SynopsisIn the last passage Jesus died, but in this passage he rises again from the dead.
It begins with Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” (verse 1 (ESV)) going to see the tomb, but when they get there they instead find an angel sitting on the stone, which he has rolled away from the tomb with a great earthquake. (It’s unclear from verses 1–2 (ESV)—at least it’s unclear to me—if the two Marys are there when the earthquake happens, or whether they approach to find the angel already sitting there waiting for them.) The guards are still there, too, but they’re so afraid of the angel that they have become “like dead men” (verse 4 (ESV)).
However, the women don’t need to be afraid, and the angel tells them so. He tells them that Jesus has risen, and invites them into the tomb to see the spot where his body had been lying. They are then to go and tell the disciples that Jesus has risen, and that they will see him again in Galilee.
So they leave the tomb “with fear and great joy” (verse 8 (ESV)), but before they even reach the disciples Jesus meets and greets them. They come up to Jesus and, taking hold of his feet, worship him. He tells them again that they should not be afraid, and re-instructs them to go and tell his brothers to go to Galilee where they will see him.
ThoughtsOne thing I notice about this passage is the multiple times the two Marys are told not to be afraid; the first time it’s obvious why they would be afraid—pretty much any time anyone in the Bible sees an angel they’re filled with fear—but especially interesting is the second time, once they’ve left the angel and are now seeing—and touching!—Jesus personally. Yet, he still tells them not to be afraid, which is a pretty clear indicator that they probably are. I don’t know what, exactly, they’re still afraid of, though. Is this residual fear, from seeing the angel? Is it residual fear from not knowing what happened to Jesus, or what would happen to his disciples? Is it simple fear at seeing a man who had recently been dead?
Speaking of which, when Jesus raises from the dead the Gospels make sure to mention him being touched by various people; this is not the ghost of Jesus they’re seeing, it’s actually him. He is no longer dead, he’s alive—and always well be.
It’s interesting that the empty tomb, and proof that Jesus is alive, is first discovered by the two Marys—a couple of women. At the time women would not have been considered to be reliable witnesses, and some people take this as further proof of the truth of the story in the Gospels; that if Matthew were making this up, he wouldn’t have written the story such that Jesus was discovered by a couple of women, he would have had the discovery made by men. I don’t consider that an extremely compelling argument on its own, but it is an interesting point nonetheless and combined with other evidence for the truth of the Word, it is one more piece of evidence.