Jesus’ Death and Resurrection (Matthew 27-28)
More than any other Gospel writer, Matthew emphasizes the earth-shattering implications of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and brings us back to the central motif of the kingdoms of heaven and earth. The darkening of the heavens, the shaking of the earth, and the resurrection of the dead (Matt. 27:45-54) would have been clear signs to the Jews that the present age was ending and the age to come had begun. Yet life and work seem to go on as they always had; it was business as usual. Did anything really change at that cross on Golgotha’s hill?
The Gospel according to Matthew answers with a resounding yes. Jesus’ crucifixion was the deathblow for a world system founded on pretensions of human power and wisdom. His resurrection marks the definitive intrusion of God’s ways into the world. The reign of God’s kingdom has not yet taken in the entire earth, but Christ governs all those who will follow him.
Jesus’ earthly ministry was ending. Matthew 28:16-20 narrates his commissioning of those who followed him:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This passage is often referred to as the Great Commission, and Christians tend to focus on its evangelistic aspect. But the commission is actually to “make disciples,” not merely to “win converts.” As we have seen throughout this article, work is an essential element of being a disciple. Understanding our work in the context of the Lordship of Christ is part of fulfilling the Great Commission.
We have our marching orders. We are to take the good news to all nations, baptizing those who believe the good news, and teaching them “to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). As we look back over these twenty-eight chapters of Matthew, we see many commands that touch us in the workplace. These teachings are for us and for those who come after us.