Vs. 10, “Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Yesterday, I shared a message on the women visiting the tomb. The first part of Matthew, we are reminded of the Resurrection (vs. 1-10). Jesus’ birth on earth was a miracle and now His resurrection closes His tenure as fully man. Jesus not only appears to the women, but over a forty day period He would make numerous visits. While there were many testifying of Jesus’ resurrection, there were others (Chief priests & elders) conspiring to ensure that the truth stays hidden (vs. 11-15). The whole premise of the story is not very believable given the fact that there were guards hired to guard the tomb. The guards knew what truly happened with their fear and the earthquake (vs. 2-4). Matthew then closes his gospel with the Great Commission (vs. 16-20). Question: Why did the eleven doubt (vs. 17)? There are differing views on this, but some scholars point out that the doubt here was in the context of the eleven being unsure of the future.
Regarding application…Make Disciples. Vs. 19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Question: What is our purpose in life? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Jesus gives us a mandate and purpose to our lives. The Gospel isn’t just for the Jews, but it is to be spread to all nations. Question: What does that look like for us? Does that mean that we all must be international missionaries? The application to this is quite varied. Not all of us are going to be missionaries, but all of us can support making disciples; financial support, material support, prayer support, etc. Someone shared the gospel with you at some point in your life. They were making disciples. And now we must help in support not just a church emphasis, but the very exhortation of Jesus!
Vs. 17, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” A grave danger was transpiring in the Corinthian church. This danger was the issue of not believing in the resurrection. The resurrection gives us the confidence that Jesus did in fact conquer death (vs. 1-11)! This young church should have known better the false teachings that were affecting their incorrect doctrine. It was important for Paul to remind them that there were plenty of those who had witnessed this resurrection (vs. 4-8). There was also the Greek influence that believed the body was just a temporary prison for the eternal soul. Remember also the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection as well. The second half of our chapter deals with understanding the type of resurrected body we will have (vs. 35-58). Paul expounds on some illustrations of a seed that grows into a plant (vs. 36-38). He also compares Adam (natural body) with Jesus (spiritual body) (vs. 44-49). In the end, we have hope that our frail physical bodies will have quite the upgrade that comes from the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Regarding application…Choose Friends Wisely. Vs. 33, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” It’s interesting because Paul is quoting a well-known Greek poet named Menander. The Corinthians would have been familiar with this quote. Their issue was that they were allowing themselves to be aligned with people who had false intentions. It wasn’t that they didn’t know the truth, they were just allowing the false teachings of others to influence them and question their faith. We also would be fools (vs. 34) to think that we are not influenced in such a way today. In both the church and our interactions with the world, we would be wise to choose wisely our friends. Sadly, there are those in the church with their own agenda’s and wayward beliefs. And there are those in this world that do not have any intention to have your best interest in mind, though they call themselves your friend. I’m not advocating not having non-Christian friends or reaching out to those who are misled in the church, but I am reminding you to make your best friends those who are believers and can encourage you in your walk with the Lord!
Vs. 24, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Don’t fear, Jesus is here, He is resurrected…It’s Easter Sunday! The conquering of death on the cross through the resurrection gives us the ability to no longer be living under the old Mosaic Law. Paul uses the illustration of marriage to give us an example of a marriage whom the wife loses her husband (vs. 1-6). If the wife loses her husband, she is no longer bound to him. Illustrating how death can bring a new nature and relationship. Jesus death brought a fulfillment of the Law and grace. Our death brought a new way of life through the Holy Spirit (vs. 6). Paul makes sure to address a natural question that would arise in the church: is the Law sinful then (vs. 7-12)? The Law reveals our sin and in the grace of God we are able to overcome the result of our sin nature and have life in Christ. We then transition into a very difficult passage that many seem to not completely understand (vs. 13-25). Question: Is Paul talking about his life before Christ? Or is Paul talking about his life as a struggling Christian? There has been much debate concerning this passage. Upon deep study with this passage in Seminary and looking at the full context of the Bible, I hold the belief that Paul is referring to his life before Christ. Question: Does this mean that we as Christians no longer struggle with sin? We still live in a sinful physical body so it still knows how to sin (Douglas Moo). But, we now have power from the Spirit to say “no” and flee from temptation (I Cor. 10:13). In Hebrews, we are exhorted to train ourselves to be Godly (Hebrews 4:7).
Regarding application…Jesus Saves. Vs. 25a, “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” In tomorrow’s passage, we will be expounding upon what Jesus’ power does for us. But in light of this difficult passage on sin and our struggles, it is Jesus who can and does change us. He saves us. We were once dead to sin and dying. We tried to be good on our own, but no Law or human law could make us right. When I was in 2nd grade, I wrote a full page of New Years resolutions. Why? Because, I began to realize how bad I was. How I wasn’t good to my mom. How I could be nicer to my sisters and brother. So, in my human effort, I had hoped these resolutions would solve my problems. But, my desire to be good lasted only a short while and I reverted back to my old self. That is why we need Jesus. As we celebrate our risen King, bring thanksgiving to Him today!
Vs. 6, “He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee.” I don’t want this fact to be lost in this chapter, He is risen. There is power and fulfillment in the Resurrection! How wonderful that Jesus would meet the women as they came first to honor him on the very first Easter Sunday. Naturally, it would be hard for the disciples to believe this claim, so Peter and John would check it out themselves (vs. 9-12). We are told in John’s Gospel that he also came with Peter. We then are given this interesting story of the road to Emmaus (vs. 13-35). It’s kind of comical as Jesus walks up to Cleopas and his friend who happen to be talking about him. The writing on the wall for hope was there, but they didn’t understand it yet. When then see Jesus reveal Himself to the others in Jerusalem (vs. 36-44). In both instances, we see Jesus the patience and the love of our Lord. Lastly, the disciples and all of us are reminded that we have a job to do! Jesus has commissioned us to be spiritual ambassadors and witnesses to tell the world who He is (vs. 45-53).
Regarding application…Open Our Minds. Vs. 45, “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scripture.” Question: What was Jesus trying to teach them? That all of Scripture points towards the Messiah! Jesus is teaching us that God had a plan from the very beginning of Genesis to the book of Revelation. The disciples were in a relationship with Jesus, but still did not fully understand. And you know what? That’s okay. God does not expect us to know the deep things of theology or Scripture all at one time. But as we progress in this life, our prayer should be that He would continue to open our minds. That is why we read the Bible daily so that our minds would not grow dull to the heartbeat of God. Let Jesus open your mind and your heart today!