Matthew 28:1-10 The King: Raised from the Dead

Matthew 28:1-10        The King: Raised from the Dead        WC McCarter

There are very few people, even scholars, who will deny that Jesus of Nazareth died and that His death was by crucifixion. This is a historical reality. The issue is how one may interpret that death. Yes, it was painful and ugly, but more than that, we believe that Jesus Christ was absorbing in His soul the sins of the whole world. His death was a sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin as our substitute on the cross. So, we believe that Jesus died literally, physically, and historically, and His death was unique.

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The Sabbath would have ended at sun-down on Saturday evening which began the next day, that is, “day one” after the Sabbath (which is Sunday for us). As the sun began to come up on the first day of the week, a group of women went to the tomb. If we look at all the Gospel accounts, we see that a variety of details are given. Some even see contradictions. Yet, the accounts can easily be reconciled, which we will not do now, but we can realize that it was a group of women who went to the tomb, and Mary Magdalene played a key role in the narrative. After all, a woman would not have ventured outside the city gates while it was still dark by herself.

May Magdalene was the woman who had demons cast out of her by the Lord. She became a disciple of His and a supporter of His ministry along with several other women. We are even told that the group of women followed Jesus from Galilee down to Jerusalem in order to care for His ministry needs. They were at the cross, saw where they laid the body of the Lord, and went to the tomb in order to pay their respects on the first day of the week.

As they drew near the tomb, there was a great earthquake because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven. This was a surprising event that came with great awe and wonder. The women were taken by surprise the tomb open and an angel of the Lord. Now, let’s not be confused. The angel did not open the tomb to let Christ out, but to let the women in (and the apostles, and the whole world). The angel’s countenance (face) was like lightning which makes one think of Moses. After being in God’s presence, Moses was said to have horns of light radiating from his face. This was an angel of God who had descended which says so much. This is not a crime scene, but an act of God. The angel’s clothes were as white as snow demonstrating his purity and the holiness of God. Not only was the earth quaking, but the guards were also shaking. They passed out from great fear at what had just happened.

Surely the women were also afraid, but the angel says to them, “Do not be afraid.” There was no reason to be afraid. The angel meant no harm, and he actually had very good news to share with the women. He knew exactly who they were looking for, and he knew exactly what had happened. He said, “He is not here; He is risen, as He said.” Notice that he reminds them that Jesus had already foretold these things. In fact, Jesus had told His disciples that He would die and rise again on several occasions. The women could go in and see where the body had been, but it was no longer there. Next, the angel commissions the women to go and tell the apostles that Christ is risen.

So, the first eyewitnesses and testifiers to the resurrection event are women. This should not be understated. If someone were to make up a story like this, they would not make women the only eyewitnesses. Women were not even allowed to testify in a Jewish court because their testimony was considered untrustworthy by men (and men dominated the culture). Yet, the Lord chooses a group of women as His first messengers. Mary Magdalene and the others were the first to experience and share the Good News that Christ is risen.

Of course, the women are obedient to the command of the angel. As they are heading to tell the disciples, they are met by the Risen Lord. And what does He say? He says, “Rejoice!” It makes me think of the Easter hymn which says, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Oh, Christian, lift up your voice and sing eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ, the King!” They definitely had reason to rejoice! Christ was alive! Their Master was not in the tomb, nor was His body stolen. He was alive!

The women fall to the ground and worship the Lord. Jesus says the same thing that the angel had said (of course, the angel was delivering the message of the Lord), “Do not be afraid.” He also says, “Go and tell. . . .” The message was for the disciples to gather in Galilee, and they would see the Risen Christ there. We will talk about it at another time, but let me mention that Christ is now coming full circle by going to Galilee. He was raised in Galilee, mainly ministered in that region, and now, after the resurrection, He is returning there to show Himself to His followers and to ascend back to the Father. This is significant because Galilee was known as “Galilee of the Gentiles.” This is just the beginning of spreading the message of Christ death and resurrection from Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Conclusion and Christian Application

(1) We are people who believe and proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth died for our sins on a Roman cross and was raised from the dead on the third day afterwards physically, literally, and historically. This is the Good News of the Christian faith and Scriptures.

(2) “Go and tell” is the resurrection commission. Because Christ has accomplished so much through His death and resurrection, we are commanded to go and tell others the Good News. This is most remembered from Matt 28:19.

(3) Rejoice! Rejoice! Of, Christian, lift up your voice and sing!