1. After the Sabbath. The Jewish Sabbath ended at 6 P.M. on the day we call Saturday. As Sunday morning was dawning. While it is still dark, just as the sun is about to rise (John 20:1). This is now the third day since Jesus was buried (compare note on Matthew 12:40). Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. (See note on Matthew 27:61.) Salome was also with them (Mark 16:1) and they were followed by other women.
2. Suddenly there was a strong earthquake. Just as the three women come up to the tomb. Angel... rolled the stone away. The earthquake happened at the same time the angel rolled the stone away. [There were at least two angels there, who appeared to the women (Luke 24:4).] Alford (Greek Testament) says: “It was not for Him to whom the stone was no hindrance (John 20:19-20), but for the women and disciples that it was rolled away.”
3. His appearance. Brightness, brilliance! [Compare Exodus 34:29; Matthew 17:2; Revelation 1:14.] Jesus’ clothes became white as light at the Transfiguration; and the Redeemed wear white robes in Revelation. White symbolizes purity.
4. The guards were so afraid. These are hard-boiled Roman soldiers.
5. I know you are looking for Jesus. The angel recognizes them as friends of the now Risen Lord. He speaks to quiet their fear.
6. Just as he said. He has been raised from death! The women are told this fact! They have come to see a grave which is now empty! [Jesus had said this in Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:23; etc.] Come here and see the place. This was the Lord of men and angels who had lain in this tomb, but was now raised from death. [Compare Colossians 1:20]
7. Go and tell his disciples. The birth of Jesus was first announced to woman (Luke 1:26-38); women were the last to leave the cross; women were the first to see the empty grave. This is “poetic justice” (compare 1 Timothy 2:13-15; Galatians 3:28). He is going to Galilee. Not that his only appearance would be there, since he would be seen at least eleven times. But the largest number of his followers lived in Galilee, and he would be seen by more than five hundred of them there (1 Corinthians 15:6).
8. Afraid and yet filled with joy. Afraid, because of all that has just happened! Filled with joy because their Lord has risen from death! This is the Good News! [Scholars have tried to reconstruct the events of this day. Both Mark (16:9) and John (20:11) say that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene (1) The women go very early to the grave, with Mary Magdalene taking the lead. (2) She arrives at the grave while it was still dark, sees the stone taken away, and runs back to the city by a different route, to tell the apostles. (3) The other women arrive at the grave, see the angels, are told Jesus has risen, and run to tell the disciples. (4) Peter and John, followed by Mary Magdalene, run to the grave, and then return to the city. (5) Mary Magdalene remains, sees the angels and Jesus. (6) A few minutes after this, Jesus appears also to the other women before they reach the homes of the apostles. (The women had left the grave on their way to the city before Peter, John, and Mary Magdalene came to it.)]
9. Suddenly Jesus met them. This is his second appearance. (1) He was first seen by Mary Magdalene Mark 16:9; John 20:11-18. (2) This is the second time he was seen—by the women returning from the grave. (3) By Simon Peter alone (Luke 24:34). (4) By two disciples going to Emmaus (Luke 24:13). (5) By the apostles at Jerusalem, except Thomas (John 20:19). (6) By the apostles at Jerusalem, Thomas present (John 20:26; John 20:29). (7) At Lake Tiberius [Galilee] (John 21:1). (8) By eleven disciples, on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16). (9) By five hundred followers in Galilee (1 Corinthians 15:6). [This and #8 might have been at the same time.] (10) By James only (1 Corinthians 15:7). (11) By all the apostles on the Mount of Olives (Luke 24:51). (12) He was also seen by Paul (Acts 9:3-6) [to offer him a commission as an apostle]; and by John on Patmos (Revelation 1:12-13). Took hold of his feet. Jesus allowed himself to be touched and handled, and ate food (Luke 24:39-43) to show that he was not a ghost.
10. Do not be afraid. Jesus met them while they were running to tell the others that he had raised from death! We are blessed by his presence as we run to tell others! Go and tell my brothers. Not disciples, but brothers. He speaks of his followers as brothers [and sisters].
11. Some of the soldiers. The time at which these men went back to the city is carefully identified. It was while the women continued on to tell the disciples about the Resurrection. These soldiers report directly to the priests (who wanted the grave guarded – Matthew 27:65-66).
12. And made their plan. They were in this too deep to stop now. They make up a story to try to cover up what has happened.
13. And stole his body. This story does not “stand up”. (1) The soldiers would not dare to sleep while on duty. It was death to do so! (2) If they had been asleep, how could they know what had happened? (3) The disciples did not expect Jesus to raise from death and would barely believe it when faced with the evidence. (4) The disciples had run away, and certainly would not have attempted to steal the body while the Roman soldiers were guarding it. (5) Even if the disciples would have tried to steal the body, and even if the guard were all asleep, this whole area was crowded with people who had come for Passover and who were “camping out” on the hillsides. Also, there was a full moon [Passover was keyed to a full moon].
14. And if the Governor should hear of this. Since he had “washed his hands” of the whole thing, and would shortly be returning to Caesarea, he probably would not hear of it at all.
15. The report spread around by the Jews. The Jewish leaders wanted to escape from guilt. Justin Martyr, writing in the second century at least a hundred years after Matthew wrote this Gospel, says this report was still being spread in the Jewish community.
16. Went to the hill in Galilee. The eleven stayed on in Jerusalem for over a week (John 20:26) after the Resurrection. This short account in Matthew gives the official meeting. John describes a meeting by the lake; and Paul speaks of a large group meeting Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:6). To the hill. Jesus had told them where and when to meet him.
17. They worshipped him. As did the women in Matthew 28:9. Even though some of them doubted. Not Thomas or the other apostles (John 20:26-29). Probably those who had not been at Jerusalem, as they are at a distance or perhaps saw him from a distance, doubt it is the Risen Lord, until he comes closer. Like Thomas, they would doubt no morel
18. Jesus drew near and said to them. He speaks to the whole group (of more than five hundred 1 Corinthians 15:6). He had given the twelve a limited mission a few years before (Matthew 10:1-15) and later sent seventy-two more. (Luke 10:1). But these had been sent only to the Jews, and to announce a Kingdom still in the future. The “old era” ended at the Cross, and the “last days” have begun (compare Peter’s use of Joel’s prophecy – Acts 2:16-21). I have been given all authority. Given – by God the Father (compare Philippians 2:6-11) in fulfillment of the Eternal Covenant, in the Unity of the Holy Spirit. Alford (Greek Testament) says: “Now first is this covenant, in its fulness, proclaimed upon earth. The Resurrection was its last seal – the Ascension was the taking possession of the Inheritance. But the Inheritance is already won; and their Heir is only remaining on earth for a temporary purpose – the assuring His joint-heirs of the verity of his possession.” On the basis of his authority as King, High Priest, and Judge – he authorizes them to “Go, to all peoples everywhere!” [A time is coming when he will give the Kingdom back to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24; 1 Corinthians 15:28).
19. Go, then, to all peoples. This officially revokes the “limited mission” to the Jews. From this time on, they are to go to all peoples (which includes the Jews). And make them my disciples. Their mission is to “MAKE DISCIPLES” for Christ (which includes “salvation”). They are to declare the facts about Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Acts 17:18), so that people will become followers of Jesus and use his principles to guide their lives. Baptize them. The rite by which followers of Jesus are to be “initiated” into Christ and “united” with him. See Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Not “the names,” but “THE NAME”—stressing the Triune nature of God. Alford says it speaks to an “objective admission into the covenant of Redemption.” The initiation which Christ commands here is “of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5) and is the “washing by which the Holy Spirit gives us new birth and new life” (Titus 3:4-5). [This is no deficient initiation. It is as much the baptism of the Holy Spirit as it is the baptism of Christ as it is the baptism of the Father. There is one [Christian] baptism—of water and the Holy Spirit. Either one is a Spirit-filled Christian or he is not a Christian at all (Roman 8:9). The Triune God is indivisibly ONE.] In this rite of initiation, The Father welcomes the believer as a child; the Son welcomes the believer as a brother [sister]; by the Holy Spirit’s power, we cry to God, “Father! my Father!” (Romans 8:15).
20. And teach them. The first part of this mission is to “make disciples,” and “initiate” them into Christ by “baptizing them.” The second part is to teach and instruct these disciples. To obey. Christianity is a way of life. We honor God by living “new lives.” Everything I have commanded you. Not dogma, not tradition, but those things which Jesus taught directly himself, and indirectly through his apostles, In other words, the New Testament. Listen to Paul speak to Timothy: “Take the words that you heard me preach in the presence of many witnesses, and give them into the keeping of men you can trust, men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2), And remember! His power and authority will back up his people until this Christian age comes to a close with Christ’s Second Coming and the Day of Judgment, He is placing a grave responsibility in the hands of the messianic community [his church]. But he is not leaving them as “orphans.” He has promised to send them “another Helper” to stay with them forever (John 14:16).
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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Matthew 28". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany