16 April 2017
“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)
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
That is why Charles Wesley could write
the hymn (Singing the Faith 298)
Vain the stone,
the watch, the seal;
Christ hath burst the gates of hell:
- 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