MONDAY, AUGUST 17
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 28
Author: Jeremy Witt
Do you remember the last words you spoke with a loved one? They can be the most important words or they can be a haunting memory when a disaster occurs. My cousin’s last words with her mother were said in anger. The last words my grandmother had with my grandfather were priceless. He kissed her and told her that he loved her and shortly died right after. Our last moments with someone can be healing in the long-term. They may be significant. In the case of Matthew 28 as well as Acts 1:6-11, they are life-changing. What will you do with the last words of our Savior?
The most pivotal chapter in Matthew is this one. Jesus rises from death to show Himself to His followers and to others. Yet again, Jesus did the unthinkable in who He appeared to first. It was not the 11 disciples. It was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (not Jesus’ mother but probably the wife of Clopas – see John 19:25) who first saw the Risen Lord. Jesus appeared to women first! This was counter-cultural to do in Jewish culture. During His life and ministry, Jesus reached out to those that culture and society overlooked. Women, children, lepers, Gentiles, demon-possessed, sick, blind, deaf, and more came into direct contact with the LORD Jesus. He truly came for all people, and He made sure to reach out to those that were ignored and forgotten.
Notice in verses 8-10 when Jesus appeared how the women responded. They worshipped Him humbly. They went from despair, depression, and fear to worship and excitement. Jesus changed everything on that day. He can bring us out of the pit. Fear is gone and faith appears in these women. He then gave them purpose to go and tell the others. Go tell the others. This command will expand in a few short verses.
His death was breaking news and the talk of the town. The Romans had placed soldiers there at the request of the Jewish religious leaders. The leaders were aware of what Jesus had said, and they acted to keep it from happening. Can you imagine how they responded when the soldiers told them the story? I wonder if anyone of those men left the group to investigate himself? I wonder if he ever believed in Jesus. We know the majority didn’t and they came up with their cover-up story. Ironically, this is what is still used today by most Jews.
If the disciples stole His body, why would they be willing to die for Jesus? They were hiding in fear. They were not bold and courageous prior to this event. How can anyone explain the difference between before the Resurrection and after? Peter spoke boldly in front of thousands at the Temple. The disciples were arrested for their faith. If they stole Jesus’ body as the Jews claimed, they were different people who went to their death for this “cover-up.”
Move ahead to verses 16-17. Do you see it in verse 17? Some doubted even after seeing Him! I can’t tell you how many times in my life, I have thought or said, “If I could have seen what the disciples saw, my faith would be so much stronger!” Have you said anything similar? We are told that some doubted still. We are not told who, but we are told that some doubted. Holy Cow! I seriously doubt that the 11 were those in doubt. It might be the 500 who also saw Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8) I tried to find out who might be those who doubted, but my research only led to more questions. Regardless of who they were, people who saw Jesus alive after the Resurrection still doubted. This shows us that some will not believe regardless of the evidence.
Finally, what were Jesus’ final words? Why are they so significant? We could spend an entire devotion on this passage. Jesus’ last words give us our purpose. We have been sent by our LORD with His authority to do some key things.
1-Go. Actively go and share Jesus
2-make disciples of all nations (all lives matter). Be a disciple-maker. Who are you discipling?
3-baptize them (first step of a disciple) Lead them to Jesus, but don’t just leave them there. Go with them on their faith journey.
4-Teach these disciples God’s Word. If we are to teach it, we have to read it and be in the Word.
5-Remember that Jesus is with us always. Yes, even in those times and the time right now.
His last words are purposeful and poignant for us today.