“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. His countenance was like lightning, and
his raiment white as snow: and for
fear of him the keepers [those poor 16 Roman soldiers, the Roman Guard
unit] did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the
women, Fear not ye: for I know that
ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is
risen, as he said. Come, see the
place where the Lord lay. And go
quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he
goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the
sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples
word. And as they went to tell his
disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him
by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into
Galilee, and there shall they see me. And when they were going, behold, some of the watch [the Roman Guard
unit] came into the city, and shewed
unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the
elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying,
Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and
secure you. So they took the money,
and did as they were taught: and
this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. Then the eleven disciples went away into
Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped
him: but some doubted.”
“...’and as we have privilege and
opportunity to look into your Word this evening we pray Lord that you’d just
journey with us through the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Lord. We trust you to do that, and Lord we
look at these things, and they fill us with wonder, Father. We pray in Jesus name, amen.’
The priests have Pilate seal the tomb---with a
powerful Roman Guard unit
Verses 1-4, “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. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” We’ll finish, Lord willing, Matthew’s Gospel…then we will go and pick up where we left off in our journey through the New Testament, we’re at the Book of Hebrews. So you can be reading ahead as we jump into Hebrews. We had come to Hebrews, and dropped back and picked up one of the Gospels that we hadn’t picked up in a long time. So we’ll make our run now through the rest of the New Testament, book by book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/pom/philofmin.htm to read about how this format for giving sermons works, and why it is so effective for nourishing believers.]. Last week we covered, Jesus in the tomb, his physical frame in the tomb. He had commended his spirit into the Father’s hands. He was in Paradise, while his frame was in the tomb. He told the thief ‘Assuredly I say today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Some have him in Hades, or somewhere else. [Comment: the Body of Christ has various beliefs about this subject. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm to read about some of them.] Jesus had said to the Pharisees and Sadducees that “a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign. No sign shall be given it but the sign of the prophet Jonah, for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”, simply speaking of the tomb. Because the Pharisees would not see him if he were in Hades, that would be no sign to them, speaking of his death, entombment and his resurrection. We made note last week that by the time he expires physically on the cross, in fact, when he ‘gives up the ghost [his human spirit], it says, he dismissed his spirit when his work was done, he said “It is finished.” So it had been finished before he had dismissed his spirit. It wasn’t just in the physical death, ah, somehow in those three hours of darkness he had died eternally. Because, he died outside of time, because when he died there, he died for the sins of David and his adultery and his murder, the sin of Adam in the original fall, the sin of Cain when he killed Abel, the sins of all the Old Testament saints. When he died there 2,000 years ago, he died for our sins, and we weren’t born yet in time. So somehow timelessly, somehow in some great mystery Christ in those three hours of darkness paid the price of eternity, and all of our sins, and the pregnant moms that are here whose babies aren’t born, their sins were paid for. And in the Ages to come we’re still going to be learning about this, and the wonder of it, and the power of it, and the eternal significance of it. When the physical frame died, Jesus commended his spirit into the hands of the Father, and then being handed over to loving hands (wicked hands before the death on the cross, and only loving hands after that), Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, being placed in the tomb. And all of the Gospels tell us about Joseph of Arimathea, they tell us he was a counselor in Israel I think Mark tells us. There had only been fourteen of those, a very significant man. If the high priest were to die, the Counselor would fill in until the next high priest was chosen. He was a very significant individual. [Interesting speculation, on the Jewish legal end of things. You could say the high priest, Caiaphus, had just disqualified himself as high priest by condemning and then having the Messiah executed, so during the three days and three nights the Messiah was dead, Joseph of Arimathea was the literal actual stand-in, until Jesus Christ was resurrected back to immortal, eternal life, as our literal high priest (cf. Hebrews 4:14-16). Wow!] Nicodemus, the teacher in Israel, we know from John chapter 3, and the third richest man in Jerusalem, Nicodemus. Jesus body is in the tomb. Now Matthew gives us this information, we looked at it last week, beginning in verse 62 (of Matthew 27), and Matthew alone gives this to us. “Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate (and they’re violating their Sabbath, by the way), saying, Sir, (and they’re polite to him, because Pilate would just as soon crucify them) we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.” Isn’t it interesting, his enemies remembered it more than his disciples. “Command therefore” so they’re asking him for an edict, as the Governor, Pontius Pilate, they’re asking for a command. “Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead, so the last error shall be worse than the first.” And I guess the first error in their minds was believing that Jesus was the Messiah, and they feel the last error, believing that he was risen would be more troubling. And we’re not sure how much of that is attached to the fact they know Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus have turned away from the Sanhedrin and put their lives and their future on the line, they’ve forsaken it all for a dead Jesus. We’re not sure how much the earthquake at the death of Christ, and the blackness over all of the land effected them. But they’re certainly skittish. And they’re coming now, they’re asking for the body of Christ to be made secure. “Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.” And they are making sure the resurrection is born, witnessed to not only by the Jews, but by the Romans also. This is a Divine set-up. “You have a watch…so they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone and setting a watch.” Now the “watch” was the “Roman watch.” The Jewish guard only had jurisdiction over the Temple Mount, would have no jurisdiction in this situation. Christ had been handed over to the Romans, so it needed to be then a Roman Guard. Pilate wasn’t saying, ‘You have your own guard, because the Temple police had no jurisdiction outside the city walls or outside the Temple precincts. He was saying, ‘Go on, you have a Guard, go take them, you have them, you get what you want, and make it as sure as you can.’ We know that it is not the Quaternion, which was the four soldiers, which would be put on guard with an individual around the clock, and every six hours a new guard would take over, because we’re going to hear “the keepers” in plural, there were a number of them there at the tomb keeping guard. This, no doubt, was a very interesting group of men. I had to dig around a little bit, but in 390AD, as the Roman Empire was disintegrating, Caesar commanded a man named Flavius Vergatus Ronitus (who would do that to a child?), who was a famous Roman historian, to dig through the archives of the military institutions of the Roman Legion, and he reconstructed that, and it was called “The Military Institutions of the Roman Legion.” Our Special Forces, Navy Seals, A-Teams, still read through some of these today. You might be able to get it from the Library of Congress. [This was] the strictest code. His findings in 390AD, what he told Caesar, that made the Romans the most remarkable military force in the 1st century, in the time of Christ is in that book. One of the things he describes is “a Roman watch” or “a Roman Guard.” He says there were sixteen men on the team, a Roman Guard. They [each] had a spear, a short-sword, and a dagger, and each man had five javelins inside of a curved shield. Primary weapon, a sling. Each man could, with a one-pound stone, hit an individual 70-feet away, and at the beck of his commander, he could hit the head, he could hit the throat, he could hit the body, he could hit whatever target he was supposed to hit from 70-feet with a single sling, once around the head, releasing the stone. These guys were deadly. With the other hand they’re holding this shield with five javelins inside of it, braced inside the back of it. They’ve got a spear across their back, they’ve got a sword, daggers. These were Navy Seals, these were Special Forces, this was the Roman Guard of the day. And they learned to move, these sixteen men, occasionally twenty, normally sixteen, they would move back-to-back in a circle, far enough apart so they could sling their stones, and they would move, the whole group of them would move together, they were a tank is what they were. They were indestructible, and they were destructive. These were the men, this is evidently the Roman Guard, specific word, that is set there. Resurrection morning, when the women come---the women had stayed and watched, they had seen the stone rolled in front of the tomb, probably a ton to a ton and a half, two to three thousand pounds, the stone. Mark tells us, as they’re coming, their question is “Whose going move the stone for us?”. Matthew is the only one who tells us what went on with Pilate and the chief priests, and the fact that there were Roman soldiers at the tomb. Matthew is the only one who tells us the perspective of the Roman soldiers of the Resurrection. Matthew had been a tax-gatherer. Matthew had friends who were Romans. Matthew stood at Capernaum where he collected taxes, it was one of the three main receipts of custom in that part of the world. Every day when he stood there to collect taxes there was a Roman Guard behind him, with a spear, with a sword, to signify that all of the authority of Rome stood behind Matthew in his tax collecting. And no doubt this is a man who had many contacts within the Roman Legions, cohorts that were there, particularly during the Feast times, but doing their tour of duty at that time in Judea, in this part of the world. So, when you hear stories like the Passover Plot, that his disciples came, and stole him away, so you have to imagine these 16 Roman Guards around the tomb. They have sealed it, it said, they set a seal on it, again, ropes going across, filled with either wax or clay, and the Signet of Pilate would have been in the middle, a Roman Seal is set on it. You break the seal, you’re crucified, upside down. You break the seal, they don’t catch you, but they know who you are, they crucify every man, woman and child in your village. Nobody was coming there to break the seal. And if the women had known what Matthew told us, that there was a Roman Guard set there, they wouldn’t have even bothered to come. Let alone, these guys are asleep, that’s the story that gets promoted, they’re sleeping. ‘Just tell them that the disciples came and you were asleep.’ Imagine that, being that witness in a courtroom? ‘Your honor, it was the disciples.’ ‘How do you know?’ ‘I was sound asleep when they came, that’s how I know.’ And more ridiculous than that, we know from Acts, if you were standing duty over somebody, and they escaped, you were put to death. If one of the 16 soldiers fell asleep, all 16 soldiers were put to death. And if you were doing guard duty over a dead man, and he got away, you were really put to death. [laughter] So you can imagine here’s this crack team, ‘What were you doing?’ ‘Guard duty.’ ‘What are we guarding?’ ‘ You’re guarding a tomb.’ ‘A tomb, what do you mean, we’re guarding a tomb?’ ‘Yeah, a dead carpenter, we’re making sure he doesn’t get away from there, so we’re on duty here.’ And this scene is set, and that’s exactly what the Lord wanted. Now there is born out of all of this, Justin Martyr in about 150AD, and Tertullian around 200AD both write of the fact that this rumour was still spreading through the Roman Empire. Matthew will tell us that rumour is still spreading when he wrote, “to this day” he says, “the disciples came and stole him away,” they were paid off, the soldiers were paid off to say that. And they tell us that there were Jewish delegates sent through the Roman world on 50AD to 200AD, to spread that story, ‘that Christ wasn’t risen, his body was stolen,’ because Christianity was spreading, knowledge about the Christ. And they also talk, Justin Martyr and Tertullian, about a letter written from Pontius Pilate to Tiberius, to Caesar, called the Acti Polati, they speak about it early. The Vatican claims to have a rendition of it, and there’s a book called “The Historic and Archeological Writings of the Sanhedrin and Talmud of the Jews”, very expensive book for one volume, but there’s a copy of it in there. I had it on file and forgot to bring it, but the Acti Polati, and it’s Pilate saying to Caesar ‘This is what happened, this is the kind of man he was, we knew he was in the district, we let him have freedom, he was a sage, the wealthy people didn’t like him because he was hard on them, he talked about the poor…’ There are some interesting things we know from the Scripture, if in fact we know it’s authentic, and he talks about the miracles, and he mentions the Roman Guard, and talked about what happened at the tomb and the brilliant light and how they were swooning, and the ground was moving, and how they collapsed in terror, and they couldn’t recount the whole thing.’ It’s kind of an interesting thing. That’s free information.
Women Come Running---the soldiers have hi-tailed it out of there
So, chapter 28. The tomb is sealed. Soldiers are on duty. “Somewhere this morning, “In the end of the Sabbath [“in the end of the Sabbath” which would have been at sundown Saturday night], as it began to dawn, towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” Mark 16:3 says they’re on their way, saying, “Whose going to move the stone for us?” They have no idea that it had a Roman seal put upon it. The second verse says “Behold there was a great earthquake”, and it’s literally “there had been” now evidently earlier that morning. We know it’s still dark when they come. There had been a great earthquake---reason?---“For the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, came and rolled back the stone from the door of the sepulchre and sat upon it.” The earthquake had been earlier. It was still dark. That was probably the alarm clock that woke them up. You know, tired, worn out, the Feast had gone by, their hearts had been broken for several days, probably many tears, and early this Sunday morning, the first day of the week. And Acts chapter 20, verse 7, 1st Corinthians chapter 16, verses 1 and 2, would tell us that from this point forward this is when the Church met. The Church no longer met on the Sabbath, which was the seventh day, which was Saturday, the Church would meet on the first day of the week, which was the eighth day, 8th is the number of new beginnings…that it was always Resurrection day that the Church met. [Now I have to soundly disagree with Pastor Joe here. For one thing, three days and three nights after Jesus was put in the tomb, at around just before Sundown Wednesday 30AD takes us to just before sundown Saturday. So Jesus by his very own prophecy about himself being in the grave for three days and three nights, would have risen from the grave at the very tail end of the weekly Sabbath. So resurrection day was a Saturday, near sunset. Also, early Church history proves that the early Christian Church was Judeo-Christian, and was a Sabbath/Holy Day observing Church right up until around 325AD, before it was chased underground by the proto-Catholic Church under Constantine. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/index3.htm for some pretty conclusive evidence. What Pastor Joe has just said here is what most if not all the Sunday observing churches would like you to believe. But it is not the truth. Acts 20, verse 7 is about a specific instance when they had come together to break bread before one of Paul’s journeys, a special occasion. This is a lousy proof that they were regularly observing Sunday as a day of worship. The same holds true for 1st Corinthians 16:1-2. If you know anything about the Sabbath, you weren’t supposed to deal with money if it could be avoided. So Paul was instructing them to start a special collection over a short period of time, to be taken to Jerusalem, which was going through a famine at the time. So Paul’s saying, take up your collection on the day after the Sabbath. You really can’t read Sunday keeping into the Bible from these two verses either. Both sets of verses are very lame as proof texts. There is a very real dichotomy of belief about days of worship between Sunday observers and Sabbath observers. Be sure to read http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/romans12-14_2.htm, which explains pretty well the two sides of this dichotomy of beliefs about “days of worship.”] So this is the first day of the week, it’s early Sunday morning. While it’s still dark, Jerusalem shakes, evidently the women awakened, they head off to the sepulchre to see the sepulchre. Matthew alone tells us the earthquake was caused by the presence of this angel descending from heaven, the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and as he descended it says “he came and rolled back the stone from the door of the sepulchre and sat on it.” Now you’ve gotta like this angel. Now there are other angels, Mary Magdalene and some of the women talk about seeing two angels there. Evidently there’s this initial angel who comes, and just the force of his presence as he descends, he comes down, and the earth is shaking with his presence. He rolls away the stone, this is two to three thousand pounds. In fact John will tell us it ends up, up and away, he doesn’t just roll it five feet, each Gospel kinds of adds another phrase and we end up with the stone being lifted up and being thrown away, and the angel does that, and then he goes over and sits down on the stone. Interesting night. Now you wonder about these soldiers, because the Centurion three days earlier had said “Surely this was the Son of God.” What kind of rumblings had they heard in the Praetorium there in the Antonio Fortress? This duty is a little strange, to go guard a dead carpenter and make sure he doesn’t get away. I mean, they gotta be a little bit on pins and needles about this whole duty anyway. This angel comes, rolls this stone away, comes down and he sits on it. His countenance---now Matthew heard this from one of the guards---his countenance, his appearance, it was like lightning. And his raiment, what he was wearing, was as white as snow. The lightning says it was like light shooting forth, it was glistening. This is the account of the soldiers, they were the only ones that were there that saw this. The angel didn’t roll the stone to let Jesus out, he rolled away the stone to let us in, to see that Jesus was already out. [Comment: Jesus would have been resurrected from the dead around sundown, Saturday evening, exactly three days and three nights, 72 hours exactly, from the time Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea rolled the stone in place after placing Jesus’ body in the tomb. As very God, composed of spirit, he would have and probably did pass right through the rock upon his resurrection.] Jesus had no trouble getting out. We know because when he appears to the disciples, he’s going in and out of the room with the doors locked. He had no trouble getting out of the tomb in his resurrected form, he wasn’t subject to those laws. So the angel rolls the stone away for the disciples, for the women that are coming. His (the angel’s) appearance was brilliant, it was glistening, it was shining. “And for fear of him, the keepers did shake” it means they continually trembled “and they became as dead men” (verse 4). Now that’s a really scared dead man, who lays there continually trembling after he’s dead. They fell down on their faces, it’s the same thing you and I would do, and we’re believers. This would be a strange experience. And this is first-hand testimony from this crack group of men [super-soldiers] that were there, that had faced all kinds of horror in battle. ‘We went down on our faces. No, I didn’t look up after that, I just lay there, bright light shining all around us, we just laid there and pretended we were dead. We were trying to pretend we were dead, we were shaking, but we were trying to pretend we were dead.’ Now, I’m assuming verse 5, there’s some time that’s gone by, because now we have the angel talking to the women at the tomb, who would not be at the tomb if the soldiers were still there rolling around on the ground. They had gotten up and high-tailed it out of there. It’s interesting, as we go on in the chapter, it tells us the soldiers went to see the priests. Because when you have an experience like this, you go find a priest, doesn’t matter what denomination he’s from, you go find somebody. They don’t go to the Governor, because to vacate their post was a death-sentence. They figured ‘to stay here is a death sentence too, so either way, rather die a normal death than from whatever’s going on here.’ So they high-tail it out of there, then the women get to the tomb.
The women at the tomb
Verses 5-10, “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.” “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye [in contrast to “they” who just high-tailed it out of there]: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.” ‘You don’t have anything to be afraid of, I know why you’re here. Those guys had something to be afraid of.’ Just imagine, an angel, what do angel’s think? And just imagine the angel that got this duty. Jesus said there had been twelve legions just waiting for a word. This one angel is picked out, you know, just what an honor it must have been for him, ‘Go on down there and move that stone.’ He went down and moved that stone and then sat on it. I just can’t imagine what that looked like. It was within sight, because the soldier tells Matthew about it, somebody saw it…‘He’s not going, he’s sitting on the stone!’ “You don’t have anything to be afraid of, I know why you’re here, you’re seeking Jesus that was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen.’ Notice, he’s not stolen, he’s risen. “He is not here, for he is risen, as he said.” Now get this, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” This angel, wants to give them a guided tour. ‘You’re here to see Jesus that was crucified, I know why you’re here, he’s not here, he’s risen. But come on…’ Are they terrified? I assume they were, because he had to say “fear not ye”, he had to tell them not to be afraid, so they must have been afraid. And then when he calms them down he says ‘Come on into the tomb.’ ‘I don’t know about this,’ they never read the chapter before, ‘This is freaky enough, we’ve got an angel here, and he’s saying Come on into the tomb with me. I’ve seen too much on TV, I don’t know if I’m going in there.’ “Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him; lo, I have told you” (verses 6b-7). Now back in I think chapter 26, verse 32, right after the last supper Jesus said “All of you shall be offended because of me this night, for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad, but after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.” So he actually said that to them. Now the angel’s saying he’s going to go before you into Galilee. And we wonder, you know, that’s where he spent the majority of his ministry, he was in Judea on and off, but the majority of his ministry was Galilean, and we wonder if while he was there, he pointed a place out to them, and said ‘Some day, after, this is going to be where I’m going to meet you.’ Or at the Last Supper he said ‘You remember this particular hill where this happened? I’m going to meet you there, after the resurrection.’ This is remarkable. Of course, they don’t remember any of that, they fled in terror, they fled in fear. Again, they hadn’t read the chapters, they were the ones who were in the Scene, and now these things are coming back to them. Imagine as they hear it, ‘Go tell them he’s going before you to Galilee, lo, I have told you.’ “And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word” (verse 8). Interesting, that’s an interesting combination of emotions, fear and great joy. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that. I’ve experienced that publicly at least once. But with fear and great joy, they take off. You know, it’s ‘Come and see, go and tell.’ That’s the program we’re all involved in. ‘Come and see, go and tell.’ Come and see the empty tomb, and go and tell. That’s the ministry all of us have, interesting. “As they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and they held him by the feet, and worshipped him” (verse 9). Now isn’t it interesting, afraid of the angels, and he’s going to say to them again ‘Be not afraid,’ but they don’t run, they come and they take him by the feet, and they worship him. And he says ‘All hail.’ That’s the common greeting of the 1st century. It wasn’t some big heavenly spiel the first thing he gave to them. They encounter him, they’re running, and they run right into him, and he says ‘Hey!’. He just says the common greeting. ‘What’s up?’ ‘How you doing?’ What would be our common greeting today? It’s just the common, warmest greeting. ‘You guys!, good to see you!’ ‘All hail!’ And they fall down and they take hold of his feet, and they worship him. “Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me” (verse 10). Isn’t that an interesting word, brethren? ‘Yeah, the brethren that denied me, yeah, the ones that fled. Yeah, the ones that were chicken, yeah, the ones that said they didn’t know me. Yeah, the ones that swore they didn’t know me, yeah that’s right. Those are the ones. The ones that wanted to be the greatest until there was pressure, and then they took off and high-tailed it for the hills, go tell them, they’re my brothers. Go tell them, the ones that had denied me, that I’m going before them to Galilee, there shall they see me.’ He can do that, because all of their sins were paid for. All of our sins had been paid for, in the hours before that. All of the sins of the Old Testament saints, again Romans 3:25, God had been forbearing, knowing that time would come, would become actuated in time, that Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world. ‘Now, yes, go tell my brethren, my brethren, and this news of the resurrection coming.’ And this news of the resurrection coming. There’s all kinds of things here. The resurrection, women, the first ones. I mean, that is part of what substantiates the resurrection. If you wrote it in the 1st century, you’d never have had women as the first ones to bring the news. It just didn’t stand in that culture, would not have happened.
The Importance of the
Resurrection---it points to our resurrection from the dead
The empty tomb, they’re going to get paid to lie about what happened, ‘If anybody asks you, tell them the disciples came and stole the body.’ They are bearing witness to the empty tomb. Nobody stole the body, because the graveclothes were laying in there, Peter and John come running, and they see them wrapped up. You can’t steal the body without stealing the graveclothes. They saw the graveclothes and knew that they had gone flat and he had come out of them. Resurrection, what we believe, and the reason we’re here tonight stands or falls on the Resurrection. If Jesus Christ isn’t risen, we might as well all go home (cf. 1st Corinthians 15:14-19). We might as well all pack up and go home. We don’t just believe in life after death, we don’t believe in some ethereal realm, that we just live in somewhere, you know, like Casper the friendly ghost. We believe in resurrection, that’s our hope. Christ was raised. Three days [and three nights] his body laid in the tomb, it was raised, when they went in the body was gone, risen. And it says, “when he comes, our bodies shall be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” If we die today, like Jesus, he said ‘Father I commend my spirit into your hands…is to be absent from the body is to present with the Lord.’ Don’t listen to people if they talk to you about soul-sleep. If you can read at a first grade level, you don’t have to worry about that. Because that’s how simple the Bible makes it. [Comment: The Body of Christ has various interpretations in this area about soul-sleep vs. soul remains conscious upon death. To view some of these, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm. Again, this is a secondary area not effecting our salvation, we’ll find out when we die, now, won’t we? The example he uses here about Elijah would work no matter whether the child’s soul was awake or unconscious upon his death, and his spirit going to the Lord temporarily. It makes no difference. So in essence, this doctrinal dichotomy of belief between “soul-sleep” vs. “soul stays awake and goes to heaven” makes no difference in the eventual outcome at the resurrection of the body.] Elijah is with the widow, living with her, her son dies. It says Elijah went and laid on him and prayed three times, and his soul came into him again. It had vacated, it wasn’t there. Revelation chapter 6, we see the souls of those who were beheaded for the Testimony of Jesus under the altar in heaven saying, ‘How long oh Lord before you avenge us. Their souls weren’t in the body. There is this teaching that when you die your souls are trapped in your body there, it goes to sleep. No, no, the Bible knows nothing of that, Paul said ‘I’d rather be absent from the body and present with the Lord, but for your sake I stay here. I’d much rather depart and be with Christ’ he says. So the body, when we die, goes in the ground. What about cremation? Is cremation ok? It’s cheaper. [chuckles] Hey look, some people have convictions about it, they think it’s weird and freaky, and most people in the Bible were buried. Saul and his sons, they burned their bodies, remains, and certainly there were many Christian martyrs in the first century burned at the stake, eaten of lions. How can the resurrection take place, what happens to the missionary that get’s eaten by a cannibal, and the cannibal’s grandson eats him when he gets old? You know, there’s all of that. How can the resurrection take place? Jesus’ body was there, it wasn’t deteriorated, that’s why he got up, what happens when you get cremated and you’re just ash? Well I got news for you, laying in the ground for 20 years, that’s all you are anyway. I’m not promoting one thing or another, don’t get me wrong. OK? Resurrection, how’s it going to happen then? You know, Roger Williams, the Reformer, when they exhumed his casket, the apple tree had grown through the top of his skull, twisted all around his spine. Somebody had been eating the apples, they’d been eating Roger Williams, you know, the horses eating the apples [chuckles], well, Roger Williams just spread all over, how can resurrection take place? People like to talk about this crazy stuff, you know, to prove that you’re an idiot for believing what you believe. Oh, they believe Jurassic Park [laughter], that we can get a DNA molecule from a mosquito in a piece of amber that has a dinosaur DNA molecule, because we’re smart enough to know now the entire structure of the beast is mapped out in that molecule in that DNA. We know that in Utah a few years ago they found 1,600 feet down in the mine they think they’ve come up with an intact dinosaur DNA that doesn’t match anything we have. In China they’ve come up with this. And there’s talk of doing that. [The Japanese are actually trying to clone from the DNA of a Wooly Mammoth. I’m glad they’re not trying to clone a Saber-toothed Tiger!] Does anybody tell them they’re crazy? No, you know why? Because they know all the information they need to reconstruct that critter is there in the DNA structure. It’s information, and the information is there, the construct. That’s what we’re made of. We’re made of material, but we’re made of information, the spirit, what we really are. [What he’s trying to say is all that we are physically, and even mentally, emotionally, and spiritually is contained in the human spirit, what the Bible calls the “spirit in man.” See 1st Corinthians 2:9-13. This is explained as well as the issue about ‘soul-sleep vs. soul stays awake at death’ at http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.] If you dissolve completely, at the atomic level, your atomic structure (except for some isotope stuff), but atoms are fungible, you can exchange them. You construct atoms into a molecule one way, you make water, you construct atoms another way, you make the different 17 elements that are in the dirt that we’re made of. You construct atoms in a different way, you come up with a hydrogen molecule. It’s the structure, all the atoms themselves are interchangeable. What you need is the information. The information is what you and I are. If we’re smart enough to know that, God’s smart enough to know that. You know, again, you take your diskette and you can put hundreds of dollars worth of software on there… 0.70 of an ounce when it’s brand new, you put hundreds of dollars worth of information on there, you weigh it again, it weighs the exact same thing, because information is not material. It’s not subject to time, it’s not matter. So, you can take, your laptop goes down (I don’t have this problem because I don’t mess with computers), but your laptop just gets tired and doesn’t want to work anymore, you can take all of your information and you can put it in a new laptop. And then it might be faster, the color may be better, it’s an upgrade. And that’s what’s going to happen to us. [cf. “When he comes, our bodies shall be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” And Jesus Christ’s body is composed of immortal spirit, like the angels. And you saw the effect of one angel coming down from heaven to roll away the stone. Daniel 12:1-3 says we will glow like the stars. Revelation 1:13-16 shows Jesus’ body shines with the brilliance of the sun at full strength. Our bodies will be upgraded to the Jesus model, no longer composed of frail flesh and blood.] We’re going to get an upgrade. But we’re the software, we’re not the hardware. The software determines the hardware. All you need is the information to resurrect every one of us. All you need is the DNA code, all you need is the information, which God has. He knows every one of us. It’s contained in the spirit [the “spirit in man”, cf. 1st Corinthians 2:9-13, Ecclesiastes 3:18-21. All the human “spirit’s of man” go upward to God upon death (whether they’re conscious or unconscious doesn’t really matter). They contain all the information that made up those human beings that have died.] And he can resurrect us out of any old atoms he wants to. You know, in the beginning he made everything from nothing, he’s not going to have any trouble getting any of us up when the morning comes, and we all get up. And we’re all going to get up with an upgrade. That’s the great thing, we’ll be faster, the color’s going to be better, we’ll all be able to sing [laughter] in pitch. How old are we going to be? Thirty [I speculate 20, with bodies of 20-year-olds] [laughter]. Jesus was 30 when he began his public ministry, David was 30 when he took the throne, it seems that Adam was an adult male the second he was created, somewhere in there, wherever our DNA says that’s the peak performance. Because it builds us to a peak, and then we start to, what’s happening to me as we get older. The upgrade, and the upgrade is very interesting, because the upgrade, it seems to me that it is a spirit-driven upgrade. [and this again is where various parts of the Body of Christ disagree somewhat, but we’ll find out when the time comes, now won’t we.]. It says “our bodies shall be fashioned like unto his glorious body” it says in Philippians. When he gets up from the grave and he comes and he appears to the disciples, and he says ‘touch me, doth the spirit hath flesh and bone?’ He just came through the wall, he came through the door [and it was locked shut]. [Now here’s their theory about “flesh and blood” vs. “flesh and bone”] Not that the spirit has flesh and blood, the blood was gone. It says in the Old Testament “the life is in the blood” [but] not in the resurrection. That’s something to do with the fall [of man]. In the resurrected form, you know, when Eve is brought to Adam, he says ‘This is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh’, there’s nothing about ‘my flesh and blood.’ It’s my bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, and there’s a different drive system, because Adam walked with God. It seemed like Adam was clothed with light, he walked with God, he obviously was in more dimensions that we enjoy, because when he sinned his light went out and he knew he was naked. [Now this is getting a little bit weird doctrinally. The Calvary Chapels have fallen into the trap of trying to pin down the exact meaning for every single verse, which can lead to some pretty strange interpretations, where in reality we can’t pin all these details down Biblically, and are better off just waiting till the resurrection to immortality and finding out for ourselves. My guess, and it’s a guess, based also on the Scripture, is that we will have a spirit-drive system, for an entire spirit-composed body. The way I see it, the way that angel effected the physical matter of the earth when he came down from heaven and caused an earthquake, just before he rolled away the stone. My guess is that spirit is more solid and powerful than physical matter. But God can cloak spirit from our sight at will. Also spirit can phase through matter, the same way an aircraft can fly through a cloud.] And [for Adam and all humans] the drive system was confined to the blood. But not in the resurrection. Jesus blood was gone ‘spirit hath flesh and bone’, and driving that atomic molecular structure of the upgrade of the frame was the software, and he was able to step in and out of the room, he wasn’t subject to the laws of gravity, and time. Imagine traveling faster than the speed of light, at the speed of thought, which is much faster than the speed of light. [now flesh and bone would not be able to do that either, because ‘flesh and bone’ even without blood is still physical matter, subject to the laws of matter and energy, time and space.] It seems to me that’s the deal. And sustained in a way, you know, Moses goes up into the presence of God, he fasts for 40 days and 40 nights, it says “neither did he eat nor drink”, he comes down his face is glowing. You know, he throws down the Ten Commandments, he breaks the tablets, and he goes back for another 40. For 80 days he didn’t eat, and for 80 days he didn’t drink. And whatever he experienced in the presence of God sustained his physical frame, so that when he comes down he’s shining like a lightbulb, his battery is so charged up. These frames, that’s what they’re meant for, ultimately, when they’re not subject to sin. [Like I said, we’ll see, but I think we’re going to be completely composed of spirit just like Jesus and the angels and God the Father. The Bible says ‘God is a spirit, and that we must worship him in spirit and truth’ (John 4 I think). i.e. God is a spirit-being. But it’s a twiggy, wait and see issue, where getting too specific on one’s doctrinal stance here could cause both division in the Body of Christ, as well as egg on one’s face later]. And that’s what we believe in, resurrection. Your grandmother that you loved, your mom, your child, your brother, your spouse whose passed on before you. You’re not just going to see them out in ghost-world or something and go ‘Oh, there you are!’ and run right through them. When we see each other in the resurrection, this [body] is going to be raised, and they took hold of Jesus, ‘handle me’ he said, “doth the spirit hath flesh and bone?” ‘Feel me, Thomas, touch the holes here, thrust your hand into my side.’ They took hold of his feet and they worshipped him. And when you see your grandma and your grandpa, when you see your mom and your dad and your brother and your sister and your child, you’re going to take hold of them, and you’re going to have this [he’s beating his chest]. That’s what we’re looking forward to. [And I think spirit is more solid than physical matter, and we’ll have those more solid spirit bodies, like Jesus and the angels. Anyway, we’ll find out later. Paul does say in 1st Corinthians 15 that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” in talking about our resurrection to immortality, into immortal bodies.] And if Jesus isn’t risen, we might as well all go home (cf. 1st Corinthians 15:14-19). You know what, if you’re here tonight and you don’t know Christ, 2,000 years ago somebody got up from the grave. He’s risen. You know, funerals are always strange to me, to see somebody there, the viewing, it interrupts us, with all that we’re excited about, all of the different things that are going on around us, we’re not happy with the war, and the politics, and I’m glad the Eagle’s got a receiver…but all of a sudden somebody dies, and we’re all brought to this standstill, because we all face our mortality, it stops everything, it’s the overriding fact in all of life. Everybody’s headed for a hole in the ground. But we believe that’s not the end. We believe Jesus is going to come, and he’s going to descend, with the voice of the archangel, the trump of God, and a shout! The dead in Christ will be raised first, incorruptible, their bodies joined back to their spiritual being [no matter how you look at it Biblically, he’s right on the money for the most part. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Pentecost-Revetion1.htm to view the full scenario of that event. Also to view the 1st Resurrection chapter of the Bible see http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm ] ‘Those of us who are alive and remain shall be caught up with him in the air, to meet the Lord in the air, so shall we ever be with the Lord.’ Paul says ‘Comfort one another with these things, comfort one another with these things.’ If you’re a new believer, sitting here thinking, ‘Comfort? Now this is farther out than I thought it was, I mean, I know my sins are forgiven, what’s he talking about here?’ Maybe you’re not a believer and thinking ‘Oh man, this is a cult, I knew it. This guy’s gonna be talking about flying saucers next.’ Look, Paul says, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words”, these truths. Comfort one another.
God’s Plan of Salvation is
Pictured in the Old Testament Holy Days
Jesus is risen, he’s the first-fruits,
he rises from the dead here on the Feast of Firstfruits. It’s an interesting combination of
feasts, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, he dies on the Passover, and on the
Feast of Firstfruits when the priest is in the Temple waving a shock of grain
[and this would be occurring in the Temple just about sunset late Saturday
afternoon, as the first day of the week is drawing on] before the altar,
looking forward to the harvest that would come, that’s Pentecost, 50 days
later, Jesus is rising from the dead. [Can you see how valuable God’s Holy Days of Leviticus 23 are? The entire Plan of Salvation is pictured
and outlined in them.] And Paul
says Jesus is the first-fruits of those who sleep [be sure to read all of 1st Corinthians 15]. And it was on the
Feast of Firstfruits [cf. Leviticus 23:9-14 describes this feast commandment,
which was mainly a commandment for how the priests were to observe it.] The day of Pentecost [Feast of Weeks, or
Shevuot in Hebrew] when the Church is born, and the 120 in the upper room were
filled and empowered with the Spirit, it was the beginning of the Church, that
was the Feast when the ingathering began. So we’re looking now to the Feast where the Trumpet, maybe when the
Trumpet is blown. [Boy, it’s
amazing, this Calvary Chapel pastor (and all of them for that matter) knows the
true and powerful significance for all of God’s Holy Days, yet strangely they
don’t observe them.] You know,
there seems that there’s three feasts in regards to his first coming, and then
there’s the middle Feast of Pentecost, that talks about the beginning of the
Church and the Church Age, and then there’s three Feasts that are related to
the close of the Age [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/Holydayshadows.htm for a description of all these days and
what they mean.] So, I’m ready for
some Feasts, waiting for the one where we sit down at the table with Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob. But Jesus saying
here, “go tell my brethren that they go
into Galilee, and there shall they see me” (verse 10b).
The Roman Guard soldiers run to the priests
Verses 11-15, “Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.” Now, Matthew again is the only one who gives us verses 11 to 15, he had an inside scoop to know this. It is the only way. None of the other Gospel writers tell us these things. Matthew, because of his connection with the Roman government there in Judea, was able to get some of the story here. “Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch”---this is plural---“came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,”---plural---“saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.” [Pastor Joe laughs] ‘Yea, we were asleep, we are the most crack outfit in the Roman Empire, and we know that if we fall asleep we get put to death, but we just, you know, something happened, you know, we ate too much turkey, and it was the triptophene, and we were all there snoring, so we didn’t hear the 3,000 pound stone rolling, and they came and stole it away, and we can identify them, even though we were sound asleep, to let you know who they were…’ “And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you”---‘We’ll spare your lives---“So, they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day”---“this day,” that Matthew is writing, still in the days of Justin Martyr and Tertullian they talk about this being deliberately spread through the Roman Empire. Interesting, of coarse, Jesus tells the record, and he never says it’s a parable [there’s differing opinions about this parable within the Body of Christ. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm to view a few of these], of Lazarus and the Rich man in Luke 15, and he tells us there that Lazarus had been begging bread at the rich man’s table. And when Lazarus died it says the angels came and they carried him into Abraham’s bosom in Paradise. The Rich man died and he was in torment. And it says the Rich man, it says he looked up and afar off, it doesn’t say over, it’s not saying there’s two compartments in Hades, it says the Rich man, being in torment, lifted up his eyes, and saw Lazarus up and afar off,’ so they recognized each other, there was recognition beyond this life, and he said, ‘Dip your finger in water and touch my tongue’, and he said ‘No, there’s a great gulf fixed before us, no one can ever bridge that gulf, it’s permanent.’ You determine which side of that gulf you’re on when you’re in this life. It is fixed, and it is never changed. And he says, ‘At least send somebody to go tell my brothers that this is all real, that they don’t come to this place of torment.’ Abraham says ‘They have Moses and the Prophets. If they won’t believe them, neither will they believe if someone rises from the dead.’ Jesus had said to the religious leaders “You search the Scriptures, because in them you think you have life, but these are they that testify of me.” ‘The Scripture speaks of me.’ So it’s very interesting that in Jesus’ story Abraham says to the Rich man, ‘If you’re not going to believe the Word, if you’re not going to believe Moses and the Prophets that testify of these things, you’re not going to believe if someone rises from the dead.’ Isn’t it interesting, because here comes these soldiers, having departed the scene at the sepulchre, knowing that it was at the stake of their lives, they come to the priests seeking help. They tell the priests ‘We were there, an angel descended from heaven, rolled the stone away, sat on the stone! His countenance was like lightning! We were trembling, we were laying on the ground, we couldn’t move. We got ourselves together and we go out of there! We don’t want to go back there!’ And they tell the whole story to the chief priests. But even though someone rises from the dead, they’re not willing to believe. [Isn’t that amazing?] And they pay them off, it says, to say that his disciples came and stole away the body. And of course, now look, today we’ve got all kinds of, people talk about the Q-document, they talk about the Gospel of Thomas, which is not legitimate. Of course, now we’ve got the DiVinci Code. And I hope you’re not confused about that garbage. If you are, we have stuff in the bookstore that debunks it, because it’s nonsense, saying things like ‘Jesus had sex with Mary Magdalene, they had children.’ You read the DiVinci Code, it is such a bunch of garbage, it’s what you would consider on your computer today as SPAM. That’s why it took so long to discover anything they might claim as archeological, because nobody in the early centuries copied it. We have over 5,000 copies of the Majority Manuscripts, Byzantine Text form, because the Church embraced that. They knew that it was legitimate, they copied it. You know, they find a parchment here, a parchment there, it’s SPAM, that’s all it’s ever been. And it’s worse than that now, because, I can’t believe people are embracing it, it’s foolish. But anyhow, if you want to educate yourself a little better, we’ve got a number of publications in the bookstore that debunk the whole thing. [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/whyorthodoxy.html to learn about some of these heresies when they were new.] There’s all kinds of stories, to get rid of the Deity of Jesus and the Resurrection of Jesus, and the accuracy of the Word of God. But here we are, Jesus living in our hearts, waiting for the resurrection, appreciating the power and the truth of the Word of God. So that’s good enough for me, till we get out of here.
Jesus’ Great Commission to the Church
Verses 16-20, “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world [Greek: ‘Age’]. Amen.” Now it’s interesting “into a mountain, where Jesus had appointed them”, try to imagine what that was, “and when they saw him, they worshipped him”, isn’t it interesting how honest Matthew is, he says “but some doubted.” They go away to this mountain. Those of you who have been to Israel with us, we’ve been there many times, you know there’s right up in back of Capernaum of course are the mountains where they feel he taught the Sermon on the Mount, up there, the Beatitudes. Is that the place? You know, sometimes as we go on the Arbel and you’ve been there with us, it’s the highest peak around the whole Sea of Galilee, and you can see Magdala from there, you can see Capernaum from there, you can see where the herd of swine in Gadera ran down the steep embankment, you can see Mount Hermon from there, you can see the whole area. Sometimes I wonder, it seems like, that would have been a great place for this Bible study. Is this the time when Paul says that after his resurrection, upwards of five hundred disciples met with him at one time, most of whom, he says, are still alive now, some have fallen asleep he says. But who was in this crowd? The Centurion whose servant was healed? The woman whose blood-flow was stopped, the paralytic who was let down through the roof, blind Bartemeus, Simon the Leper, Lazarus, Mary, Martha? Just think who was in this crowd of disciples. We know the eleven are there, but who else is there? And how amazing to sit there and to listen to him. And wonder about the things he said, we’re not given great detail, we’re given some things. But they can look from there and they can see the whole Galilean ministry, all of the places they had been with him, all of the things where they had listened, where he had fed the multitudes of 5,000. They could look out across the Sea of Galilee where the storms had been, where he had walked on the water, and rebuked the wind and the sea. And here he is, risen, nail-marks in his hands, you know, the marks of passion, ah, sitting and talking to them. “And he came and spake unto them saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (verse 18). All power, not 99 percent of it, not ‘You know, I’ve got most power, but the Devil’s got a little bit, so look out.’ ‘I got most power, but you know, Satan may come around your bedroom at night and, he doesn’t really have enough, because if we really get into it, I can beat him, because I’ve got more power than he’s got.’ He doesn’t say that. He says “All power”, and the Greek word “all” means “all.” “All power is given unto me in heaven and earth.” What a remarkable consolation it was to the eleven, you know. All but John are going to be martyred, you can follow out their lives. “All authority in heaven and earth is given unto me”, Exousia, power. “Go ye therefore”---because all authority is mine---“teach all nations”, King James, it’s literally “make disciples of all nations”, go disciple them, and then he describes the process. How do we make disciples? That’s important for us to understand, as we look at this. Because there’s some kind of that Amway kind of discipleship in the Church, where you make one disciple, and that disciple goes and makes two disciples, and they go and make four disciples, and it’s like pyramid discipleship, you know. And if we do that, use your head, if we do that for a year, we’d cover the whole world. Yet it never happens. How do we make disciples. He gives the process here. And look, you don’t really do it [cf. John 6:44, 65]. We’re part and parcel to this, we get to serve. We always need to remember, and you need to remember, you make a lousy Holy Ghost [Holy Spirit], you know, you have a spouse, or a friend, or somebody that you’re trying to wear down, or frustrated with a teenager. Ah, you need to love them and pray for them, and you need to know that you are just in need of God’s grace as much as they were, and as they are. And I think you need to look for your open shots, and Paul said ‘Pray there’s an open door to share the mystery of Christ.’ But in the final analysis, the Holy Ghost does the work, and remarkably he chooses to use us in the process. [This is Biblical, all through John 14-16, the Holy Spirit is referred to as “he” and not “it”, whether we understand the true nature of God or not.] He chooses to use us in the process.
How we do it, making of disciples? ‘Go therefore, and disciple all nations, how do you do that? He says, first ‘baptizing them, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ So the first thing is leading them to Christ, [and then] baptizing them. 1) The first thing that needs to happen, is to evangelize them, bring them into the kingdom. Baptizing them, is very interesting, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Now some of you may be sitting here, saying, ‘Oh, here we go. Let’s hear what he has to say on this, because I know, you baptize in the name of Jesus only.’ You know, there’s those “Jesus name only” dunkers, you know. And if you don’t do it that way, it ain’t real. Then there’s some, who say it says here, ‘you do it in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’, and if you do it ‘in Jesus only’, and you don’t do it in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, it’s not really a baptism.’ Look, we can find anything to argue with, I can just imagine the Lord sometimes saying, ‘the harvest is great, the laborers are few, and we’re arguing about the dunkin---The Dunkin formula!’ When I do get a chance to baptize someone, I just add “I baptize you into Jesus Christ, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”, I cover everything [laughter], the important thing is you come up. And that you come up in newness of life. Your baptism in water is you standing publicly entering by faith into the death and resurrection of Christ, publicly, saying this is what my life is about now. And that’s the important thing of it, that we go baptizing, leading people to Christ, very important, first step in making a disciple, you can’t make a disciple out of a child of the devil. You only make a disciple out of someone whose born-again. 2), and then, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” You know, you go through the process of being taught, all important. Preaching [evangelism] for the lost, teaching for the saved. You know, there’s a lot of the Church that gets preached at that doesn’t get taught. [That’s the chief function of this website, it is for the teaching and spiritual nurturing and nourishment of believers in Jesus Christ, those who make up the Church, the Body of Christ.] “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” The observation there is “to guard, to preserve, to keep.” Teaching them to observe, the idea is to “take hold of, to embrace, to guard, to love, to keep the things that Christ has given to us” you know, as we face this world. He talked to us about the end-times, look at what’s going on around us. He talked to us about his grace, he talked to us about prayer, he talked to us about baptism, he talked to us about all kinds of things, and that he would be with us. So to take the things of Christ, and to let them be real to us, to keep them, to guard them, to cherish them. So 1), you lead people to Christ [through evangelism], and then. 2), you teach them, so that they can take the things of Christ and embrace them, make them their own. “to observe whatsoever things I have commanded you. And, lo---now a “lo” is like a little heavier than a “behold.” A “behold” is “think about this.” A “lo” is “Woe”---“lo, I am with you alway”---not just when you feel like he’s there, “I’m with you always.” ‘Ah, I don’t feel his presence.’ Well, either you’re right or he’s right [I love Pastor Joe]. “I’m with you always.” ‘Well, I haven’t had goose-bumps for awhile, you know, that’s how I can tell the Holy Spirit’s there, my hair stands up.’ ‘Well there’s a Biblical process, to determine whether the Lord is with you.’ No, no, he says “I’m with you always.” Now look, I love it when my hair stands up, I love it when I sense the Lord’s presence, I mean, I love the experiential part of it. But I know that when I don’t sense his presence, I know exactly where he is, he’s standing right next to me not wanting me to sense his presence, that’s where he is, because that’s where he said he’d be. He says “I’m with you always.” When I was a young believer, it was important for me to feel his presence. It was a barometer. Again, your kids, you think of your younger ones, my one daughter when she was younger, it was always “I need Daddy-love, I need Daddy-love.” That meant she wanted a hug, she’d sit on my lap, she needed that. And I’m glad to give that. Now you do that to your 20-year-old daughter in front of her friends, ‘Come-on, let me give you some Daddy-love.’ ‘No thanks, come on, Dad.’ [laughter] They get past that. But the interesting thing is, the older one doesn’t need that, because, you get out there, and you work for a living, and you think ‘Wow, this person took care of me my entire life, they’re always there whenever I need them, they’ve laid down their life for me.’ Now isn’t it interesting, Jesus said, ‘You’ll know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.” Sometimes as a young Christian we want goose-bumps, we need Daddy-love. And he’s so gracious to give it to us. But maturing is growing in faith, and knowing in our hearts, whether we feel him or not, he is with us always, even unto the end of the age, we start to understand the price that he paid. He is a good steward over the things he’s bought with his own blood. That we were the most expensive things in the entire universe, and he gladly paid the price, and he’s not loosing track of us. He’s sealed us with his Spirit, for the day of redemption, we are his. He has all authority in heaven and earth. If the evil one comes, he touches us not, the Bible says. You know, people make a big deal about the Devil. It’s very simple, Our Dad can beat their dad. That’s all there is to it. “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age”, literally, and boy we’ve gotten close. Making disciples, leading them to Christ, baptizing them, teaching them, feeding them so they grow, and [so] they know his personal presence. It’s not religion, it’s relationship. That’s the process. If somebody’s stubborn, rebellious, it may happen slower. God gets us [that’s why God calls some of us when we’re young, we’re so stubborn, we need a lifetime of growing and overcoming]. He wears us down, he wins, and all he wants to win in the final analysis is our hearts and our lives…[connective expository sermon on Matthew 28:1-20, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19116]
A Little More About the Great Commission
So, what many Christians call the Great Commission can be broken down into two distinct assignments, both for the believer in Jesus and the Body of Christ as a whole. The first part of the assignment is, 1) “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” That’s the Gospel preaching part, evangelizing the world. Jesus predicted in Matthew 24:14 that the Body of Christ as a whole would succeed in preaching the Gospel to the entire world, and then the end, WWIII, the Tribulation would come (verse 15 onward through Matthew 24). He said “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” We pick up the companion Scripture to Mathew 28:18 in Mark 16:15, “And he said to them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature…” That, my friends, is Evangelism, plain and simple. What is this Gospel we’re supposed to be preaching? See http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm for a good explanation of what the Gospel is, which proclamation can lead a person to salvation if the Holy Spirit is drawing that individual. And how can you know if that person can be drawn by that Gospel message? You won’t know until you present the Gospel to him or her, will you? As Pastor Joe pointed out, the second part of the Great Commission Jesus gave to the Church, the Body of Christ (one which many neglect while doing the first) is this, 2) “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Evangelism always bears fruit, God always calls some, and we are instructed to baptize them into Jesus Christ, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And then we are to nurture them in the Word of God, feeding the lambs of Jesus in the Word of God. Often there can be far too much emphasis on Evangelism, and not enough on the feeding of God’s sheep, his precious lambs. Equal emphasis must be placed on both. Why would God bless your evangelistic efforts, drawing a person with his Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, if you and your church isn’t just as prepared to nurture and feed that person? Our congregations should be havens for spiritual nurturing and nourishment. So many young people have kids before they can support them, and properly feed them. Don’t expect the Lord to bless your evangelism if you aren’t prepared to nourish those he calls through your evangelistic efforts. (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/pom/philofmin.htm to learn about a very effective nourishment style of preaching.) Now for the third related Scriptural passage, both in time frame of when it occurred and to whom Jesus was addressing just after his resurrection, just prior to his ascension back to heaven.
Jesus last words to his apostles before his
ascension to heaven
Acts 1:4-8, “And being assembled together with them [the apostles, cf. verse 3] 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; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ Therefore, when they had come together, they asked him, saying, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And he said to them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in his own authority. 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.’” The disciples were all interested in asking Jesus about prophecy, and when he would be back (i.e. the 2nd Coming). His answer, ‘I’m going to give you the power I gave the Prophets, the power coming from the Holy Spirit. Then you are to get busy preaching the Gospel, witnessing about me.’ After that, he rose up through the clouds into heaven. He had given the disciples, and his Church which was about to be born their marching orders, and told them not to be worrying about trying to figure out when he would be back, the timing of the 2nd Coming. So what has the Body of Christ been doing ever since? Trying to figure out when Jesus is coming back, instead of carrying out our assigned job! Verses 9-11, “Now when he had spoken these things, while they watched, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?”---What are you doing standing here? You’ve got work to do---“This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw him go into heaven.’” i.e. ‘Don’t worry, he’s coming back. You need to be getting to work now.’ Acts 1:4-8 belongs right along with Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15. Add them together and you get the full picture of the Great Commission Jesus gave to the Church, the Body of Christ, and all believers. But not every individual is a born evangelist. Well, as we saw, evangelism, proclaiming the Gospel is only one half of the assignment, the other half is to nourish those who respond to the Gospel preaching, i.e. the second part of the Great Commission is to spiritually nurture and nourish the Body of Christ, those who have responded to the Gospel call favorably. For part 1, it is very important for all believers to understand what the Gospel message is. For a good article defining what the Gospel of Salvation is, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm. Most Gentile Christians (Sunday observers) would recognize this as the Gospel of Salvation, or the Gospel of Christ, and would agree with what’s written there. Interestingly enough, this very article at that link was passed to a major Sabbatarian Church of God leader, who read it, and gave it his full approval as being the Gospel of Salvation which the Church was told to preach to the world. Our job, given to us by Jesus is either to be preaching that Gospel, or to be helping to nurture and nourish those within the Body of Christ. If you aren’t particularly talented in the first, you can certainly help in the second. Also, everyone can contribute to the major international evangelistic organizations, or the Gospel works run by their own denominations to help do your part in the first part of Jesus Commission given to the Body of Christ. Rather than spending hours upon hours studying prophecy and current events, diving into all kinds of conspiracy articles, Jesus would have us be spending our time promoting and preaching the Gospel to the world, and studying those things that nourish us spiritually, and then helping to nourish those in our congregations. Those, essentially, were Jesus’ final words to the apostles just before his ascension.
What is the Gospel?
What is Evangelism?---a whole section on it:
The Resurrection of Christ points to our resurrection:
Plan of Salvation mirrored in God’s Old Testament Holydays:
Beware of poison sheep-feed:
Again, this whole website is loaded with nourishing spiritual meals taken right from the Word of God: expository studies going through the Gospels, the Epistles, a section on Prayer, the Prophets and Prophecy, Old Testament History, early Church History, Church History, and a whole slew of Topical studies. So check out the left-hand nav bar to access all of these major sections. Then roll up your sleeves and do your part. This ends the expository study section on the Gospel of Matthew.