Matthew 28:11-20 Part 4


There are many “connections” to be made between this event and other portions of God’s Word; and, as we go on, we’ll make as many of those as we can.  But there are none more clear than the one to be made with the first chapters of this Gospel.

From His anthropological and legal genealogies; to His conception in the womb by the Holy Spirit; to the Revelation of God through the angels; to His birth in the city of David; to the homage paid to Him by Gentile “magi”; to the protection over Him from the insane jealousy of King Herod; to the preaching of John the Baptist….  Mathew’s intense interest is that Jesus Christ was born a “King” as prophesied!

And that “interest” is made explicit in the last entry of His Gospel, here in our text.  It is the “regal” authority of the risen Christ.  And the “Great Commission” to His disciples is that they teach all the nations of the earth – bringing them into submission to the Word of the King!

Now (so that we might put this in some perspective), in a presidential election year, more than a dollar a vote is needed in order for a candidate to bring millions of people together thinking in somewhat the same way.  (And that’s just to elect the leader of one of the two hundred or so nations of the earth.)

So, as you can imagine, it was a rather “daunting” experience for these eleven men (on a mountain in a remote part of the earth) to be told that they were to teach all the nations of the earth so that all the tongues and tribes might be brought into submission to the Words of one Man.

But such is the Authority of this One Man!  For He was given all authority in Heaven and on earth!  (We’ll spend some time on that one.)

You remember that this great event was announced to the disciples (no less than) three times (as recorded by Matthew).  As Jesus prophesied His crucifixion and His being raised the third day, He told them that He would precede them to Galilee (where they would see Him).

And, as we saw in chapter twenty-six, that prophecy was intimately connected to His Father’s Word through the prophet Zechariah (chapter thirteen).  So the entire (prophesied) scenario would be this:  Jesus would go into Jerusalem and put Himself in the hands of the priests and scribes and elders of Israel.  And they would humiliate Him and persecute Him and kill Him.  Zechariah’s prophetic Word from Jahveh says that He would “cut off” the Shepherd from the sheep!

At the crucifixion of the One who they were all following, the people would then hide themselves and flee Jerusalem in fear – escaping potential similar treatment at the hands of the Sanhedrin and the Roman governor.  God’s Word through Zechariah says, “and I will scatter the sheep”!

At that point having quoted His Father from Zechariah thirteen, Jesus says to His disciples (Matthew twenty-six):


“I will go before you into Galilee.”


On the morning of Jesus’ resurrection, a creature from God (whose appearance was “as lightning”) told the two “Marys” to go and tell Jesus’ disciples that Jesus would precede them to Galilee.  And as they were running to find the eleven disciples to report what the angel said, Jesus appeared to them and told them the same thing:


“Tell My brothers that I go before them into Galilee.  There they shall see Me.”


Jesus had apparently appointed a specific mountain upon which He would appear to them.

So the elect remnant of God, and the eleven disciples of Christ, had all been driven off Mount Zion and scattered abroad into the mountains and hills of Galilee and surrounding Gentile areas.  Mt. Zion had been effectively abandoned by God and His people, and it would soon be burned and “cast into the sea”.  And the Gentile (and mixed-race nations) were now “occupied” by those who God had kept for Himself!  They had been “scattered abroad” by Jahveh Himself – as was prophesied in Zechariah thirteen.

Jesus Christ had appointed one of these mountains as the place where He would appear to His disciples… indicating that the Mountain of God had been moved!  As the apostle Paul would later write (to the Roman Church – chapter one):


“Jesus Christ was raised ‘the Son of God with Power.’”


The Power and the Glory and the Authority of the Risen Christ was now to be exhibited upon “another mountain”.  No longer would the worship of God be on Mount Zion… or “toward Mount Zion” in Israel.  But it would occur on all the mountains.  In other words… in every nation, in all the tribes and tongues of the earth!  Wherever God is worshipped “in Spirit and in Truth”, there is “the mountain” – the Kingdom of Christ – the Rock which shall grow until it “fills the earth”!

Now, just one more thing about that… and then we can leave it for this morning.  The apostle John records a conversation (John chapter four) between Jesus and a Samarian woman at a well.  It occurred early on in Jesus’ three-year manifestation as God’s Messiah.

You remember that the people of Samaria were detested by true Jews.  A mixed-race people, their heritage was Canaanite, and Syrian; and anything that wasn’t “pure-blood” Jewish was loathsome in Israel (a Jew wouldn’t even speak to one of these creatures).

The Canaanites had established their worship locations on “high places” – mountains!  Temples and sacrificial altars had been built on the tops of mountains and hills for centuries.  These are the “high places” which were to be destroyed by Israel when they occupied the land – for God had commanded that sacrifice be made only upon Mt. Zion in Jerusalem!  For the One True God had prescribed the location for His worship… and the reason for worship… and the time for worship… and the means for worship!  Anything else was “strange fire”; it was idolatry; and it was abominable to God.

In this chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus was traveling through Samaria; and He stopped at a well (the one that Jacob had dug almost two thousand years before) and spoke to a Samarian woman!  She was shocked that a Jew would do this!  Listen as I read from that point:


“A woman of Samaria came to draw water.  Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink….’  Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samarian woman?  For Jews have no dealings with Samarians.’  Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and Who it is Who says to you… “give me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’

“The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.  Where then do You get that living water?  Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?’

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’

“The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.’  Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back here.’  The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’  Jesus said to here, ‘You have well said I have no husband; for you have had five husbands and the one who you now have is not your husband.  In that you spoke truly.’

“The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.  Our fathers worshipped on this mountain.  And You Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’

“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem worship the Father.  You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit; and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth.’”


I said last Lord’s Day that I might address the “mountain theology” issue a little more; and this is a perfect example, early on in Jesus’ ministry, of the emphasis that was placed on the “high places”.

Again, the one “high place” which God sanctioned as the exclusive location for the whole sacrificial and ceremonial system was on the dome of the rock in Jerusalem – Mt. Zion!  It alone was the presentation of His dominion over His creation.  And it alone was the place where all the foreshadowings and prefigurings of the One sacrifice of the Christ were to take place!  For the Entrance into His presence – the “door” into His Throne-room – over the creation firmament was the One, blood-shedding atonement for the sin of man.  That’s what Abraham recognized when he set off to sacrifice his only son.  “Abraham saw My day, and He was glad,” Jesus said.  He knew that the One atonement for man had to be made on that mountain.

But the Canaanites, represented here by the Samarian woman at Jacob’s well, built places of worship on the many high places in Canaan.  And they offered sacrifices – including their own children.  Just like their forebears in Babel, they had recognized (from former revelation from God and from God’s creation) that they must “go up”… for god was up!  And they knew, from examples they had heard, that they must “please” this god and get his (or her) approval (therefore the sacrifices!).

By the way, the tower of Babel itself was an attempt to “pierce” the firmament and attain the presence of God for man.

Well, as we know, all human religions are perversions of the one, true religion.  And the Canaanites who were left in the land when the Jews took it continued in their perversions.  (They never were completely annihilated as God had commanded them to be.)  And for eleven or twelve hundred years Canaanite “high places” worship took place in Israel and Samaria and Galilee.  And many Jews, down through the centuries, incorporated Canaanite thought and worship practices into their religion!

And this was the background of the Samarian woman that Jesus spoke to at Jacob’s well.  All her forebears had worshiped God on the particular mountain that she mentioned when she was speaking to Jesus (local “high place”).  As she (and her ancestors) believed God could be approached by man in His heavenly sanctuary from their “high place” – from their temple – where the Jews believed He could only be approached by man from their high place!

But Jesus told her that neither her “high place” nor the Jews’ “high place” would now suffice for acceptable worship.  For He, alone, was the “Fountain of Life”.

So there was to be no more Mt. Zion.  Jesus said it.  No more temple.  No more shadows and pictures and figures about how man attained acceptable entrance into the Holy of Holies.  Why?  Because Jesus Christ was sacrificed; and He became the fullness of all those shadows… making the entire sacrificial system obsolete.  And because of all the egregious perversions of God’s worship, the entirety of Mt. Zion would now be burned and cast into the sea.

Jesus’ use of the “fountainhead” and the “springs of living water” (to this Canaanite woman, an accursed Gentile) was indicative of the Gospel flowing forth as a spring of life to the nations of the earth.  By the grace of God, and through the One atonement for the sins of men, mankind (Jew or Gentile – there’s no distinction) would be “rebirthed”.  Entrance into the Presence of God would be in Christ rather than climbing up to some “high place” to get to God!  And having been reborn in His New Humanity, worship would henceforth be “in Spirit and Truth”, not in ceremonial shadows, and sacrificial figures – but in Spirit and Truth.

The “mountain of God” is removed.  Mt. Zion no longer is!  Jesus moved it.  The sea shook; the mountains shook; the earth shook; even the heavens shook.  The old system was shaken and removed.  And now Jesus Christ is the authoritative Ruler of all things in the heavens and on the earth.  He rules on all the “mountains” – i.e., over all the governments and kings and all the presidents and all the cities and villages and families.

He is “recreating” all that was once created (Genesis one through three).

We began with a connection this morning… that connection between Matthew’s first two or three chapters and this last one – all regarding our Lord’s Kingship.  (He was born a King; and here at the end He receives His Kingly authority.)  We will be dealing with this connection too… the one between the first creation and the “recreation” in Christ.  There is an unquestionable link here between the two “creative activities”.

But, having now expanded our insight somewhat into Biblical “mountain theology”, we still need to say some things about this verse seventeen before we stop this morning.  We don’t have time left to say everything but we can do some things.

The other Gospel records indicate that, for some time after the resurrection, the disciples “holed up” in secret places and stayed behind locked doors there in Jerusalem.  They were, of course, afraid (of reprisals).  Nothing is said about their families until Pentecost – forty-nine days later (Acts chapter one), so we don’t know where they were.  But there was a massive “scattering” of the thousands of followers of Christ into the hills and roads of Judah.  Perhaps some of the disciples’ families were among them; perhaps some were with the disciples – it’s not mentioned.  We don’t know.  But the disciples stayed behind closed doors for some time… (some of them were known and recognizable).

But the eleven, having heeded the words of Jesus (and the angel from God), after some days, sneaked out of town and went to Galilee to the mountain which Jesus Himself had appointed.

Verse seventeen says,


“when they saw Him they worshipped.  But to themselves they doubted.”


The word “worship” here means to “bow”, or to prostrate ones’ self at the feet of another – venerate.  Surely there was some “awe” here of what was happening.  They had seen Jesus die; they had (some of them) prepared Him for burial and placed Him in a tomb.  Members of the Sanhedrin (with a contingent of soldiers) had sealed that tomb; and a guard had been posted.  The women had told of a heavenly creature (as lightning) who had said that Jesus had arisen as He said; and all the soldiers were lying on the ground like dead men!

Of course, as the other Gospels record, Jesus had “appeared” to them several other times… but this was truly an awesome experience.  Jesus Christ appeared to them on this mountain – just like He said He would!  And who wouldn’t fall down on his face before such a One as this?  The One Who they had followed was dead… and now He’s alive!  And, besides (and this enters into the picture, too) every one of these men had become ashamed and fearful at the point of Jesus’ arrest and trial and crucifixion.  And they had all abandoned Him to suffer alone!  They had all denied Him and run away!

But prostration before another is, indeed, an act of worship – or adoration.  But there’s another translation of it too.  The Septuagint uses it in Psalm two where God instructs His people to,


Kiss the Son lest His become angry and you perish in the way when His wrath becomes kindled but a little.”


and is the prophetic Word constituting the Son of God as King.  The kiss is an act of submission to Lordship.

So, the “worship” here on the mountain was an acknowledgment of Jesus as their Master… of His greatness… of the magnificence of these events, and the fact of their estate of being His servants and followers (prostration).  And I have no doubt of the genuineness and sincerity of their adoration of the Son of God.

However, the rest of the verse says:


“… to themselves they doubted.”


Did they doubt that Jesus was really dead at His crucifixion?  No. I don’t think so.  There’s no hint of that.

Did they doubt that this was the same One Who was crucified?  No Same answer.

Did they doubt the things that happened at the tomb?  And that there was a resurrection from death?  No.  Again, same answer.  They had already seen Jesus resurrect a man from death – Lazarus.  (And many other wonderful deeds!)

Did they then doubt that this was the Son of God?  No!  They had already confessed openly their belief that Jesus was God’s Son!

Whence, then, the doubt?  Where did it come from?  What’s the nature of it?  What did they doubt?  Mathew was there; and his short, terse statement (unexplained) indicates a thing called “doubt” in all eleven men!

Eleven men… all prostrate on their faces, awe-stricken, shame-ridden, adoring the Son of God Who had arisen from death and Who now stood before them alive!!!

Before we come back together next Lord’s Day, I want you to think about this.  What was the nature of this doubt?  I admit that this is a technical term; but you all are very knowledgeable of the doctrines of Scripture.

Review what you know about the nature of man.  Read the Scriptures… and pray.  Look at the disciples and what they did and how they acted – through this whole period of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, and then after pentecost.

And next Lord’s Day we’ll try to say a few more things about it – as much as we’re able.  They worshipped Him.  They prostrated themselves before Him.  They adored Him.  “But to themselves they doubted.”