28:6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. This affirmation of Jesus’ prediction of his resurrection picks up the three passion predictions in 16:21; 17:22–23; 20:17–19, each of which mentions Jesus’ resurrection.
Ver. 6.—He is not here. He is not in this tomb; his bodily presence is removed from this his whilom resting-place. St. Matthew’s account is greatly condensed, and omits many details which harmonists try to fit into our text. The attempt is not to be commended, for it really involves greater confusion, and, after all, is forced and only conjectural. For he is risen, as he said. If they had believed Christ’s often-repeated announcement, they would not have come seeking the living among the dead. (For Christ’s predictions concerning his resurrection, see ch. 12:40; 16:21; 17:23; 20:19.). On this simple, but pregnant sentence “He is risen,” depends the phenomenon of Christianity, in its origin, existence, continuance, extension, and moral power. “Death began with woman; and to women the first announcement is made of resurrection” (Hilary, quoted by Wordsworth, in loc.). Come, see the place where the Lord lay. The angel invites them to satisfy themselves that Christ’s body was no longer in its resting-place. That Jesus was designated as “the Lord,” ὁ Κύριος, by the disciples is obvious (see John 20:18; 21:7, etc.), but it is doubtful whether the words are genuine here, though they are found in many good manuscripts and in the Vulgate. They are omitted by א, B, 33, etc., and by Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort in their editions. Regarding them as genuine, Bengel calls them “gloriosa appellatio,” which indeed it is, for it is equivalent to “Jehovah.” Harmonists suppose that the angel was at first not seen by the women; that Mary Magdalene, observing the stone removed, at once hurried to the city to tell Peter and John; that, the rest of the women remaining, the angel made himself visible to them and bade them enter the sepulchre; and that, doing so, they beheld another angel sitting on the right side of the recess. Thus, it is conjectured, the accounts in Mark and John may be harmonized with that in our text. (See also Westcott on John 20, where is given a provisional arrangement of the facts of the first Easter Day.)
The fulfilled predictions (28:6)
The note of fulfilment has been prominent in this Gospel and it is prominent at the end. Three times in the Gospel account Jesus had predicted that he would rise again on the third day. This chapter shows the fulfilment of that prophecy. The chief priests and Pharisees had a shrewd idea that his disciples might attempt to fake a resurrection. That is why they had approached Pilate on the Sabbath for a guard on the tomb (27:64). And the angel underlined it again: ‘He is not here; he has risen, just as he said’ (6). The other Gospels suggest some hints of the resurrection in the Old Testament Scriptures. There is very little foreshadowing of it in the Old Testament; certainly not enough for anyone to have set out from those predictions and postulated a resurrection to fulfil them. On the day of Pentecost, Peter quotes Psalm 16:8–11 and 110:1. But Matthew does not quote them. He emphasizes the fulfilment of the words of the new Moses. Fulfilled prophecy is hard to gainsay.
Vers. 6, 7. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said.—
The open sepulchre a seal of redemption:—
- The place which the angel bade the women come and see was an open, empty tomb. Earth is the place of tombs. There is no tomb in heaven; no silent grave in hell. Every grave of earth will yet be empty.
- Momentous truths were uttered from the open, empty tomb where the Lord had lain. 1. The first voice proclaims the evil and the power of sin. Sin dug for Death all his graves. Sin has slain the Beloved of the Lord. 2. The second voice proclaims redemption from sin. The open grave of Christ is a three-fold sign of (1) acceptance; (2) liberty; and (3) life.
III. There are some holy lessons which men may learn as they linger by the Redeemer’s open, empty tomb. 1. Come and see the place where the Lord lay, and learn a lesson of penitence for sin. 2. Come and see the place where the Lord lay, and learn a lesson of love to Him. The grave of loved ones has a strange fascination. 3. Come and see the place where the Lord lay, and realize your union with Him and nearness to Him. 4. Come and be in alliance with those who honour Christ. 5. Behold He is alive for evermore. (D. Rose, M.A.)
Easter morning:—1. Standing where the Lord lay I am impressed with the fact that mortuary honours cannot atone for wrongs to the living. 2. That floral and sculptural ornamentation are appropriate for the place of the dead. Christ was buried in a garden. 3. I am impressed with the dignity of private and unpretending obsequies. Funeral pageantry is not necessary. 4. I am impressed with the fact that you cannot keep the dead down. The seal of the Sanhedrin, soldiers, cannot keep Christ in the crypt. (Dr. Talmage.)
The great argument of the resurrection:—1. The resurrection of Christ considered in relation to Himself as the promised Saviour of men. 2. The resurrection of Christ in relation to the comfort and service of His immediate friends and disciples. 3. The resurrection of Christ from the dead viewed in relation to the enemies of our Lord. 4. The resurrection of Christ considered in its relation to the religious life and experience of believers. 5. The resurrection of our Lord considered in relation to the thoughts and feelings of Christians when contemplating death. (T. Lloyd.)
The resurrection of our Lord—the fact and its consequences:—
- The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead we affirm to be a fact. 1. Were the apostles deceived? 2. If not deceived, did they wilfully proclaim a falsehood?
- Note some of its consequences. 1. The resurrection furnishes the only positive proof of our immortality. 2. It also assures us of our redemption, and this gives definite hope for the future. 3. It assures us of the redemption of the body. (H. Ward.)
The risen Saviour:—
- This declaration proclaims the actual resurrection of Christ. A fact established by the clearest evidence.
- This language expresses several fundamental truths. 1. The humiliation of Christ. 2. The infinite love of God. 3. The Divine faithfulness. 4. The Divine sovereignty. 5. Christ’s triumph over all His enemies and ours. 6. The certain and glorious pledge of the perfecting of salvation. (Pulpit Themes.)
Watching for the resurrection:—As the flowers wait for the spring, and the yellow corn waits for the summer, and the stars wait for the morning, and as Lazarus waited in sweet silence for the voice of Jesus to awake him out of sleep, so do the blessed dead wait for the resurrection. (G. W. M’Cree.)
The proofs of the resurrection of Christ:—
- Presumptive or circumstantial evidence. 1. The precaution of the Jews. 2. The departure of Jesus from the sepulchre. 3. The change which took place in the apostles after this event.
- The testimony of credible witnesses. 1. The sufficiency of evidence depends upon the number of the witnesses, their qualifications, and their information. 2. Their competency being established, now examine their credibility. Their testimony was honest, prominent, explicit, and constant.
III. Divine testimony. The Holy Spirit bears witness to Christ’s resurrection. 1. By the predictions of the prophets. 2. By the miracles of the apostles. 3. By the success of the gospel. (T. Gibson. M.A.)
The resurrection of Christ:—
- Let us look at it as a fact established by reliable evidence. “He is risen.” 1. In order to a true resurrection we must first have it clearly established that at the time of His burial He was really dead. The soldiers found Jesus already dead. He was buried in a new tomb; hence no other body could have been substituted for that of our Lord. Nicodemus, Joseph of Aremathæa, and the women who assisted at His burial are witnesses of His death. 2. The testimony of those who saw our Lord alive after His resurrection. II. But passing from the fact itself, let us consider its relation to the Saviour’s former utterances, “He is risen, as He said” (John 2:18–21; Matt. 12:40; Matt. 16:21; Matt. 17:22). Christ perilled His whole Deity and Messiahship on His resurrection. There is a three-fold attestation in this wondrous event. 1. It proved Him to be a prophet, a miracle-worker, and it threw back its authenticating light on everything said and done by Him during His earthly ministry. Thus we learn to view the resurrection of our Lord as the foundation of our faith. Take this chapter out of the gospel and all others are worthless. Two influences—1. Hope through life—“God hath begotten us unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 2. An influence of comfort in bereavement and death coming from this theme. (W. M. Taylor, D.D.)
A living hope awakened by the resurrection of Christ:—Mark the expression a “lively” or living hope. The expectation of perfected salvation which the believer cherishes is not contented with indifference or inactivity. It is a living, not a dying or dead thing, and it animates him to most earnest efforts after the attainment of the object to which it looks. A ship’s crew have been forced to leave a sinking vessel and commit themselves in an open and frail boat to the mercy of the ocean. They do not know that they shall be picked up, but they have an intense desire to be delivered and a vague hope that they shall be. Day passes after day. Their scanty stock of provisions is almost exhausted, the water is entirely spent, and hope in them is all but dead, so that every energy within them is paralyzed. But lo! far away on the dim horizon a sail appears, and in a moment the hope that seemed ready to expire is quickened into activity. First they raise a faint but thankful cheer; then they uplift any sort of a flag they can extemporize as a signal of distress; then they take to the oars and summon up the remnant of their strength, if by any means they may near the vessel’s course, and attract the attention of those who man her. What a difference one short hour has made in those worn and haggard men! A little while ago they were ready to perish, but now they are all activity, for the sight of that far-off sail has begotten them to a “living hope.” So Christ’s resurrection brings living hope to the sinner’s heart. (Ibid.)
Come see the place where the Lord lay:—I. And be assured that He is risen from the dead. II. And behold the completion of human redemption. III. And view it with penitential grief. IV. Ye who love Him, learn to view without fear your own final resting-place, and rejoice in the assurance that His resurrection is the pledge and type of your own. Adore Him for the love which led him to sleep in the sepulchre that you might rise and partake of His glory for ever. (J. Johnson, M.A.)
The empty sepulchre:—“Come and see the place where the Lord lay.” 1. It is a garden. 2. It is a garden with a grave in it. The world has no unmingled cup of sweet to offer. Because that tomb is empty and Christ is risen there need be no blight without a blessing, no sorrow without a joy, &c. 3. It is a new tomb where never man was laid. 4. You can see by its size, its position, its adornments, that it belongs to a family possessed of wealth—it is a grave of the rich. Fulfilment of prophecy—Isa. 53:9. 5. The heavy stone, which brawny arms had rolled against its entrance, making it fast, and setting a seal on it, is rolled away. The finger of God touches the mighty incubus and it moves. 6. And find the sepulchre empty. Christ is risen! (1) The seal of truth is put upon all He said and did. God would have never raised a pretender. (2) The offering of Jesus for the sins of men is hereby accepted. (3) He has Divine life in Himself, and the same Spirit that raised up Jesus from death and the dark can raise up dead souls. This is the true power of His resurrection. Are we risen with Christ? (4) A pledge of His power and purpose to raise again from the dominion of the grave the bodies of the race He hath redeemed. Comfort for the bereaved. (5) Then He hath also ascended up into glory, He hath taken possession of His inheritance, and is the forerunner of the saints. “Opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.” Think of departed loved ones emerged from the ruins of the tomb, &c. (6) Then He lives to-day to be our Friend and Guide and Helper. How much we need Him, &c. Christian, gird up your loins afresh! Yours is a living faith in a living Saviour. Sinner! He is risen. What then? Then He is that man whom God hath ordained to judge the world. (J. J. Wray.)
A new tomb where never man was yet laid:—Why? For this reason: The fact of Christ’s resurrection is at the basis of Christianity. Our whole religion must stand or fall with the coming to life again of the Man Jesus. “If Christ be not risen from the dead, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” God hath therefore hedged it round with special tokens, evidences which may well hush the doubter and strike the sceptic dumb. In the Old Testament we read that contact with the sacred dust of the Prophet Elisha did once raise a man to life; and a Jewish superstition invested the bones of their holier heroes with a similar power. Had this been an old and much-used grave, the enemies of Jesus would have been quick to suggest that as the cause of the resurrection. So Providence provides a new tomb, where never man was laid. Again, old tombs and ancient sepulchres often had secret passages, subterranean avenues, and connections with each other and the outer world. How ready would the unbelievers have been to suggest that by such secret means the body had been carried off by His disciples and interred elsewhere! Hence it is a new tomb, cut in the face of the solid rock, one only means of entrance and of exit, watched and tended by the Roman guard. (Ibid.)
The place where the Lord lay is:—I. A place of instruction. 1. The fact of His resurrection. 2. What is the significance of the fact? It means that the atonement is complete. II. A place of life. Christ’s life assures us of life for the body and soul of man. III. A place of comfort—“Fear not ye.” IV. A place of hope. (D. Merson, B.D.)
Jesus has lighted up the grave:—It is said that the Romans had a practice of lighting up their tombs. In Essex a tomb was once opened, when a lamp was found in the corner, and a chair near it indicating the rank of the tomb-tenant; and it is recorded that fifteen hundred years after the death of Tullia, Cicero’s daughter, her tomb, which was accidentally opened, was found illuminated with a lamp. It was but a glimmering light, the rays of which were confined to the catacomb walls. But the light Christ sheds upon the grave falls upon the vista of eternity. You can now stoop, look in, and see immortality beyond. (Blacket’s “Young Men’s Class.”)
Death and resurrection of Christ:—Lend me your imaginations for a minute, while I endeavour to picture a scene. Christ had paid the price—the full price: that price was presented before the Father’s judgment-seat. He looked at it, and was content. But as it was a solemn matter, it was not hurried over. Three days were taken, that the ransom-price might be counted out; and its value fully estimated. The angels looked, and admired. The “spirits of the just” came and examined it, and wondered, and were delighted. The very devils in hell could only express their satisfaction by biting their iron bonds, and sullenly keeping silence, because they had not a word to speak against the sacrifice of Christ. The three days passed away, and the atonement was fully accepted. Then the angel came from heaven—swift as the lightning flash—he descended from the spheres of the blessed, into this lower earth, and he came into the prison-house, in which the Saviour’s body slept; for, mark, His body had been kept in the prison till God ratified His atonement and accepted it—He was lying there a hostage for His people. The angel came, and spake to the keeper of the prison, one called Grim Death, and said to him, “Let that captive go free.” Death was sitting on his throne of skulls, with a huge iron key at his girdle of iron: and he laughed, and said, “Aha! thousands and thousands of the race of Adam have passed the portals of this prison-house; but none of them have ever been delivered. That key has been once turned in its wards by destiny; and no mortal power can ever turn it back again, and draw the bolts from their resting-places.” Then the angel showed to him Heaven’s own warrant, and Death turned pale. The angel grasped the key—unlocked the prison door, and stepped in. There slept the Royal Captive—the Divine hostage. And the angel cried, “Arise, Thou Sleeper! Put off Thy garments of death. Shake Thyself from the dust, and put on Thy beautiful garments.” The Master arose. He unwound the napkin, and laid it by itself. He took off His graveclothes and laid them by themselves, to show He was in no hurry, that all was done legally, and therefore orderly. He did not dash His prison-walls aside to come out; but came out by legal process, just as He had entered in. He seemed to express Himself as Paul did, “No, verily, let them come themselves, and fetch Me out.” So was the Master set at liberty—by heaven’s own officer, who came from heaven to give Him just liberty—God’s proof that He had done all that was necessary. Thou Lamb of God! I see Thee rising from Thy tomb in splendour ineffable, dazzling the eyes of the guards and making them flee away in terror. And when I see Thee risen from the dead, I see myself accepted, and all Thy dying redeemed people fully delivered. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
5, 6. The angel, answering, said to the women, Don’t you be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. Luke 24:2 and John 20:12 speak of “two” angels; Matthew and Mark, of only one. Why this difference? Some answer, “Although two angels were actually present, one alone was the speaker.” But this will hardly do, for according to Luke both of the “two men in dazzling apparel” addressed the women. So do also the two “angels” in John’s account. The reason for the difference has not been revealed to us. There is, of course, no contradiction, for neither Matthew nor Mark states that there was only one angel.
“Don’t you—very emphatic in the original—be afraid,” says the angel. In other words, “Don’t you be like others who were scattered in every direction, and some of whom you may even have met.” Why do not these women need to be afraid? Why must they stop their weeping and rejoice instead? The angel answers, “for I know that you are looking for Jesus the crucified.” In other words, “You have no reason to fear, for you are the loyal friends of Jesus. Yes, you have remained loyal to him even though the world despised and crucified him. It was to show that loyalty that you came here this morning.”
We might have expected a different message, for example, a stern rebuke, in view of the fact that these women showed by their action that they had not taken seriously enough Jesus’ prediction of rising on the third day. But no, all this is passed by—though not completely. A mercifully veiled rebuke—better, a gentle admonition, a loving reminder—comes at the very end of the angel’s message: He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. “Just as he said.” The angel does not even say, “just as he said again and again and again.” See above p. 9. It is as if the angel is saying, “In view of your marvelous courage and loyalty, your lack of sufficient faith is hereby forgiven.” Moreover, it must be borne in mind that the heavenly messenger did not create this message. It was given to him, as a comparison between verses 5 and 10 clearly shows. Reassuringly, the angel adds, Come, see the place where he lay. According to Mark 16:5, by this time the women were already inside the tomb. But the angel bids them come even closer, so that they may see whatever there is to be seen; for example, not only the empty tomb—“He is not here”—but also “the linen bandages lying there, and the sweatband not lying with the linen bandages but folded up in a place by itself” (John 20:7). They must convince themselves that everything is orderly in this tomb. No disciple has been here to remove the body, nor has an enemy pillaged the tomb. In either case the bandages would no longer have been present. The women—just like Peter and John that same morning—must see that the Lord, restored from death to life, had himself removed the bandages and the sweatband, had provided for himself a garment such as is worn by the living, had calmly and majestically put everything in its place in the tomb, and had then departed from the tomb gloriously alive.
For the church to believe that Jesus rose from the dead is fine, but it is not enough. It should also consider what kind of Savior it was who rose from the dead. Is he still the same loving Redeemer who before he died healed the sick, cleansed the leper, raised the dead, comforted the mourning, pardoned and died for the sinner who accepts him by a living faith? Careful study of the resurrection account answers this question with a thunderous affirmative.
 Brown, J. K. (2015). Matthew. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 317). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St. Matthew (Vol. 2, pp. 640–641). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
 Green, M. (2001). The message of Matthew: the kingdom of heaven (p. 316). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Exell, J. S. (1952). The Biblical Illustrator: Matthew (pp. 669–672). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
 Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 990–991). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.