Matthew 28

The Word Made Fresh

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to visit the tomb. 2Suddenly they felt a great earthquake, for an angel of the LORD descended from heaven and came to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning. His clothing was white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and collapsed like dead men.

5The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know you came here to look for Jesus who was crucified. 6He isn’t here. He has been raised up as he told you. Come and see where he lay. 8Then hurry and tell his disciples that he has been raised from the dead and is going ahead of them to Galilee. They will see him there. This is the message I have come to give you.”

8They left the tomb quickly, frightened but also very joyful, and ran to tell his disciples. 9But suddenly, Jesus was there! He greeted them and they came to him, knelt, and held his feet and worshiped him. 10Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee. They will see me there.”

11While they went, some of the guards had gone into the city to tell the chief priests what had happened. 12They gathered the elders and came up with a plan to pay the soldiers a large reward, 13and instructed them to say, “His disciples came at night and stole his body while we were asleep. 14If the governor hears about this, we’ll take care of it. You won’t be in trouble.” 15The guards took the money and did as they were told, and this is the story that is still circulating among the Jews to this day.

16The eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain Jesus had told them. 17When they saw Jesus, they worshipped him, even though some of them were doubtful. 18Jesus said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19Go and recruit disciples among all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 20Teach them to obey all that I have commanded you. And remember that I am always going to be with you.”


1-10: The resurrection accounts differ somewhat in the four gospels. Mary Magdalene is the only person mentioned in all four. This is the second earthquake Matthew relates (see also 27:51). In this case he is obviously referring to a local phenomenon, something akin to the shaking of the ground when a train passes. The description of the angel is curiously like Matthew’s description of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (17:2). Only Matthew mentions the presence of guards at the tomb. The appearance of the angel is echoed in Mark, Luke, and John (Luke and John each report two angels), but only Matthew and John use the word “angel.” Matthew and Mark both include the instructions for the disciples to go to Galilee to meet Jesus. Only Matthew has Jesus meet the women on their way to tell the disciples what had happened, although John’s account of Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene is quite similar (John 21:14). The differences in the four accounts lends authenticity to the story, for the early Christians would surely have made the four accounts agree with each other unless they were supremely confident that each one was an accurate report of an eyewitness. Eyewitness accounts of the same event can be remarkably dissimilar.

11-15: Matthew is the only evangelist who finds the need to explain why some people were claiming that the body of Jesus had been stolen.

16-20: The mountain mentioned here is not identified, leading many commentators to speculate that it is the same mountain on which Jesus was transfigured. John, however, tells us that Jesus reunited with the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberius; see John 21:1-14). There is no explanation offered as to why some of them would doubt they were actually seeing Jesus, but that is one of those little details that cause scholars to speculate that Jesus’ appearance was somewhat altered by the resurrection experience. Verses 19-20 are called the Great Commission.


The resurrection of Jesus was the singular event that made Christianity different from other religions observed by the people. His resurrection has been celebrated for two thousand years. Jesus said that he will return, but no one will know the day or the hour. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!