Reading for Wednesday, July 18: Matthew 28
In this final chapter, Matthew’s Gospel reaches its glorious culmination: the first day of the week becomes the first day of a new reality, a new Kingdom order. Jesus walks out of the tomb, a declaration of victory over sin, death, and evil. The angel appears at the tomb: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.” He is present to dispel our fears, for the resurrection announces God’s power over all that enslaves us. This glorious morn reveals a new era of possibility: life over death.
Matthew closes with an important scene. Jesus appears to the disciples and commissions them to a ministry of disciple-making. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (v19-20). Matthew is aware of the ascension; he was there. But he closes with an altogether different image: Jesus promising to be present among His followers. In fact, if this were the only Gospel you ever read, you’d be left with the impression that Jesus is still Immanuel, God with us. He is still present with His followers, empowering them for mission. This promise animates the ministry of the church throughout the ages.