Mat_28:1-2. In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
See what concern angels have about our Lord. Are they here tonight? Do they make a habit of coming where the saints meet together? I think they do. We have intimations in Scripture that that is the case. Let us behave ourselves aright tonight “because of the angels”; and as they worship and count it their highest honour to serve the Son of man, let us also worship Jesus, and adore him. What a picture this scene would make!
Mat_28:3-4. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow; and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
He said nothing as he rolled back the stone; he did not shake a sword at them, or over them, to fill them with terror. The presence of perfect purity, the presence of heavenly things, is a terror to ungodly men. May you and I be such that our very presence in company will cast a hush over it! “It was e’en as though an angel shook his wings,” they said of one good man, when he spake in common conversation. May there be about us enough of the heavenly to make the powers of evil quail before us!
Mat_28:5. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye:
But I notice that they did fear, although the angel said, “Fear not.” Neither men nor angels can so speak as to silence fears in trembling hearts; but Jesus can, as we shall see farther on. One word from his lips has infinitely more power than all the words of angels or of saints.
Mat_28:5. For I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
And if you and I tonight can truly say that we are on the side of Jesus, that we seek him who was crucified, then we can bear all the shame with which philosophy would fain cover the cross, and we have no cause for fear. Ridicule and all that it brings from this ungodly generation will not hurt you.
Mat_28:6. He is not here: for be is risen, as he said.
“As he said.” A few words, but what a world of meaning! “As he said.” He always does “as he said.” He always gives “as he said.” He always reveals himself “as he said” not otherwise. He never fails to fulfill a promise, or forgets even the mode of promising; not only does he do what be said, but as he said: “He is risen, as he said.”
Mat_28:6. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
For even the place where he lay is hallowed to you. And, beloved, if there is a place where you have ever had communion with Christ, you will remember it. You might bless the spot of ground where Jesus met with you. Here, tonight, I hope that some of you can see the place where the Lord appeared to you.
Mat_28:7. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead;
Such good news ought to be spread quickly. “Go and tell his disciples,” they are trembling, they have fled, — “that he is risen from the dead.”
Mat_28:7. And, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
Brethren, this is good news for us tonight, though all may not, perhaps, feel the power of it. “He is risen.” We have no dead Christ; we serve a living Saviour. He is risen, and therefore he can come to us tonight in the power of his resurrection-life, and he can make us glad. “Behold, he goeth before you into Galilee.” There is a great deal about Galilee in Matthew’s Gospel; it is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and yet it often talks about Galilee, that border-land which touches Gentiles, as well as the chosen seed of Abraham. There is the place where Jesus will meet his people, in the border-land between Jew and Gentile, there the risen Christ will hold the first general assembly of his Church.
Mat_28:8. And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy;
What a mixture, fear and joy! But notice that the fear was not great, and the joy was: “Fear and great joy.” Observe the proportions of the mixture; and if tonight you have some fear, yet I hope you will have great joy; and then the bitterness of the fear will pass away. A holy fear, mixed with great joy, is one of the sweetest compounds we can bring to God’s altar. Some of us have brought those spices with us tonight. These holy women brought other spices to the sepulcher; but these were the spices that they took away from it, “Fear and great joy.”
Mat_28:8-9. And did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
He would not let Mary Magdalene do that when they were alone, but he said to her, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: it is more needful for you to go now and tell my disciples that I have risen from the dead. There will be time by-and-by for further fellowship with me.” But now Jesus permits these godly women to hold him by the feet. It was an act of humility, worshipping and holding; and holding not his hands, but his feet. They must have seen the nail-prints before Thomas did, as they held him by the feet, and worshipped him. I do not find that these women ran to the angels, they rather shrank back from them; but they came to Jesus, for we are told that they came, and held him by the feet. I think that there must have been a new attraction about Christ after he had risen from the dead, something more sweet about the tones of his voice, something more charming about the countenance that had been so maimed at Gethsemane, and Gabbatha, and Golgotha.
Mat_28:10. Then said Jesus unto them,
As he saw their palpitating hearts, and perceived that they were still all in a flurry, for the angel had not dispelled their fears,
Mat_28:10. Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
The angel talked of “disciples”; Christ talks of “brethren.” He always has the sweeter word.
Mat_28:11. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
While good people were active, bad people were active, too. It is wonderful to think of how much good and evil is being done at the same time. While we are thankful that holy women are running with holy messages for Christ, here come the soldiers of the watch, and they are going in to those vile priests.
Mat_28:12. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel,
They ought at once to have repented when the watch came, and told them that Jesus was risen. Ought they not to have gone, and fallen at his feet, and begged for mercy? But instead of that
Mat_28:12. They gave large money unto the soldiers,
Money, wherever it comes in, seems to do mischief. For money Christ was betrayed, and for money the truth about his resurrection was kept back as far as it could be. Money has had a hardening effect on some of the highest servants of God, and all who have to touch the filthy lucre have need to pray for grace to keep them from being harmed by being brought into contact with it.
Mat_28:13. Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
If they were asleep, how did they know what happened? How could they know it if they were asleep? Evidence which is borne by men who were asleep at the time is evidently not worth regarding; but when you have to tell a lie, I suppose that, as any stick is good enough to beat a dog with, any lie will do to slander one whom you hate.
Mat_28:14-15. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught:
No doubt you have heard of the man who said that he did not believe all the articles of his church because his salary was so small that he could not be expected to believe them all for the money. Oh, the depraving and debasing power of the whole system of bribery and falsehood! May none of us ever be affected by considerations of profit and loss in matters of doctrine, matters of duty, and matters of right and wrong!
Mat_28:15. And this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
You may start a lie, but you cannot stop it; there is no telling how long it will live. Let us never teach even the least error to a little child, for it may live on and become a great heresy long after we are dead. There is scarcely any limit to its life and to its power.