This chapter forms a chiastic structure:
1A: Mat 28:1-8, The resurrection;
1B: Mat 28:9, Jesus met the women + the women worship Jesus;
1C: Mat 28:10, “Tell My disciples to meet Me in Galilee;”
1D: Mat 28:11, The guards’ true report;
CENTRAL AXIS: Mat 28:12-14, The conspiracy of the elders;
2D: Mat 28:15, The guards’ false report;
2C: Mat 28:16, The disciples go to Galilee to meet Him;
2B: Mat 28:17, Jesus met the disciples + the disciples worship Jesus;
2A: Mat 28:18-20, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth + instruction.
It doesn’t seem at first that 1A and 2A ought to be paired. What does the event of the resurrection have to do with the Great Commission and Jesus’ final instructions?
God has said to the first man:
“Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Gen 1:26
God gave Adam all authority in earth. When Adam rebelled against God, he invited death, which did not exist in creation before, into God’s perfect creation, for God had told him, in the day that he disobeyed Him, he would invite death into the creation (Gen 2:16-17). It may be that Adam also abdicated his authority in the earth when he ceased to conduct himself as one under authority.
Adam’s seed through Mary, the Son of Man, defeated death in the resurrection. Death could not keep him in the grave, for the wages of sin is death – Jesus did not sin. The Son of Man reversed the effect of death by His sinlessness, and therefore all the authority of earth was restored to Him. Furthermore, He gained above the authority which rested with Adam, all authority in heaven also. Jesus is YHVH, and YHVH is the King of heaven.
So because God raised Jesus from the dead, He now exercises all authority in heaven and on earth. His next instructions to His disciples, were, “Go therefore.” What is the therefore there for? Because Jesus now wields all authority both in heaven and on earth, He has authority to command His disciples. He has the authority to help His disciples in making disciples, of rescuing and redeeming all the nations who had rebelled against God at Babel, to restore them to Himself.
In conclusion, Jesus’ final words were, to observe all things that He had commanded them (obedience to commandments has not passed away), and the last and most important thing to remember:
“Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Mat 28:20
Amen! Tomorrow we begin in Acts!