We can assume that the man in the white robe at Jesus’ tomb is an angel. I love what he says in verses 6-7, “6 Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ” What I love is that he says and Peter. The significance is that he made a special mention of Peter to show that in spite of Peter’s denials, Jesus did not disown him. In fact, Jesus had great plans for him to fulfill in the establishment of the “soon to be” Church. It is encouraging to see that God can use anyone despite what they have done in their past.
I love reading the end of each of these gospels. There is so much hope that comes from knowing that Jesus is risen and has authority over heaven and earth. In verse 19 Jesus commands the disciples, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, These verses say nothing about baptism providing salvation. Baptism unites believers with Jesus Christ and symbolizes submission to Him. It is commanded to show submission to Christ and a willingness to live under God’s authority and in covenant with Him. Too many times I’ve seen baptism equate salvation, but it is important to realize that salvation comes before you can ever express submission and obedience to God.
We tend to worry a lot about authority and who is in control (especially during election season). In verse 11 it says, Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” All authority is given by God. We don’t need to worry because without God’s authority our leaders would not be in power. Ultimately, we need to remember that God has a perfect plan. When things seem to be going poorly for us, we simply need to remember He is in control. Even on the day they killed Jesus, God’s plan remained intact and the Savior of the world saved us all. Trust in God and obey Him because He is in control.
Often times we question why God does what He does. We forget that He has a perfect plan. In the first part of this chapter, Peter assumed that God’s plan was something other than what he had envisioned. Jesus had to reprimand Peter and let Him know that God had the situation under control. Verse 11, Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” Sometimes we question what God is doing in our lives, but ultimately His plan is perfect even though, for us, it doesn’t always feel that way. God’s plan is more important than our individual circumstances. That doesn’t mean we are not important to Him, it just means we need to understand there is a purpose in everything God does.
There was an interesting note in my Bible about Barrabas. It says it was ironic that he was accused of the same thing they were accusing Jesus, mounting up an insurrection, and yet he went free while Jesus paid the price for his crime. It was also interesting that Barrabas is simply referred by his first name and is never referred by his given name (as in Simon Peter, son of Jonah). He could have been anyone’s son – and that’s just the point. Barrabas’ freedom is a perfect example of the freedom we experience through salvation from Christ’s death and it is available to us all.
Jesus was the perfect man! Even the way He died showed His perfection. In verse 39 it says, And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” I’m sure the centurion had seen many people crucified and witnessed how evil men died. Jesus was not like those men. He was perfect and He was on the cross for a purpose and it showed by the way accepted His death.
This is always an emotional section of the Gospel for me. It paints the picture of how much Jesus suffered on the cross. One of the areas that stood out to me this morning was how obviously innocent Jesus really was. How many times did the religious leaders hear they were killing an innocent man; Judas in verse 4 says, “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”; in verse 19 Pilate’s wife testifies to Pilate, “Don’t have anything to do with this innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”. How blind did the religious leaders need to be to go after such a blatantly innocent man? In the end, the requirement for the forgiveness of our sin was the sacrifice of perfection. I feel unworthy and humbled by my savior’s love for me.
Today’s reading shows Jesus’ heart clearly as He prays to His Father in heaven. Jesus takes the time to not only lift up His disciples, but also to lift up future believers. In verse 9, speaking about the disciples, He says, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.” How beautiful and reassuring for Jesus to lift up His disciples and clearly make a distinction of who really belonged to Him. Then in verse 20 Jesus talks about us, the future generations, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,” It is comforting and humbling to know He lifted us up in prayer to the Father. It makes a big difference in my day knowing I am loved and that I am covered in prayer.
My favorite passage in today’s reading is verse 33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” As hard as it is to live in this world sometimes, it is comforting to know that Jesus has already overcome all the suffering we will face. He has already conquered the sin of this world and we can claim the peace of Christ in times of pain, sadness, and struggle.
There is so much information in this single chapter that I could write something about every sentence, but I’ll just choose two. The first thing that jumps out at me in this chapter is verse 5 where it says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus is talking about how our efforts are unfruitful without Him. More importantly, Jesus is the one who provides the nourishment we need to keep us going. He also provides the life that only He can offer us.
The second is in verse 13 where it says, Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Jesus was talking about the sacrifice He was about to make on our behalf. He was also giving us an example of how we should love each other and showing us that even the unloveable deserve His love and in turn ours.