder, full of amazement, full of hope.
And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead: The women do not have time to ponder the wonders of the resurrection or of the angel’s appearance. They have work to do. They are commissioned to go and tell the others of the wonderful news. It is significant that God chooses "women" to proclaim the gospel message first. To the Jewish mindset, the testimony of a woman will be discounted if not negated—especially in cases where substantial proof is needed. Here, however, the testimony of women actually makes the gospel narrative even more believable. If Matthew and the other writers had wanted to fabricate the resurrection account, they would not have placed women at the tomb as the first witnesses of the resurrection.
We are not told why women are chosen to see the empty tomb first. Some have suggested we have a reversal of what occurs in the Garden of Eden. In the Garden of Eden, it is a woman who first hears Satan’s lie and is the first to pass it on, resulting in sin and death. Here, in contrast, women are the first to discover the bruised head of Satan (Genesis 3:15). Women are the first to know that life and immortality have been brought to light through the resurrection. It may be that the women are the first to see the empty tomb simply because they are the first to arrive. Had the other disciples risen early on that Lord’s Day morning and come, they, too, would have witnessed this unbelievable sight.
and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee: This is in accord with what Jesus predicts in Matthew 26:32. Galilee is where Jesus starts His ministry. It is that northern territory of Israel which, being composed of both Jew and Gentile, serves as a suitable picture for the scope of the gospel. It is also in Galilee where the disciples earlier receive the limited commission (10:15ff). Now they will receive the "Great Commission" (28:18). Here Jesus will officially commission them to convert the world.
there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you: "There ye shall see him" (that is, in Galilee) does not necessarily exclude their seeing him elsewhere, before or after. We know that Jesus appears to several disciples before He actually appears in Galilee. The point of Jesus’ words is that it will be in Galilee where the main focus of His disciples’ ministry will be explained and where they will be commissioned. By saying "Galilee," He is making a specific appointment with them.
And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
Immediately the women comply with the angel’s command. They do not stop to talk with anyone (Mark 16:8); they simply set their overflowing hearts on the task of taking word to the male disciples. One can only imagine the feelings that well up within them. On one hand, they must have wanted to shout for joy. But, on the other hand, they are terrified and still in shock. With candor and beauty, Matthew records the paradoxical mixture of emotions as the women scurry toward Jerusalem.
And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
We are not told the length of time after the women leave the tomb or where it is that Jesus meets (literally, comes face to face) them. From Mark 16:9 and John 20:11, we learn that Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene first before He appears to these women a short time later. His greeting "All hail" (chairete) is the ordinary greeting and loosely translated simply means "Hello" or "Good morning." It is the ordinary greeting used in the marketplace or at other normal times. For such a momentous occasion, it seems to be an unusually common choice of words.
No doubt the women are shocked and overwhelmed by their Lord’s presence. They now know with certainty that the empty tomb is not a mirage, it is not the product of grave robbers. What they witness is not the product of an overactive wishful imagination. Jesus is alive! He now stands before them. Upon seeing the angel and hearing his words, they had been filled with joy and terror. Now the only appropriate emotion left is "humble worship." The women fall instinctively at His feet and pour out their sincere adoration. They hold Him by the feet perhaps to insure their fragile emotions and quaking hearts that what they are experiencing is real.
Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
"Be not afraid" (me phobeisthe) must be calming to these women. Yet their prone position is not where they must stay. They have work to do. There are still others who need to know of His resurrection. With one notable exception, Jesus’ words now echo those of the angel. The angel has said, "Go tell his disciples" but now Jesus says, "Go tell my brethren."
Some believe that "my brethren" refers to the same disciples mentioned in verse 7 and the shift in language underscores Jesus’ sincere love for them. If so, then Jesus may be saying that even though His disciples flee after His arrest, and though they have given Him up for dead, and even though they are weak spiritually, He is still their "Brother." They are His own spiritual kin, and He still loves them.
Others, however, believe that this is a reference to Jesus’ physical "brothers." (Jesus’ own kin, His own half-brothers who, during His ministry, do not believe in Him (John 7:5). If this is the case, then Jesus wants His own physical family to have the chance once again to understand fully His mission. He wants them to come fully to saving faith in their "Brother." Whether at this time or later, Jesus eventually wins them over, for James becomes a great leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13; Galatians 1:19) and Jude pens the epistle that bears his name.
Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
While the women are on their way with good news, some of the soldiers head to their superiors with the bad news. Jesus is raised! Matthew’s account seems to indicate that some of the soldiers stay behind while only a representative group goes back to the city. If there are a considerable number of soldiers guarding the tomb, perhaps only a few go so as not to attract attention.
The soldiers tell the chief priests the events exactly as they occur. Whether these pompous, wicked leaders believe the guards is not stated, but the guards’ story is convincing enough for them to concoct a cover-up. As noted earlier, to fail in one’s commission means death for a solider; hence, these guards do not go to Pilate but to the chief priests, perhaps hoping they will somehow protect them from the governor (MacArthur 321).
And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
Broadus notes that the soldiers’ story must have excited and alarmed the chief priests and leaders, but it brings no repentance. He says, "Alas! For these bad men, they were now, like Pilate, so entangled by previous wickedness that it seemed they must go forward" (588). And forward they go! Once again, as in the case of Judas, these Jewish leaders dip into the Temple treasury for the payoff. If "blood money" cannot keep Jesus dead, then perhaps "bribe money" might at least keep the soldiers quiet. They had offered Judas a measly thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus, but now even more is at stake. They do not hesitate to offer a large sum to the guards. The payoff must be substantial if these Romans are to spread a lie that could cost them their lives (Fowler 925).
Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
The purpose of this story is to obscure the truth. The empty tomb must be explained, and grave robbery no doubt seems the most plausible way to account for Jesus’ missing body. But is their lie believable? Is it reasonable to think that such an elite group of well-trained, seasoned Roman soldiers, whose lives are on the line, will all fall asleep and sleep so soundly that fishermen might steal the body? Is it reasonable to think that such a large entrance stone might be rolled away so quietly as not to wake the guards? Is it reasonable to suppose that Jesus’ humble band from Galilee, now devastated by the death of their leader, will so quickly rally and devise a plan to steal the body? And for what purpose since it is obvious that at this point they do not believe in a resurrection story? To the apostles, Jesus is dead. The ministry is over!
Perhaps the single most devastating blow to the skeptics’ arsenal is the empty tomb. In order to deny the resurrection, the empty tomb must be explained. Down through the years faithless critics have alleged various other explanations.
The "Swoon" Theory. In the 1600’s, a man by the name of Venturini proposed "the swoon theory." The swoon theory states that Jesus does not really die on the cross but goes into a deep coma brought on by the pain of His ordeal. Once in the tomb, the coolness, along with the stimulating aroma from the burial spices, revives Him, and He escapes and later appears to the disciples who think He is raised. This theory is almost so laughable that it scarcely deserves our attention. First, Rome is a well-oiled machine when it comes to crucifixions. Roman soldiers know when their victims are dead, and John notes that soldiers confirm Jesus’ death (John 19:33). Furthermore, even if one could survive the scourging, the loss of blood, and other abuse, how in such a weakened condition could He extricate Himself from a sealed cave? The very notion is preposterous. It would be nothing short of miraculous to survive such an ordeal. Furthermore, even if such an escape were possible, the bloody, disfigured appearance of Jesus would not have evoked homage in anyone!
The "Never Buried" Theory. Another theory states that Jesus is not actually buried at all but is thrown into a mass grave with other criminals according to Roman custom; hence, the tomb is empty because there is never a body in it. Again, this theory is ridiculous. Pilate would not have stationed guards at an empty tomb. Furthermore, all the Sanhedrin would need to do to disprove the resurrection is to retrieve the body and put it on display, but they could not because Jesus is raised. Thus, they concoct a story and accuse the disciples of stealing the body by night.
The "Hallucination" Theory. Another theory called the "hallucination theory" suggests that those claiming to see the risen Christ only experience a hallucination. In other words, Jesus’ disciples want to see Him so badly they simply have imagined Him. As before, this theory is ridiculous. It is clear from the gospel narratives that Jesus’ appearance is unexpected after the crucifixion. In fact, it shocks some of His disciples; and at first Thomas refuses to believe (John 20:24-29). Furthermore, Paul notes more than five hundred see Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:6) and seems to invite inquisition into the validity of the historical event. A mass hallucination of such proportion would be unprecedented.
The "Mistaken Identity" Theory. The "mistaken identity theory" states that an imposter dupes the apostles into thinking that He has arisen from the dead. But this, too, is so farfetched to consider seriously. The apostles had intimate knowledge of Jesus. They have walked, talked, and lived with Him for more than three years. He was even physically kin to some of them. They know Jesus!
The "Mistaken Tomb" Theory. This theory suggests the disciples forget in which tomb they buried Jesus and come on "resurrection day" to the wrong tomb. This theory, too, is ridiculous. No doubt Joseph of Arimathaea owns but one tomb and being a rich and notable man his tomb would have been easily identifiable. Furthermore, Pilates’ guards know where the tomb is and so do the disciples.
And so in spite of the critics’ blows, the truth remains the same. The tomb is found empty. And if there is overwhelming evidence that the body is not stolen, only one option remains: Jesus arose from the dead. The guards believe it, and it seems clear the Sanhedrin does, too. But to save face and to continue in their sins, the council rejects the truth and fabricates a lie.
And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
And if this come to the governor’s ears: There is a real possibility that Pilate will hear that the tomb is found empty. An inquisition is likely, and the soldiers’ lives will be in jeopardy, for a soldier sleeping on the job is punishable by death. But as Fowler notes, the soldiers do not sleep, their only crime is that they have witnessed a politically embarrassing fact—the resurrection (927).
we will persuade him, and secure you: This statement reveals the confidence the Jewish leaders have in their ability to manipulate the political system. At worst, they must think they will have to pay another handsome bribe to the governor and he will be satisfied. Their statement reveals the corruption that serves as common operating procedure for first century political Palestine.
So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
So they took the money, and did as they were taught: Money talks but sometimes with lying words. The guards are all too happy to leave their fate in the hands of these diabolical, political weasels and go out and spread the lie. If anyone can protect them from Pilate’s inquisition, these leaders can. Pilate has already lost one volley with these leaders as they clamored for Christ’s crucifixion. His reticence to kill an innocent man had almost caused a riot within the city (27:24). Thus, it is unlikely that Pilate will risk causing problems over a "missing body."
and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day: The power of a lie is not to be underestimated. No doubt within a short time the false rumor spreads and becomes a common part of Jewish parlance. Matthew, probably writing some thirty years afterwards (circa A.D. 63) is still hearing the rumor. In fact, the early church "Father" Justin Martyr, who lived in the second century, indicates the rumor was still alive and well (Dialogue with Trypho, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, 253).
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
Combining the four gospels and Paul’s account (Mark 16:9-20; Luke 24:13-53; John 20:19-22:25; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8), we find recorded some ten appearances of our Lord between the resurrection and His ascension (Broadus 590). These appearances occur over a period of forty days (Acts 1:3) and under a variety of circumstances, leaving no doubt that Jesus truly arose from the dead. During some of these appearances He takes great pains to prove His real body of "flesh and bones." He is not just a spiritual visage but a living, breathing person with nail scars in His hands and feet (John 20:27). During other appearances He proves His divinity by passing through locked doors (John 20:19). Mark 16:12 notes that Jesus appears on one occasion in "another form"; thus, Broadus suggests Jesus is already beginning to be glorified although not completely (590). We would love to know the specific details of Jesus’ looks and nature after His resurrection, but the scripture gives us precious few details. What it does record, however, allows us to see Him clearly through eyes of faith.
Matthew does not tell us how soon the disciples go to Galilee. From John 20:26, it probably occurs at least a week after the resurrection. Neither does Matthew tell us the exact location of the mountain or how the meeting has been prearranged (26:32; 28:7, 10). It is clear, however, that the apostles, excluding Judas Iscariot who has committed suicide, are all privy to the exact time and location of the meeting.
Why does Jesus choose Galilee as a meeting place? We are not told but perhaps because it is here that Jesus had based His ministry. Perhaps it is because it will be out of the glaring eyes of Judea, where Jesus’ death and resurrection have taken place. Because Matthew mentions only the eleven apostles, we should not assume that others do not see Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
And when they saw him, they worshipped him: When Jesus’ disciples see Him, they are overcome with awe. Although many of them have already seen Jesus, they are still overwhelmed. They prostrate themselves before Him not as they would some earthly dignitary but as the King of kings and Lord of lords. They worship Him and rightly so, for He has not conquered earth but He has ridden victorious from the "gates of hades" (16:18).
but some doubted: While most hail Jesus with praise and worship, some doubt. That Matthew records such a minute detail adds to the integrity of the scripture. Once again the writer tells it as it is, leaving human weaknesses and faithlessness exposed. Who are the "doubters?" To what extent do they doubt? Are some of them the eleven who are afraid to allow themselves to accept fully the wonders of what they see? Do they disbelieve for joy (Luke 24:41)? Are the "doubters" part of a larger crowd, perhaps the five hundred of whom Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 15:6? Does Jesus first appear at a distance as suggested by verse 18 and so they doubt until He "comes near" and they fully recognize Him? In any event, their doubt is probably short-lived in light of Jesus’ wondrous words.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
The theological implications of this verse astound the human mind. Jesus asserts His authority over everything, both in heaven and in earth. His power is universal! Broadus notes that the Greek word (exousia—authority) denotes permission, privilege, right, and authority and also includes the power to enforce it (592).
Paul tells the Colossians:
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (Colossians 1:16-18, NKJV).
Because Jesus dies and arises from the grave, God grants Him all authority. Jesus can rightly commission the disciples to carry on His work. Jesus’ commands are not the idle words of an earthly king. His authority is backed by heaven, yea by the Father Himself!
Matthew begins his narrative of Jesus by revealing Jesus as David’s son and, hence, legal and rightful heir to David’s throne (1:1). Matthew draws his narrative to a close showing Jesus to be the Son of God and rightful heir to heaven and earth. Jesus is King of kings and He is Lord of lords. The glory of David’s throne is now surpassed with a radiance that only heaven can produce. Now Jesus can sit enthroned as King over Spiritual Israel, as Savior of the body, as Monarch of the eternal kingdom, as Head of the church.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Go ye therefore: Based on the universal power, preeminence, and position granted to Jesus by the Father, the disciples are now to go into the entire world and preach the gospel. No longer are the Jews to be the only beneficiaries of God’s covenant. No longer are Israel’s borders to be defined by geographical landmarks. A new spiritual morn has dawned. The night of religious exclusivity is passed. A new Spiritual Israel has emerged. A New Covenant has been inaugurated for the whole world. Jesus has alluded to this time at various times during His ministry, but now it is time to open wide the doors of salvation. He gives the disciples the process they are to follow. They are to "go." Preaching the gospel will take personal commitment and action on their part. Before they can convert others, they will have to be convinced themselves.
and teach all nations: The apostles are to go and "teach" (matheteuo—make disciples) or more literally to "disciple all nations." To "disciple" another is to lead that person to become a student and ardent follower of Jesus’ commands. Broadus says it means to bring one into a relation of pupil to teacher, taking upon oneself Christ’s yoke of authoritative instruction (593). Jesus says it best, "If any man desires to come after me (that is, would be my disciple) let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me" (16:24). Likewise, "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me" (11:29).
baptizing them: Part of the conversion process is "baptism." The command is in the active voice. Thus, in the rite of baptism, the administrator is active while the subject is passive as he is buried in water. Just as in the case of the Ethiopian nobleman (Acts 8), there comes a point in a sinner’s understanding where he realizes the necessity of baptism and requests it. Today many are mistakenly convinced that one can be a "learner" of Jesus, a disciple of the Master, a Christian, without being immersed in water. Apparently Jesus did not view it this way! After one has learned of Jesus, has committed his heart to Him, has repented of his sins, has confessed Jesus is the Son of God, he is a proper candidate for baptism. This is the thrust of Jesus’ command in this verse. Without delay when one has heard the gospel and has been pricked by it, he should "arise and be baptized and wash away his sins" (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16).
If one must first be a learner of Jesus to be a proper candidate for immersion, infant baptism is excluded. Children are incapable of learning of Jesus in the sense suggested here and are not to be baptized. Furthermore, children are pure and sinless, having received their spirits from God and having the characteristics of the kingdom of heaven (see Ecclesiastes 12:7; Acts 17:29; Matthew 19:14).
The baptism Jesus commands here is certainly water baptism by immersion. The disciples are already familiar with this mode because of John the Baptist’s ministry (Mark 1:4-5; John 3:23), and we find them carrying on the same during their preaching. It is not Holy Spirit baptism, for here Jesus commissions His disciples to administer the baptism in question. No human being is capable of administering Holy Spirit baptism (3:11; John 1:33; Acts 2:33).
Does this verse teach the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation? Many "Christians" in the world today ardently deny the necessity of this act that puts a penitent sinner into Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:27). No man can merit his own salvation. Mankind is saved by God’s grace. But grace in every dispensation of time has never obliterated the necessity of obedience. God in His grace provides the plan of salvation as His gift. Man, in response to that gift, reaches out and accepts it by obedience. Salvation in every age has been by grace through faith! Baptism is inseparable from an active saving faith.
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Those who have been properly discipled are by heaven’s authority immersed into (eis) a relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Boles says that Jesus’ words mean "the combined authority of the Godhead….to be baptized into this is to be brought into subjection to the combined authority of heaven….into covenant relation with the Godhead" (564). Jesus’ words here are more than a rote formula we follow at a baptism ceremony. They indicate both authority and relationship. Baptism is not only a command but it is a sacred act whereby we receive the fullness of the blessings of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Boles 564). McGarvey says, "He that is baptized is brought into subjection by that act to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; and in consequence of this subjection he receives the remission of his sins.…" (Commentary on Matthew 25:4).
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: "Teaching them" simply expresses the ongoing and continual process whereby those who are saved remain saved. The obligation of the "preacher" does not end at the waters of baptism. Too often souls are converted to the fellowship of Christ only to languish because impatient leaders and older, supposedly more mature, members abandon them too soon. As "learners of Christ," new converts must receive constant edification, attention, and encouragement. Like newborn babes, those who have submitted to the waters of baptism need the milk of the word and then the meat of the word to grow strong in the Lord (1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 6:1 ff). This process takes time and energy. While there comes a point where baptized believers must be able to stand on their own, there never comes a point where further teaching and edification are unnecessary.
"To observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" serves as a grave warning both to the student and to the teacher. While the true learner of Jesus will desire to obey the full will of God, the true teacher will want to share the whole of God’s will with him. Paul reminds the Ephesians of this need when he says, "and how I have kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house" (Acts 20:20). Likewise he says, "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole council of God" (Acts 20:27). The student must be willing to obey Jesus’ words even if it means changing his preconceived notions, even if it is inconvenient, or even if it is dangerous and considered radical by the world. The teacher must be willing to assess the maturity level of the student and disseminate the full and unadulterated council of God as is appropriate. Wisdom must be used in determining what must be taught and when it must be taught.
and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen: This is one of the most beautiful statements in all of God’s holy word. Matthew could not have closed his narrative in a more appropriate way. The journey we have traveled at Matthew’s side now comes to an end. The long awaited Messiah has come, He has lived a perfect life, He has fulfilled the Law, and He has died as the perfect Lamb of God for the sins of the world. His victory over death has vindicated His authority. He has the right to be Head of the church and Savior of the body. He has the right to commission His apostles to disciple the nations. And for those who make Jesus their Lord, there is sweet assurance. "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." There is a peace that passes all understanding and guards our human hearts and troubled minds (Philippians 4:7). Whether in life or in death, Jesus promises to be by our side until the end—even to the "consummation of the age." The period that Jesus’ birth introduces and will someday close with His second coming is now one of hope. For those who dare to launch out on the sea of life with Christ as their captain, there is peace, joy, and serenity. Though storms of life batter, though waves of persecution roll, though winds of false doctrine blow, Jesus will not abandon ship. With Him at the helm, we are assured safe passage from this world to the shining portals of heaven. To God be the glory, great things He hath done!