Matthew 28

Matthew 28:  The Great Commission

If anyone ever asked you – ‘ did Jesus ever say he was the son of God?’  The answer is – yes. In Matthew 26: 63-64, we read: “ The high priest said to him, “ I charge you under oath by the living God; tell us if you are the Christ the Son of God. “ Yes, it is as you say, Jesus replied. But I say to all of you: in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  Many times in the New Testament Jesus claimed I am- the door, the way, the truth, the life, the Bread of Heaven, etc.  In Mark 14:62, when asked the question are you the Christ the Son of the Blessed One?  Jesus answered – “ I am.”

Matthew does not record the words of Christ at the Cross with the exception of his statement: “ My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?”  We know Christ was forsaken that we might be forgiven and not forsaken.

We want to look at how Matthew,under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit ends his account of the Lord’s last orders to his disciples and therefore to us, as we are disciples, or followers of Christ.  We also will look at Jesus’ last commandment to his disciples prior to his ascension into heaven in Acts 1.

Let’s pick up the story in Matthew 28 at the empty tomb on Sunday morning, Resurrection Day.  There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  I like that image it brings to mind- this mighty angel rolls back this massive stone then sits on it. The audience that morning consisted of the women who had come to prepare Jesus’ body and the Roman soldiers guarding the sealed tomb. The soldiers were scared to death- it says they ‘ shook and became like dead men.’

The angel told the women: ‘ Do not be afraid, for I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, He is risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples he has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, Now I have told you.”   The women were invited/ commanded to come and see the place where he lay- so they could verify the tomb was empty. We know from John’s account that he and Peter went into the empty tomb and saw the grave clothes folded in a neat array not in disarray as if someone had stolen the body.  They saw and believed.

Once again here at the empty tomb we hear the invitation- to come and see. This was the same invitation Jesus offered to John and Andrew when they were told by John the Baptist, pointing out Jesus, told them – there goes the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  They followed him and Jesus asked them – ‘ what do you seek?’ They answered, ‘ where do you live Rabbi?  Jesus invited them as he has invited millions and millions since then- come and see.

Notice the women were quick to obey- they hurried to tell the disciples and met Jesus on the way- who told the women-“ Go and tell my brother to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Remember when the Lord gave Peter and John instructions for the last supper- we read ‘ they left and found things just as Jesus told them.’   When Jesus tells you to do something in His Word and tells you it will happen- you can rest assured you will find things just as Jesus told you.  If he tells you to give and it will be given to you- pressed, down shaken together and overflowing into your lap- then when you do that you will find it is as He said it would be.

The first step is always to obey.

The second step is if he says come and see- then you will see, you will begin to understand.

The first two steps will result in the third step- you will worship Him.

In the meanwhile, we read of the guard’s report to the chief priests and they told them everything that happened.  The chief priests and elders bribe the guards to lie about what happened- claiming the disciples stole his body while they slept. The chief priest assured them they would take care of the governor and keep them out of trouble. Matthew records this story was widely circulated among the Jews until this day.

Now watch what happened: The eleven disciples went away to Galilee into a mountain where Jesus had told them to go. ( That is the first step:  Obedience)  Then they saw Him. ( The result of obedience.)  They worshipped Him, the Third step. But notice, Matthew tells us some doubted.  There are two types of doubters- an honest doubter who seeks the truth; and a dishonest doubter who does not want to know the truth. It is obvious the doubters in this group of eleven were honest doubters because they had obeyed and went to see.

Notice what happens next for this was the reward of the honest doubter who sought the truth- “ Jesus came and spoke to them.”  The dishonest doubter would have never gone to the trouble to go and see.

We see a lesson of faith here. Sometimes faith calls us to do something that seems illogical. Does not make sense.  Classic example is found in Numbers 21.   Here is the background behind this story:  In Numbers 14- when the Israelites came to the Promised Land that God had promised was theirs, they sent spies into the land. They came back with the majority reporting the land was inhabited by giants and they could not possibly overcome the giants in the land. This was after seeing the mighty Hand of God rain down the plagues on Egypt, part the Red Sea and all that He had done.  Now they were to take a step of faith and believe God was Who He said He was and could do what He said He would do.  They did not go into the land. As a result of their disbelief, God sent them into the wilderness to wander until that generation died.

In Numbers 21, the people get discouraged and in their unbelief murmured against Moses for bringing them into the wilderness. ( Forgetting it was their own sin that brought them there). As a judgment against the people for their sin, God sent poisonous snakes into the camp and people began to die.  Moses prayed for the people for God to save them and God gave Moses instructions to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Anyone who looked to the bronze snake would be healed. God was teaching them a hard lesson about faith. It was totally illogical to believe that by just looking at a bronze snake on a pole they would be healed .

Jesus compared himself to that snake on the pole in John 3 where we read “ Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. “  Jesus takes away the curse of sin and takes away the sin from everyone who looks to him in faith.  To the natural man who is perishing the cross is foolishness, completely illogical, but to those of us who are being saved, it is the power of God.

We are told in the Scripture things we are not to look at certain things and  certain things we are to look at. We are to look on things above not below. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ( Hebrews 12)

Then Jesus issued what we call the Great Commission.  The essence of the teaching of the New Testament can be summed up in three ‘greats.’ There is the greatest commandment- to love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and the second greatest command is like unto the first to love you neighbor as yourself.  The third great is what we call the Great Commission.  In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warrens says the following are our purposes based on these three ‘greats’.

  1. Worship.
  2. Evangelize.
  3. Discipleship
  4. Fellowship
  5. Ministry.

Do you see how these are based on these three ‘greats’?  Worship comes as a result of our loving the Lord with all your heart. Evangelizing is done because we love what He loves- and the Son’s heart and thus God’s heart is revealed in the Great Commission- He loves the world and wants none to perish but all come to repentance. He has empowered us to be witnesses.

We are to make disciples- this is what Jesus invested 3 years of his life- his entire ministry was devoted to making disciples of these 12 unlikely men, one of whom was a traitor.

Fellowship is our love for one another. Jesus said by this will men know you are my disciples- that you love one another. And we are each gifted with spiritual gifts for the body as we use it to minister to others.

Listen to these commandments from our Commander in Chief:

“ All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and , lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth.” Amen. “

Dr. Luke gives us this additional information in Acts 1.

“ But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”

His last words to us before He ascended into heaven.

Go- as we are going about our daily activities we are to be witnessing, teaching,making disciples.

Here are the Four All’s of the Great Commission:

  1. All authority.
  2. All nations.
  3. All things .
  4. Al-ways.

If you come and see- you will go and tell.

John tells us I John:  “ That which was from the beginning  which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched- this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life. The life appeared; and we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard , so that you might have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the  Father and the Son, Jesus Christ. We write this,to make our joy complete. This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness  we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus , His Son, purifies us from all sin.”


Come and see. In order to come and see- we must follow the leader.

Following Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end of what it means to be a Christian. Everything in between is measured by it.  Every action – every word – every deed and thought that precedes it is measured by – is this following My Leader?

As we finish Matthew’s Gospel, let us look back at the defining moment of the first followers of Jesus .  In Matthew 4 we read:  “ As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake for they were fishermen. “ Come, follow me, Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father, Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.” ( Matthew 4)

Look at the Lord’s last conversation with Peter, that John records in John 21. Jesus is speaking to Peter after restoring him and Peter has asked about John.  “ Jesus answered:” If I want him to remain alive until  I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

Notice these men what these men left: they left their nets, their boat, their father.

What nets, boats and relationships are keeping you from following your Leader?

Also notice Jesus said  ‘ come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men’.  Are you guilty, as we almost all are, of trying to make something of yourself and follow Christ? When His instructions are –come follow me and I will make something of your life.

In  fact being fishers of men- is all about the Great Commission isn’t it?  And the Great Commission is all about the actions that result from the Greatest Commandment and the second Greatest commandment to love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.  Notice self came last- Jesus first- others second.

Maybe the net you are entangled in is you are trying to make something of yourself and follow Christ. And sometimes you find your life at a crossroad- the way you want to go and the way Christ is going.

Following Christ does not always mean you leave behind your career and possessions- but it does mean you will have a different view of them.

We were created to follow God. Adam and Eve were given responsibilities that defined how they were to follow God. They were to fill the earth, subdue the earth, and rule over it. Had every tree in the garden from which they could eat, but one- the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. But we know the story- they were deceived by the enemy into believing that following God was limiting their lives. There was a better way to go and they followed it- only to discover too late they had made a fatal mistake.

Ever since the fall- the enemy and this world system which John said is under the power of the evil one has been doing everything he can to keep people from following Christ. It is as if- the enemy has attempted to block the access to the narrow way. The enemy who is a liar and a slanderer has made the way of Christ appear to be not only restricting, but evil. Today we see the crowds   stampeding down the broad way, smiling and laughing at us who are on the narrow way. Calling us names, attempting to intimidate us and in fact passing laws that reflect the desires of a society that has lost its way. A way where dark is light and evil is good and good as defined by God is considered evil and dark. We have lost our moral center.

Our society does not revolve around the Son of God- it revolves around the god of self- who is really the grand deception of the enemy of God.

We have lost our way as individuals and as a nation with the rebellious independent spirit that says I will do it my way. I will make something of myself and I will do what is right in my own sight.

If we follow Him, He told us – I will be with you always.

Are you following Him? Are you fulfilling the Great Commission?

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14