Matthew 28:1-10 Part 2


As we enter back into the text of Matthew’s Gospel concerning the resurrection of our Lord, let’s recall a former point (from last week) which had to do with Matthew’s purpose in writing his Gospel record.

It was said then that it wasn’t the apostle’s intent to “chronicle” a word-by-word – and event-by-event – history of Jesus’ resurrection.  “Who all was there?”… and “What did they see?”… and “What did they all say?”… and “What did they feel?” … – these things were of “lesser” importance to Matthew than was the “event” itself.

This is not to say that Matthew was “uninterested” in the historical “fact” of the resurrection.  He was, indeed, interested in that… as is evidenced by his listing of the “appearances” of Jesus to numbers of people after His being raised form death.

But I think that it’s of utmost importance for us to understand that Matthew’s intent was not to “journal” an account which could then, perhaps, be compared with others and “edited” later for the local newspaper.  His record of the resurrection (dispassionate and factual as it is) incorporates the highly-exalted and glorious language of prophecy and fulfillment, of promise and completion, of covenant and faithfulness….  It is the language of glory; it is the language of majesty and grandeur….  It is the language of God.

A very serious “shortfall” in human beings (due to sin, the fall and God’s curse upon mankind) is our inability to get past the “immediate”.  We can’t naturally “see” past whatever it is that meets – and pleases – our senses.  Not only are our attention spans very short, but we refuse to “think the thoughts of God after Him” – concentrating only on that which we see and hear and smell and feel!

Some do make attempts to get past the immediate – but these all fall far short of what we were created to do.  Many depend upon “intuiting” that which is “beyond” the senses; but human “intuition” (as all the rest of human capabilities) is depraved and dead in sin!  Therefore it is of worthless reliability.  Others use foreign substances – which are deadly, because they militate against the mind.  Still others make attempts at “seeing beyond the immediate” by resorting to such things as parapsychology, mediums, mystical religion, and new age religion.  But these are all condemned by God as worthy only of death!

I’m reminded of the politician who once said, “I can do or say almost anything… and the voters won’t remember it thirty days from now!”  And it’s true!  It’s true because most do not (and can not) discern the Truth and the reality behind and underneath the surface facts!  Many good politicians understand the nature of man (to a degree), and they can “disguise” their own perversions.  They know that most people can’t see beyond the immediate senses; and they know that most have a very short attention span.  So they can do almost anything… and then, after doing a couple of things that “appear” good, in a month or two everything that was evil is forgotten!

Another example might be the “scientist” who, by scientific methodology, “discovers” the fact of the case, whatever it is he’s researching, but has no earthly idea how to interpret it.  He just can’t understand beyond that which he sees with his eyes!

So, the sin-nature of man “suppresses” the Truth, perverts reality, and disables the understanding of most anything beyond the immediate.

Now, the point I’m getting to here is this:  the Revelation of God through the apostle Matthew (in this case concerning the resurrection of Christ), although seemingly undistinguished and dispassionate in its relating of the simple facts of the resurrection, is replete with the language of God and the language of prophecy.  And we, as covenant people, have to “think with the mind of God” in order to see “beyond the immediate”!

Now, we are not “gnostic” practitioners, are we?  We don’t “ascend to level after level of understanding” by ascetic and meditative means!  We can’t reach a “higher level” of understanding by “looking more and more deeply into ourselves” or on the opposite side, by “getting outside of ourselves”, or by “harmonizing with others” or with “nature”!  There’s no power there – there is only futility and death!

What we mean by “thinking with the mind of God” is, simply put, submitting ourselves to His revealed Word.  When God said, “Come, let us reason together”, He doesn’t mean, “Let’s get together; and you put your thoughts on the table, and I’ll put mine there, and we’ll work it out and come to a mutual understanding”!!!  (That’s a compromise!)

Now, Matthew’s text is the “Light” of the mind of God.  It is the Revelation of the Christ in the language of God.  God does say, “Come, let us reason together”… I have covenanted; and I have faithfully performed My covenant, which I did reveal by the Law and the Prophets.  And here in the “latter days” I have brought forth My Firstborn, ONLY-born, Who is the “Fullness” of My Word!

And should you come and “reason” with Me, you will know My ways and know My Mind and know what I have done.  And, therefore, you will “think My thoughts after Me”.

So, now, let’s come and reason with God… let us “think the thoughts of God after Him”; let’s put away all imaginative and creative human stories… and all mythology… and all attempts at parapsychological phenomena… and all “human intuition” – and let’s visit the glorious language of God and see what He has done in raising Jesus Christ from death.

In verse two Matthew says, “Lo, there had been a great earthquake” – a great shaking.  Anything else?....  No.  Anybody else in the record mention it or respond to it?... . No.  Okay… so there was an earthquake!  Nothing else is said about it… must not be that important (after all, there were earthquakes in that region every so often)… (thanks for the information)… let’s go on!!

Now, is that “thinking with the mind of God”, and looking at the resurrection of Jesus Christ from His perspective???  Hardly!  So what’s going on?  Why is there seismic activity right at this point?  Why does Matthew introduce it with his (now famous) specific little word “lo”?  “And, lo, there had been a great earthquake”!  As we’ve seen, the word always introduces a statement of great prophetic/covenantal significance.

Now, three times previously, in the text of Matthew, the Greek word for “shaking”, or earthquake, has been used (preferably “shaking”).  The first time was when Jesus and His disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee – on the way to Gadara where He cast out demons from a Gentile city!

It’s a shame that translations use the word “tempest” in that case, since the word is clearly “seismos” – shaking!  The Sea shook!  The Son of God had come, and mighty things were taking place – including the defeat of Satan among the Gentiles!

The second occasion of the use of this word in Matthew was in chapter twenty-four, when Jesus was describing (for His disciples) the “beginning of travail” as the end of the age was nearing.  Earthquakes were to be events of great significance – to which the disciples were to pay attention!  They were to understand the significance of them as signs of the coming consummation!  (the consummation of the age)

And the third time Matthew uses the word “seismos” was at the point when Jesus, having been crucified, yielded the Spirit to the Father… ripping the veil from top to bottom and entering once into the Holy of Holies (having made atonement for the sin of mankind)!  Matthew says, “and the earth did shake”!

It’s interesting to note that the writer to the Hebrews (Jewish Christians in the Church) incorporates this whole idea (“shaking”) as he writes to Jewish Christians concerning the appearance and work of the Royal High Priest – Jesus Christ, the One Who did enter into the Presence of the Father as our Mediator!  He quotes from the prophecy of Haggai chapter two:


“See to it that you don’t refuse Him Who is speaking.  For if those did not escape when they refused Him Who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him Who warns from heaven.  And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’

“And this expression, ‘yet once more’, denotes the removing of those things that can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things that cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we receive a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe:  for our God is a consuming fire.”  (Hebrews twelve, verses twenty-five through twenty-nine)


Here is a picture of an all-powerful, sovereign God Who causes the created order – the world – to shake and tremble and quake at His displeasure.  The shaking, as we’ll see in a minute, is prophesied all through the Older Testament; and it is a part of, and signals, the travail (birth pangs) of a new order of things as the old is decreated!  The consummation of the age is nearing; and that which is “old” is to pass away as God “shakes” the heavens and the earth!

We’ll see some more about that in a minute; but let’s look at just a couple of the more important prophetic portions of the Scriptures as the prophets of God foretell what God is going to do in Israel – at the time of the Christ.

As the psalmist prophesies (Psalm eighteen) concerning the humiliation and suffering and death of the Christ, at the point of Jesus’ loud cry unto the Father, from the cross! This is the psalmist’s Revelation about what’s happening, at the same time in the heavens!


“In My distress I called upon Jahveh… I cried unto My God.  He heard My voice out of His temple.  And My cry before Him came into His ears.  Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the mountains quaked and were shaken, because He was wroth….  And the foundations of the world were laid bare!” (Psalm eighteen, verses six, seven, and fifteen)


At the death of the Christ, there would be signs of shaking and decreation of the world order!  The old was coming to a “finish”; and something new and unshakable was replacing it (one that cannot be shaken).

And here is the prophecy of Isaiah with regard to the consummation of the age:


“…pangs and sorrows shall take hold; they shall be in pain as a woman in travail….  Behold, the day of Jahveh comes, cruel with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation….  For the stars of heaven and the constellations shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in its going forth, and the moon shall not cause its light to shine….  Therefore I will make the heavens to tremble, and the earth shall be shaken out of its place in the wrath of Jahveh Sabbaoth (Lord of Hosts).”  (Isaiah chapter fourteen)


You see, the words of decreation of the old order is here described in the same language that Matthew uses here in our text.  So the very things prophesied (Psalm eighteen, and Isaiah fourteen) are happening at the crucifixion and death and resurrection of the Christ!

And listen to even more specific language about the same events ten chapter over – in chapter twenty-four of Isaiah:


“Behold, Jahveh makes the earth empty and makes it waste and turns it upside down….  The windows on high are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble.  The earth is utterly broken; the earth is rent asunder; the earth is shaken violently.  The earth shall stagger like a drunken man and shall sway to and fro like a hammock….” (Isaiah twenty-four, verses one, eighteen, through twenty)


By the way, although we’re not going to have the time to look into them (we will later), the apostle John, in His vision of the Revelation, mentions the “shaking of the earth” no less than seven times with regard to the termination of the old covenant nation in 70AD.

Now, one of the results of Christ’s ascension, as He foretold in chapter twenty-four, would be the crack of the doom for apostate Israel – the “shaking of heaven and earth” (Israel)!  As Revelation chapter eleven, verse thirteen says, “in that day there was a great earthquake” (a shaking).


“And it shall come to pass in that day...” says the prophet Ezekiel (chapter thirty-eight),  “My wrath shall come up into My nostrils.  For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath have I spoken.  Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; so that the fishes of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at My Presence; and the mountains shall be thrown down (decreation) and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground….  And I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself; and I will make Myself known in the eyes of many nations; and they shall know that I Am Jahveh.”


In Joel, and in Haggai, and in Zechariah come more prophecies of the shaking of the earth as the figures and pictures of “decreation” take place over and over again.  The decreation of Israel – old covenant – old administration.

Now, it is necessary for us once again to see that the “Day of the Lord”, or the latter days, or the last days, has to do with the advent of Christ!  And the advent of Christ is seen as one event!  His birth; His life: His death; His entering once (as our atonement) into the Holy of Holies; His burial; His resurrection; His ascension; the outpouring of the Spirit on the Church at Pentecost; the outpouring of His wrath (in the Parousia) upon Israel in 66-70AD… all of these things are seen as one event – The Advent!

The great “Day of the Lord” is Jesus Christ coming and taking His rightful place as King… shaking the heavens and the earth, and decreating the old and creating the new!

And Matthew even sees the resurrection of the saints of old as they appeared in the streets of Jerusalem at Christ’s resurrection!  And John the apostle sees them and the slain martyrs of the new Church around the base of the Throne of God in the heavenlies.

This is the first resurrection, completed at His Parousia, as Jesus Christ the King completes the destruction of the state of Israel and the city of Jerusalem.  The “old” is terminated, and the elect of God under that old administration receive their reward – having been resurrected with Christ to be with Him in His millennial reign!

So you see that the earthquake – the shaking – seemingly mentioned in passing by Matthew, was not mentioned in passing at all!  There was an earthquake at His passing “through the veil”; there was an earthquake at His resurrection; and there would be many more earthquakes as 70AD neared.  The “shaking” of the earth was a sign – a figure – of the “passing away” of all that was old.  It was a sign of termination in the wrath of God; it was a sign of “decreating” all that was.  It was a sign of a new heavens and a new earth as the old heaven and earth were removed (shaken) in order to be replaced.  It was a sign of the Advent of the Christ!

As we begin to wrap this up, let me quote to you from the writings of the greatest puritan Theologian, John Owen, concerning these things.  Here’s what he said:


“It is the dealing of God with the Church, and the alterations which He would make in the state thereof, concerning which the apostle treats.  (The Jewish worship and the Jewish state – heaven and earth) are here intended.  These were they that were shaken at the coming of Christ; and so shaken as shortly after to be removed and taken away… for the introduction of the more heavenly worship of the Gospel and the immovable evangelical Church-state.  This was the greatest commotion and alteration that God ever made in the heavens and earth of the Church, and which was to be made once only.

“…He declares that all the ancient institutions of worship and the whole Church-state of the Old Covenant were now to be removed and taken away; and that to make way for a better one… more glorious… and that which should never be subject to change or alteration.” Never to be shaken!


Pastor Owen, continuing to press the application of the meaning of the “earthquake” says,


“(even though these things are principally intended), yet all other oppositions unto Him and His Kingdom are included therein (as well); not only those that then were, but all that should ensue unto the end of the world.  The ‘things that cannot be moved’ are to remain and be established against all opposition whatever.  Wherefore, as the heavens and the earth of the idolatrous world were of old shaken and removed, so shall those also of the antichristian world, which at present in many places seem to prevail.  All things must give way, (whatever may be comprised in the names of heaven and earth here below) unto the Gospel and the Kingdom of Christ therein.  For if God made way for it by the removal of His Own institutions, which He appointed for a season, what else shall hinder its establishment and progress unto the end?”


Wonderful thought processes from John Owen – “thinking with the mind of God”.

So Jesus Christ came to bring the “definitive” earthquake – the great cosmic “shaking” of all things as the New Covenant is established!  A “shaking”… “such as there had not been since the men came to be upon the land, so mighty an earthquake, and so great….” (Revelation sixteen, verse eighteen)

Matthew says, verse two, “lo, there had been a great earthquake”.  And all these things are to be brought into our minds as we read that simple, little, statement of fact.  It is, indeed, highly-exalted language of prophecy and promise.

The old heavens and earth were shaken and removed at “the Advent” of Christ.  The old administration; the old nation of God; the old institutions of worship – temple, ceremonies, sacrifices.  All that God had created – by covenant – were shaken and taken away.  For the reality of all these things came in the flesh!  And, behold!  All things are made new!

Maybe now we can “think with the mind of God” and see why there was a great “shaking” at His resurrection!