The Gospel of Matthew
"E. Schuyler English: The Gospel According to Matthew"
The Book of MATTHEW
"This Jesus hath God raised up!" We have not a Saviour Who is dead, but a living Saviour, "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it" (Acts 2:24).
The King came and was rejected, Messiah offered Himself and was crucified; but -- He was raised again. "It is finished," He cried on the Cross. The work which He came to do was accomplished, and by faith in His shed blood we who believe on Him and receive Him are saved. His earthly ministry was finished, but the Father's work was not, Who raised Him up and set Him at His own right hand. There He sits today; it is another work which He is doing there, interceding in His high priestly office for you and for me. Do we fully comprehend the part which we believers have in our Lord's program? He died for us, He lives in us, He intercedes for us, it is we whom He shall meet in the air, He will return in power and glory with us, we shall reign with Him for a thousand years, and when the new heaven and the new earth shall be prepared, God's dwelling place will be with us, and He Himself shall be with us and be our God. Beloved, the believer is not an incident in the plan of God, but is the object of His love and of our Lord's ministry! Since before the foundation of the world it has been God's purpose that we shall be "heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ." Think of it, Christian! No wonder Paul wrote by the Holy Spirit: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:1, 2).
We come into the closing paragraphs of Matthew's record of Jesus, Messiah and King. It is not a hopeless, despondent note that we find here, because the Christ has been slain, but a message of joy: "He is not here: for He is risen;" and of peace: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the consummation of the age." Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Jewish Messiah -- He is the fulfilment of all the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, in His coming in humility, and in His death; and though "His own received Him not" as their King, He shall yet sit upon the throne of His father David and shall govern in a reign of righteousness and of peace, to which there shall be no end. Meanwhile, to as many as receive Him, He has given authority to become the Sons of God, even to them who believe on His Name (John 1:12).
"In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre, And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from Heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. ... And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, Who was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay" (Matt. 28:1, 2, 5, 6).
The other accounts of the events of the first Easter morning are found in Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20, some of which are more detailed than Matthew 28. They do not contradict each other, but record the things which happened from the view-points of the different human authors whom the Holy Spirit used. The order of the events seems to have been as follows: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, started for the tomb bearing spices, and they were followed by other women. The first three found the stone rolled away (Mark 16:4), and Mary Magdalene went to tell the disciples (John 20:1, 2). Meanwhile, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, in all probability went back to meet the other women. During this time Mary Magdalene found Peter and John; who came running to the sepulchre, looked in, and went away (John 20:3-10). Then Mary Magdalene returned weeping; the risen Lord Jesus spoke to her (John 20:11-18), and then she went to tell the disciples, as He bade her. The other Mary, and the rest of the women then arrived, and when they also had left to tell the disciples, they saw the Lord Jesus (Matt. 28:5-10).
"As it began to dawn toward the first day of the week ... came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre." Thank God for the love of the women, the last to leave the Cross, the first to come to the tomb. Perhaps they did not fully believe or understand the Lord Jesus, for He said He would rise again, ... but they loved Him. Where were the disciples? Afar off, discouraged and disheartened. We know they did not believe Him when He told them He would be raised and would go before them into Galilee, for in verse seventeen we read, "Some doubted;" and in Mark 16:11: "And they, when they had heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her (Mary Magdalene), believed not." How slow we are to believe the truth, and how quick to believe a lie." Praise the Lord, it is by grace through faith that we are saved; only God's grace could bring us into everlasting life.
But one believed our Lord. No one loved Him more than Mary of Bethany, we think, yet we do not read of her coming to the tomb. Why? She had believed Him when He had said He would die, and so she anointed Him for His burial (Matt. 26:6-13); and she no doubt also believed Him when He promised that He would be raised again. May more of us have faith to believe all God's promises, as Mary of Bethany did.
"... a great earthquake . . . the angel of the Lord descended from Heaven ... His countenance was like lightning ... for fear of Him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men!" The power and majesty of God the Father is manifest in the resurrection of the Son. No longer was the Father's Face turned away from His Son, for the payment for sin was complete, and in the resurrection the Father has given us His receipt. The angel "rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it." Note that the stone was rolled away after the Lord Jesus raised, rolled away that the disciples might see in, not that the Lord might come out, for He had already risen, in a body of glory which was not subject to the laws of the earthly body. "And for fear of the angel the keepers did shake, and become as dead men" -- this, then, was no imagining. One does not shake, and fall as dead, without due cause, especially those so used to danger as Roman soldiers were. It was "the angel of the Lord" whom they saw, whose "countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow."
"Fear not ... He is not here ... He is risen." Marvellous truth! If the Lord had come down from the Cross, as His enemies defied Him to do, He would have shown the power of God to save Himself. But crucified and raised again, He shows "the power of God unto salvation" of others. "He is risen;" He is a living Saviour! Some day "we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2).
"And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid ..." (Matt. 28:9, 10). A better translation of All hail is O Joy. "O Joy, be not afraid." This is a wonderful message for us if we are trusting in Him. O Joy! He is risen! His death atoned for your sins and mine, and God has placed upon His finished work the seal of His approval. Be not afraid, for you are safe in His keeping, and no man is able to pluck you out of His hand (John 10:29).
Before us is further record of the deceitfulness and trickery of the chief priests and elders who caused the death of Messiah, who feared His resurrection and plotted that the sepulchre should be made sure, and who finally bribed the soldiers who were on watch on the resurrection morning to falsify their testimony.
The chief priests and elders "gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while we slept ... and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day" (Matt. 28:12-15). Yes, and it is commonly reported among the Jews until this our day, too. How can they believe such a tale? In the first place, the punishment for a Roman soldier who fell asleep while on watch was death. It is conceivable that one might have fallen a prey to sleep, but not all of the soldiers. Secondly, how can the testimony of one who slept while the action was taking place be accepted? If the soldiers slept, how could they know that the disciples had stolen the body? These are lies of Satan. Foiled in his attempt to lock the Lord Jesus in the sepulchre which he made sure, Satan has attempted to discredit the resurrection by these false reports. "He is risen" -- Hallelujah, what a Saviour!
"Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee. ... And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke unto them ... saying, All power is given unto Me in the heavens and in earth." "All power is given unto Me." "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name" (Phil. 2:9). Yes, at His Name every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
"Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (vs. 19). The Lord Jesus is risen from the dead, His promises are sure, His word is true -- therefore, go ye, and teach all nations. Is not that a message for us all today? How can we sit idly by while thousands upon hundreds of thousands are perishing without Christ? Go ye therefore, and teach all nations. As we believe we see the signs of His near return, may God grant that in the Body, of Christ there may arise a new vision of the starving souls of the heathen, the Christ-less men and women of our own country as well as foreign lands, and may the message reach some reader here today: "Go ye, therefore."
"Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the consummation of the age." Such a promise gives us rest and peace. "Amen" -- so let it be; it is a fitting phrase with which to end the Gospel of Jesus, Messiah and King.
"This Jesus hath God raised up whereof we are all witnesses," said Peter. "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens; but he saith himself, the Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, Whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:32-36).
And now, "Unto Him Who loveth us, and hath washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."