Matthew 28:9-20

Thursday Evening Bible Study

July 26, 2007


Jesus has now risen from the dead.

:9-10 Women meet Jesus

:9 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.

to tellapaggello – the word is based on the word for “angel” (aggellos), which means “messenger”; to bring tidings (from a person or a thing), bring word, report; to proclaim, to make known openly, declare

met them – the idea of a sudden, face to face appearance

rejoicechairo – to rejoice, be glad; in salutations, hail!; at the beginning of letters: to give one greeting, salute

heldkrateo – to have power, be powerful; to get possession of; to take hold of; to hold; to hold in the hand; to hold fast, i.e. not discard or let go

worshipedproskuneo – to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence; 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

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

He was God.
The Jewish mindset is that you only bow down before God.  This is what God Mordecai into trouble with Haman (Est. 3).
Satan tried to tempt Jesus to “worship” him, Satan.  Jesus responded:
(Mat 4:10 NKJV)  Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"
When Cornelius first met Peter, he fell down before Peter, but Peter told him to stand up because he was just a man (Acts 10:25-26)
We read of an incident with an angel:
(Rev 22:8-9 NKJV)  Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. {9} Then he said to me, "See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God."

And yet here Jesus allows the disciples to bow in worship before Him.

:10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."

tellapaggello – the word is based on the word for “angel” (aggellos), which means “messenger”; to bring tidings (from a person or a thing), bring word, report; to proclaim, to make known openly, declare

We mentioned last week how the disciples would respond when they first hear these things from the women:

(Luke 24:9-11 NKJV)  Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. {10} It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. {11} And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.

Apparently Jesus had to make several appearances to the disciples before they made their way to Galilee.  They will be in Jerusalem for at least eight days before going up north.

Luke tells us that Jesus would appear over and over again for a period of time:

(Acts 1:3 NKJV)  to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
Apparently most of this time was spent in Galilee.  The last day before Jesus would ascend into heaven would be back in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives.
One of the times Jesus met with the disciples in Galilee was in John 21, where Jesus asked Peter three times if Peter loved Him.

:11-15 The guards and the priests

:11 Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened.

We’re now going to find out the answer to the question, “What ever happened to the guards???”

the guardkoustodia – guard: used of Roman soldiers guarding the sepulchre of Christ

reportedapaggello – the word is based on the word for “angel” (aggellos), which means “messenger”; to bring tidings (from a person or a thing), bring word, report; to proclaim, to make known openly, declare

The interesting thing is that this chapter is all about the “reports” being made.  The women were supposed to “report” to the disciples, now the guards give their report.

:12 When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,

:13 saying, "Tell them, 'His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.'

There are some inherent problems with this story:

How would sleeping people know what had happened?

Would it be likely that all the soldiers were sleeping at the same time?

Why would Roman soldiers risk incriminating themselves even for a large bribe?  They could be facing a death sentence if Pilate wanted to punish them properly.

:14 "And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will appease him and make you secure."

appeasepeitho – persuade

secureamerimnos (“not” + “anxious”) – free from anxiety, free from care

This is why we don’t have any record of any guards being put to death over this.  Yet when Peter made his escape from prison several years later…

(Acts 12:19 NKJV)  But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.

:15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

is commonly reporteddiaphemizo (“through” + “fame” or “report”) – to spread abroad, blaze abroad; to spread abroad his fame or renown

The chief priests have heard about the angel that appeared.  They have heard about the earthquake and how the stone sealing the tomb was rolled away.  They have heard that Jesus was no longer in the grave.

What would you do with information like that?

Isn’t it amazing what people will do with the truth, even when it’s staring them in the face?


Some people just don’t want to believe

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 NKJV)  Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?
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.
This same group was around when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
But instead of believing, they just wanted to get rid of the evidence.

(John 12:10-11 NKJV)  But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, {11} because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.

People have all sorts of reasons for not believing.  For some it’s simply a matter of the “will”.  They just don’t want to.
Yet Jesus promised if someone “wants” to, they’ll find Him.

(John 7:17 NKJV)  "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.

There’s a special relationship between a person who wants and loves Jesus, and God.

(John 14:23 NKJV)  Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

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 also important that they have a heart that’s ready to believe.  I think the only thing we can do at times is stay faithful in praying for them.

:16-20 The Great Commission

:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.

eleven – Judas has committed suicide

Just a few days earlier during the Last Supper:

(Mat 26:31-32 NKJV)  Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' {32} "But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee."

the mountain – we don’t know which mountain He was talking about.

:17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

worshipedproskuneo – to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence; 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

doubteddistazo – to doubt, waiver; it comes from the word for “two”

I guess we could be critical of the disciples who were slower than the others to believe.  But it does show us that they were human.

It might make some of us take comfort in the fact that we didn’t come to trust in Jesus the first time we heard about Him.

:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

authorityexousia – power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases; the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege); the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed); primarily liberty of action; then authority—either as delegated power, or as unrestrained, arbitrary power

It comes from the word exesti – it is lawful

Jesus has the authority to do whatever He wants to do.  He doesn’t have to check with a higher authority for permission to do something.

The Great Commission is based on this great authority of Jesus.

:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

make disciplesmatheteuo – to be a disciple of one; to make a disciple; to teach, instruct; from manthano – to learn, be appraised; to increase one’s knowledge, to be increased in knowledge; to learn by use and practice

Grammar – this is the only verb in the sentence that is an “imperative”, a command.  The idea is that this is the focus on what Jesus commissions us to do.

He doesn’t command us to go, He doesn’t command us to baptize, He doesn’t command us to teach people to observe His commandments, He only commands us to make disciples.
Yet the way we make disciples is by “going”, “baptizing”, and “teaching”.


Make disciples, not converts

We can become shortsighted in our ideas of evangelism.  We can think that the goal is to get a person to pray the “sinner’s prayer”.
Don’t misunderstand me – that’s a HUGE and necessary step in the process, but it’s not the place where we can say that we’ve finished our job.
God’s heart is that we learn to develop disciples.
At this year’s Men’s Retreat, our theme was based on a foundational verse, the definition of a disciple:

(Luke 9:23 NKJV)  Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Self Denial

Being willing to embrace the difficult things in life (taking up your cross)

It’s a daily walk, not just once a year

Following Jesus, learning to let Him lead you and guide you.



We already passed this word, but it’s a part of what needs to happen if we’re going to fulfill what Jesus wants for us to do.
There will be some folks who will come to a church to find God, but they’re the exception to the rule.
There’s a world out there that thinks of church as a dull, boring place, and it’s the last place they want to be.
If we think we can reach the lost for Jesus without going, we’re fooling ourselves.
We need to be open to reaching outside the four walls of the church.

of all the nations – not just the Jews that are scattered among all the nations, but the nations themselves.  The disciples were being commissioned by Jesus to reach the Gentiles as well as the Jews.  It would take the disciples a few years to get around to this.

It won’t be until Acts 8, when persecution breaks out against the church, that the believers in Jerusalem are scattered to the rest of Israel.

It won’t be until Acts 10 that the disciples first step across the line and share the gospel with a Gentile and his family.  Yet it doesn’t seem like they will do a lot of ministry to Gentiles for quite a while.

By Acts 11:19, the scattered believers have reached as far as Antioch in Syria, but they are still only reaching out to fellow Jews.

It’s not until Acts 13:42, after having preached first to the Jews of Antioch of Psidia that Paul and Barnabas begin a ministry to Gentiles.  It is now somewhere around AD 48, fifteen years after Jesus gave this command to take the gospel to “all the nations”.

By Acts 15, the church decides it needs to hold a conference to figure out just what to do with all these Gentiles coming to trust in Jesus.  Do they need to also become Jews?  Do they just need to believe?  It’s AD 50.

Sometimes it takes us a while to get our minds around the kinds of things that Jesus is asking us to do.

baptizingbaptizo – to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk); to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe; to overwhelm.  It’s a word that doesn’t just imply a little “dipping” (that’s the word bapto), but this word implies something that produces a change.  There’s an ancient Greek recipe for making pickles, calling for the cucumber to first be “dipped” in boiling water, but then later “baptized” in the vinegar solution – the long term immersion that leads to a change.



The emphasis here is on conversion – a person initially coming to Jesus.  Baptism in the New Testament always seems paired with initial belief.

Baptism isn’t necessary for salvation - think of the thief on the cross.  If Paul thought that baptism was necessary for salvation, why would he write,

(1 Cor 1:14-17 NKJV)  I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, {15} lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. {16} Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. {17} For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

Yet baptism is important.

When Peter preached the first sermon after the Holy Spirit started the church on the day of Pentecost:
(Acts 2:37-38 NKJV)  Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" {38} Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We believe that baptism is a public, outward sign of what God has already done for you on the inside.

Baptism is a picture that you’ve died with Christ and have been raised with Christ.

We are baptized because Jesus commanded us to be baptized.

in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

The Trinity – though the term does not appear in Scripture, we do see the fact of it in Scripture.  The term “Trinity” is simply a term we use to describe the phenomena in the Bible.

It’s hard to define and understand the Trinity, but we know what its boundaries are.
There are three distinct personalities, but one essence.

There is only One God, One essence.

There are three different persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All three have distinct characteristics, distinct personalities.  All exist at the same time.

There are different ways people try to understand, but no analogy is perfect.

The egg:  One egg made of a shell, white, and yoke.  The problem is that we might think of these as a single egg, but they are simply parts of an egg, and are different in nature.

H2O:  The same chemical element that can be found in different forms – liquid, solid, and gas.  The problem is that it’s very unusual to find all three forms at the same time.

Sun:  The sun, sunlight, the power of the sun

:20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

teachingdidasko – to teach; to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses; to teach one; to impart instruction; to explain or expound a thing

to observetereo – to attend to carefully, take care of; to guard; to observe


Passing it on

Part of this process is going to involve teaching.  One generation is to teach the next generation.
The commands that Jesus gave to the disciples are also the commands that we are not supposed to perform.
Sometimes we want to cop out and say things like, “Well, that’s just what Jesus told the apostles to do” or, “I’m not an evangelist so that doesn’t apply to me”.
If this process is done correctly, I need to realize that everything Jesus commanded the disciples has now been passed on to me.  And when I am in the process of helping others to be effective disciples, they too need to realize that these commands are for them as well.

the end of the age – until Jesus comes back.

It’s God’s presence, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that gives us the ability to carry out the Great Commission.


The power to fulfill it

The marching orders ends with the power to carry it all out.
It’s His presence, through the work of the Holy Spirit, that allows us to do what Jesus said.
(Acts 1:4-8 NKJV)  And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; {5} "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." {6} Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" {7} And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. {8} "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
We can’t do this on our own.  We can try, but God doesn’t want us doing this in our own strength.
We need the power of the Holy Spirit.


Our marching orders

These are the marching orders of the church.  This is what we’re supposed to be doing while we’re still here on the earth.
This isn’t the great “Suggestion”.  This is what we’re supposed to do.
I became a Christian in Jr. High and at first I was pretty evangelistic.  By the time I got to college, I was a bit more mellowed out in my faith.  I became involved in Campus Crusade for Christ while on campus, and we had this “Great Commission” stuff pounded into us over and over.  At times I have to confess I resented it a bit.  I had a hard time seeing how I fit into this because I am not the most naturally outgoing person.  I can share my faith, but I seem to be more effective ministering to people who are already Christians than with those who aren’t.  That hasn’t changed much over the last thirty years, except now I see a little more clearly my place in this thing.
Our church’s “mission statement” is:

Win the Lost – Equip the Saints – Send the Servants.

This is the Great Commission.  In it there’s a cycle, a progression that is supposed to take place.

Our goal in the world involves reaching out to people who don’t know Jesus.  When a church loses sight of this, it becomes in-grown and unhealthy.

When a “lost” person comes to trust in Jesus, they became a “saint”.  But “saints” are more than people who live in stained glass windows or just come to church and sit in pews.  The church’s call for the “saint” is to “equip” them, to teach the saint how to follow the Lord and be used by the Lord.  I’ve found that this is part of the process where my particular gifts fit in.

The goal of maturity for a “saint” is not to just have a lot of Bible Knowledge.  The goal of a mature saint is to be a “servant”.  And a servant needs to be sent out to do the Lord’s work.  For some, the Lord’s work involves serving in the church, helping others to grow in the Lord.  For others, the Lord’s work involves reaching out to lost people in their neighborhood or at work.  For others, it might mean being sent as a missionary to reach people for Jesus.

And that starts the cycle all over again.  The saints reaching out to win the lost, then equipping the new saints, and then sending out the mature servants.