There’s a kind of “hidden” transition in this text that is tough to see in many translations. Note that the previous story leading into our text was of the bribery of the Roman guards to say that the disciples stole the body. The idea was that there was some conspiracy afoot to trick the public into thinking Jesus was truly Messiah based on the fact of his resurrection.
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary notes that there should be a “but” at the beginning of our text. D. A. Carson explains, “The fraudulent explanation of the empty tomb was purchased with a bribe and was widely circulated (vv. 11–15), but the Eleven . . . do what Jesus says and go to Galilee.” The disciples were faithful to obey Jesus’ command whether they understood it or not. They trusted Jesus resulting in their privilege to see the Gospel go from Jerusalem to all of Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the Earth.
As the New Year revs up, we have the same choice of the disciples: trust Jesus or not. But, we have an advantage in that we know the success of their work through the power of the Spirit and have 2000 years worth of post-resurrection evidence to encourage us. Life may be drawing you in many directions this year and you may be starting out with a discouraged spirit, but like the disciples, I encourage you to take steps to respond to the invitation Jesus has for you. You will not be disappointed.
- Study after study indicates that the number one predictor of spiritual growth is daily Bible engagement. If you want to be more like Jesus next New Year’s than you are today, please consider both continuing with this daily devotional and going beyond it in your personal study of the Scripture. Let the Bible prompt your prayer life.
- Spiritual growth has been demonstrated to be most catalytic when one is in ongoing biblical community. I encourage you to join a Bible study group or join with a few friends to read the Bible.
- Serve your local community in some missional way and invite someone yet to believe to join you.
- Don’t neglect worshiping with the gathered body of believers. There’s spiritual vitality to be found in corporate singing, prayer, and preaching.