The Sabbath coming to an end, the two Mary's arrive at the grave early in the morning. Some have thought that Mary Magdalene came twice, though this does not seem clear, except that she evidently returned after she told Peter and John of the absence of the Lord's body (John 20:1-11). It is difficult to determine how the four accounts of the Gospel writers fit together in place, and the writer is not aware of any satisfactory explanation of this. But we know that each account is inspired of God and perfectly true: to value each in its place is our wisdom.
Another earthquake, a great one, takes place at this time, and accompanied by it the descent of an angel from heaven, who rolled the stone from the entrance to the grave and sat on it. The resurrection of the Lord is not to be a secret, but a plainly demonstrated matter. The dazzling appearance of the angel caused the soldiers to shake with fright, and to be paralysed into utter inaction, as dead men.
But his message brings great joy to the women. Jesus who was crucified is not there: He is risen, according to His own previous words. They are invited to see for themselves where His body had been laid, and told to go quickly with information for His disciples. The angel repeats what the Lord had told them before, that He would go before them into Galilee after His resurrection (Ch.26:32), indicating that Jerusalem would still not receive Him, and in resurrection the testimony of Christ would be that of a remnant character, rather than His great glory as Messiah manifested; for this must await a future day.
As they go they are given the greater joy of being met by the Lord Jesus Himself. Holding Him by the feet, they worship Him. Calming their fears, He instructs them to tell His brethren to go into Galilee, where they will see Him. The Gospel of Matthew emphasizes this matter.
Now some of the watch, who had witnessed the angel's descent and the rolling away of the stone, inform the chief priests of these startling events, including the absence of the body of the Lord Jesus. Rather than fearing before God, however, they assemble with the elders and brazenly concoct the deceitful plan to highly bribe the soldiers to lie about the matter. Was it likely that all four soldiers would be so soundly sleeping that none would be aware of the disciples breaking a seal and rolling a heavy stone away? Also, if they were asleep, how did they know that the disciples had come at all, or how His body was removed from the grave?
Of course the chief priests were well aware that if a guard slept at the post of duty, this was an offence punishable by death. For this reason they promised that they would intercede with the governor if he heard that they were sleeping. Such was the sense of honour among these highly religious men! The guards, forgetful of their previous fear of the angel, are influenced by their greed for money to brazenly lie, so that to the day of Matthew's writing, this falsehood was accepted commonly among the people. Yet any honest person could certainly have seen through this whole fabrication of lies. Still, if a man likes a lie he will gladly accept it without question.
More than a week intervenes before verse 16. Matthew says nothing of the personal appearances of the Lord to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-17), the two Emmaus disciples (Luke 24:13-31 ), or Peter ( Luke 24:34) ; nor of His appearing in the upper room that same day, nor a week later (John 20:19; John 20:26). Though writing from a Jewish point of view, Matthew does not flatter the pride of the Jews, but again speaks of the disciples going into Galilee, where they met the Lord Jesus. John 21:1-22 speaks of this. 1 Corinthians 15:6 may also refer to this time when five hundred brethren saw Him at once. Seeing Him there the eleven worshiped Him, but some doubted, evidently of other Galilean disciples; for there were certainly no doubts remaining on the part of the eleven after seeing Him at least twice in the upper room in Jerusalem, where He appeared to them.
His words in Matthew are different then in the other Gospels in commissioning them for service. Here He speaks of all authority being given Him in heaven and earth, consistent with His kingly dignity. Having taken the lowliest place in suffering and death, He is rewarded with absolute authority over the universe. He therefore authorizes them to make disciples (see margin) of all nations. This is not the Gospel from Luke's point of view, where repentance and remission of sins is emphasized (Luke 24:47, nor as Mark speaks of it (Mark 16:15-18; but from the viewpoint of the kingdom.
Connected with this viewpoint is, first baptism, the outward sign of discipleship into the kingdom; and secondly, teaching. The Lord speaks in Matthew l6:19 of giving Peter the key of the kingdom of heaven; and in Luke 11:52 He refers to" the key of knowledge" which the Pharisees had taken away from the people. The teaching of the truth of the word of God then is one of the. keys, while baptism appears plainly to be the other key. Both of these Peter used in opening the door of the kingdom to Jews (Acts 2:1-47) and to Gentiles (Acts 10:1-48). The Lord clearly gives the formula for baptism here as being" in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." This is not set aside by the fact of the disciples' baptizing "unto the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 2:38; Acts 19:5), for this latter expression, though it emphasizes the importance of the name of the Lord Jesus, does not necessarily imply the formula that was used while the Lord's formula ("in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit") would by all means include what is expressed in Acts.
To make disciples then involves baptizing and teaching them to observe all things that the Lord has commanded. Now the Lord Jesus finally accompanies this authorization with the assurance of His presence with His disciples always, to the end of the age. This implies His authoritative power among His people in the present form of the kingdom of heaven, and it remains a precious encouragement for ourselves, in spite of the degenerated state of the kingdom today. In bodily form of course the King is absent, yet faith is to recognize the reality of His wisely directing authority just as though He were visibly present. By the power of the Spirit of God who indwells the saints of God since Pentecost, it is a very real sense in which the Lord Jesus is present with us always; but only faith realizes and responds to this.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Matthew 28". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany