Matthew 28:1-10 Part 5


To begin, I quote to you from Paul’s first inspired letter to the Church at Corinth – at the beginning of chapter fifteen.


“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand; by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that Word which I preached to you (unless you believed in vain).  For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received:  that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas (Peter), then by the twelve.  After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present (but some have fallen asleep).  After that He was seen by James (that’s Jesus’ brother), then by all the apostles.  Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one untimely born.”


Here is the “fullness” of the prophetic Word….  Jesus Christ was crucified and buried; and He rose again.  And Paul lists many unreproachable eye-witnesses of Jesus Christ after His resurrection – most of whom were still alive at the time of the writing of the inspired letter to the Corinthians (about 55AD).

And last Lord’s Day we recounted, from Matthew’s Gospel, all the occasions in which Jesus taught His disciples that He would arise from death on the third day.

As we continue with verse six this morning, let me read it for you once more:


“He is not here; for He was raised according as He said.  Come.  See the sepulchre where He was lying.”


As John reports later, in his Gospel, the women did go in to the sepulchre to see the place where Jesus had lain for the last forty or so hours.  And they saw only the linen wrappings and the cloth that had covered His head.  And, as John says, they still did not “know” the Scriptures with regard to His resurrection.

Even though the angel told them exactly what to say to the disciples, verse seven – (that Jesus had been raised from death, and that they would see Him in Galilee), the women initially went away from there with the purpose of finding out who had moved the body and where they had lain Him!  There was, yet, no clarity as to what had actually happened… no understanding, no actualization, no discernment.  Their eyes had not yet been opened as to the meaning of or the necessity for the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death!

Matthew “compacts” all the information about what happened here in a couple of short statements; but for some time there was fear and confusion and dismay (and doubt) as everyone was trying to determine what had happened.

Now, countless numbers of people, in the two thousand years that have passed since the resurrection took place, have given “passing assent” to the “easter” story (as most call it).  Folklore and mythology and tradition have grown up all around it.  In today’s depraved and further-declining culture it’s just another Sunday to most.  For others it’s a day spent in “dressing up” and going to Church and spending time with family and feasting… not much “understanding” – but “carrying on the traditions”!

On the other hand (and greatly contributing to the decay of the society and to the weakness of the Church), are “theologians” who refuse to believe Jesus actually arose from death (in spite of the Word).  Some try to “spiritualize” the story.

And these-are-the-ones-who-have expended work and effort to study the four Gospel accounts, and have done so with the purpose of either 1) “disproving the event (in toto) or 2) diminishing it’s importance to religion!

We can dispense with the first one (the purpose of “disproving” the event) by simply saying that an outright denial of the resurrection (after having studied the text of the Gospels) shows a predisposition of arrogant hatred of God and His revealed Word.  The Biblical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is so overwhelming that only the most perverted mind could expend energy to prove otherwise!

But it’s the second of these two, in all its subtlety, that is so damaging to the Church (in its present weaknesses) – i.e. the purpose of “diminishing the importance of the resurrection to religion”.  So many will fall for this kind of “reasoning” because they can have some “religion” without the “demands” of God; they can have “Christianity” without judgment; and they can “experience” things without the study and understanding which builds “Faith” and Perseverance”!  They just “accept” the subtle teaching which diminishes the importance of the resurrection.

And this, it will be recognized, is the “spiritual” approach.  It says, “It really doesn’t matter all that much whether Jesus actually arose from death… what matters is the “spiritual benefit” of your belief!!!  If Jesus is “alive in you”, then that’s what counts for you!”

In other words then, the object of religion is the benefit received to the one who is “religious”.  The objective Truth, the fact the actual resurrection of Jesus Christ from death, is then relegated to a “lesser” position in value… it is diminished in its importance!

One of the other (so-called) benefits to this line of reasoning seems to be the “unity” and the “love’ which is to exist between those who come together to give expression to their religion.  Nothing ought to be “divisive” to the unity of the body of believers, they say.  If all believe in the “spiritual dimension” of Jesus – spiritual “idea” of resurrection – then nothing will invade the group – causing discord!

Other critical doctrines of Scripture are treated in the same manner.  For example... the creation.  If the belief in a literal, six-day creation causes friction with those who think “theistic evolution” is more reasonable, then the “spiritual benefits” of the Genesis story emerge as the “value” to the believers!

Another example… the attributes of God.  Where there are statements with regard to the emotions of God and the “attitude” of God toward man (such as in Psalm five where it says that God “hates all workers of iniquity”)… there is a reductio ad absurdum (an absurd reduction) for the “spiritual benefit” of all believers.  God Himself is “reduced” to absurdity (by human reason) to one who has “love” for all human beings, and experiences “holy sadness” when some don’t “choose” Him.  Anything else causes “division” and controversy between men.

But back to the resurrection of Jesus from death, there is precious little attention paid to the reasons and the necessity for it.  There is great “offense” in the facts of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ.  So… therefore the concentration on the “spiritual dimension” of Jesus.  The “offense of the cross” must be taken away!

Because of the great weakness of a large segment of the Church, it has received the notion of a “spiritualized” Christ.  It doesn’t matter all that much as to the reasons for, and necessity of, the Man – Jesus – arising out of death!  Rather it is the “spirit of giving”, and “the spirit of love”, and the “egalitarianism” which mankind, as a whole, enjoys as a result of believing in the story of Jesus.  It is the “spiritual” Jesus, living in us, that “benefits” us so greatly.

Well… it is the Gospel writers who wrote so carefully, under the inspiration of Holy Spirit, concerning the facts of the resurrection of Christ; and it was they who documented the appearances of the risen Christ to so many.

And it was Paul the apostle who wrote, as we read at the beginning:


“…brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; by which also you are saved, if you keep what I preached unto you, unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve; after that, He was seen of more than five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto the present (but some have fallen asleep).  After that He was seen of James; then of all the apostles.  And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one untimely born….”


So the facts of the resurrection were not spiritualized by the Gospel writers; and neither were they by the apostle Paul.  Because the work of Jesus Christ is the very “ground” upon which our salvation rests!

It was “necessary” that He go into Jerusalem and suffer at the hands of the priests and elders and scribes of Israel; it was “necessary” that He suffer great humiliation, persecution, and pain; it was necessary that He be crucified; it was necessary that He be buried.  And it was necessary that He arise again from the grave and have complete victory over death!  For therein is the salvation of man – in the objective Truth of the work of Christ!

To “spiritualize” these things is to deny their necessity!  And to deny their necessity is to deny the salvation of man.  For there is no salvation except by the work of Christ!  The angel told these women at the tomb, “He has been raised, as He said!”

The apostle John records Jesus’ words in chapter ten, verses seventeen and eighteen:


“…My Father loves Me because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.  I have power to lay it down; and I have power to take it again….”


That statement has to do with the Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second Person of the Triune God… Who, by His Own Power, submitted to death by crucifixion; and, by His Own Power, took up life again.  No one but God the Son has the Power and Authority to do that.  He has complete Authority over death, because His is God!

But man is dead; and he has no authority over death!  We are cursed and alienated from God by nature; and we die… never again to take up life again.  We have no power over it.  We are, at birth, at enmity with God and under His wrath and curse.  And there isn’t anything we can do about it.  The penalty for our sin is sin-and-misery-in-this-life, and eternal judgment and separation from God at death!

But God the Son submitted Himself to death in order to receive that penalty for His people!  And when the wrath of God was “spent” upon Him, and He was “satisfied” that the whole penalty was paid, Jesus Christ then took up His life again.  His resurrection was the “proof” that the penalty was exhausted!!!

He had made complete atonement for sin… paying the WHOLE price for it.  And then He took up His life.  By the Authority which is inherently His as God the Son, He came up again out of death.

So, in the first place, the fact that He arose is proof that the wrath of Almighty God (which was due to us) was totally expended upon the Christ.

In the second place (having to do with the necessity that Jesus arise from death) since mankind, by its very nature, is dead in sin, and covenantally cursed by God, and due God’s wrath and judgment eternally, there must needs be a “new creation” in Christ!

Humankind sinned in rebellion against God.  And we are cursed and dead.  The whole penalty having been exhausted upon Jesus, and God the Father having been satisfied in His wrath, now there must be “rebirth” to new life.  The old, depraved humankind must die and be “reborn” into new life in Christ.  There must be a new creation in Him.  The old man has to die and be “resurrected” in the New Humanity of Christ.

You see, without the resurrection of Christ, there is no rebirth of humanity!  Without Christ “taking up His life again” there is no “new humanity” for us to be reborn into!!  He is the second Adam and the second “beginning” of mankind.  The first one sinned and descended into death; the second One paid the penalty and arose from death!

He has “delivered” us from the eternal curse of God upon Adam to the resurrection of new life in Christ.  His resurrection was a necessity; and He is the only certain proof of immortality.

Outside union with Him in His resurrection is perfect eternal misery; but in union with Him in His resurrection is perfect eternal life.  Our hope of life forever; our anticipation of resurrection from death rests, solely, in the fact of His resurrection.


“He has been raised, as He said….”


Then the angel said to the women (verse seven), before they went into the tomb:


“…lo, He goes before you into Galilee; there you will see Him.  Lo, I told you.”


Now, Matthew places this statement by the angel in a very emphatic position; and he quotes the angel using that very strong little word… “lo”.  We’ve seen it a couple of dozen times through the Gospel of Matthew; and it always indicated the fulfilling of majestic, glorious portions of prophetic Scripture!  And as we’ve recognized, many times those Scriptures have to do with the “Parousia” of Christ – His “coming” – in judgment on Israel and the establishment of His Kingdom and His Church.

So as we look at this statement to the women by the angel, there may be a little “puzzlement” in your minds as to the level of importance of this information.  In the past we’ve heard:


“lo, a virgin shall be with child;

“lo, there arose a great shaking of the sea of Galilee;

“lo, a whole herd of swine went down under – exorcised from the Gentile city of Gadara;

“lo, a Greater Jonah;

“lo, a Greater Solomon;

“lo, the hour is at hand, etc….”


And now, “lo, He goes before you into Galilee; there you shall see Him.  Lo, I told you.”  By the very consistency of Scripture we would normally see great eschatological and prophetic significance – especially since both ends of the statement are here set-apart with this little word!

But even though it would seem to be a comparatively insignificant statement by the angel (since going back to Galilee doesn’t seem all that prophetic.), Matthew has taken pains to quote the angel perfectly; and the Word from God through His messenger is always significant!  Therefore we take the time, and expend the effort, to find the significance.

And we have to go no further than the institution of the Lord’s Table, back in chapter twenty-six, verses thirty-one and thirty-two.  Quoting from Zechariah chapter thirteen, at verse seven, Jesus said, quoting His Father:


“I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”


And after quoting that prophetic passage, He said,


“But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”


That’s what the angel said, “Lo, I told you”!

And after reading that, we are forced back to Zechariah chapter thirteen to find the significance.  And we read this:


“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the man who is My Companion,’ says the Lord of hosts.  ‘Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; then I will turn My hand against the little ones, And it shall come to pass in all the land,’ says the Lord, ‘That two thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one third shall be left in it; I will bring the one third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested.  They will call on My Name, and I will answer them.  I will say, ‘This is My people’:  And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”


So what the angel is referring to is what Jesus referred to at the Last Supper… that the Sword of God would now strike the Shepherd; and the sheep, being offended and scattered, would flee Jerusalem and Judah… many going back to Galilee.  And Jesus would go there before them, and they would see Him there.

And God would then destroy a major portion of the nation of Israel – leaving only the remnant who would then be refined in the fire of the Spirit and in the fire of persecution and humiliation.  And God would make them, and many others from the Gentile nations, His new people.  And they would say, “The Lord is my God.”

So the angel’s statement about Jesus “going before them into Galilee” carries with it the weight of great prophecy concerning the scattering of the sheep, and judgment upon Israel, and the creation of the Church of Jesus Christ.  A message of glorious proportions.  And the disciples are to then remember what He said as He served them at the institution of the Lord’s Table.  “I will now strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”

My ultimate hope this morning is that each and every one of you – from the oldest to the youngest – might have a flaming passion to be “sprinkled by the blood of the Lamb”, and to be “cleansed with pure water” of all unrighteousness, to be reborn in Christ as a New Creation in Him, and to anticipate, with full assurance, the resurrection of the body and glorious life with Christ eternally.

As far as you’re concerned it begins with your repentance… denying the old man of sin-and-rebellion, and putting on the new man in Christ.


“Repent,” said Peter, “for the remission of sin.”

“You must be reborn,” said Jesus, “or you can’t see the Kingdom.”


Turn away from the sinful humanity and put on new life in Christ.  For He has been raised, as He said.