The tomb is empty. Either the supporters or enemies of Jesus have come and taken the body, or He is risen. These questions and the empty tomb stand as an objective hallmark of the kingdom of God and the work of Jesus as was predicted.
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20.
- Panic and a Plan Among the Enemies of Jesus. Jesus prediction of his resurrection was well known in Jerusalem – both to the enemies of Jesus, and to the disciples. As to the enemies, the text tells us that guards were posted at the tomb, the tomb was sealed, and the Romans and Jews clearly understood how damaging any claim of Jesus’ resurrection would be in Jerusalem:
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. Matthew 27:62-66.
- The Commission of the Disciples by Jesus. The Disciples met with Jesus after his resurrection, and though some still struggled with understanding everything (‘but some doubted’, Matt 28:17), they were given a great charge and commission:
- Go and Make Disciples. This charge, from the risen Christ who had the authority of heaven and earth, was to spread the good news of the gospel – Jesus who died for the sins of the world, and is now risen – to others, not just for converts, but for disciples. That is, for training others who were to follow Jesus, to not only believe, but to obey, to live a life that modeled the life and instruction of Jesus.
- Of all Nations. While the gospel message began in the Old Testament, and with the promises to Abraham and Israel, the new covenant and message, as taught by Jesus, was a message to Jew and Gentile. The church would be made up of people from all nations, male and female, bond and free, as salvation would be offered to anyone who believed in the redemptive message.
- And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. This then became the work of the disciples, the early and growing church, and all who would follow Jesus. The work was not finished until His followers were living and obeying the message of Jesus.
The Final Comfort. This passage begins with the affirmation that Jesus now speaks with all the authority of heaven and earth, and ends with the promise that He remains with them always, to the end of the age. Jesus’ earthly work is now done, and the mantel has been passed to the disciples and followers of Jesus. And to us. Stay well this week.