This is the last chapter of the Book of Matthews. Tomorrow we’ll look at…
The Resurrection of Jesus
1 In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.
“First day of the week” – Sunday began by Jewish time at sundown on Saturday. Spices could then be bought and they were ready to set out early the next day. When the women started out, it was dark, and by the time they arrived at the tomb it was still early dawn.
“The other Mary” – the wife of Clopas.
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
“A great earthquake” – only Matthew mentioned this earthquake and the one at Jesus’s death. It is also clear from the parallel accounts that the events of vv. 2-4 occurred before the women actually arrived at the tomb.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
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.
8 And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
9 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.
11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
28:11-15 – only Mathew tells of the posting of the guard and he follows up by telling of their report.
12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
“Eleven” – remember Judas had committed suicide on 27:5.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
“Baptizing” – a sign of their union with and commitment to Christ, that is all baptism means. It won’t save you, nor do you need to be baptized to be saved.
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.
Jesus is not dead:
“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and I have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev 1:18).
Guarding Jesus’ Tomb
Only Matthew mentions that soldiers guarded the tomb of Jesus. Mt 27:62-66 records that the chief priests and Pharisees recalled Jesus’ own prediction that he would rise again, and they cited their fear that the disciples might steal his body to support their request for an authorized guard.
Pilate’s reply in 27:65 literally means “You have a guard,” and on this basis some have surmised that the guard in question was the temple guard under the high priest’s own jurisdiction.
However, the language of 28:14 precludes this possibility and requires a Roman guard under Pilate’s direct control. Moreover, it is unclear why the chief priests and Pharisees would have requested permission for a guard that they themselves could have directed.
The tomb of Jesus was already sealed by a large stone, which was then probably affixed with an official seal that, if broken, would have attested to the opening of the tomb.
Matthew 28:11-15 records that some of the guards reported the things they had seen and were bribed into circulating a false report about their own negligence and the theft of Jesus’ body. The ensuing rumor is assumed in Jn 20:2,15 and appears later in Justin Martyr’s 2nd century Dialogue With Trypho (108:2).
The Roman concern for safeguarding tombs is reflected in an imperial inscription bearing the title Diatagma Kaisaros, acquired at Nazareth during the 19th century.
The marble slab containing 21 lines of Greek text, dates from between 50 B.C. and 50 A.D. The text attests to the sanctity of tombs and threatens with capital punishment any who would defile a tomb by removing the body.
Scholars have considered the possibility that, in light of the disturbances between Jesus and early Christians over what happened to the body of Jesus, the Diatagma Kaisaros may reflect an early Roman response.
Although the present state of research does not allow for absolute certainty, the presence of this authentic decree lends historical credibility to Matthew’s account.
And if you walk with Him He will be there with you always.
Tomorrow we’ll start with the Book of Mark.