After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew ends rather abruptly. He mentions important things, but doesn’t elaborate on them. But he does go in to great detail about the tomb, because, remember, he is trying to persuade the Jews that Jesus did, in fact, rise. There was an earthquake, and angel moved the heavy stone (which would have been very difficult for two women to do, or even probably the disciples), the tomb was empty, and they met Jesus elsewhere. All of this reeks of the divine. This was no trick, Matthew says, the way the Priests tried to tell everyone it was. Don’t believe the stories, he says. This is how it really happened.
Matthew also skimps on the absolute joy of this passage. Jesus lives! He was resurrected after three days, just as He promise. Aside from this being amazing simply because we love Jesus and want Him to be alive, we also know that every promise He made has been fulfilled. That means we can trust the rest, the ones we’re still waiting on, will come to pass too. We get to spend eternal life in Heaven with God! Jesus said so, and He hasn’t broken a promise yet.
The last paragraph, verses 12-20, is just full of awesome. You could probably write a book about each sentence. However, I don’t have the time or skill to do so. But here are the major points I take away from the final paragraph of Matthew:
1. Some disciples doubted. We will all have doubts from time to time, and that’s okay. The key is to keep praying and to keep reading the scriptures. In short, continue to be a disciple through your doubt, and you’ll find your faith again.:
2. All authority on Heaven and Earth is given to Jesus. He IS God. The Holy Trinity and all that.
3. Make disciples of all nations. Christ died for everyone, not just some elite group. He loves everyone, and He wants everyone to be a part of His family. We must share the Good News with everyone all over the world so they can have a change to love Him too. Anything else would not be loving our neighbor, as Jesus commanded us to do.
4. Teach Christians (old and new!) to obey Jesus’s commands. We are all saved, even those of us who sin. However, that is not a free pass or an excuse to ignore Jesus’s commands. If our hearts are really and truly changed by the Easter story, we should want to do as Jesus asked! We should want to love everyone, we should want to please God, we should want to be as Christ-like as we can be. And Jesus commands help us to do each and every one of those things.
5. Jesus is always with us. Through every joy and every trial in our life, Jesus is here. He is always with us in our hearts. (This always makes me think of the Lion King. “He lives in you.” Great movie.) Jesus loves us, and He will never, EVER abandon us.