Matthew 28:20 [Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.]
“And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
These words closed the remarks of our Lord Jesus when he spoke, for the last time to a gathering of all those who believed in him and loved him. This was nearly a month after Jesus had been crucified and raised from the dead. Before this gathering on a mountain in the Galilee only a few of Jesus followers had witnessed that he lived after death. He had appeared first to Mary Magdalene, near the sepulchre at Jerusalem.
Mark 16:9 [Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.]
John 20:11-18 [But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, 12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. 14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. 18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.]
A little while later that Sunday morning to the women returning from the sepulchre-near Jerusalem Matthew 28:9,10 [And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.]
That afternoon he walked and talked with two disciples on the road from Jerusalem to Emmanus. Luke 24:13-21 [And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done]
That Sunday evening the Apostles, excepting Thomas at Jerusalem. All these appearances were on the first day, the resurrection day. The next Sunday evening, a week after the resurrection, again in Jerusalem our Lord appeared to the apostles, Thomas being present John 20:26-29 [And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed..]
Following this was a long interval apparently, in which, there were no appearances, whatever, and even the disciples became discouraged and resolved to go back to teir homes in Galilee and there to reengage in the fishing business. No doubt the Apostles remembered our Lord had told them (in the garden) Matthew 26:32 [But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.] Also the angel had told the women at the sepulchre Matthew 28:7 [And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.]
The wisdom of our Lord is manifested in the order of the appearances: first to Mary, who seems to have been a woman of great faith and full of zeal who would have influence with the Apostles: next Peter, a leader amongst them was convinced, then the remainder of the eleven except Thomas who doubted, then the eleven, Thomas included and maybe some of the women with them, though not mentioned; then what would seem to them a long interim of no appearances, a period of 4 weeks. During this time the friends of Jesus gathered together and studied the great lessons of divine providence connected with the death and the resurrection of the Lord, and how all these things could happen to him and he still be the promised Messiah. Yes, as he had explained, all these things were necessary and must happen to him in order that he might be the Messiah, and accomplish all the great and wonderful work predicted in the Holy Word. How he must first suffer to redeem mankind, before as a King of Glory he should be fully authorized and empowered to bless them with eternal life and all the privileges and blessings proper to the redeemed and reconciled.
Matthew 28:16 [Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.] We believe that at this time our Lord manifested himself not only to the eleven apostles but also to the whole multitude of believers whom the Apostle Paul mentions a being over five hundred brethren. 1 Corinthians 15:16 [For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised] Every believer who could get there was there. Did they all want to see him, to hear him? You would all have to been there! It must have been quite a setting. It was spring, a month after Passover, and the hills would have been green with new grass and colored with wild flowers. This meeting was by special appointment of time and place, hence the opportunity for all the deeply interested ones to be gathered together.
The time had come; the friends of Jesus were gathered. And when they saw him they worshiped him but some doubted. Matthew 28:17 [And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.] They worshiped, some fully convinced, others wavering. It was for the convincing of these who were weaker in the faith that Jesus remained during the 40 days. The evidence of our Lords’ resurrection should be carefully studied by all the Lords’ people for it is the very keystone of our faith in him. 1 Corinthians 15:17 [And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.]
When our Lord appeared he spake unto them, saying “All power is given unto me in heaven and earth” The Apostle explains this new position of our Lord Jesus in his epistle to the Phillipians. Philippians 2:8-11 [And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.]