After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
Witnesses Give Testimony Jesus Is Alive
People who do not want to believe the gospels are trustworthy give up on them at this point. No-one rises from the dead and so this is a myth at best, a lie at worst, and so we should just move on and create meaning from life ourselves. If you are open to the Gospel of Matthew being a factual account of what really happened you have the evidence that the most remarkable event in history happened. Jesus, who we have seen as truly dead, became truly alive. Guards witness an earthquake and an angel which accounts for why they did not do their duty. The angel gives supernatural explanation that Jesus is risen.
There must have been a story that generated about the disciples stealing Jesus’ body to make it seem like he was risen. It is unlikely that they were so intoxicated by the power of their own lies that they would willingly endure torture and death. This adds credibility to the story that is told in Matthew and detracts from the story spread by the Jewish leaders.
Finally, we think of women as credible witnesses, the ancient Jewish world did not. If this staory was made up, it would be more likely that the discovery of the empty tomb woud be given to male disciples rather than females. It actually adds to the sense of authenticity that truly women found teh empty tomb.
So given the evidence, what does it mean for you?
- What scared the guards?
- Why do you tink the situation with the guards is given so much attention in Matthew?
- What did it mean to the disciples that Jesus rose from the grave?
- Do you believe the evidence of the gospels? Why do people choose to be doubtful of the situation or to believe?
- What does Jesus’ rising mean for you?