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Sunday, July 1, 2018

The GOSPEL of MATTHEW: Ch. 28:1-20 –The MESSIAH and HIS KINGDOM MESSAGE


~ By James Fire

There are many people who insist that there is no difference among all the religions of the world; that they are all basically the same (and there is some merit to this, see the “TWO RELIGIONS” video at the conclusion of this final study of MATTHEW). Aside from addressing the obvious differences of monotheism, polytheism and pantheism, there are diametrically opposed differences between Islam and Hinduism, and the even more drastic differences between those two, Talmudic Judaism and biblical Christianity.

The one factor that separates Christianity from ALL world religions is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Suppose for a moment that Jesus was just a man and made the claim (as He did) that He would rise from the dead on the third day; a bold claim to be sure – but once He was laid in the tomb, and three days later if He didn’t rise from the dead, and then three days turned to a week, then two weeks – and He still didn’t rise again, that claim would be proven false. Everything that He said, everything He did, would then become invalid. Without the hope of the resurrection, what hope would we then have?

It’s as the apostle Paul stated:

1 COR 15:17-22
17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Such high stakes in establishing a ‘new religion’ would not warrant such a gamble which, by the laws of probabilities, could not possibly happen, even if someone were to make such a rash prediction. Yet Christ did rise from the dead, on the third day, just as He promised!

We now turn to the final chapter of The GOSPEL of MATTHEW: The MESSIAH and HIS KINGDOM MESSAGE! And as we know, it has a happy, no – far more: a blessed ending, to say the least!



MATTHEW 28:1-4

1 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. 2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake and became as dead men.

It was the first day of the week, not the Sabbath day, but the first day – what we would call Sunday. This was the day of the resurrection of Christ; and probably the reason why the disciples gathered together in fellowship as the church (JOHN 20:1-9; ACTS 20:7; 1 COR 16:2) and customarily why we do so today.
Contrary to what many people claim to be a Roman Catholic conspiracy to change the Sabbath day that has influenced evangelical, biblical Christians; Sunday is not now, nor ever was, the Sabbath (except in the view of Roman Catholic dogma), because the last day of the week was to be a day of rest, not the first. We consider Sunday as “the LORD’s Day” (REV 1:10); the church is not obligated as is Israel to keep the Sabbath, primarily because it’s a “shadow” of better things to come, as in Christ, Who is our Sabbath rest and propitiation (HEB 4:1-11; 9:11,15,22-26; 10:1-10).

“It began to dawn”: it was a new day in every sense of the word. The Scripture that state “this is the day that the LORD has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it” (PSALM 118:24; ISAIAH 25:9) is perfectly fulfilled in this stupendously extraordinary event of the resurrection!!

The enduring anguished sorrow of the saints, who wept through the night, will soon be rejoicing on this glorious morning (PSALM 30:5b)! The wicked darkness that had its hour of power (LUKE 22:53) could not – and cannot prevail against the light of the LORD (JOHN 1:5; PSALM 27:1). Every trial that assails us in the night – where we cannot see our way out, and seems to last interminably, will certainly come to an end; either in this life time or the next. Then we shall behold the glory of God’s Light and see, understand (if not fully now, then certainly in eternity), and appreciate the reasons for the trials of our lives.

Certainly, the trial that these disciples faced came to a blessed and satisfying end when they realized what transpired.

There was a “great earthquake” – a literal shaking there in Jerusalem; I believe that there was likewise a great shaking in the spiritual domain of darkness, for in the resurrection, the very foundation of satanic power was rocked and toppled! Satan still possesses power of course, but he no longer has a death grip on anyone who chooses to escape his clutches by calling out to the LORD Jesus Christ, the Victor (ROM 10:13)! And there is coming a day soon when his evil rule in this world will be summarily decimated and ended!

COLOSSIANS 2:14-16
14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

“Spoiled” in this sense is to strip off clothing or armor, to despoil; it is the same Greek word used in COL 3:9 that speaks of “putting off the old man”. This is what Christ has done to Satan and his kingdom of darkness. Stripped him, and them of their power!

To “show” in this verse means to be put on display for others to see in exhibition. One gets the idea of a deer’s head mounted on a wall, a trophy of a powerful beast, bagged, tagged and conquered!
In ancient times, armies would typically bring their POW's with them in their homecoming victory parade: there they would be in chains, being hauled ahead of the conquering heroes of the opposing army, humiliated in their defeat. 

I think of the verse that speaks of how Lucifer will finally be judged, and how the saints will remark (I believe in disbelief for his true appearance and not as he portrayed himself through the ages):

ISAIAH 14:15-16
15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. 16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms
[?].

But this triumph is two-fold; in addition to the exhibition of these defeated and evil enemies of satanic origin, there is also the display of the conquerors – not only the LORD Jesus Christ, but His church as well, parading right behind Him, and glorying over the defeat of all of His foes!
See GEN 3:15; JOHN 14:30; 16:11; ROM 16:20; 2 COR 2:14; HEB 2:14.

An angel came and rolled that stone away (a problem that the women who were approaching the tomb had no solution for; see MARK 16:3), which probably stood about 5 to 6 feet in height and weighed a few thousand pounds; hardly something a single person, or even a few could move, especially since these stones were rolled into place on a declining groove. Which meant, to move the stone, one would have to do so up the incline! It would take several very strong men to budge that obstacle, and yet here a single angel moves it, and furthermore, proceeds to sit on top of it (I picture him inspecting his fingernails with an air of casual indifference)!

His face is brilliant, like lightening – it’s no surprise that the Roman soldiers who guarded the tomb under orders, with penalty of death should they fail, fell to the ground as “dead men” for the terror of this scene.

MATTHEW 28:5-6
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Yet to these devoted women, the angel bids them to “fear not” – and how typical it is that the things that the world fears in regard to the LORD, we saints find fulfillment in; and the things that the church fears (or should) in regard to indulgence in sin and rebellion against the LORD, the world finds fulfillment in.

Here is the first declaration of the LORD’s resurrection; four words that turned those ladies world right-side up! The shout of that angelic voice has rippled throughout the history of humanity with stark, absolute truth and victory!
The intensity of shock, amazement and joy must have known no bounds in their hearts and minds, even though the angel reminded them “. . . as He said.”.

The LORD repeatedly stated that He would be killed, but that He would rise again on the third day (MATT 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; MARK 10:34; LUKE 13:32; 18:33).
Sorrow and anguish of heart can cause us to forget vital things; yet the LORD is patient in reminding us of His truth, bringing much needed counsels and insights to us from the Scriptures in our hour of need. These saints that were devastated by the death of their precious LORD certainly needed them!

The angel then beckons these women to witness “where the LORD lay” and testify that He is no longer in the tomb, that He is risen! He is risen indeed! It’s remarkable that the first witnesses to behold this wonder were women, for in that time and culture, the testimony of women was inadmissible in any Jewish court.

This testifies of the authenticity of this account, for a contrived story would never have included such a thing! There are several supposed contradictions surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but these are not true contradictions if we look closely at the details and compare the four different accounts with one another.

From ANSWERS in GENESIS, we have the following article: Christ’sResurrection—Four Accounts, One Reality by Tim Chaffey. 

MATTHEW 28:7-10
7 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. 8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. 9 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 worshiped him. 10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

How common for those in the work of the Gospel, in declaring the Risen Savior, to encounter the LORD Himself: His very Spirit and presence, working together with them in the labor, being the True Yoke Fellow for the toiling evangelist (MARK 16:19-20; MATT 11:29-30).
There is no work He beckons us to but that He Himself will be an active participant. We joy in “learning of Him” through such times of serving in His Kingdom and worship Him for all that He is worth – and He is worthy of our all, amen?

We have no need to fear pain, suffering, hardships, trials, persecution or death, for the Resurrected LORD is ever with us and has declared that He will never leave us nor forsake us (HEB 13:5). Here, the LORD tells His lady saints to tell His “brethren that they shall see [Him]” – and note, that these disciples were once His servants, but then were raised in status to “friends” (JOHN 15:15) and yet here, He calls them brothers, which would mean, that because of the death and resurrection of the LORD, we have the opportunity to become members of God’s family (JOHN 1:12-13) as well as heirs and joint-heirs of Christ (ROM 8:16-18)! Absolutely astounding!

MATTHEW 24:11-15
11 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. 12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, 13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. 15 So they took the money and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

Note that there is no denial that the tomb is empty; the religious leadership must contrive a reason for the empty tomb. The idea that the disciples came by night, overpowered well-armed and trained Roman soldiers, moved that formidable stone, and were then able to remove the body of Christ – but carefully wrapping the head linen and laying that aside by itself (not the act of something done in haste) – and then disposing of the body without any witnesses whatsoever is highly improbable.

That, added to the multitude of eye-witness accounts, makes such a tale of grave robbing as an answer to the empty tomb ridiculous. Then when His apostles declared the resurrection of Christ in the heart of Jerusalem, none of the Sanhedrin publicly denied it, nor provided evidence to the contrary.

Had they truly believed the disciples stole the body of Christ, they could have coerced them to ‘fess up and identify its location under pain of death. Yet on the contrary, even in torture and threat of martyrdom, each one remained faithful to their testimony, to the point of death.

On the contrary, there is evidence that the empty tomb of Christ is a reality because the sole Occupant indeed rose again from the dead, having defeated sin, death and hell! 

2 TIMOTHY 1:9-10
9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

MATTHEW 24:16-17
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshiped him: but some doubted.

Now here we have a blessed meeting between LORD and Master with His brothers and bond-servants, there in this mountain – the quintessential ‘mountain-top experience’ where Savior is worshiped by servant-friends-brothers-joint heirs! Yet there were some that doubted, but before the ascension, even these were convinced.

It’s vital that we deal with doubts; that we not suppress or ignore them: the truth of God’s Word will vindicate itself even under the most critical scrutiny. Any doubts left untreated will be ‘holes’ in our shields of faith, which in turn will make us vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. Much can be gleaned by the works of apologists who cover the ground of difficult passages of Scripture, apparent contradictions, and the like. One such ministry (I’ve posted two articles of theirs in this single TTUF article) is CROSSEXAMINED – see link below).

Seeing the LORD will inevitably lead to worship of the LORD. It was true of Moses (EXOD 3:4-6), David (PSALM 27:4), Isaiah (ISAIAH 6:1-3) and Peter, James and John (MATT 17:1-7). And we the church see the LORD with the eyes of faith, with the heart of love and in the soul of grace and peace and our worship of Him therefore is in spirit and truth.

MATTHEW 24:18-20
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The LORD of Glory, eternally existent with the Father and the Holy Spirit (ISAIAH 57:15), comprising the Godhead (ROM 1:20; COL 2:9), Who rules in Heaven forever and ever, here declares that “ALL POWER” was likewise given to Him in Earth – that power (“authority”) that was initially granted to the first Adam, lost by him to Satan (2 COR 4:4), and was taken back by the last Adam, Christ Himself (1 COR 15:45,47; REV 5:1-8)!

Here Christ commissions His disciples to go throughout the world – a world not yet taken back officially by the One Who paid for it with His blood but still lies under the illegal rule of Satan who yet governs this wicked world system – and preach the Gospel that has the potential of emptying the kingdom of darkness of Satan’s slaves: unredeemed humanity.

It is necessary to understand that while we are in enemy territory, infiltrating its darkness with the light of the Gospel (2 COR 4:4; 2 TIM 1:10), and will no doubt encounter hostile attacks from the enemy, we are under the authority of the One Who reigns over heaven and earth – and thus have nothing to fear. “Go therefore . . .” because He holds all such authority, without trepidation, timidity, doubts and dread.

We are the righteous of the LORD and can boldly invade enemy strongholds with the liberating power of the Gospel and teach all nations – no longer only Israel (MATT 10:6), but all nations are to be taught the Gospel and all the commands of Christ as His faithful disciples (JOHN 8:31; 13:34-35, etc.). He is indeed the MESSIAH of ISRAEL, and this is HIS HOLY MESSAGE, not only to the Jewish nation, but also the Gentile nations for which He is the LIGHT of SALVATION.

Until we see the LORD face to Face, we are comforted by these words: “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

And that’s the difference between Christianity and all the religions of the world:

We don’t establish our basis for righteousness upon ourselves and any works of our own effort, but solely upon the finished work of the CROSS accomplished by the only One Who has ever risen from the dead with resurrection power and is alive forever more, the LORD Jesus Christ!

See this video by John MacArthur: 

TWO RELIGIONS 



And amen! So, this concludes the study in the GOSPEL of MATTHEW, a journey that has lasted five years, starting with this first installment

FOR MORE ON THIS SUBJECT:

From CROSSEXAMINED ministry we have the following article:
10 REASONS TO ACCEPT THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS AS AN HISTORICAL FACTby Brian Chilton

Also, here is a 20 minute video on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Dr. David Wood of 

ACTS 17 Apologetics




Your prayers are solicited as I prayerfully examine and prepare for the next book that the LORD has laid upon my heart to study and present (for the first time in any study!) for TTUF: The REVELATION of JESUS CHRIST!

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