Matthew 28:1-10 Part 6


As we look at the last three verses of our text this morning, it is obvious that Matthew’s text compacts, into a few short statements, a longer period of time than that which appears on the surface.

Remember Matthew’s intent and purpose in writing the Gospel and our discussions about that (I don’t think we have to go through all of it again.).

The angel’s statement to the women (and it’s reference to the prophecy of Zechariah [chapter thirteen]) is sufficient for Matthew to establish the fact that Jesus had spoken many times of His resurrection on the third day, and the fact that it was prophesied.  Therefore it is true.

Then Jesus’ appearance to the women (although they were still in disbelief) confirms the fact.  So there is no contest.  There is no debate.  There can be no research into the possibility of another scenario.  The Scriptures are true; the angel was sent directly from God, and Jesus arose from death!

Therefore, further (the critical issue of the resurrection having been established), it wasn’t necessary (for Matthew’s purpose) to relate all the other post-resurrection “appearances” of the Lord.  Instead, he had two other purposes (which we’ll see in verses eleven through twenty):  1) to demonstrate (once again) the guile of the Jewish leadership as they “twisted’ the facts of the resurrection, and 2) to record Jesus’ great commission to His disciples.

And in those two purposes is 1) the foundation of the Church, and 2) the separating out and destruction of the old covenant nation.

So (once again) Matthew “compacts” all the “post-resurrection” information into a couple of short statements which, for his purpose, established the fact of the Lord’s resurrection.  He had no intent whatever to write a sequential history of what happened.

The women heard what the angel was sent to say; and they were shown the empty tomb.  And then, as Matthew says in verse eight, they left, quickly, to report what they saw and heard to the disciples.  Matthew says there that they went away quickly “with fear and great joy”.

The “great joy” that they experienced is not to be understood as “joy in the resurrection of the Lord”, because it is clear from the rest of the accounts that their eyes were not yet opened to the Scriptures.  Their “joy” was centered in the totality of their experience.  And it was accompanied with fear… fear of the awesome presence of an angel from the “Glory-cloud” of God.

So it would be a mistake here, in my opinion, to associate their “joy” as coming from a “belief” that Jesus Christ had arisen from death “according as He said”, and in fulfillment of the prophetic Scripture!  They just didn’t know any of that yet!  Rather, their “joy” was more an “exhilaration”… it had been an “inspiring” encounter that had left them elated and flushed with fear and excitement!

Now, it is also Matthew’s purpose here that the risen Lord is recorded as having been “seen” and “touched” (verses nine and ten).  We’ll come back to these verses in a few minutes; but it is “indeterminable” (in terms of sequence of events) as to exactly when this took place.  Again, it’s not Matthew’s purpose to give a sequence of events… but to establish the fact of the resurrection.  No one took it from Him, but Jesus Christ had the power to lay down His life; and He had the power to take it up again!

And a creature from the Glory-cloud of The Lord of Hosts was sent to deliver a message to the women at the tomb.  “He is not here; He has arisen as He said.”  Then they were told to deliver a message to the disciples – a message which fulfilled Zechariah chapter thirteen concerning the sheep being “scattered” due to the coming “Day of the Lord”.  Then the risen Lord Jesus was seen and touched!  And He, Himself, then confirmed the message of the prophetic Word that was to be delivered to His disciples.

This was the Gospel which was inspired by the Spirit through the apostle Matthew… whose purpose was to record this “filling up” of the prophetic Word of God.

The other two purposes of Matthew (mentioned earlier), recorded in verses eleven through twenty… we’ll begin to look at next time we meet.

But now, since the other Gospel writers (also inspired by the Spirit) wrote other things with regard to Jesus’ resurrection, I need to give you a brief overview of those accounts.

Mark, Luke and John were “different” men from Matthew (I think that will be uncontested!).  Therefore the four Gospel accounts “differ” in many ways.  That is not to say that there is any “opposition”!  Because-there-is-other-information doesn’t necessarily mean that there is opposing information.  One portion of the “God-breathed” Word will not “oppose” another portion of the God-breathed Word!

But the “inspiration” of the Holy Spirit was through four different men who were created by God as individuals!  They had different abilities and different “levels of understanding”.  You see, God is both unity and diversity!  All four of these men are men; but their capabilities, gifts and purposes were different – as “diverse” as four men could be!

And at the time of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, they were in four different locations… with four different “sets of circumstances”… coming from four different “perspectives”.  And add to that… four different purposes in writing their Gospel accounts (different in some ways, of course – certainly not in all ways!).  And… the original recipients of these Gospel records were varied as well.  And, the confusion and dismay and disappointment and dejection with regard to the crucifixion… and the disbelief concerning the resurrection… are all a part of the “mix” here!

It was highly anticipated that Jesus would take over the government of Israel and “resurrect” it to its former glory under Solomon.  And when that didn’t occur (because of the crucifixion) there was extreme dejection and dismay.

And, having taken all these things into consideration, it is to be expected tha the Gospel accounts are different… for there is no “mechanistic” inspiration of Scripture!  If all four of the records were exactly the same (as a matter of fact) then it would all be suspect!

But, since the Spirit didn’t “dictate” the words of Scripture, but rather they are “God-breathed” (according to the apostle Paul), what we have, then, is four faithful presentations of post-resurrection events… all of which add something to the totality of information that is available concerning the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!

It is not easy to put all four of them together, side by side, and make them “fit” into some “corresponding sequence of events” (as much as that would seem to be a desirable thing to do).  But, on the other hand, anyone who says that the Gospel is simple and easy is “fooling” themselves and attempting to fool others!  He is a deceiver!  It is most assuredly not simple and easy!  It requires prayer and study – illumination by the Spirit!

And, further, when it is recognized that the four accounts don’t fit into a preconceived “mold” that satisfies our desire for sequential history, we shouldn’t then try to “force” them to fit!  You see, given our “set” of presuppositions regarding the God-breathed Word of God, sometimes we just have to say… “we just don’t know enough yet; we don’t know enough about what was going on; we don’t know enough about the history… and the context… and the times….”  And “we don’t know enough about the mind and intent of God – Whose ‘comings’ and ‘goings’ are too much for us.”  Sometimes we have to say (having done all we can do), “it is enough for me.  The Word of God is true… even if I’m not able to discern everything.  It is sufficient that my Lord has ‘taken up His life again.  And it is sufficient that God’s Word is True!  It’s my fault if I don’t understand!’”

So.  Although Matthew is content with these “facts” of the resurrection of Jesus Christ:  that, 1) an angel of God was sent directly from God with a message… “He is not here; He was raised as He said”; 2) the prophecy of Zechariah thirteen is fulfilled in the instruction to the disciples; and, 3) the Lord Jesus Christ is seen and touched after arising from death… (although he is content with these facts) the other three Gospel writers record some “other” information.

And now, with the understanding that Matthew’s text is our focus (and not the other Gospels), I want to give you what I promised… that very short accounting of the “post-resurrection” information received from the other three Gospel records.

First, with regard to the events at the tomb, Mary the Magdalene ran and told Peter and John what she had seen.  And these two disciples ran to the tomb and saw that it was empty.  And they went home.  And John later says that “they did not yet ‘know’ the Scriptures that He must rise from death.”  Then Mary, who was left weeping at the tomb, then saw two angels sitting inside.

After communicating with them, Marry was approached by Jesus; she didn’t know Who it was.  But then she saw Him and spoke with Him and tried to hold onto Him… for which she was chastened – for she could not “hold onto that which was”.  Then He gave her a message to give to His disciples.

All of that comes form John chapter twenty.

Then, as recorded in Luke chapter twenty-four, Jesus, later that same day (resurrection day), appeared to two men (one of them supposedly Peter) as they were walking on the road that goes to Emmaus.  Luke says that, “their eyes were kept from recognizing Him”.  Jesus spoke to them about Himself from Moses and the prophets; and then sat down to table with them and broke bread, having given thanks for it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.

These two men then found all the other disciples, who were gathered together, and explained to them what had happened, saying “the Lord has risen indeed….”  (from Luke twenty-four).

Later in the evening, as all the disciples (except Thomas) were together, Jesus appeared to them behind locked doors (because of fear of the Jews); and He said “Peace be with you”.  And He breathed and said “Receive the Holy Spirit”.  That’s from John chapter twenty.

Also from that same chapter, the next occurrence of Jesus appearing to them was during the next “first day of the week”, or “the eighth day” after the resurrection (this is also recorded in Luke twenty-four).  Thomas had doubted all the rest when they said that Jesus had appeared to them.  Remember that Jesus, in chapter twenty-four, had warned His disciples that there would be many false christs!  They were not to be led astray by them.  Therefore Thomas would not believe.  Jesus said so!  And on this occasion Jesus spoke directly to Thomas about the wounds in His body.  And Thomas believed.

Then, as recorded in Mark chapter sixteen, Jesus appeared among them again that same evening while they were at table.  And He chastened them severely for their unbelief.  And He instructed them to preach the Gospel to the “whole creation.”

After that, in John chapter twenty-one, the disciples had gone back to Galilee as instructed; and some seven of them were fishing (unsuccessfully) in the sea of Galilee when Jesus appeared on the shore.  He instructed them about where to cast the net; and, recognizing Him, they did it.  And the net was immediately overflowing with fish.  Having then cooked the fish, Jesus broke bread and fish and gave it to them.

And then the next to the last occasion (recorded-in-the-Gospels) of Jesus appearing to His disciples is in our Matthew twenty-eight text – right at the end.  It is on the mount to which He had directed them (in Galilee); and He gave them their commission of preaching the Gospel to all the nations.

Jesus’ ascension is recorded only at the end of Luke’s Gospel.  He took the disciples out to Bethany; and having opened their eyes to the Scriptures, and having preached the Gospel to them from Moses and the prophets and the Psalms, He instructed them to go back into Jerusalem and wait there to be “clothed with Power from on High”.  He then blessed them and ascended to the Glory-could.

Then, of course, we have the apostle Paul’s account as well… from First Corinthians fifteen:


“For I delivered to you as of first importance that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.  Then He appeared to James then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to Me.”


So Paul, omitting the events having to do with the women, records the appearance to Peter, and the multiple appearances to the “twelve”.  But he includes two appearances that the Gospel writers don’t include… i.e. the one to the five hundred brethren and the one to James.  Then, of course, he writes of his own encounter with the risen Christ.

So.  That, as I said, is a brief overview of the events of the next few days after Jesus’ resurrection.  As I said last Lord’s Day there is overwhelming Biblical evidence that Jesus Christ did, indeed, take up His life again; He alone Has the power to do it.  And the hope of our immortality rests solidly on the firm foundation of His having arisen from death; for death is “swallowed up in victory”.  We now have a “new humanity” in Him… in which we are rebirthed.  We have a “down payment” already; for we are “born again” (rebirthed) from death into life.  We are “new creations” in Christ!

And as He was raised to life, so, too, shall we be raised to life… being “clothed upon” with our new bodies.  And the earth shall truly be a “garden of eden”, with no sin and no death, as God originally created it.  And it will all be attributed to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Glory be to His Name.  Amen.

Now I have just a few further comments abut the last two verses of our text – verses nine and ten.  Matthew says that Jesus appeared to the women as they began to run back to where the disciples were.  And He said to them, “Xairete”.  The word “hail” doesn’t express all that’s here, but it’s the best we have.  It is a greeting derived from the word “Xairo” which means “rejoicing”, or “gladness”.

The Son of God ahs just taken up His life, having paid the full price of the sin of His Father’s people!  He has just received the full wrath of the Father and exhausted the judgment due to us.  He has just come up from the lowest reaches of hell and definitively defeated sin and death; and His first word of greeting comes from a word which, at its base, means “joy”!  Is there any wonder that this word comes out of His mouth!!!

And the women lay hold of Him at the feet, and they worship Him.  The indication later on is that they were attempting to hold on to Him as He was!  But He was not, now, as He was!  He was now the Son of God arisen from death – as He said!  And the women did not yet know the Scriptures with respect to His resurrection!

And if they were in fear before, now the fear is multiplied exponentially!  And Jesus alleviates their fear (similar to the way the angel had done so before) by commanding them to “have no fear for themselves”.

And then He tells them (in the present tense) to go and report to His brothers.  And the message is the same as the one which the angel gave to them.  It is the message of Zechariah thirteen, (as Matthew concentrates on the Fullness of the prophetic Scriptures).

But our last comment should be concerning what our Lord now calls His disciples.  He said:  “Go… report to My brothers”.  They are no longer called His disciples; they are no longer called His followers; they are His brothers!

He is First-born from the dead….  They are the first-fruits of the resurrection.  He was raised the “Son of God with Power”; they, too, are “sons of God” in Him.  He is the “second Adam”; they, too, have “new humanity” with Him.

And as He was humiliated and persecuted and murdered, so, too, will they be humiliated and persecuted and killed – for Him, with Him and in Him; for they are “sons of God” in Christ… brother of Jesus Christ!

And we among the nations who are elect, and called, and justified, and sanctified… we, too, are His brothers – as Paul writes to the Ephesian Church:


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him; in love having predestined us to adoption as sons to Himself, by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved One.”


So those of us who are elect, and called, and justified, and who are now being sanctified (set apart), are predestined to adoption as sons of God and brothers of Jesus Christ (as were Jesus’ disciples) – according to the good pleasure of God the Father!

Next time we meet we’ll see the guile of the Jewish leadership as they continue to separate themselves unto destruction in the coming “Day of the Lord”.  And we’ll begin the exposition of the Great Commission of King Jesus Christ to His apostles.