Summary: This message deals with the accounts of those first visitors who came to the tomb of Jesus expecting to find the body of Jesus, but instead have an encounter with an angel of the Lord.


Matthew 28: 1-8, 9-10; John 20:1-9, 11-18

Greenmount and O’Leary Churches of Christ April 04, 2021

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1.) This morning I want us to go back in time over 2,000 years to the scene of a graveyard.

2.) This is not just any graveyard, for the body of Jesus had been buried there a few days before.

3.) Yet as we come to the graveyard it is rather scary because:


1.) This was not just a regular earthquake.

A.) It was caused by an angel of the Lord coming from heaven to earth.

B.) Just a couple of days earlier there was another earthquake, and it was also a very violent earthquake.

2.) Usually there is no mention of an earthquake because of an angelic visit in Scripture.

A.) But this was a special occasion, and it seems the angel of the Lord was the cause of this violent earthquake that came.

B.) This was a day the greatness of which can only compare to that day when the trumpet of the Lord will sound and Jesus’ return.

ba.) On this day Jesus by his own power conquered death and the grave.

bb.) In the Old and New Testaments there are a few accounts of resurrections.

C.) As great as those workings of God had been this was different.

ca.) Jesus by means of his own voice and power, in the depths of death and the grave orchestrated his own resurrection.

ca.) Perhaps that was the cause of the earthquake.

E.) The earth could not help but to shake as the voice of Jesus reverberated through the depths of Hades, commanding his own lifeless body to come back to life.

F.)) On Resurrection morning there a violent earthquake but two days earlier there was another violent earthquake the moment that Jesus died.

B.) .) When Jesus declared: “It is finished” and closed his eyes in death the bodies of many of the saints who had recently died came back to life.

ba.) Matthew 27:51-53

.01) It was not the general resurrection of all the dead, but of many of the saints who had recently died.

bb.) At that time there was not a resurrection of all people but only of the Godly.

bc.) The wicked of that day remained in their graves and will remain there until the trumpet of the Lord shall sound.

bd.) Try to picture and imagine the scene of this passage of Scripture in our world today.

bda.) You go down to the arena or to the grocery store and there as you walk around you meet fifty or a hundred of the Godly people from this community who have died in the last year or two.

bdb.) Would you be somewhat shaken up?

bdc.) I know I certainly would be.

bdd.) In fact, there is a very real possibility you would need to plan a few more funerals, as the shock of that encounter might give a heart attack.

3.) After the resurrection of Jesus these saints of God came into the city of Jerusalem and walked around and were seen by many people.

A.) It was a resurrection of those who had placed their hope in God and were looking for the Messiah.

aa.) As ridiculous and far-fetched as that may sound it was exactly the scene that happened in Jerusalem when Jesus rose from the dead.

B.) That morning just as the rumours were spreading that Jesus had been raised from the dead, people were seeing Godly people who had died in the previous months walking along the street or coming back to the homes where they once had lived.

C.) This was a big, day and one which will only be surpassed when the trumpet sounds and all the dead will be again raised to life.

eaa.) The resurrection of Christ reminds us that Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection, and we too will one day also be raised from the dead.

eab.) The resurrection of those people of God that day is a reminder, and a guarantee that one day all will rise from the dead because of Jesus the Christ.

4.) Well let us get back to our Scripture and see more on the angel.

A.) “He went to the tomb” (28:2b.)

aa.) The angels are servants and messengers of God.

aaa.) The angel went directly to the tomb as he had a mission to carry out.

B.) “He rolled the stone away” (28:2c.)

ba.) This statement, and the next one or two in regards to this angel may perhaps have been things which the women who had come to the tomb had witnessed, and so passed on to the apostles.

bb.) Part of the mission of this angel was to roll back the stone which had covered and sealed the tomb.

C.) “And he sat upon it.” (28:2d.)

ca.) The second part of the mission which this angel had was to proclaim to the women that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

5.) The Appearance Of The Angel.

A.) “His appearance was like lightening.” (28:3a.) His clothes were white as snow.” (28:3.)

aa.) While Matthew records this description of the angel it was most likely from the testimony of what these women had seen at the grave.

ab.) Either way it is important to see that this was no earthly being there at the grave.

aba.) The glory and splendor of this one left no doubt that it was a heavenly angel who had come to the grave.

6.) The response of the guards.

A.) Matthew 28:4

B.) They were afraid of him. (28:4a.)

ba.) This verse makes it clear that the guards who were at the tomb knew without any doubt they had seen an angel of God.

C.) They shook. (28:4b.)

ca.) When the body is in a situation of great shock, or fear, the adrenaline in our bodies works directly on receptor cells in the muscles to speed up their movement.

cb.) When this happens our muscles will twitch, causing the body to shake.

cc.) These men were Roman soldiers. They were not men who would have had faith in God.

cca.) I expect that day these men came to believe in God, as their bodies shook and trembled in the presence of an angel of heaven.

ccb.) It was an experience they had never had before, and probably hoped to never have again.

.01) I want you to see the level of fear they had.

D.) “They became like dead men.” (28:4c.)

da.) These were rough and tough Roman soldiers.

daa.) They were ready to take on any man and were strong and courageous.

dab.) Yet here in the presence of an angel of Heaven their bodies shook and trembled, and they passed out in fear.

II. THE WOMEN HEARD AND BELIEVED. (Matthew 28:5-8, 9-10)

1.) “Do not be afraid.” (28:5a.)

A.) This is a message that was not given to the soldiers.

aa.) The angel who had brought fear and fainting to the Roman solders gave comfort and strength to these women who had come to the grave.

B.) “I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.” (28:5b.)

ba.) This angel already knew the reason for the women coming to the grave, without asking them.

C.) The angel makes an announcement to the women.

ca.) “He is not here! He has risen Just as He said.” (28:6c.)

cb.) People come to a graveyard for those who are dead.

cba.) Because Jesus is alive there is no longer reason for him to be sought in a graveyard.

2.) The angel now had a mission for them to carry out.

A.) “Come see the place where he lay.” (28:6d.)

B.) Before these women could proclaim the resurrection to the eleven, they had to know the truth and be given evidence of that truth.

ba.) They needed to see the evidence of the empty tomb; they needed to see the neatly folded cloth that covered the head of Jesus.

bb.) Equipped with that knowledge and evidence the angel commissioned them to go the Apostles with the news.

bba.) Matthew 28:7-8

3.) On the way they met Jesus.

A.) Matthew 28:9-10

B.) Jesus presents himself as proof of the resurrection.

C.) Jesus also repeated the commission which the angel had given to the women to go and tell the disciples to go to Galilee and Jesus would meet them there.

D.) These women were faithful to the commission given them by the angel and Jesus.

da.) They ran back to tell the Apostles of the resurrection.

db.) Peter and John immediately took off for the grave.

IV. PETER WONDERED. (John 20:3-7, 9)

1.) Peter and John race to the tomb. (20:3)

A.) Both were running but John outran Peter and got there first. (20:4)

aa.) We usually see John as a much younger man than Peter, and perhaps in better physical shape.

ab.) The two men race to the grave, but John outruns Peter and gets there first.

aba.) John got there and stayed outside of the tomb for a while examining the entire scene.

2.) John took in the scene from the entrance of the tomb.

A.) “He bent over and looked in” (20:5a.)

aa.) John wanted to study the scene. He wanted to examine what had happened and look for evidence.

ab.) He wanted to understand what had happened.

ac.) [He looked] “at the strips of linen lying there” (20:5b.)

aca.) The fact of the strips of linen lying there may have been as though the body of Jesus was still wrapped in the linen though his body was gone.

acb.) I am not certain of this, but many would certainly hold to that theory.

B.) .) “but did not go in.” (20:5c.)

ba.) He was examining the evidence.

bb.) It is also possible that reverence for a grave, or even fear could have also held John back from rushing right in.

3.) Then Peter came.

A.) His approach to the tomb was much different than John’s.

aa.) “[He] arrived and went into the tomb.” (20:6a.)

aaa.) Peter enters the tomb and just charges in.

ab.) “He saw the strips of linen lying there as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.” (20:7.)

aba.) Peter saw the same things as John but did not take time to figure it all out.

abb.) Peter was none the less puzzled by what he had seen:

.01) If someone had stolen the body of Jesus why would they take the time to take off the burial clothes from the body.

.02) If someone had stolen the body of Jesus why would they make the effort to neatly fold the napkin that had covered the head of Jesus and set it away from the rest of the burial clothes.

4.) Did Peter come to believe at that point?

A.) We are not told.

B.) Peter had come into the grave like a bulldozer.

ba.) He may not have taken the time for it all to register as to what it meant.

bb.) It may not have been until later in the day when Jesus appeared to Peter that he came to believe.

V.) JOHN BELIEVED. (John 20: 8)

5.) John had stood back and studied the entire scene.

A.) “Finally, John went inside.”

B.) “He saw.”

C.) “He believed.”

ca.) John did not even have to see the risen Lord to have faith in the resurrection.

cb.) For John, the evidence at the empty grave was enough to convince him that Jesus had risen from the dead.

6.) John 20:9


1.) Today we have taken a little tour look in this first century graveyard.

A.) Again, the words of the angel: “He is not here; for he is risen from the dead.”

2.) In seeing these visitors at that first century graveyard may our faith in the risen Lord be encourage by the testimonies of those who went to that grave the first morning.