The two Mary’s do not depart from the Lord. They want to be where He is. That’s why they come to see the grave, His grave. They do so on the evening of Saturday, the Sabbath, as according to the Jewish calendar – where a day begins at six o’clock in the evening – the Sabbath has ended. As the women stand there, everything seems to be over, finished.
But early on Sunday morning, the great miracle of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus takes place. That great event is accompanied by a reaction from the earth in the form of a great earthquake. An angel comes out of heaven to earth. He walks to the grave, rolls away the stone that covers the opening and sits down on it, as if to prevent anyone from rolling it back.
Earthly powers had sealed the grave (Mt 27:6666And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.), a much higher heavenly power breaks that false seal. By sitting on it, the angel becomes, as it were, the new seal on the stone for the new situation. No one can roll it back until an adequate testimony of the resurrection of Christ has been given. That testimony will be given by people who have seen the empty grave. Christ already left the grave before the stone was rolled away. The rolling away is not to let Him out, but to let people in, so they can see that He is no longer in the grave.
The shape of the angel radiates the judgment and purity of heaven. The effect of his appearance on the soldiers guarding the grave is that their heroism turns into deathly fear. They become stiff with terror. What they are experiencing now, does not exist in their world. Yet they experience it because what does not exist to them is reality. Every person who only believes in what he can see, will one day be overwhelmed by this fear when he comes face to face with the Judge of the living and the dead.
The women have also become afraid, but the angel speaks to them the comforting words: “Do not be afraid”. Then he tells them that he knows that they are not enemies of the Lord Jesus, but that they are here to seek Him. The angel speaks of “Jesus who has been crucified”, referring to the Lord as they last saw Him and as He lives on in their minds. But he has good news for them. He tells the women that He is risen, as He had also said. They could have known this. Then he invites them to look into the tomb to the place where “the Lord” was lying. They were witnesses that He was laid there (Mt 27:59-6159And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away.61And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.).
Then the angel commands them to tell this joyful news to His disciples. They must add that they will see Him in Galilee, because He has gone there before them. The disciples are asked, just as before his death, to follow him now. Following Him is also the precondition to seeing Him. The angel emphasizes his words by saying to them that he, the messenger of God from heaven, has said it to them. They are not dreaming.
The women react immediately. On the one hand, still afraid because of the impressive appearance of the angel and on the other very happy as they rapidly leave the grave and quickly go to the disciples of the Lord to bring them this wonderful message.