Matthew 28:1-10 Part 3


In a few short years after Matthew wrote this Gospel, the temple on the dome of the rock was destroyed, the city was “sacked” and burned and the walls leveled, and multitudes of people – Jews – were slaughtered (not only in this city and this nation… but everywhere in the Roman empire).

The “Parousia” (coming) of Christ into the full “Exousia” (authority) of His Kingdom meant the complete termination of all that was “old”.

Jesus had been crucified!  He had yielded the Spirit into the hands of the Father, and had entered (once) into the Judgment Seat/Holy of Holies – having made atonement for men.  And, now, He has arisen, in the flesh, from death!

His blood, contrary to the blood of sheep and bulls, purged the sins of His people who “by one offering He has perfected forever” (Hebrews nine, verses twelve and following).

His body, raised from death, is the “new temple” made without hands – by which we now have bold access into the very Presence of God!  Being our Perfect High Priest, God the Son represents us before God the Father.  He is our Priest “Who ever lives to make intercession for (us)”!


“Therefore”, as the writer to the Hebrews says, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews ten, verse twenty-two).


We are commanded not only to come to God, but to come near in holy love and devotion.  On our own we cannot approach.  But by the sprinkled blood of the sacrifice, and the cleansing with pure water, we now have bold access into the Holy Place!


Now, “let us hold fast the confession our hope without wavering, for He Who promised is faithful” (Hebrews chapter ten, verse twenty-three).


God was faithful to do all that He said in His Covenant.  He displayed it all in shadowings and figures in the Old Covenant.  And here in the last days He fulfilled all His promises in the crucifixion and resurrection of the Christ.  Now, since He is faithful, you be faithful!  Don’t doubt or waver in the fear of humiliation or persecution.


“He is faithful Who also will do it” (First Thessalonians five, twenty-four).


And “let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews ten, verse twenty-four).


In addition to “drawing near to God” (in public and private worship) and “holding on in the faith”, we are to love one another and “stir” each other to love and good works… manifestations of obedience to God and love for the brothers.


And we are to do this, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together… exhorting one another…” (Hebrews ten, verse twenty-five).


So the “assembly” – the congregation – the service of worship – is a vital issue… not only from the standpoint of glorifying God in public, but also from the standpoint of mutual encouragement and “stirring each other” in faithfulness and love.

This is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ!  It was inaugurated at His resurrection… signaled by a great “shaking” of the heaven and earth.  For the “old” was coming to an end; “and, behold, all things were made new”!

The great institution built by God on the “dome of the rock” in Jerusalem was terminated; and the Church – built on the Rock which was Christ – is inaugurated!  God “shook” the heavens and the earth (all the old institutions) at the death and at the resurrection of Christ:  and that which is “unshakable” now remains.  And that which is unshakable is the new “temple of God” which is Christ and His people!  Heaven and earth and all the nations are under His Rule.

And Matthew, writing in the glorious “language of God”, using the Words of the prophets in the texts of Scripture, continues to describe the events of that resurrection (verses two and three).


“… an angel of Kurios having come down out of heaven and having come forth, did roll the stone away and was sitting upon it.  And his appearance was as lightning and his garment white as snow.”


Now, as we begin to examine the language here let’s understand that the resurrection of Jesus Christ had already occurred.  The great earthquake was the witness of, and the announcement of, the resurrection!  God was shaking the heaven and the earth in the mighty events of the Christ.  The old was passing away and the new established and unshakable!

And now He has sent a “messenger”!  That’s what an “angel” is.  The word “angelos” (in Greek) means “one who is sent” – a messenger.  Matthew says that it was “an angel of Kurios”… – … one “sent”.  A messenger of Kurios.

I use the Greek word “Kurios” here because the Greek text doesn’t show the article “the”.  It’s just the “name” of God… “Kurios”.  It is usually translated “The Lord”.  But since the article doesn’t appear here, and since “an angel of Lord” sounds strange to our ears, I’ll just use the proper name… Kurios.

But the “angel” is a messenger of Kurios.

Angels (messengers – where men and the creation are concerned) are creatures.  They are not men (or women or children); nor do they “look like” men or women or children.  They are creatures of another kind.  And their existence depends, as does all the rest of God’s creation, upon the will of God Who created them!

Matthew says here (verse two) that this angel (sent from God) “came down out of heaven”!  Now, what does “out of heaven” mean?  Does it mean “from the Presence of God”?  Well, it certainly means that too.

But, do angels exist outside the creation?  Hardly.  They’re creatures.  God reserves “omnipresence” to Himself!  He alone exists above and beyond His created realm.  If you remember the pictures of the tabernacle that we saw a few weeks ago, the “figures” or “forms” and “analogies” of the tabernacles were man-made “forms” of reality.  And God was seen in those figures as omnipotent and reigning “over and above” the creation.

And, as Ezekiel saw the Throne-room/Judgment Seat of God over the firmament of His creation (Ezekiel chapter one), there were “living creatures” below Him (and in the crated realm)!

So when Matthew says “an angel of Kurios, having come down from heaven…”, he means that a creature of God was sent from the Presence of God (i.e. from under the Presence of the Almighty).  And he (angels are always spoken of as masculine) – he was sent for a specific purpose… to deliver a message.

And the message was not in his own words, and neither was it “preaching”.  (Preaching is reserved to men.)  But it was a message – the form and content of which was given to him directly from God.

You see, angels are not ubiquitous and omniscient creatures.  (They are not everywhere and they don’t know everything.)  Since they are creatures, they have no power other than that which God gives them.  They don’t “know” the content of the messages before they receive them; they don’t know what they are to do or say before they are told.

They are creatures that have sensitivities though.  God made them with mighty abilities (some more powerful than others, so they have “different” abilities – as might be expected); and, after a fashion, they reflect – or image – His “Creatorship” in many ways.  The Scripture says that they “long to see into the things of God”.  So there are “emotions” and “longings” and anticipations and hopes among these creatures.  And there is “rejoicing” among them when God does mighty deeds!  (such as in the rebirth of one of His people).

Well, as Matthew says, the angel did not come to raise the Christ from death!  Neither did he come to roll the stone away from the tomb in order to let Jesus out.  Jesus had already been raised from death.  First Peter chapter three, verse eighteen says that Jesus was “put to death in the flesh and made alive by the Spirit”.  It was the Spirit Who raised Jesus from death (just as it was the Spirit Who caused Him to be conceived in the womb of the virgin!).  The angel was sent to deliver a message!

Also, the “shaking of heaven and earth” had not rolled the stone away; the angel rolled it away.  As we’ll see later on, part of the message involved showing the women the empty tomb.  So the stone had to be rolled away in order to do that!  The angel came down from heaven and rolled the stone away from an empty tomb, so that the women could see inside.

(So all the pictures and [great paintings] and artists’ renditions of an angel opening the tomb for Jesus to come out are out of accord with the text of Scripture.  If your child’s “picture book Bible” has one of those pictures in it, rip out the page!  It’s better to tear up a book that you’ve spent good money on rather than “soil” your child’s mind with idolatrous pictures!  The work of the Holy Spirit in raising Christ from death is an important concept; and it shouldn’t be desecrated by a blasphemous picture of a “creature” being used in the resurrection of the Christ!  It was no creature, it was Holy Spirit of God Who raised Him!)

Going back once again to the birth of Christ, you remember that a “host” of angels was sent from heaven to announce the birth of Messiah to the shepherds.  But they had nothing to do with His conception or His birth… they were sent from God with a message concerning His birth!

And I think that if you were to visit the other portions of Scripture having to do with angelic appearances you would find them all consistent with this “function”.  They are message-bearers sent directly from God.

Now, Matthew’s description of this angel is most striking.  And once seen in the light of the rest of Scripture it may leave us a little weak-kneed and breathless.  For, here, at the resurrection of Christ, we meet the language of God in all its glory (the prophecy, the Divinity, the Creator).

But please remember that it is Jesus Christ Who is the center and “focus” of it all.  He is God the Son… slain in the flesh four our sin, and raised again by the Spirit that we might have life!  And the “windows” of the heavens are opened-up for us (by the Word of God) to see into the most wonderful event in all of history.  Matthew’s words generate our inquiry; that’s why he wrote them….

In order for us to gain insight into God’s perspective here, you must recall all that we’ve said in the past concerning the sovereign reign of Almighty God above His creation.