As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:
- What does God reveal about Himself?
- How is your own heart revealed?
- How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?
- Turn these truths into prayer and praise.
22 May Mt 27:45-50
Where later writings, paintings and films give graphic portrayals of Christ’s physical sufferings, the gospel writers are remarkably restrained. Why? Because they know that the gruesome details would not help us grasp the meaning of Jesus’ death. Far more enlightening is the cry of dereliction (v.46): Jesus, the innocent One, experienced the separation from God that is the penalty due for our sin. He endured our darkness that we might enter His kingdom of light and love (Col 1:12-13).
23 May Mt 27:51-54
The death of Jesus paid the price of our sins, and God confirmed this with spectacular signs. The temple curtain was torn open, inviting us to enter God’s presence. The dead were raised, signalling the end of debt we owed for our sins (Ro 6:23) – true, this was resuscitation, not yet the full-blown resurrection of the Last Day; it is only a sign, but it makes its point. And new life flows from the cross, as the most unexpected people confess Jesus not as a despised criminal, but as the Son of God (v.54).
24 May Mt 27:55-66
There were those whose love for Jesus endured even when all seemed lost. The wealth of Joseph (vv.57-60) and the steadfast devotion of the women (vv.55-56, 61) were offered in the service of Jesus. In stark contrast is the hatred and fear shown by Jesus’ enemies. Their demand for the tomb to be made secure (v.64) highlights how insecure they felt even after Jesus’ death. Truly, there is no peace for the wicked (Isa 57:20-21), and no way of triumphing over the Lord’s Anointed (Ps 2:1-4).
25 May Mt 28:1-9
Easter morning, and the guards were terrified by the unexpected appearance of an angel. The women, however, found their fear mingled with joy (v.8) because of the angel’s message: Jesus has risen, just as He said (v.6). Obediently, they ran to tell the disciples, even though they had not yet seen the Lord. On the way, their years of faithful service were acknowledged as they received the first audience with the risen King (v.9). Thank God, the cross is not the end of the story!
26 May Mt 28:10
Not here, but – Galilee! Why? The disciples are instructed to meet Jesus there (vv.7,10) in keeping with an emphasis that runs through Matthew. Jesus’ birth drew worshippers from distant lands (2:1-2). His public ministry began in “Galilee of the Gentiles” (4:12-17) as Isaiah had foretold (Isa 9:1-2). And now in Galilee the disciples will be commissioned to make disciples of all nations (v.19). The gate to life is narrow (7:13-14), but the call to enter is as wide as the world. As Gentiles, let us be grateful.
27 May Mt 28:11-15
This picture of the Jewish authorities crowns all we have seen of their determination to reject Jesus as their King. Rather than heed the guards’ testimony (v.11) – rather than repent with tears in order to receive life with joy – they put all their energies into suppressing the truth. Had the guards really been asleep, they could hardly have known that the disciples had stolen the body. But no attempt to twist the truth can remove the bedrock of Christian faith: Christ is risen indeed, Hallelujah!
28 May Mt 28:16-20
Satan had taken Jesus to a mountain to offer Him (fraudulently) the kingdoms of the world (Mt 4:8-9). Now, Satan defeated, Jesus again surveys the nations from a mountain (v.16). He has won our salvation, and despite the weakness of His disciples (v.17), He sends them to bless all nations with the Good News (v.19). His authority (v.18) and His presence (v.20) are all they need. Thus Matthew ends where He began: the promise that in Jesus “God is with us” (1:23; 28:20). ALWAYS!