1-8 The Lord Is Risen! 9-10 Appearance to the Women 11-15 The Deceit of the Chief Priests 16-20 The Great Commission
The Lord Is Risen!

1Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first [day] of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 5The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” 8And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.

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.

Appearance to the Women

9And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10Then Jesus *said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

While the women are on the way to tell the disciples that the Lord has risen and where they can see Him, the Lord appears to them. It is “Jesus”, for He is the same as before His death. They recognize Him immediately. They fall down before Him and grab His feet which are so lovely because He is the messenger of joy who proclaims salvation (Isa 52:77How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
[And] says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
). They pay homage to Him, He has overcome death and brought to shame all of the expectations of those who killed Him. Their faith has not been in vain.

The Lord also speaks the word “do not be afraid” to them and repeats what the angel has said. Only the angel spoke of “His disciples”, while the Lord speaks of “My brethren”. This is a wonderful expression of the new relationship that has come about in grace through His work on the cross and His resurrection.

The Deceit of the Chief Priests

11Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. 12And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ 14And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.” 15And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, [and is] to this day.

It is not only the women who left the grave with a message for others concerning what they saw and heard. Some guards also leave the grave with a message about what happened. Only they do not go to the disciples, but to Jerusalem where they seek out the chief priests to tell them about their experiences.

What the soldiers are saying is an unexpected disappointment for the chief priests and elders. They discuss how to solve this new problem. Just as so many dark things are covered up with money, so too they resort to bribing the witnesses. They gave Judas only thirty pieces of silver for delivering up the Lord Jesus, but to the soldiers they give “a large sum of money” to spread a lie about His resurrection.

They tell the soldiers what to say when questions arise. The truth must never be known. The lie must prevail. This is the way these wicked people act, who should teach God’s truth to the people of God. They even guarantee the soldiers that they will convince the governor that the soldiers are speaking nothing but the truth. This is the false testimony that the leaders of God’s people present to the Gentiles. How great their responsibility is for this horrible, thoroughly false testimony.

The leaders know what kind of man Pilate is and so do the soldiers. Pilate is as easy to bribe as they are. When the soldiers hear that they don’t have to be afraid of Pilate, they just accept that. The soldiers are also people without conscience who do everything for money. They do what they have been taught and spread the lie that has a good effect on the Jews. The Jews, too, do not want to be confronted with the truth and prefer to persist in believing in lies. How very sobering it will be for all who are involved in this lie the moment they will see Him whom they have pierced and He whom they denied after He was risen.

The Great Commission

16But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17When they saw Him, they worshiped [Him]; but some were doubtful. 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The women have conveyed the message. Then “the eleven disciples” – Judas is no longer there – go to the mountain in Galilee, where the Lord said He would meet them. When the eleven see Him, there appears to be a distinction in faith among the disciples. There are those who are immediately convinced that it is the Lord. There are also some who doubt. The Scriptures do not mention the names of the doubters, so that we can consider for ourselves whether we might also belong to that group. Do we always see Him, and do we constantly honor Him?

The Lord does not stand as one unapproachable and exalted. He is draws near to them. He continues to be the Servant Who meets their needs. Then He speaks words that indicate His supremacy over the universe. In heaven and on earth, in both spheres, He exercises all power, and there is nothing that is not subject to Him.

From this authority over all things He commands His disciples to make disciples. That commission is now not limited to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Mt 10:5-65These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in [the] way of [the] Gentiles, and do not enter [any] city of the Samaritans;6but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.), but extends to all nations. Disciples are made by baptizing them. Baptism here is baptism in the Name of the triune God. To be a true disciple, teaching is also needed. They must do that too with those they have baptized.

The Lord concludes His commission – and this whole book of the Bible – with a word of great encouragement: “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” This word has been of enormous support to countless believers throughout the centuries. Faith in this word is experienced by countless people during the most difficult moments and in the darkest periods of life that are the part of every believer.

This word is the echo of this Gospel. It follows anyone who, in faithfulness to the Lord’s command, is busy proclaiming it by presenting the Person Whom the Gospel concerns: Jesus Christ, the dead and risen Lord.