Jesus raises from the dead – Matthew 28:1-7

16 Mar

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”[1]

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the central fact of Christian history. On it, the church is built; without it, there would be no Christian church today. Jesus’ resurrection is unique. Other religions have strong ethical systems, concepts about paradise and afterlife, and various holy scriptures. Only Christianity has a God who became human, literally died for his people, and was raised again in power and glory to rule his church forever.

Why is the Resurrection so important?

  • Because Christ was raised from the dead, we know that the kingdom of heaven has broken into earth’s history. Our world is now headed for redemption, not disaster. God’s mighty power is at work destroying sin, creating new lives, and preparing us for Jesus’ second coming.
  • Because of the Resurrection, we know that death has been conquered and that we, too, will be raised from the dead to live forever with Christ.
  • The Resurrection gives authority to the church’s witness in the world. Look at the early evangelistic sermons in the book of Acts: The apostles’ most important message was the proclamation that Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead!
  • The Resurrection gives meaning to the church’s regular feast, the Lord’s Supper. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we break bread with our risen Lord.
  • The Resurrection helps us find meaning even in great tragedy. No matter what happens to us as we walk with the Lord, the Resurrection gives us hope for the future.
  • The Resurrection assures us that Christ is alive and ruling his kingdom. He is not legend; he is alive and real.
  • The power of God that brought Christ’s body back from the dead is available to us to bring our morally and spiritually dead selves back to life so that we can change and grow (1 Corinthians 15:12–19).

Christians can look very different from one another, and they can hold widely varying beliefs about politics, lifestyle, and even theology. But one central belief unites and inspires all true Christians—Jesus Christ rose from the dead!

28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.  The women could not make the trip to the tomb until after the Sabbath. As dawn approached, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. Both of them had been at Jesus’ cross and had followed Joseph so they would know where the tomb was located (27:56, 61). Mark also mentioned that Salome was with them; she had also been at the cross and was probably the mother of the disciples James and John. The women went home and kept the Sabbath as the law required, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. In the Jewish reckoning of time, a day included any part of a day; thus, Friday was the first day, Saturday was the second day, and Sunday was the third day. Unlike the Jewish leaders, they certainly had no expectation that the disciples would steal the body (27:62–66). When the women arrived at daybreak on Sunday, the third day, Jesus had already risen.

Mark explained that they had gone back to the tomb to bring spices and perfumes to anoint Jesus’ body because they had had no time to do so before the Sabbath (Mark 16:1). Anointing a body was a sign of love, devotion, and respect. Bringing spices to the tomb would be like bringing flowers to a grave today. Since they did not embalm bodies in Israel, they would use perfumes as a normal practice. The women undoubtedly knew that Joseph and Nicodemus had already wrapped the body in linen and spices. They probably were going to do a simple external application of the fragrant spices. Matthew, however, omitted the detail of their visit, explaining only that they came to see the tomb.

28:2–4 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  Again a supernatural event took place, probably having occurred before the women arrived at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake (see also 27:51–52) that occurred as the angel of the Lord descended, or it was the means by which the stone was rolled away from the tomb’s entrance. The stone was not rolled back so Jesus could get out, but so others could get in and see that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, just as he had promised. This is as close a description of the Resurrection as the Bible gives us.

Mark records that the women were concerned about how they would get into the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:3). They had seen Joseph put the stone at its entrance (27:60–61), although they may have been unaware of the sealing of the stone and of the guards who had been posted. When they arrived at the tomb, they saw that the large stone had already been rolled aside. An angel of the Lord was sitting on the stone.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.  The radiance of this angel made him appear like lightning. These words recall Old Testament visions like that of Daniel (see Daniel 7:9; 10:6). The angel’s beauty and glory, coming from heaven itself, caused the posted guards to faint with fear and caused great fear for the women as well (28:5, 8). Matthew and Mark wrote that one angel met the women at the tomb, while Luke mentions two angels. Each Gospel writer chose to highlight different details as he explained the same story, just as eyewitnesses to a news story may each highlight a different aspect of that event. Matthew and Mark probably emphasized just the angel who spoke.

28:5–6 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”  The angel spoke reassuringly to the frightened women. They were looking for Jesus, the human being who had been crucified on the cross. But Jesus was not there; he had risen. Jesus had given the disciples three predictions of both his death and of his resurrection (16:21–28; 17:22–23; 20:17–19). The angel said to the women, “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again” (Luke 24:6–7 nrsv).

The angel invited the women to look into the inner burial chamber and see the place where he lay. John records that the linen cloths that had been wrapped around Jesus’ body were left as if Jesus had passed right through them. The handkerchief was still rolled up in the shape of a head, and it was at about the right distance from the wrappings that had enveloped Jesus’ body (John 20:6–7). A grave robber couldn’t possibly have made off with Jesus’ body and left the linens as if they were still shaped around it. The best explanation was that Jesus had risen from the dead, just as he said he would.




The angel who announced the good news of the Resurrection to the women gave them four messages:

1.     “Do not be afraid.” The reality of the Resurrection brings joy, not fear. When you are afraid, remember the empty tomb.

2.     “He is not here.” Jesus is not dead and is not to be looked for among the dead. He is alive, with his people.

3.     “Come and see.” The women could check the evidence themselves. The tomb was empty then, and it is empty today. The Resurrection is a historical fact.

4.     “Go quickly and tell.” They were to spread the joy of the Resurrection. We too are to spread the great news about Jesus’ resurrection.

28:7 “Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” N The women who had come to anoint a dead body were given another task—proclaiming the Resurrection to the frightened disciples. Mark explained that the angel made special mention of Peter to show that, in spite of Peter’s denials, Jesus had not disowned and deserted him. According to Luke’s account, several women ran to tell the disciples: “Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened” (Luke 24:10–12 nrsv). John, in his personal account, added that he too dashed in amazement to the tomb (John 20:3–5).

The disciples had deserted Jesus in the hour of trial, but the angel’s words held hope of renewal and forgiveness. The disciples had deserted, but they were directed to meet Jesus in Galilee. This was exactly what Jesus had told them during the Last Supper, that he would go ahead of them into Galilee after his resurrection (26:32).


28:8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  The women hurried away from the tomb, realizing that they had seen the results of an awesome miracle in the empty tomb and had been in the presence of an angel. This revelation from God had filled them with a mixture of fear and joy. They obeyed the angel’s command and ran to the eleven disciples with the good news of the empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection.

28:9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.  As the women ran from the tomb, in their path appeared Jesus himself! The women took hold of his feet (a Near Eastern custom for a subject showing obeisance to a king) and worshiped him, giving homage to their Savior, Lord, and King.




When Moses met God on Mount Sinai, it was a scene of holy terror: burning bush, awesome voice, brilliant glory-light. But here, Jesus surprises the two Marys and says, “Hello.” What a friendly way to greet two devoted followers.

How does Jesus greet us today? Usually in quiet, friendly ways.

•       With a moment of deep assurance after a morning prayer.

•       Through the touch of a friend come to share a piece of news.

•       By the arrival of a letter from an old friend.

•       Through a feeling of wonder at the Lord’s Supper during morning worship.

How does Jesus greet you? Share your joy with others this week

28:10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” N By “brothers,” Jesus meant his disciples. This showed that he had forgiven them, even after they had disowned and deserted him, and that he raised them to a new level of fellowship—from disciples to “brothers” (see John 15:15). Jesus told the women to pass a message on to the disciples—that they should go to Galilee, as he had previously told them (26:32). Galilee was where Jesus had called most of them and where he had said they would become “fishers of men” (4:19 niv), and it would be where this mission would be restated (John 21). But the disciples, filled with fear, remained behind locked doors in Jerusalem (John 20:19). Jesus met them first in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36) and later in Galilee (John 21). Then he returned to Jerusalem, where he ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9–12).

In almost every example of God breaking into life on earth, the opening words are, “Fear not … Have no fear, I am with thee.” Our Father knows that we need constant reassurance. Catherine Marshall

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 28:1–7.

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Posted by on March 16, 2023 in 1 Corinthians, Resurrection


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