Called to Believe the Resurrection

Matt 28:1-15

 SS Lesson for 04/21/2019


Devotional Scripture: 1 Cor 15:12-31

Lesson Background and Key Verse


Background from the NIV Standard Lesson Commentary

An online search for the 10 most significant discoveries in history reveals many lists. Most include breakthroughs in the field of medicine—development of antibiotics such as penicillin, etc. Eventually, however, death comes to everyone (Hebrews 9:27). That is why the greatest discovery of all time happened on the day we celebrate as Easter Sunday. The great discovery that was made by those who came to Jesus’ tomb after his crucifixion was the absence of something: Jesus’ body. Never before and not since that morning has the absence of something conveyed such a profound message. Today’s lesson introduces us to that message.


The events in last week’s text from Matthew occurred at a point when the Jewish religious leaders were plotting to arrest Jesus. But they did not want to create a public disturbance by doing so (Matthew 26:3–5). To their delight, the leaders found among Jesus’ disciples an ally for the scheme: Judas Iscariot (26:14–16). After the Passover meal, Jesus led his disciples from the upper room to the Garden of Gethsemane. That was a place to which he had brought them often. Therefore the location was known to Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus there (Matthew 26:47; John 18:1–3). There followed the series of appearances before the Jewish ruling council (the Sanhedrin) and Pilate that resulted in Jesus’ crucifixion. Of the four Gospel writers, only Matthew records the concern of the chief priests and Pharisees that Jesus’ disciples might attempt to steal his corpse. Their concern was based on being aware of the claim of “that deceiver” that he would rise from the dead. A missing body meant that a resurrection could be claimed. Therefore the chief priests and Pharisees recommended to Pilate that steps be taken to ensure against such a hoax (Matthew 27:62–66). Pilate agreed. The results of that effort are considered in today’s lesson. All four Gospels record the actions of devoted women who returned to Jesus’ tomb to honor him after his death. We say “returned” because they had been there when Jesus’ body was interred (Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55). Their intent was to finish the hurried job started by two others (John 19:38–41) in anointing his body with various preparations (Mark 16:1; Luke 23:55, 56; compare 2 Chronicles 16:14).


Key Verse: Matt 28:10

. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."


Commentary from the Bible Knowledge Commentary

28:1-4. At dawn on the first day of the week, several women went to the tomb of Jesus. They knew where the Lord had been laid for they had seen Joseph and Nicodemus roll the stone over the door of the tomb (27:56). The women were returning to the tomb on Sunday morning, now that the Sabbath was over, to anoint Jesus’ body for burial (Mark 16:1). There was, however, a violent earthquake associated with an angel coming from heaven and rolling away the stone from the door of the tomb. The appearance of the angel was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The Roman soldiers guarding the tomb were so frightened by the angel that they shook and apparently fainted. They had been sent there to seal and guard the tomb, but their power was useless before this angelic messenger.

28:5-8. Though the soldiers were afraid, the angel had a special message for the women. To them he announced the fact of the Resurrection, for the One they sought was no longer there, but had risen just as He said. He had told them several times He would rise on the third day (16:21; 17:23; 20:19). If He had failed to rise, He would have been a deceiver unworthy of further devotion. One proof He had risen was the empty tomb. The women were encouraged to come and see the place where the Lord had been lying. Then the angel told them to go quickly and tell the disciples that He had risen from the dead and would be going ahead of them into Galilee, just as He had said (26:32). They would see Him... there, and indeed they did (28:16-20; John 21:1-23). But these words did not preclude His appearing to them on other occasions, as He did later that day (John 20:19-25). The women obeyed the angel’s instructions for they hurried away from the tomb, intending to find the disciples and tell them the good news. They were filled with joy over the fact of the Resurrection, but they were fearful for they could not possibly comprehend the full implications of this momentous event.

28:9-10. As the women were on their way to tell the disciples what had happened, suddenly Jesus met them. Hearing His greeting, they recognized Him immediately and they fell at His feet and worshiped Him. By His appearance Jesus alleviated their fears and repeated the same message the angel had previously given: Do not be afraid (v. 10; cf. v. 5). He told them to tell the disciples (My brothers) to go to Galilee where He would appear before them. The Galilean ministry of Jesus was prominent in Matthew’s account and it was natural for Jesus to meet His disciples there. They were all from Galilee and would be returning to Galilee after the Feast. There Jesus would meet them.

28:11-15. While the women were running to find the disciples and tell them of the Resurrection, another group was moving rapidly to counteract the truth. Some of those who had been guarding the tomb overcame their fear, went into the city, and reported to the chief priests all that had transpired. It was imperative that the priests have an explanation to counter the truth. After deliberation the chief priests and elders... devised a plan. They gave the soldiers who had guarded the tomb a large sum of money and told them what to report to their superiors. The fabricated lie was that the disciples of Jesus had come during the night and had stolen away the body of Jesus while the soldiers were asleep. Such a report would not have been well received by the officials for a soldier who fell asleep on guard duty would be put to death (Acts 12:19). The Jewish leaders realized this as well, but promised to make things right with the superiors. When this was brought to the attention of the governor, they promised to satisfy him and keep the soldiers out of trouble. Such satisfaction obviously would involve the payment of another large sum of money. The soldiers took the money offered by the Jewish leaders and did as they were instructed. As a result, this story was widely circulated among the Jews, and many believed the disciples had really stolen Jesus’ body. But the logic of the explanation does not hold up. If the soldiers were asleep, how would they have known what had happened to the body of Jesus? And why would they admit “sleeping on the job”? The disciples’ courage during this period was not sufficient to carry out such a plot. They were afraid and had scattered when Jesus was arrested. To execute this kind of plot was beyond their ability. But the truth is often harder for a person to believe than a lie, and many still swallow this lie.


Major Theme Analysis

(Scriptural Text from the New King James Version; cross-references from the NIV)

(Note: The lesson points and cross-references copied from previous SS Lesson dated 04/24/2014)

The Quest for Jesus in the Tomb (Matt 28:1-4)


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.

2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.

4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.


Seeking to see Jesus (1)

Seeing Jesus face to face will be such a joy (Job 19:27)

27 I myself will see him with my own eyes-I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

We want to be apart of His people that see Him and have His Name on our forehead (Rev 22:4)

4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

Yet now we love Him without being able to see Him (1 Peter 1:8)

8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,

Seeing Jesus is seeing the Father (John 14:9)

9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

Seeing Jesus is seeing God because Jesus is the exact representation of God (Heb 1:3)

3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.


Angels help us in our seeking of Jesus (2-3)

Angels help by gathering God's people from everywhere (Matt 24:31)

31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Angels help by protecting those who are representing Him (Dan 6:22)

22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king."

Angels help because God speaks through them (Heb 2:2-3)

2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.

Angels help because they are stronger and more powerful (2 Peter 2:11)

11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord.

Angels help because they minister to Jesus (Heb 1:6-7)

6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him."  7 In speaking of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire."

Angels help because they are to be part of Jesus' powerful army (2 Thess 1:6-7)

6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.


Seeking Jesus should not include fear (4)

No fear because through the Holy Spirit we have been freed from slavery of fear (Rom 8:15)

15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

No fear because God is our helper (Heb 13:6)

6 So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

No fear because God is our refuge and strength (Ps 46:1-3)

46 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah

No fear because our trust is in God (Heb 2:13-16)

13 And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me."  14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants.


The Angel's Declaration of a Risen Jesus  (Matt 28:5-7)


5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who 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 indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you."


Fear keeps us from seeing Jesus (5)

Because fear makes us a slave (Rom 8:15)

15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba,  Father."

Because fears causes doubt about the saving power of God (Num 17:12-13)

12 The Israelites said to Moses, "We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! 13 Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the LORD will die. Are we all going to die?"

Fear causes us to drive Jesus away (Luke 8:37)

37 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

Because the spirit of fear comes from Satan (2 Tim 1:7)

7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Because of Satan's deception about death (Heb 2:15)

15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Because there is no fear in love (1 John 4:18)

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.


Jesus was crucified (5)

Jesus was crucified at the third hour (Mark 15:25)

25 It was the third hour when they crucified him.

We can be assured that Jesus was crucified (Acts 2:36)

36 "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

Jesus was crucified because His own countrymen wanted Him crucified  (1 Thess 2:14-15)

You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men

Because the chief priests and rulers handed Jesus over to be sentenced to death  (Luke 24:20)

20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him;

Because the Roman soldiers verified it  (John 19:31-35)

32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.


Jesus has risen (6)

Jesus has risen because He appeared to the eleven disciples (Mark 16:14)

14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

Jesus has risen because He appeared to Simon (Luke 24:34)

34 and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon."

Jesus has risen because it was prophesied (Acts 2:29-32)

29 "Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.

Jesus has risen because He is the living hope (1 Peter 1:3)

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Jesus has risen through the power of God (2 Cor 13:4)

4 For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God's power we will live with him to serve you.


We will see Jesus again (7)

We will see Jesus again because He will come back the way He left (Acts 1:11)

11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

We will see Jesus again in Heaven (Mark 14:25)

25 "I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God." 

We will see Jesus again and rejoice (John 16:22)

22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

We will see Jesus again coming down from Heaven (1 Thess 4:16-17)

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

We will see Jesus again because all will see Him (Rev 1:7)

7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.


Jesus' Appearance  (Matt 28:8-10)


8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

9 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.

10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."


There is joy because of Jesus' resurrection (8-9)

Joy because of sharing in the fellowship of Jesus (Phil 3:9-11)

10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Joy because of salvation through the resurrection of Jesus (1 Peter 3:20-21)

God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also-not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ

Joy because of the revealing of Jesus' glory (1 Peter 4:13)

13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Joy because of the hope provided through Jesus' resurrection (Rom 15:13)

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Joy because Jesus joyfully died and rose for us (Heb 12:2)

2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Joy because Jesus is praised and honored for His resurrection (1 Peter 1:6-7)

6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.


One of the reasons for worshiping God is because of Jesus' resurrection (9)

Worship God because Jesus has all authority (Matt 28:17-18)

17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Worship God because Jesus is in heaven (Luke 24:51-53)

51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

Worship God because of our belief in Jesus (John 20:28-29)

28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."


We should tell others about Jesus' resurrection (10)

Witnessing to others started with the scattering of the disciples (Acts 11:19-21)

19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

Witness to others because Jesus commanded it (Matt 28:18-20)

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Witness to others through the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." 

Witness to others through teaching (2 Tim 2:2)

2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.


The Conspiracy about the Missing Body of Jesus  (Matt 28:11-17)


11 Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened.

12 When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,

13 saying, "Tell them, 'His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.'

14 And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will appease him and make you secure."

15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.

17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.


Conspiracy usually has money involved (11-12)

Money was involved in the betrayal of Jesus (Mark 14:11)

11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and performed all kinds of evil (1 Tim 6:10)

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

In the last days, it is prophesied that greed and conspiracy will be a problem (2 Tim 3:1-5)

3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

No one can love money and God at the same time (Matt 6:24)

24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.


Conspiracy usually starts with fear of the truth (13)

Fear of the truth because it will disqualify authority (Matt 21:25-27)

They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' 26 But if we say, 'From men'-we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet." 27 So they answered Jesus, "We don't know."

Fear of the truth because of being controlled by Satan (John 8:44)

44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Fear of the truth because wanting to be thought of as called by God (2 Cor 11:12-13)

12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.

Fear of the truth because envy of true Christians (Gal 2:4)

4[This matter arose] because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.

Fear of the truth because the loss of connection with God (Col 2:17-19)

18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19 He has lost connection with the Head

Fear of the truth because it exposes heresies (2 Peter 2:1-3)

2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

Conspiracy is strengthened by others agreements (14-15)

Betrayers always seem to desire a crowd with them (Matt 26:47)

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people.

Conspiracy depends on persuasion of a crowd (Matt 27:20)

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

Conspiracy is strengthened when a few win others over to their ideas (Acts 14:19)

19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.

Conspiracy doesn't always mean participating, it is also approving and agreeing with those who carry out the actions (Rom 1:32)

32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.


Conclusion and Other Thoughts

Commentary Thoughts from Thomas Constable

Verse 1

The NASB translation of the Greek preposition opse as "late" is misleading. The word can also mean "after," and it makes better sense if translated as such here. [Note: Moule, p86.] The women waited until after the Sabbath to go to Jesus" tomb (cf. Mark 16:1-2). They went early Sunday morning. The "other Mary" was Mary the mother of James and Joseph (Matthew 27:56). Mark added that Salome also accompanied them (Mark 16:1). Salome was evidently the name of the mother of Zebedee’s sons. The "and" (Gr. kai) in Mark 16:1 is probably assensive, meaning "even." Apparently they did not know that the Sanhedrin had posted a guard at the tomb. They evidently went there to remember Jesus but also to anoint Jesus" corpse (Mark 16:1). They must not have known that it had been sealed either.

1. The empty tomb (28:1-7) (cf. Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1)

Verses 2-4

A second earthquake (divine intervention) had occurred (cf. Matthew 27:51). The relationship between the earthquake, the descent of the angel, and the rolling away of the stone is indefinite in the text. All of these events have supernatural connotations. An angel had announced the Incarnation, and now an angel announced the Resurrection (Matthew 1:20-23; cf. Matthew 18:10). [Note: Plummer, p417.] The angel rolled the stone away to admit the witnesses, not to allow Jesus to escape (cf. John 20:26). The guards experienced the earthquake and observed the angel who appeared as a young man (Mark 16:5). It was seeing the angel that evidently terrified them so greatly that Matthew could describe them as dead men (Matthew 28:3-4). Perhaps they fainted dead away.

Verses 5-7

The angel answered the women’s fear upon observing the scene by speaking to them (cf. Mark 16:2-7; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1). Of all the possible reasons for the tomb being open and empty that the women could have imagined, the angel clarified the one true explanation. Jesus had risen from the dead. The angel reminded them that Jesus had predicted His resurrection (cf. Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:23; Matthew 20:18-19). He then invited them to come and see where He had lain and to go and tell the other disciples that He had risen from the dead. They should go quickly because this was the greatest news. Jesus would confirm His resurrection with a personal appearance in Galilee shortly (cf. Matthew 26:32). He would arrive in Galilee before they did and meet them there.

"Earlier in Matthew’s story, Jesus twice said to the disciples that "whoever loses his life will find it [ Matthew 10:39; Matthew 16:25]," and on the cross Jesus held fast to God in trust even as he relinquished his life ( Matthew 27:46; Matthew 27:50). In raising Jesus from the dead, God certifies the truth of Jesus" words and the efficacy of his trust, which is to say that God vindicates Jesus: God resolves Jesus" conflict with Israel by showing that Jesus is in the right." [Note: Kingsbury, Matthew as . . ., pp90-91.]

Who Moved the Stone? is a classic apologetic on the subject of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Frank Morison, whose real name was Albert Henry Ross, was a skeptical British journalist when he began his research, but it convinced him of the historicity of the resurrection, and he became a Christian. This book presents a careful study of the last seven days of Jesus" pre-crucifixion ministry. [Note: Frank Morison, Who Moved the Stone?]

Verse 8-9

Jesus" sudden appearance must have given the women the shock of their lives (cf. Mark 16:8). He gave them a customary salutation (Gr. chariete, cf. Matthew 26:49). They kneeled at His feet and worshipped Him (cf. Matthew 28:17). Grasping someone’s feet was a recognized act of supplication and homage (Mark 5:22; Mark 7:25; Luke 17:16).

Verses 8-10

2. Jesus" appearance to the women (28:8-10)

All the Gospels mention the fact that women were the first people to see Jesus alive. This is a proof that the resurrection was real. In that culture the witness of women was not regarded very highly. [Note: Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew , pp698-99 , especially footnote282.] Thus, if the evangelists fabricated the resurrection, they certainly would not have written that women witnessed it first.

"The crowning events of the resurrection narrative are the appearances of the risen Jesus first to the women and then to his disciples, i.e, the eleven. The empty tomb, for all of its impressiveness and importance, is not sufficient evidence in itself for the resurrection of Jesus. What alone can be decisive is reliable eyewitness testimony that Jesus had been raised from the dead." [Note: Hagner, Matthew 14-28 , p874. Cf. p878.]

Verse 10

Jesus calmed the women’s fears as the angel had done, and He repeated the instructions that the angel had given them. Jesus" brethren were His disciples ( Matthew 12:48-50; Matthew 18:15; Matthew 23:8; Matthew 25:40; cf. Matthew 5:22-24; Matthew 7:3-5; Matthew 18:21; Matthew 18:35).

"Why, then, Matthew’s record of a resurrection appearance in Galilee? The answer surely lies in the combination of two themes that have permeated the entire Gospel. First, the Messiah emerges from a despised area...and first sheds his light on a despised people...;for the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). For this reason, too, the risen Jesus first appears to women whose value as witnesses among Jews is worthless... Second, "Galilee of the Gentiles" (Matthew 4:15) is compatible with the growing theme of Gentile mission in this Gospel...and prepares for the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)." [Note: Carson, " Matthew ," p590. See Zane C. Hodges, "Form-Criticism and the Resurrection Accounts," Bibliotheca Sacra124:496 (October-December1967):339-48.]

Verse 11

Some of the guards left the others at the tomb and reported the earthquake, the angel, and the empty tomb to the chief priests. That they reported to the priests strongly suggests that they were Jewish temple guards rather than Roman guards (cf. Matthew 27:65). If they had been Roman guards and had reported to their Roman superiors, they probably would have lost their lives for falling asleep on duty (cf. Acts 12:19; Acts 16:27-28).

3. The attempted cover-up (28:11-15)

This brief account finishes off Matthew’s story of the guard in Matthew 27:62-66.

Verses 12-14

The action of these Sanhedrin members proves that their promise to believe in Jesus if He would come down from the cross was hypocritical (cf. Matthew 27:42; Luke 24:13-32). They continued to show more concern for their own reputations and what was expedient than for the truth.

Their devised story was a weak one that a critic might easily discredit. If the guards had been asleep, they could not have known of the theft. If one of them was awake, why did he not sound an alarm? It was also incredible that the disciples who had abandoned Jesus out of fear would have summoned enough courage to risk opening the guarded tomb. Moreover, if the Sanhedrin had any evidence against the disciples, they surely would have prosecuted them, but they did not.

Molesting graves was sometimes punishable with death in the ancient Near East. [Note: Cf. Bruce M. Metzger, "The Nazareth Inscription Once Again," in Jesus und Paulus, pp221-38.] Consequently Jesus" enemies resorted to bribery to shut the mouths of the soldiers, and later Pilate, if necessary. Previously they had been willing to pay Judas money to protect their interests (Matthew 26:15).

Verse 15

Matthew explained that this was the origin of the Jewish explanation of the empty tomb that persisted to the time of his writing, whenever that may have been.

"Justin, Dial[logus]. 108 , tells us that this charge was still being actively propagated in the middle of the second century; it was an obvious countermove to Christian claims of Jesus" resurrection." [Note: France, The Gospel . . ., p1093.]

Justin was an early Christian writer.

"The reason for Matthew’s diligence in approaching the resurrection in such an apologetic manner is evident since so much is dependent upon the resurrection of the Messiah. It authenticated His person. To the nation of Israel, His resurrection was the sign of the prophet Jonah (Matthew 12:38-39) attesting the fact that Jesus was the Messiah. The reason Matthew says nothing about the ascension is bound up in this point. If Jesus is the Messiah, then an account of the ascension is both unnecessary and self-evident to the Israelite. He would yet come in clouds of glory. What mattered to Matthew was that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah and the resurrection proved that fact; therefore he goes no further. Second, the resurrection validated Christ’s prophecies concerning His rising from the dead (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:22-23; Matthew 20:17-19). Finally, the message of the King involving the character of the kingdom, the offer of the kingdom, and the offer’s withdrawal are all involved in the resurrection, for the resurrection verifies the truthfulness of all that Christ ever spoke." [Note: Toussaint, Behold the . . ., pp316-17.]

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Concluding Thoughts from the NIV Standard Lesson Commentary

The phrase “fake news” became a part of the vocabulary during the 2016 American presidential campaign. Certain news outlets were accused of creating stories that had no basis in fact in order to further an agenda. Christians may similarly be accused of propagating “fake news” regarding the resurrection of Jesus. The idea is that Christians accept on faith something that cannot be proven to be an actual event of history. But the resurrection can be proven true, as this lesson has demonstrated. Yet getting people to see the truth can be a slow process. This calls for prayer and patience. Even Jesus’ own disciples were not convinced at first. When the women reported to the disciples what they had found and not found at Jesus’ tomb, “They did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense” (Luke 24:11). The apostle Thomas (in) famously declared, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Why would men who were slow to believe news of a resurrection end up trying to make it appear as though one had happened if it had not? No one, neither the women nor the disciples, was anticipating that Jesus would arise. They were not spending the days following his death planning how they could perpetrate a hoax on the public. Paul’s declaration in 1 Corinthians 15:20 is the one that followers of Jesus gladly embrace and proclaim: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Fake news—no; actual news—absolutely!


Concluding Thoughts from the Echoes Commentary

Discovering the Empty Tomb - After Jesus' gruesome crucifixion and burial, several women came on Sunday morning to the tomb to finish preparations on His body. They waited until after the Sabbath, then gathered spices and hurried to His burial place. When they got to the tomb, supernatural happenings had already occurred. Jesus walked out of the sealed sepulcher, an earthquake rocked the ground, and angels rolled the stone away. The soldiers watching Jesus' tomb saw what happened and became like dead men.


Reporting the Good News - The angel reminded the women of Jesus' words concerning His resurrection. He instructed the women to run and tell Jesus' disciples. They became the first couriers of the Good News. The angel also told them of Jesus' plan to meet His followers in Galilee. While the women joyfully ran to give their report to the disciples, who should they run into but Jesus! They fell at His feet and began to worship Him. Like the angel, He told them not to fear, but go and tell the others to meet Him in Galilee.


The Lies - In the meantime, the Jewish leaders worked on a cover-up. The guards reported the miraculous events and the chief priest had to do something immediately to falsify these truths. They bribed the solders, telling them to spread a ridiculous lie. They would report that the disciples stole the body while the soldiers slept. A Roman soldier could lose his life if he dozed off and lost a prisoner. And if the guards fell asleep, how would they know what happened? This lie is still circulated among the Jews to this day.


Hope Because of the Resurrection - A Christian's faith and hope rest on the facts surrounding Jesus' walking away from His grave. As promised, Jesus rose from the dead, therefore validating all the statements He said about Himself. Other religious leaders still lie in their graves. Jesus is the only one to live again to confirm His claims.Fear of death is a natural, human fear. But Christians who face the end of their earthly existence place their trust in the Lord. They believe they will be resurrected and live again like Jesus. There's no need to fear death—instead God's children should be longing to go home and be with their heavenly Father. Embracing this message and truth brings hope, peace, and joy.