Christ's resurrection. (1-8) He appears to the women. (9,10) Confession of the soldiers. (11-15) Christ's commission to his disciples. (16-20)
Verses 1-8 Christ rose the third day after his death; that was the time he had often spoken of. On the first day of the first week God commanded the light to shine out of darkness. On this day did He who is the Light of the world, shine out of the darkness of the grave; and this day is from henceforward often mentioned in the New Testament, as the day which Christians religiously observed in solemn assemblies, to the honour of Christ. Our Lord Jesus could have rolled back the stone by his own power, but he chose to have it done by an angel. The resurrection of Christ, as it is the joy of his friends, so it is the terror and confusion of his enemies. The angel encouraged the women against their fears. Let the sinners in Zion be afraid. Fear not ye, for his resurrection will be your consolation. Our communion with him must be spiritual, by faith in his word. When we are ready to make this world our home, and to say, It is good to be here, then let us remember our Lord Jesus is not here, he is risen; therefore let our hearts rise, and seek the things that are above. He is risen, as he said. Let us never think that strange which the word of Christ has told us to expect; whether the sufferings of this present time, or the glory that is to be revealed. It may have a good effect upon us, by faith to view the place where the Lord lay. Go quickly. It was good to be there, but the servants of God have other work appointed. Public usefulness must be chosen before the pleasure of secret communion with God. Tell the disciples, that they may be comforted under their present sorrows. Christ knows where his disciples dwell, and will visit them. Even to those at a distance from the plenty of the means of grace, he will graciously manifest himself. The fear and the joy together quickened their pace. The disciples of Christ should be forward to make known to each other their experiences of communion with their Lord; and should tell others what God has done for their souls.
Verses 9-10 God's gracious visits usually meet us in the way of duty; and to those who use what they have for others' benefit, more shall be given. This interview with Christ was unexpected; but Christ was nigh them, and still is nigh us in the word. The salutation speaks the good-will of Christ to man, even since he entered upon his state of exaltation. It is the will of Christ that his people should be a cheerful, joyful people, and his resurrection furnishes abundant matter for joy. Be not afraid. Christ rose from the dead, to silence his people's fears, and there is enough in that to silence them. The disciples had just before shamefully deserted him in his sufferings; but, to show that he could forgive, and to teach us to do so, he calls them brethren. Notwithstanding his majesty and purity, and our meanness and unworthiness, he still condescends to call believers his brethren.
Verses 11-15 What wickedness is it which men will not be brought to by the love of money! Here was large money given to the soldiers for advancing that which they knew to be a lie, yet many grudge a little money for advancing what they know to be the truth. Let us never starve a good cause, when we see bad ones so liberally supported. The priests undertook to secure them from the sword of Pilate, but could not secure these soldiers from the sword of God's justice, which hangs over the heads of those that love and make a lie. Those men promise more than they can perform, who undertake to save a man harmless in doing a wilful sin. But this falsehood disproved itself. Had the soldiers been all asleep, they could not have known what passed. If any had been awake, they would have roused the others and prevented the removal; and certainly if they had been asleep, they never would have dared to confess it; while the Jewish rulers would have been the first to call for their punishment. Again, had there been any truth in the report, the rulers would have prosecuted the apostles with severity for it. The whole shows that the story was entirely false. And we must not charge such things to the weakness of the understanding, but to the wickedness of the heart. God left them to expose their own course. The great argument to prove Christ to be the Son of God, is his resurrection; and none could have more convincing proofs of the truth of that than these soldiers; yet they took bribes to hinder others from believing. The plainest evidence will not affect men, without the work of the Holy Spirit.
Verses 16-20 This evangelist passes over other appearances of Christ, recorded by Luke and John, and hastens to the most solemn; one appointed before his death, and after his resurrection. All that see the Lord Jesus with an eye of faith, will worship him. Yet the faith of the sincere may be very weak and wavering. But Christ gave such convincing proofs of his resurrection, as made their faith to triumph over doubts. He now solemnly commissioned the apostles and his ministers to go forth among all nations. The salvation they were to preach, is a common salvation; whoever will, let him come, and take the benefit; all are welcome to Christ Jesus. Christianity is the religion of a sinner who applies for salvation from deserved wrath and from sin; he applies to the mercy of the Father, through the atonement of the incarnate Son, and by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, and gives up himself to be the worshipper and servant of God, as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three Persons but one God, in all his ordinances and commandments. Baptism is an outward sign of that inward washing, or sanctification of the Spirit, which seals and evidences the believer's justification. Let us examine ourselves, whether we really possess the inward and spiritual grace of a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness, by which those who were the children of wrath become the children of God. Believers shall have the constant presence of their Lord always; all days, every day. There is no day, no hour of the day, in which our Lord Jesus is not present with his churches and with his ministers; if there were, in that day, that hour, they would be undone. The God of Israel, the Saviour, is sometimes a God that hideth himself, but never a God at a distance. To these precious words Amen is added. Even so, Lord Jesus, be thou with us and all thy people; cause thy face to shine upon us, that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.
Matthew 28:1-15 . GLORIOUS ANGELIC ANNOUNCEMENT ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, THAT CHRIST IS RISEN--HIS APPEARANCE TO THE WOMEN--THE GUARDS BRIBED TO GIVE A FALSE ACCOUNT OF THE RESURRECTION. ( = 16:1-8 , Luke 24:1-8 , John 20:1 ).
The Resurrection Announced to the Women ( Matthew 28:1-8 ).
1. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn--after the Sabbath, as it grew toward daylight.
toward the first day of the week--Luke ( Luke 24:1 ) has it, "very early in the morning"--properly, "at the first appearance of daybreak"; and corresponding with this, John ( John 20:1 ) says, "when it was yet those dear lovers of the Lord Jesus.
came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary--"the mother of James and
to see the sepulchre--with a view to the anointing of the body, for which they had made all their preparations.
And, behold, there was--that is, there had been, before the arrival of the women.
a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, &c.--And this was the state of things when the women drew near. Some judicious critics think all this was transacted while the women were approaching; but the view we have given, which is the prevalent one, seems the more natural. All this august preparation--recorded by Matthew alone--bespoke the grandeur of the exit which was to follow. The angel sat upon the huge stone, to overawe, with the lightning--luster that darted from him, the Roman guard, and do honor to his rising Lord.
3. His countenance--appearance.
was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow--the one expressing the glory, the other the purity of the celestial abode from which he came.
4. And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men--Is the sepulchre "sure" now, O ye chief priests? He that sitteth in the heavens doth laugh at you.
5. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye--The "ye" here is emphatic, to contrast their case with that of the guards. "Let those puny creatures, sent to keep the Living One among the dead, for fear of Me shake and become as dead men ( Matthew 28:4 ); but ye that have come hither on another errand, fear not ye."
for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified--Jesus the Crucified.
6. He is not here; for he is risen, as he
Come--as in Matthew 11:28 .
see the place where the Lord lay--Charming invitation! "Come, see the spot where the Lord of glory lay: now it is an empty grave: He lies not here, but He lay there. Come, feast your eyes on it!" But
7. And go quickly, and tell his disciples--For a precious addition to
that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee--to which those women belonged ( Matthew 27:55 ).
there shall ye see him--This must refer to those more public manifestations of Himself to large numbers of disciples at once, which He vouchsafed only in Galilee; for individually He was seen of some of those very women almost immediately after this ( Matthew 28:9 Matthew 28:10 ).
Lo, I have told you--Behold, ye have this word from the world of light!
8. And they departed quickly--Mark ( Mark 16:8 ) says "they fled."
from the sepulchre with fear and great joy--How natural this combination of feelings! See on a similar statement of Mark 16:11 .
and did run to bring his disciples word--"Neither said they anything to any man [by the way]; for they were afraid" ( Mark 16:8 ).
Appearance to the Women ( Matthew 28:9 Matthew 28:10 ).
This appearance is recorded only by Matthew.
9. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail!--the usual salute, but from the lips of Jesus bearing a higher signification.
And they came and held him by the feet--How truly womanly!
10. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid--What dear associations would these familiar words--now uttered in a higher style, but by the same Lips--bring rushing back to their recollection!
go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me--The brethren here meant must have been His brethren after the flesh (compare Matthew 13:55 ); for His brethren in the higher sense before He went to Galilee, which they would have missed if they had been the persons ordered to Galilee to meet Him.
The Guards Bribed ( Matthew 28:11-15 ).
The whole of this important portion is peculiar to Matthew.
11. Now when they were going--while the women were on their way to deliver to His brethren the message of their risen Lord.
some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done--Simple, unsophisticated soldiers! How could ye imagine that such a tale as ye had to tell would not at once commend itself to your scared employers? Had they doubted this for a moment, would they have ventured to go near them, knowing it was death to a Roman soldier to be proved asleep when on guard? and of course that was the only other explanation of the case.
12. And when they were assembled with the elders--But Joseph at least was absent: Gamaliel probably also; and perhaps others.
and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers--It would need a good deal; but the whole case of the Jewish authorities was now at stake. With what contempt must these soldiers have regarded the Jewish ecclesiastics!
13. Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept--which, as we have observed, was a capital offense for soldiers on guard.
14. And if this come to the governor's ears--rather, "If this come before the governor"; that is, not in the way of mere report, but for judicial investigation.
we will persuade him, and secure you--The "we" and the "you" are emphatic here--"we shall [take care to] persuade him and keep you from trouble," or "save you harmless." The grammatical form of this clause implies that the thing supposed was expected to happen. The meaning then is, "If this come before the governor--as it likely will--we shall see to it that," &c. The "persuasion" of Pilate meant, doubtless, quieting him by a bribe, which we know otherwise he was by no means above taking (like Felix afterwards, Acts 24:26 ).
15. So they took the money, and did as they were taught--thus consenting to brand themselves with infamy.
and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day--to the date of the publication of this Gospel. The wonder is that so clumsy and incredible a story lasted so long. But those who are resolved not to come to the light will catch at straws. JUSTIN MARTYR, who flourished about A.D. 170, says, in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, that the Jews dispersed the story by means of special messengers sent to every country.
Matthew 28:16-20 . JESUS MEETS WITH THE DISCIPLES ON A MOUNTAIN IN GALILEE AND GIVES FORTH THE GREAT COMMISSION.
16. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee--but certainly not before the second week after the resurrection, and probably somewhat later.
into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them--It should have been rendered "the mountain," meaning some certain mountain which He had named to them--probably the night before He suffered, when He said, "After I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee" ( Matthew 26:32 , 14:28 ). What it was can only be conjectured; but of the two between which opinions are divided--the Mount of the Beatitudes or Mount Tabor--the former is much the more probable, from its nearness to the Sea of Tiberias, where last before this the Narrative tells us that He met and dined with seven of them. ( John 21:1 , &c.). That the interview here recorded was the same as that referred to in one
place only-- 1 Corinthians 15:6 --when "He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remained unto that day, though some were fallen asleep," is now the opinion of the ablest students of the evangelical history. Nothing can account for such a number as five hundred assembling at one spot but the expectation of some promised manifestation of their risen Lord: and the promise before His resurrection, twice repeated after it, best explains this immense gathering.
17. And when they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted--certainly none of "the Eleven," after what took place at previous interviews in Jerusalem. But if the five hundred were now present, we may well believe this of some of them.
19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations--rather, "make disciples of all nations"; for "teaching," in the more usual sense of that word, comes in afterwards, and is expressed by a different term.
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost--It should be, "into the name"; as in 1 Corinthians 10:2 , "And were all baptized unto (or rather 'into') Moses"; and Galatians 3:27 , "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ."
20. Teaching them--This is teaching in the more usual sense of the term; or instructing the converted and baptized disciples.
to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I--The "I" here is emphatic. It is enough that I
am with you alway--"all the days"; that is, till making converts, baptizing, and building them up by Christian instruction, shall be no more.
even unto the end of the world. Amen--This glorious Commission embraces two primary departments, the Missionary and the Pastoral, with two sublime and comprehensive Encouragements to undertake and go through with them.
First, The MISSIONARY department ( Matthew 28:18 ): "Go, make disciples of all nations." In the corresponding passage of Mark ( Mark 16:15 ) it is, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." The only difference is, that in this passage the sphere, in its world-wide compass and its universality of objects, is more fully and definitely expressed; while in the former the great aim and certain result is delightfully expressed in the command to "make disciples of all nations." "Go, conquer the world for Me; carry the glad tidings into all lands and to every ear, and deem not this work at an end till all nations shall have embraced the Gospel and enrolled themselves My disciples." Now, Was all this meant to be done by the Eleven men nearest to Him of the multitude then crowding around the risen Redeemer? Impossible. Was it to be done even in their lifetime? Surely not. In that little band Jesus virtually addressed Himself to all who, in every age, should take up from them the same work. Before the eyes of the Church's risen Head were spread out, in those Eleven men, all His servants of every age; and one and all of them received His commission at that moment. Well, what next? Set the seal of visible discipleship upon the converts, by "baptizing them into the name," that is, into the whole fulness of the grace "of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," as belonging to them who believe. your work, which in its own nature is temporary, must merge in another, which is permanent. This is
Second, The PASTORAL department ( Matthew 28:20 ): "Teach them"--teach these baptized members of the Church visible--"to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you," My apostles, during the three years ye have been. with Me. What must have been the feelings which such a Commission awakened? "WE who have scarce conquered our own misgivings--we, fishermen of Galilee, with no letters, no means, no influence over the humblest creature, conquer the world for Thee, Lord? Nay, Lord, do not mock us." "I mock you not, nor send you a warfare on your own charges. For"--Here we are brought to
Third, The ENCOURAGEMENTS to undertake and go through with this work. These are two; one in the van, the other in the rear of the Commission itself.
First Encouragement: "All power in heaven"--the whole power of Heaven's love and wisdom and strength, "and all power in earth"--power over all persons, all passions, all principles, all movements--to bend them to this one high object, the evangelization of the world: All this "is given unto Me." as the risen Lord of all, to be by Me placed at your command--"Go ye therefore." But there remains a
Second Encouragement: "And lo! I am with you all the days"--not only to perpetuity, but without one day's interruption, "even to the end of the world," The "Amen" is of doubtful genuineness in this place. If, however, it belongs to the text, it is the Evangelist's own closing word.