Jesus is alive and well
Jesus to the women: “Mornin’”1 After the Saturday Sabbath, and about daybreak on Sunday, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb to see Jesus. 2 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake. An angel of the Lord came down from the sky and rolled away the stone that had sealed the opening to the tomb and sat on it. 3 He glowed like a burst of lightning. His clothes were snow white. 4 Soldiers assigned to guard the dead were so terrified that they started shaking and then they fainted dead away. 5 The angel told the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know you’re looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He’s not here. He has been raised from the dead. He had said it would happen. Come over here and take a look. This is where he was lying. 7 Now quickly go to the disciples. Tell them he has been raised from the dead and he’s going ahead of them back to Galilee. You’ll all see him there. Remember everything I’ve told you.” 8 The women left the tomb right away, with mixed emotions: fear and incredible joy. They ran to tell the disciples what had happened. 9 Suddenly, along the way, Jesus met the women. He said, “Mornin’.” They rushed over to him, dropped to the ground, and started hugging his feet in worship. 10 Jesus told them, “Don’t be afraid. Go tell my disciples to leave for Galilee. They’ll see me there.”
Guards report what they saw11 While the women were on their way to see the disciples, some of those on guard duty went into Jerusalem. They reported to the top priests and told them everything that happened. 12 The priests met with the Jewish elders and worked out a plan. They gave the guards a big lump of money. 13 They told the guards, “Here’s what we want you to say. ‘The disciples of Jesus came at night and stole his body while we were sleeping.’ 14 And if this gets reported all the way up to the governor, don’t worry. We’ll bribe him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and, like good soldiers, did as they were told. This story started circulating among the Jews. And they’re still telling the story today.
Mission statement: make believers out of people16 The 11 disciples went to Galilee. They went to the mountain where Jesus said he would meet them. 17 They saw him and most of them begin to worship him. But some hesitated because they had doubts. 18 Jesus told the disciples, “I have been given complete authority over heaven and earth. 19 And here’s what I want you to do. Go and make believers out of people everywhere. Go to all the nations. Baptize the people, and do it on behalf of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach the people to do everything I told you to do. And remember this. I am with you every day and all the way to the last day of this age.”
More literally, the guards “became like dead men.” They were to guard the dead, then suddenly they looked dead.
The Greek word is a happy greeting such as “rejoice” or “good health to you” or “what a great day to be alive.”
To which the commanding officer might ask, “You saw it with your own eyes, while you were sleeping?”
More literally, “in the name of.” Believers are baptized with the full authority of those who rule the Kingdom of Heaven: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
More literally, “to the end of the age.” This could refer to the Second Coming of Jesus and Judgment Day.
Why can’t the Gospel writers get their story straight? Matthew says there were two women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, who saw one angel who glowed “like a burst of lightning” (28:1, 3). Mark says three women went to the tomb of Jesus and saw a young man in a white robe (16:1, 5). Luke says there were several women who saw two men wearing clothes that had a dazzling shine (23:55; 24:1, 4). John says Mary Magdalene was alone, and that she saw two white-robed angels (20:11-12).
The story of the death and resurrection of Jesus is framed in miracles. There were earthquakes the day he died and the day he rose from the dead (27:51, 28:2). There was darkness at noon on the day he died (27:45). There were dead men and women walking (27:52). There was a glowing angel (28:3). But there’s almost nothing of this written in Roman history. Why?
What do you think of the cover-up story that the Jewish leaders convinced the soldiers to buy into (28:12-14)?
What do you think the followers of Jesus thought happened to the body of Jesus after the women told them that the tomb was empty and Jesus had risen from the dead?
Jesus told the disciples to “baptize the people” (28:19). John told the people, “I baptize you with water. But he’ll baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8). Some Bible experts say this suggests that once the Holy Spirit comes, people won’t need to get baptized with water anymore. How do you react to that?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus gave his disciples the kind of marching order often called the Great Commission. In today’s lingo, it might be called a “mission statement.” Jesus told them, “Go and make believers out of people everywhere. Go to all the nations” (28:19). Christians have been doing that for 2,000 years. We do it in a lot of different ways. What do you think are some of the best ways to make believers out of people?
LIFE APPLICATION. Matthew leaves us with this final word from Jesus: “Remember this. I am with you every day and all the way to the last day” (28:20). How do we experience the presence of Jesus every day or any day, given that we have no idea what he looks like because we have never seen his face, shaken his hand, or heard his voice to know if he’s a bass or a tenor?
LIFE APPLICATION. Some Christians say they resent the growth of Islam. Recent studies, such as one by the Pew Research Center, projects that during the next generation, Christianity will grow at a rate slightly higher than the overall population growth, 34 percent increase for Christians and 32 percent for the general population. Muslims are projected to grow at a rate of 70 percent. That’s partly because Muslims tend to have more children. And Muslims have more young adult followers than Christians do. What should be the Christian attitude toward people of other faiths?