Daily Devotional

April 5, 2021

Daybreak: Matthew 27:57 through 28:20

“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.” (Matthew 28:20)

When our son was seven years old, my wife and I sent him to stay with his aunt for a week. After only two days he called and, with heart-wrenching sobs, asked us to come take him home because he missed us. He clearly had a bad case of “separation anxiety.”

Twelve years later, the tables were turned when our son moved out of our house and to another city to begin a new job. Now my wife and I want to grab the phone and tell him we miss him! It appears that parents suffer from “separation anxiety,” too!

As Christians, how comforting it is to know that nothing can separate us from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. After His Resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples on Mount Olivet and gave them the Great Commission. Then He told them, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

The Apostles had suffered the worst kind of separation from the Lord: after vowing to fight to the death for their Master, they had run for their lives and left their Lord to die a painful, humiliating death on the Cross. However, through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, God made the Cross an instrument of reconciliation. The resurrected Christ appeared to His Apostles and showed that He had all power, even power over death. Imagine the joy that these closest associates of the Lord must have felt when they realized that not even death could separate them from their Master!

As followers of Jesus, we have the same promise that Jesus gave to His Apostles: Jesus will never leave us. Yes, on earth we will suffer pain and loss, but as long as we keep our hands in His, nothing can separate us from our Lord and our God — not even distance or death. Christ lives within us. Christ walks beside us. He is ever present, aware and ministering to our needs. What a blessed assurance!

Background

Had it not been for the intervention of Joseph of Arimathaea, a counselor of the Sanhedrin (Luke 23:50-51), and Nicodemus, also a religious leader (John 3:1), the body of Jesus might not have had a decent burial. Since Joseph was a rich man and had prepared a new tomb, his burial of Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9 that Christ would make his grave “with the rich in his death.” 

Pilate gave the Pharisees permission to guard the tomb with Roman troops. The tomb was sealed with an official Roman seal on the stone; this was probably the seal of the governor. Tradition states that Jesus was laid in the tomb on Friday evening and rose on Sunday morning. Using the Jewish method of reckoning time (any part of a day being counted as a day), Christ was in the tomb for three days.

The final chapter of Matthew is a record of victory that provides indisputable evidence of Jesus’ Kingship: His resurrection from the dead. The stone was not rolled away to permit Jesus to emerge, for He had already left the tomb. It was rolled away by the angels so that the people could see for themselves that the tomb was empty.

A Roman soldier who failed in his duty could be punished by death. Possibly for this reason, the soldiers who had been sent to guard the tomb did not report the disappearance of Jesus’ body to Pilate or to their superior officers; instead, they reported it to the Jewish chief priests. They must have known that these men were as concerned about covering up the miracle as the soldiers themselves were! The chief priests, the elders, and the soldiers, fabricated a story to explain the empty tomb: that the body had been stolen. 

Unlike the Gospels of Mark and Luke, the Gospel of Matthew does not record the ascension of Jesus into Heaven. Matthew ends his account with Jesus on Mount Olivet with His disciples. This ending is fitting, though, for when Jesus returns, He will descend to this same Mount (Zechariah 14:4). 

Matthew 28:18-20 is often called “The Great Commission.” This statement brings the first Gospel to its grand finale, as the triumphant, risen Lord sends forth His ambassadors to spread His message throughout the entire world. The commission is not simply an order, but a pronouncement of victory. 

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
VI.   The official presentation and rejection of the King
       E.   The sufferings and death of the King
             3.   The crucifixion of the King
                   e.   The burial of the King (27:57-66)
                         (1)   The burial by Joseph of Arimathea (27:57-62)
                         (2)   The burial tomb sealed (27:63-66)
VII.   The conclusive proof of the King’s claims and person (28:1-20)
       A.   The resurrection of the King announced (28:1-8)
       B.   The appearance of the King to the women (28:9-10)
       C.   The falsification by the Chief Priests (28:11-15)
       D.   The appearance of the King to the disciples (28:16-17)
       E.   The final instructions of the King (28:18-20)

A Closer Look

  1. Matthew 27:64 records that the Pharisees wanted to seal the tomb so that the disciples couldn’t steal the body of Jesus and claim that He had risen from the dead, “so the last error shall be worse than the first.” What do you think was the “first error” that the Pharisees felt they had made?
     
  2. What were the two different reactions the disciples had when they saw their resurrected Lord?
     
  3. How do you feel Jesus’ commission to His disciples applies to you?

Conclusion

Christ’s closing promise, though given to the Apostles, is passed on to every generation of believers. He intended for His Church of every era to be evangelistically engaged, and He promises to be with us as we take His message into our world.

Reference Materials