Matthew 28:1-10 Part 1

Hear a portion of First Corinthians chapter fifteen:


“Now I make known unto you, brethren, the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also you received, wherein also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the Word which I preached unto you, except you believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first all that which also I received:  that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried; and that He has been raised on the third day according to the Scriptures; and that He appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then He appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then He appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the one untimely born, He appeared to me also.  For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all:  yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.  Whether – then – it be I or they, so we preach, and so you believed.

“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised:  and if Christ has not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain.  Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we witnessed of God that He raised up Christ – whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins.  Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable.

But now has Christ been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of them that are asleep.  For since by man, death; by man also resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  But each in his own order:  Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ’s at His Parousia.  Then, the end – when He shall deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign till He has put all His enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that shall be abolished is death.  For He (God) put all things in subjection under His feet (i.e. Christ’s).  But when He saith, ‘All things are put in subjection’, it is evident that He is excepted Who did subject all things unto Him.  And when all things have been subjected unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subjected to Him that did subject all things unto Him, that God may be all in all.”


The resurrection had been revealed in God’s Word from the beginning!  In the Law; in the wisdom literature; and by the prophets… the resurrection had been prefigured, foreshadowed, openly taught and prophesied.

Moses spoke of it as early as Genesis chapter three.  The very figure of the tabernacle and all its furniture (which we looked at last Lord’s Day) foreshadows the resurrection of the One Offering Who would make atonement and enter, once, into the Throne-room/Judgment Seat of the Almighty.

The great Patriarch Job, in order to silence his critics, spoke these great words (chapter nineteen, verses twenty-five and twenty-six):


“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand-upon-the-earth in the latter day; and though my flesh is destroyed, yet in my body I shall see God… Whom I shall see for myself.  And mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my organs (bowels) be consumed within me.”


Job had been taught, and he believed, in the resurrection of the Redeemer; and he faithed in the resurrection of his own body!

Isaiah, in is great hymn of praise (chapters twenty-five and twenty-six), prophesying with regard to Messiah, says:


“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces….”  “Thy dead shall live… together with My dead body shall they arise.  Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.”


Daniel, in his visions of things to come, saw the resurrection of Israel’s Messiah and His ascension to the Right of The Father, where He received Power and Glory and a Kingdom!

And Ezekiel was commanded to prophesy to the Wind (the Spirit) with regard to all the bones in the valley of Meggido.  Although they were all resurrected to life… a clear allusion to the resurrection of Messiah and all His people – according to the Will of God!

As we enter into that portion of Matthew’s Gospel having to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is with the background of the entirety of Scripture with which Matthew writes.  For it all prophesied and foreshadowed and taught the coming of The Redeemer – and His One Sacrifice for the sin of man, and His resurrection from death.

Man, who had rebelled against God and was cursed, and depraved and dead, had to be rebirthed in order to live again.  Man had to be created again in order to have life and communion with God his Creator.

The Redeemer-Christ of God would take on the flesh of man (though without sin) and die – in order to defeat death in the flesh.  He would suffer the pain of forsakenness from God for us, and come up out of death for us, and provide a new humanity for us into which we be rebirthed!

And by His work, and only by His work, man – through faith in Him – would become new creations in Christ.  It is all His work (lest any man should boast), and there is no other Name in Heaven or earth by which, and in which, man can have life.  Otherwise men shall perish eternally for their rebellion.  It is the resurrection of Christ to which we look in hope and anticipation for life.  For without the resurrection (as Paul said) there is no Christianity; and, in that case, we are, above all men, to be pitied.

We’ll have much more to say about the resurrection itself as we go through the text of Matthew’s Gospel.  But let me just remind you of the preaching of Peter at Pentecost – fifty days after the crucifixion.

First He brought the Sovereignty and holy Law of God against the Jews and proselytes of the nations as they were gathered in Jerusalem for the celebration.  God had delivered the Christ over to them as the sacrificial offering of Passover.  And they had murdered Him according to God’s determinate counsel.

And Peter quoted David (Psalm sixteen, verse ten) concerning the resurrection of the One Whom they had murdered!  The apostles and many others had seen Him and witnessed to His resurrection!  And, now, God had exalted Him to His Right Hand where He made Him both Lord and Christ!

So, first he said (Peter), they were murderers… breaking God’s holy Law; secondly, they murdered the Christ Himself, having been delivered over to them by God the Father; thirdly, they had done so by the determinate counsel of God – leaving them with no hope; but fourth, God, as the Psalm of David had prophesied, had raised Him up from death; and, fifth, God had now exalted Him and made Him Lord of all!

Three thousand men from all over the world were added to the Church at this first preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for the Spirit of Christ (by the preaching of Peter) was sharper than a two-edged sword… piercing their very “being”; regenerating them and making them new creations, and causing them to mourn their sin and repent!

You see, it was the Law of God that brought them to the point of hopelessness in their sin and depravity; but it was the atonement and the resurrection of Christ by which they were made hopeful of eternal salvation in Him!

So the single greatest evangelical event recorded in Scripture provides us with a very special example of the “form” and “kind” of preaching and teaching and evangelizing that is required of us as Christians.  And that form is still the “standard” as we evangelize and teach and preach.

Having now introduced the subject of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we need to enter into the text of Matthew’s Gospel at verse one of chapter twenty-eight.

And let’s begin by first saying something about the four Gospel accounts of the resurrection (in general), and something as well about Matthew’s approach to the event (specifically).

As you already know there are four inspired records of Jesus’ resurrection and the people and occurrences surrounding the event.  And in some ways they all differ!  And pagan critics (and I include those who call themselves “christian”, but still do this)… (pagan critics) take opportunity in these “differences” to discredit all of them!  They do this, of course, in order to avoid the implications of a risen Christ Who has been made Lord of all!  Those implications include repentance (which is turning away from self, and their sin), and faith and commitment to Jesus Christ the King!

Now, since they don’t want that, they take every opportunity to point out (falsely, I might add) the apparent differences in the written texts of Scripture – discrediting the Scriptures and leaving doubt as to their veracity!  This, in turn, gives them “leave” to doubt the “actual” resurrection of Jesus; and permits them to posit “other possibilities”!  And those other possibilities include an actual “denial” of the resurrection per se, or a “spiritual” interpretation of “stories” that have arisen out of this ancient culture.

But in every case these attempts to discredit the Scriptures reveal an underlying agenda leading to denial and faithlessness.  And that “underlying agenda” is the same old story of pagan man – “I do not wish to be in subjection to Him.”  “I do not wish Him to rule over me.”  (That’s the basic agenda of everyone in rebellion.)  “I don’t want to obey!”

Now, the facts are that there are four totally different men writing accounts of the resurrection.  They were not only different, but they were in four different places!  And their research into what happened came to them in four different ways!  And at four different times!

But most of all the difference occurred due to the fact that, for reasons all their own (and for those of the inspiring Spirit of Christ), and for purposes of their own, they chose to emphasize certain occurrences and de-emphasize others!

And I think it would be wise to say that, if it were not for these things, if it were not for the differences, if it were not for the individual views and purposes of different men who had varying reasons for writing their accounts of the single greatest event in the history of men, the texts would, indeed, be suspect!

What we would have then would be “copyists” writing a “formula” – rather than personalities with purpose, all of whom wrote as they were “borne along” by the Holy Spirit.

So, the point of all this is that the differences in the four accounts are to be expected – not discredited!  And Christians (who are to be students of the Bible) are to “delight” in them and see in them a “fuller” understanding of the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, Matthew’s account is written as he wrote all the rest of His Gospel.  It is a “dispassionate” record of the facts which are in accord with his purpose.  The facts are “few” and “simple”; he uses the language that we’ve seen in numerous portions of his Gospel over the past seven years.  It is the language of God and the fulfillment of prophecy… it is language (or vocabulary) filled with meaning – which we’ve always had to “search out” in order to fully understand.

And the “demure, tranquil and serene” record of these incredible facts lends great power to the inexcusability of unbelief.  His record – not a verbose, impassioned plea for the exciting of the masses; but a simple relating of the facts of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  And that, in itself, leads us to the conclusion that our duty as Christians is “faith in the objective Truth of God’s Word”.  We don’t faith in having been brought to excitement; we don’t faith in having been manipulated by emotion.  We faith in the propositional Truth of God’s Word.

Okay.  Now, as we begin to look at the text at verse one (and that’s just about all we’ll have time for today), let’s start by looking at the scene as it begins to unfold

“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawning of the first day, came May the Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.”


One or two other women are mentioned in the other Gospel accounts as being with them; but Matthew sees no purpose in including them here.  And because he leaves them out gives no one cause to doubt the veracity of Matthew’s Gospel!

Mary, the one from Magdala (from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons), and “the other Mary” (Jesus’ mother’s sister – His aunt), are the ones who had followed Joseph of Arimethea and (maybe) Nicodemus and John to the location of the tomb late Friday afternoon (the day of preparation for the Sabbath).  They did that – not only in mourning for Jesus – but so they could find the location again when they came back to complete the “embalming” of the body.  Joseph had hurriedly done all that he could before the Sabbath began late Friday.  And then he left – leaving the rest to be done by the women.

Nothing was done over the Sabbath (Saturday); and Jesus was “at rest” – fulfilling the Law of the Sabbath.  Remember here that the days of the week were not “named” as we now have them.  The “first day of the week” was the day after the Sabbath (our Saturday – the seventh day).  The “day of preparation” was the sixth day of the week (our Friday), and was used for all work to be done in preparation for the Sabbath.  All days of the week were referred to with reference to The Sabbath!

Now the text says “after the Sabbath”.  The seventh day – the day of rest – was over; and a new week had begun on the first day (our Sunday).

So it was “toward the dawning of the first day”.  In other words, it was very early.  In fact it was still pretty dark.  Why would the women get up before dawn of the first day of the week to travel out through the walls of the city (or from the Mount of Olives) … down into the valley to the site of Joseph’s sepulchre – among the tombs of the rich?

There are several reasons that I can think of – none of which have anything to do with establishing a pattern of “sunrise” services for the Church on easter Sunday!

But one of the reasons may have been the fear of the priests and elders and pharisees.  It could be that they still felt as if there could be some degree of risk involved in being associated with Jesus.  But if they could go early, they may not encounter anyone from Israel’s leadership there or along way; and they could get through at the grave-site without being noticed.

Another reason for the early hour could have been the addition of this duty to an otherwise busy first day of the week.  Most of the last week had been taken up in Passover festivities and the Sabbath rest.  So “household duties” would be far behind.  And it could be that getting the day started early was just a “time” issue.  But I just don’t think that women would risk being out – especially in a cemetery – in the dark, simply to save some time.  Besides, as Matthew states in verse two, there had already been a tremendous earthquake that morning!  That would have added to their fear!

But the most logical reason for this pre-dawn excursion (even given the possibility of no one being there to help them open the sepulchre) seems to be some degree of “haste” with reference to “decomposition” of the body.

Solid rock gets hot in the sun; and bodies not properly embalmed quickly decompose.  And those in future days (such as Mary, the mother of Jesus, or any of His disciples) who wished to sit in the sepulchre, on the rock seats hewn at the head or feet, and mourn either son or teacher, could do that without the discomfort of overwhelming odor.  And, after all, Jesus was dead!  He had been dead now for about forty hours (over the course of parts of three days).  So there was some urgency with respect to that.

So, with mixtures of costly spices already prepared, the women left their homes (or places where they were staying), in the dark, even in the wake of an earthquake, and they started on the way to the tomb of the rich man (Joseph) in whose tomb Jesus now lay dead (they thought).

Not yet knowing that the Sanhedrin had “sealed” the tomb and placed a contingent of Roman guards there, we can imagine that there was sadness and mourning and discouragement (as well as fear) – and a bit of “dread” at the task that lay ahead.  These were, indeed, fearsome times; and the majestic things were happening.  And they had so hoped that this One was the One who God had sent to “restore”, or to “resurrect”, Israel to its former glory.

Next Lord’s Day, the encounter with an angel of God – in the dark!