Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”
8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. – Matthew 28:1-8.
The two Marys come to see the tomb early on the first day of the week (the first of the ‘Lord’s days’). There is an earthquake and an angel of the Lord descends, rolls back the stone from the door of the tomb and sits on it. His face looks like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shake through fear and become as dead. (The stone is rolled back to let outsiders in, not to let the interred One out — that has already happened; the resurrected Lord has already left the tomb!)
The angel tells the women not to be afraid, but that the crucified Jesus has risen. They are to relay this news to the disciples and tell them that Jesus will meet them again in Galilee.
“His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow” (v.3) – The angel’s face looked majestic, brilliant, dazzling and his clothing was as white as snow.
“the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men” (v.4) – The guards trembled with fear and likely fainted.
“He has risen” (v.6) – The Father accepted and approved of the Son’s words and works. He expressed them in two great events —
1. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead; and
2. Jesus’ ascension to the Father’s right hand.
The angel gives the good news of Jesus’ resurrection to the women. He invites them to see the place where Jesus had lain to verify for themselves that He was indeed risen.
“He is going before you into Galilee” (v.7) — Jesus had told them He would meet them on a mountain in Galilee (cf. Matt. 26:32, 28:7, 10; 1 Cor. 15:6). This was a way to assert His resurrection and give them hope. He had a final message for them (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8).
“So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word” (v.8) – Fear and great joy characterize the first resurrection encounters. Mixed emotions overwhelm the women! They are happy and in awe at the news of Jesus’ resurrection and they hurry to tell the disciples about it.