Wednesday Night Bible Survey

April 19, 1995

Matthew 27:57 - 28:20


We have seen our precious Lord betrayed, arrested, tried, tortured, and crucified.

Matthew 27

:57-61  Jesus is buried

:57  Arimathaea ... Joseph

We know only a few things about Joseph:

He was a rich man.

Matthew 27:57-AV When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:

He came from Arimathaea, possibly the Old Testament city known as Ramah

 ... a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph

Ramah, the hometown of the prophet Samuel, was 4.75 miles north of Jerusalem.

He was a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews.

John 19:38-AV And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave [him] leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.

He was a member of the Sanhedrin.

Luke 23:50-AV And, behold, [there was] a man named Joseph, a counsellor; [and he was] a good man, and a just:  51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) [he was] of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.


Joseph is not alone in taking the body and placing it in his tomb.

The apostle John adds to the record:

John 19:39-AV And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound [weight].

It wouldn't be unlikely that these men were also accompanied by servants as well, to help carry the body, the linen cloth, and the spices estimated to be between 75 and 100 pounds in weight.

:58  begged the body of Jesus

It was this act of Joseph's that also helped to establish the authenticity of Jesus' death.

When Joseph went to Pilate, Pilate was amazed that Jesus should be dead so soon.

Apparently Jesus didn't last as long on the cross as most others.

So Pilate sent word to the centurion to confirm that Jesus was indeed dead.

Mark 15:44-45 AV And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling [unto him] the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.  45 And when he knew [it] of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.

It's not clear whether this prompted the soldier to pierce Jesus' side with the spear, or if it had already been done, but this was also part of the confirmation.

John 19:33-34 AV But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:  34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

The piercing of the side was a test to see if the person had already died or not.

The blood and water coming out was a coronor's kind of proof that Jesus had already deceased.

:59  a clean linen cloth

Was this the shroud of Turin?

Who knows?  It certainly doesn't have to be for me to believe.

:60  in his own new tomb

This brings about the fulfillment of another prophecy:

Isaiah 53:9-AV And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither [was any] deceit in his mouth.

Jesus was crucified among thieves, but buried in a rich man's tomb.

:60  rolled a great stone

The opening to the central chamber was guarded by a large and heavy disc of rock which could roll along a groove slightly depressed at the center, in front of the tomb entrance.

The stone would be a protection against both man and beasts for a dead body.

These stones were generally large enough that it would take several men to move the stone.

This wouldn't be a problem with both Joseph, Nicodemus, and most likely at least a few servants along to help.

Later on, when the women went by themselves to visit the tomb, they were worried because they didn't know who they'd get to roll away the stone.

Mark 16:3-AV And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

The point:  There's a very large obstacle in the way, especially if Jesus is somehow not really dead, and He revives and hops out of the tomb.

This is one of the theories put forth by some as to what really happened with Jesus.

Some want to say that Jesus wasn't really dead, but that He had just fainted.

Then as He was lying in the tomb for several days, He somehow revived, hopped to His feet, and showed Himself to everyone as the resurrected Lord.

But what about the spear in the side with water and blood flowing out?

How about this "great stone" which was meant to keep the grave secure?

How about the guards that will be stationed at the tomb?

:61  Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting ...

This is an important bit of historical evidence in the trial of the resurrection of Jesus.

More false theories:

Some have claimed that on Sunday, the women simply went to the wrong tomb, and even took everybody else to the wrong tomb, an empty one.

But these two Mary's were there when Jesus was buried.

They saw the location of the tomb.

:62-66  The tomb is secured

:62-63  the chief priests and Pharisees ...

These guys apparently must have been taking notes at some of Jesus' Bible Studies.

They remembered what Jesus had said about coming back to life.

They're going to ask for extra security precautions to make sure that nobody tries to steal the body and have Jesus' words fulfilled.

But what's really going to happen is that they are going to provide extra proof to the world that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead!

About false theories:

For those who say that everybody went to the wrong tomb:

Are they trying to have us think that the chief priests and Pharisees, along with the Roman guards, also went to the wrong tomb?

The Jews and Romans are obviously going to be concerned to make sure that nobody is going to try and pull off some kind of hoax.

Even if the disciples went to the wrong tomb, all the Jews had to do was to produce the body and disprove the entire thing!

But then again, it wasn't going to be so easy for them.  Jesus had really risen!

:66  sealing the stone

Robertson:  Probably by a cord stretched across the stone and sealed at each end as in #Da 6:17. The sealing was done in the presence of the Roman guard who were left in charge to protect this stamp of Roman authority and power.

You break the seal, then you have to deal with the power of Rome.

Again, they are trying to keep the disciples from stealing the body, but in the end, they are actually validating the resurrection.

:66  setting a watch

"okay, synchronize your watch ..."  Not!

This would be the setting up of a group of Roman soldiers to guard the tomb.

A guard of Roman soldiers typically consisted of a group of four Roman soldiers, where one would stand guard while the others slept, then they would rotate through the night.

This isn't some kind of wimpy security service.  The Roman guards were tough, trained to either guard or face the penalty of death, or at least very severe physical punishment.

The stage is set, Jesus is dead and the tomb is sealed and secured ...

Matthew 28

:1-8  The empty tomb

:1 the first day of the week

ie, Sunday.

:1  it began to dawn

This is why we often celebrate with a sunrise service on Easter.

:2  the angel of the Lord

It would be more proper to translate this phrase from the Greek as "an angel of the Lord".

The reason this is an unfortunate translation for the KJV, is because the phrase "the angel of the Lord" is a unique Old Testament expression that seems to designate a specific individual.

The phrase actually appears 9 times in the King James New Testament, but only one of those times actually uses the definite article ("the") in the Greek, and there it's simply used to indicate the angel that had already been introduced (Mat.1:24).

In other words, the Old Testament designation, "the angel of the Lord", is actually one that is foreign to the writers of the New Testament.


Because "the angel of the Lord" is believed to be a unique designation for a specific person in the Old Testament, namely Jesus.

The word "angel" doesn't have to refer to the type of created spirit being we call "angel".  The words in both Hebrew and Greek refer to a "sent one", or, "messenger".

Several times in the Old Testament, this mysterious individual shows up for one reason or another.  And in many instances, somewhere along the way, He is also called "LORD" (Yahweh), and even worshipped.

If you want to check it out, here's a selection of verses to start with:

(If you are doing a computer Bible search, make sure that you are entering "the angel of the LORD (Yahweh)"

Genesis 16:7; 22:11; Exo.3:2; Num.22:22; Judg.6:12,21; 13:3; Psalms 34:7.

:2  rolled back the stone

We know that from other accounts of seeing the risen Jesus, that Jesus' resurrected body had the ability to pass through walls.

John 20:26-AV And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: [then] came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace [be] unto you.

If Jesus could have walked through the walls of the cave in His resurrected body, then why did the angel have to roll away the stone?

So everybody else could see that the body was gone!

:4  became as dead men

They were in the presence of one of God's awesome secret agents.

The big, burly Roman guards just fainted away.

:5  Fear not ye

Note how differently the women are treated from the guards.

Isn't it interesting that the big Roman guards faint, and the little weak women are just encouraged?


It sure pays to be on God's side!

When you're on God's side, then these big awesome, fearful angels are also on your side.

Hebrews 1:14-AV Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

:5  I know that ye seek Jesus

How did the angel know that?

Were they wearing signs around their necks saying, "We're just women seeking Jesus"

Could he tell by the bumper sticker on their car?

The angel wasn't just some kind of cosmic bellboy shouting out, "Message for Mary, message for Mary, is there a Mary in the house?"

He knew them.  He knew what they were there for.


You're not alone

The angels are around us.

They know us.

They know all about us.

And they're here to help us

Hebrews 1:14-AV Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

The movie "Angels in the Outfield" missed it just a little.

The angels are here to help us, but the "us" are the believers.

:9-10  Jesus appears to the women

:9  Jesus met them saying, "All Hail"

Other translations say, "Greetings"

The Greek word (cairo) means

1) to rejoice, be glad 2) to rejoice exceedingly 3) to be well, thrive 4) in salutations, hail! 5) at the beginning of letters: to give one greeting, salute

:9  held Him by the feet and worshipped Him


1) to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence 2) among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and   touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound   reverence 3) in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make   obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication   3a) used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank       3a1) to the Jewish high priests       3a2) to God       3a3) to Christ       3a4) to heavenly beings       3a5) to demons

I don't think Jesus would have allowed the women to do this unless one thing was true:

He was God.

We read of an incident with an angel:

Revelation 22:8-9 AV And I John saw these things, and heard [them]. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.  9 Then saith he unto me, See [thou do it] not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

:10  Galilee ... there they shall see me

Jesus wanted the whole gang to head up north where they spent most of their time together and where there were the most followers of Him.

It was there He was planning to spend most of His time before He would ascend into heaven.

But when the women went back to tell the discipes, we find out ...

Luke 24:9-11 AV And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.  10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary [the mother] of James, and other [women that were] with them, which told these things unto the apostles.  11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

Jesus also appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), who came back to the disciples to tell them what happened.

Emmaus is a town 7 miles northwest of Jerusalem, down the hill.

Jesus' own disciples had a hard time believing, so we read:

Mark 16:14-AV Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

Thomas wasn't there on that first appearance of Jesus, and he still wouldn't believe it, even after the other disciples told him what had happened.

John 20:26-29 AV And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: [then] came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace [be] unto you.  27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.  28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.  29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.

It was sometime after this first eight days that the disciples finally headed up to Galilee, where they saw more of Jesus.

In John 21, where Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him, it takes place along the Sea of Tiberias, which is the Sea of Galilee.

:11-15  The guards are bribed

:15  So they took the money, and did as they were taught

This answers the question, what ever happened to the guards?

They were bribed to say that the disciples took away the body.

The chief priests then persuaded the governor not to punish the soldiers for what happened.

Isn't it strange what lengths some people will go to when the truth is staring them right in the face?

Think about it!

These are the chief priests of the Judaism, the religion that is waiting for the Messiah to come.

And their own Messiah shows up, and they not only have Him crucified, but are now trying to cover up the truth by creating a false testimony.



Some people don't believe because they don't want to.

They may tell you that if God would just do a miracle, then they'd believe.

This same group had claimed that they wanted to see a sign:

John 6:30-AV They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

They may tell you that it's because they have some sort of intellectual problem that they can't figure out.

But it's also very possible that they don't believe just because they don't want to.

They also did it a month or two earlier when Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead.

Jesus had done an incredible miracle, raising a man from the dead, who had been dead for four days.

But instead of believing, they just wanted to get rid of the evidence.

John 12:10-11 AV But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;  11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

Pray for soft hearts

It's important to have good answers to people's questions.

It's important to display the power of God in your life.

But it's more important that they have a heart that's ready to believe.

:16-20  The Great Commission given in Galilee

:16  the eleven disciples

Judas is no more.

Matthew records that the eleven were there, but it seems very likely that there were probably more than that.

If you track Paul's records of those who saw Jesus after His resurrection, this could very likely be the one incident where Jesus appears to more than 500 at once.

1Corinthians 15:6-AV After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

Was this the last appearance of Jesus?

This will not be the last time Jesus appears.

There is another appearance in Galilee, the one we mentioned in John 21, where Peter and his buddies have been fishing, and Jesus shows up on the beach.  That most likely happened prior to this appearance.

Somewhere probably after this appearance, Jesus appears to His own half-brother James (1Cor.15:7).

We know that Jesus appeared to His disciples over and over for a period of forty days after His resurrection.

Acts 1:3-AV To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

But after all these appearances in Galilee, Jesus had at least one more appearance down south in Judaea, on the Mount of Olives, where He ascended into heaven (Luke 24, Acts 1) from the Mount of Olives.

Acts 1:12-AV Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.

Be careful not to confuse that mountain appearance with our current one.

:16  a mountain where Jesus had appointed them

I missed it, but Jesus had even told them before He was crucified that He would meet them in Galilee.

Matthew 26:32-AV But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

I imagine He flew there, while the disciples had to walk.

Just what mountain this was, we aren't told, but it apparently had been arranged before hand just which one.

:17  they worshipped him

Same word as in verse 9, falling down in adoration of Jesus.

:17  but some doubted

It doesn't seem likely that these doubting ones were the eleven apostles, Thomas was the last apostle to believe, back in Jerusalem.

But from the other disciples that showed up at the mount, some of them had a hard time believing all the stories they were beginning to hear.

Robertson:  It is natural that some should hesitate to believe so great a thing at the first appearance of Jesus to them. Their very doubt makes it easier for us to believe.

The Great Commission

What follows is Jesus' charge to His disciples and to us as well, to tell people around the world about the love of Jesus Christ and the salvation He brings.

:18  All power is given unto me

Most modern translations read "all authority" (NASB, NIV, NRSV)

This is not the word "dunamis" (power, natural ability, general and inherent) we often hear about in relating to power.

The word is exousia

primarily liberty of action; then authority -- either as delegated power, or as unrestrained, arbitrary power

1) power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases  1a) leave or permission 2) physical and mental power  2a) the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises 3) the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege) 4) the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will  and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed)  4a) universally 4a1) authority over mankind  4b) specifically 4b1) the power of judicial decisions 4b2) of authority to manage domestic affairs  4c) metonymically 4c1) a thing subject to authority or rule  4c1a) jurisdiction 4c2) one who possesses authority  4c2a) a ruler, a human magistrate  4c2b) the leading and more powerful among created beings  superior to man, spiritual potentates  4d) a sign of the husband's authority over his wife 4d1) the veil with which propriety required a women to cover  herself  4e) the sign of regal authority, a crown

Why is this important?

It shows us just who it is we're serving.

We aren't serving some fifth level governmental bureaucrat in heaven.

We're serving the guy at the top!

It shows us how important it is that we do what He says.

He's going to give us some pretty heavy commands, we'd better pay attention.

I found an interesting parallel in Philippians:

Philippians 2:8-13 AV And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;  11 And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  13  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.

:19  Go ye therefore

Hit the road.


It doesn't happen on the sofa.

Go tell them.

:19  teach all nations

This is the only command form in the Greek, the other verbs (going, baptizing, teaching them to observe) are all participles, making them dependant upon this imperative.


1) to be a disciple of one 1a) to follow his precepts and instructions 2) to make a disciple 2a) to teach, instruct

It's not just putting everybody into a giant classroom, and you're the teacher.

It's making them disciples.

It's making them followers of Jesus.

Matthew 16:24-AV Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

This is our supreme goal in the Great Commission.

Some people are just out to make converts, we need to take the people farther than that.

We need to help people become daily followers of Jesus Christ.


1) a multitude (whether of men or of beasts) associated or   living together   1a) a company, troop, swarm 2) a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus   2a) the human family 3) a tribe, nation, people group 4) in the OT, foreign nations not worshipping the true God, pagans,   Gentiles 5) Paul uses the term for Gentile Christians

The disciples aren't just to be making disciples of the nation of Israel, but all the nations.

It's interesting to note that it took the church another 17 years (until A.D.50) to realize that God wanted to reach the Gentile nations too.


Don't make converts, make disciples.

:19  baptizing them in the name of ...

Baptizing ...

I think the emphasis here is on the initial coming to the Lord.

Baptism isn't necessary for salvation - think of the thief on the cross.

But it seems like it should go hand in hand with a person's initial believing.

When Peter preached the first sermon after the Holy Spirit started the church on the day of Pentecost:

Acts 2:37-38 AV Now when they heard [this], they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men [and] brethren, what shall we do?  38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Baptism is the picture of what has happened to the person coming to Jesus, being buried and raised with Jesus.

If we're to baptize them, then they need to believe and receive Jesus.

In the name of the Father ...

Notice the entire Trinity involved.

In the name of  refers to the authority we have to baptize people.  We are representing the entire Trinity.


Discipleship starts with conversion

:20  teaching them to observe all things ...

This is a different word than the one used in verse 19,


1) to teach 1a) to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them,  deliver didactic discourses 1b) to be a teacher 1c) to discharge the office of a teacher, conduct one's self  as a teacher 2) to teach one 2a) to impart instruction 2b) instill doctrine into one 2c) the thing taught or enjoined 2d) to explain or expound a thing 2f) to teach one something

This word is more like the idea we think of as "teaching".

The emphasis here seems to be on the subject matter of what's being taught, rather than on the process of learning itself.

The point is that part of the subject matter we are to teach others is to teach them to follow all of Jesus' commands.

That includes this command as well.

The Great Commission applies to us as well as the original disciples.

We are all to be involved - not just "the professionals"

Spiritual multiplication:


   Unfortunately most Christians are sterile.  That is to say they never reproduce themselves, when God has clearly commanded us to make disciples not just decisions.

   Consider this:

   The total offspring of a single pair of flies, if they survived to the end of summer, would create a mound big enough to cover Germany to a depth of 46 feet.

   Next time you swat a housefly, remember the importance of spiritual reproduction.

Being a disciple takes more than being baptized.

There requires going farther with Jesus, learning His ways and obeying them.


Discipleship is completed through teaching.

We need to stay in the Word.

Church is more than just a "feel good" kind of place.

We need to know God's ways inside and out.

We all need to be involved in teaching.

:20  I am with you alway ...

We're not alone

Jesus is with us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

We can't do this kind of stuff by ourselves, we need lots of help.

If we walk in the Spirit.

If we learn to understand Jesus' presence with us.

We'll see things change in our lives.