18 January 2019

Matthew 28

Without this short 20 verse end to it, the Gospel would peter out. What happens here is earth-shaking.

Like Luke and Mark, Matthew highlights the crucial role played by the women, first to know the good news and then to tell the men. Mary Magdalene and ‘the other Mary’ that he names were there when Joseph laid Jesus’ body to rest (27:61), and there again on Easter morning. So no mistake about which sepulchre. These facts with eyewitnesses count. Faith without supporting evidence opens a door of credulity to fake news.

The Trump-associated concept of ‘fake news’ is exactly what Matt 28 exposes: ‘this [fake news] story has been spread among the Jews to this day’ (verse 15). ‘Follow the money’ is a guideline for the state capture inquiry and for Matt 27–28. Money! First, the thirty pieces of silver for Judas, and now the hush money: ‘when they (the chief priests) had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sum of money to the soldiers (i.e. the temple police)… so they took the money and did as they were directed.’  (verse 12ff)

Earthquake, angels and an empty tomb were enough to shake up the heavy-hearted women who ‘ran away quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy’. (verse 8)

But that’s just the prelude:

Then Jesus met them and greeted them.

And they ran to Him, grasped His feet, and worshiped Him.

Are male theologians who write the learned volumes—read by fellow intellectuals—the pillars of the church? These verses upset that perspective and challenge our relationship with Jesus.

Here we see that awe, joy, love and adoration are the qualities of encounter with the risen Lord.

We need these responses to respond actively to ‘Go and make disciples of all the nations…’. To be sure there is a role for teaching too (verse 20)—and Matthew has done that especially well in giving us his Gospel. This ‘Matthew, the tax collector’ (9:9; 10:3)—on the payroll of Herod Antipas, and whose life had revolved around money—has also met Jesus face-to-face, and been transformed.

This Matthew, back in Galilee, heard and believed it when Jesus said: ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go…’ (verse 18f).

And our response?