I sure am glad that the story doesn’t end with chapter 27, don’t you? The whole point of this final chapter of Matthew’s Gospel is to narrate both the fact of his resurrection along with why it should matter to us, some of which we’ll examine tomorrow.
He was crucified and died on Friday afternoon, and had to be quickly buried before the sun went down, since leaving out his body would break Moses’ law. They couldn’t work on the Sabbath (which began on Sundown), and they couldn’t leave the body overnight. Ironically, the reason Moses told them to take down the body before sundown was because anyone hung on a tree was under God’s curse. As Paul explained, Jesus was cursed--indeed, he became a curse--for us.
But Sunday morning came, and what a glorious morning! The women set out as soon as the Sabbath had ended so that they could actually finalize the burial and pay their final respects to their dead but beloved Master. But the Father had other plans. . .
By the way, why is it important that the Gospel writers all record that it was the women who were the first witnesses of the resurrection? Because this is more evidence that he really rose from the dead! If the disciples and Gospel writers wanted to make up stories about his resurrection, they wouldn’t have written it this way. Women were usually not allowed to testify in court, since their testimony was considered worthless and routinely dismissed. But our Lord, who cares deeply about the least of these, wanted these dear women to have the honor of being the first witnesses of this history-changing event. Yes, that’s the type of God he is.
Our Father thought it proper to accompany his Son’s resurrection with earthquakes and angels. This is exciting, not only because of Christ’s resurrection but because it’s similar to the one we’ll undergo someday. One day, our Lord Jesus will descend and call us out of our graves. The earth will split and give up her dead, and we’ll join to meet him in the air, accompanied by, you guessed it, his winged servants.
Leave it to our Lord and his servants to turn a cemetery into a place of comfort and hope. I love how the angels mildly rebuke the women: Notice that they point out that Jesus had risen “just as he said.” Why should they be surprised at this news? Had his word failed at any other point up until now? I know I know, I probably wouldn’t have done any better. . .
And finally they see him again. Their beloved Lord, whom they had last seen as a very dead corpse. Now he was alive again: His heart beat, his lungs drew in breath, his synapses of his brain were firing again. And more than this—he wasn’t in the same type of body that they had seen before. Now he was in a new type of body, a type that they would one day share. A body not subject to aging, tiredness, sickness, pain, or death.
I am also very aware of the grace, mercy, and tenderness he shows here. No word of rebuke from his lips about their lack of belief, and he has no word of condemnation for his disciples for abandoning him in his hour of need. Instead, he gives the women a sacred and joyful mission, and calls the disciples his “brothers.” I’m very glad that he’s not ashamed to call me his brother, aren’t you?
Of course, today's devotional wouldn't be complete without "Was It A Morning Like This?" by Sandy Patty.
That’s what the resurrection is all about: hope, power, awe, and anticipation of what he’s going to come up with next. And that brings us to tomorrow. . .
Lord Jesus, I am so sorry for those times that I haven’t believed what you said. I thank you that you don’t condemn me. You just forgive me and restore me and give me a new mission. I can’t wait to find out what it is.