Sunday

16 April 2017

Matthew 28:1-10

“And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.” (v. 2)

Psalm: Psalm 118


Background

Although Matthew is the first Gospel in the New Testament, it was not the Gospel to be written. Scholars believe that Mark was the earliest of the four Gospels, and that Matthew and Luke used Mark and another source.

The Gospel was written in approximately AD80. Known as the 'Jewish Gospel', one of its characteristics is that it contains a large section of teachings by Jesus (including the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5-7).

Today's passage comes after the death and burial of Jesus. When Jesus died there was an earthquake (Matthew 27:51), a sign of the divine and the supernatural. Pilate had instructed that the tomb should be properly sealed, as he was reminded that Jesus had said something about being raised from the dead on the third day (Matthew 27:62-66).

In Matthew 28, the account of the Resurrection, there is another description of an earthquake. An angel came and rolled back the stone, though Jesus was not there. It is interesting to notice that the very guards who were determined to ensure that the tomb would be sealed, were paralysed with fear (verse 4).

The stone was rolled back so that the women could see where Jesus had been lying. The sealed tomb could not keep Jesus in. His resurrection had broken down barriers which human beings tried to put in his way. The resurrection of Jesus is important because it brings new life and new hope. His message would live on; nothing could stop that from happening, least of a large tombstone!

That is why Charles Wesley could write the hymn (Singing the Faith 298)

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal;
Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell:
Alleluia!


To Ponder

  • What are the barriers in your own spiritual life that you need to break down?
  • And what are the barriers that the Church needs to break down; barriers which try and keep Jesus out?

Bible notes author

The Revd Lynita Conradie

Lynita Conradie is a Methodist presbyter in the Nottingham North Circuit. Originally from South Africa, she was a human rights' lawyer before entering the ministry and being ordained by the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.