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Matthew 28:1-10

The empty tomb means that Jesus is alive – and still alive today!

Tom Faletti

May 24, 2024

Matthew 28:1-10 The Resurrection: Jesus appears to the two Marys


From your knowledge of the Resurrection story, why do you think the two Marys returned to the tomb after the Sabbath?

Luke tells us (24:1) that they had prepared spices with which to anoint his body.


What happens in verse 2?


This is not an earthquake for show, though it is meant to signal that God is at work here.  The real earth-shaking event here is not the rumble of shifting tectonic plates but the fact that the stone has been rolled away.


What does the description of the angel in verse 3 tell us about this person?  How does it show that this is not a human?


In verse 4, how do the guards react?


The angel says a lot of things to the women.  Take it one verse at a time. 

  • What does the angel tell them in verse 5?

  • In verse 6?

  • In verse 7?


What is the significance of “Do not be afraid”?


Is there a place in your life where you need to hear those words right now: Do not be afraid?


What kinds of things cause us to need to hear those words?

Uncertainty, inadequate resources, health issues, loved ones facing struggles, world situations, etc.


How does the fact that Jesus is risen give us a way to try to deal with our fears?


(If you are struggling with anxiety or worry, this might be a good time to go back and look at our study of Matthew 6:25-34: Do not worry about your life; do not worry about tomorrow.)


Why does the angel remind them that Jesus said he would be raised?


Why does the angel invite them to “see the place where he lay”?

The angel honors the natural human desire to want to verify.  Being able to see with one’s own eyes gives confidence that it is true.  It will also strengthen their story and make it more believable when they go tell the disciples.


In some Christian circles, one sometimes gets the impression that wanting evidence is a bad thing.  But the Christian faith is based on real evidence, not on unsupported claims.  The angel invited the women to see for themselves.  Jesus invited Thomas to examine the wounds of his crucifixion.  Jesus appeared bodily to the disciples.  He didn’t just communicate to them in some ethereal, otherworldly way that he had risen from the dead – he showed them by coming into their midst with a real body, eating with them, and letting them touch him.  God understands our need for evidence.  Evidence is not a bad thing.


Why is evidence important?

Among other things, evidence allows us to separate countless fakes and frauds from the genuine work of God.


You were not there to see the empty tomb or to see the risen Lord in the flesh.  On what basis can you make the claim that Jesus is risen and is not still dead in a tomb?


What difference does it make to you that Jesus is risen?  How does it affect how you live your everyday life in the real world?


It is amazing that, despite the male-dominant culture of Jesus’s time, the initial news that Jesus is risen is given to women, not to male members of the band of disciples.  Why do you think this is, and what difference does it make that God chose to have this great news be told first to women?

Women showed up to the tomb, so they were in the right place at the right time.  Women throughout history are the ones who show up to do the grunt work.  In doing the grunt work, they were there for this great revelation.  God’s choice to honor the women is one more example of God’s downside-up approach to humanity.


Women were the first people to tell the good news of Jesus’s resurrection.  Do we give women a significant enough voice in our churches today?  Explain.


Jesus wants to see the disciples.  It isn’t just that they want to see him.  He wants to see them.  Why?


Can we extend this to ourselves?  In what ways, and why, does Jesus want to see us?


Jesus told the disciples at the Last Supper, in Matthew 26:32, that after he was raised he would go ahead of them to Galilee.  Why do you think he wants to see them in Galilee? What do you think he wants to do with them, and why not just stay in Jerusalem and do it there?

There are many possible answers to this question.  Some of the factors are: The disciples are just visiting Jerusalem.  They don’t have homes there.  They have families who presumably expect them back.  Jesus has more he needs to teach them, to prepare them for his sending them forth to preach the gospel without his constant bodily presence.  Being in Jerusalem means being under a spotlight.  Galilee provides a quieter, less visible place where they can focus on that preparation with fewer distractions.


Just as Jesus isn’t finished with the disciples yet, he isn’t finished with you or me, either.  What do you think he wants to do with us right now?


Where is your “Galilee”?  Where is the place where Jesus can meet with you and get you ready for your next steps, with minimal distraction?



The women leave the tomb to go tell the disciples, feeling both fear and great joy.  What a combination of feelings!


Suddenly – wonder of wonders – Jesus himself appears to them!


Are there ways in which it is especially fitting that it is these two women who first experience the risen Lord?  Explain.


Jesus greets them.  The Greek word Matthew uses for Jesus’s greeting had multiple meanings.  It was a standard greeting, meaning “Hail!” or “Greetings.”  So a literal translation of that sentence might be: “And behold, Jesus met them, saying greetings” (“Matthew 28,” Interlinear Bible, Bible Hub,


However, the original and literal meaning of that word was “rejoice,” and it was still used that way in Jesus’s time.  For example, in Matthew 5:12, when Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad” when they persecute you, the word “Rejoice” is the same Greek word.  We wouldn’t translate it “Greetings and be glad”; we would choose the other meaning for the word: “Rejoice.”  So, it would be legitimate to translate the sentence where Jesus greets the women in this way: And behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!”


How is being in the presence of the Lord a reason for rejoicing for you?



In verse 9, how do the women respond when they see Jesus alive?  What is the significance of “worshipping” him?


There is a subtle but important point in the fact that they touched his feet: It tells us that he had a real body and was not just a disembodied spirit.  Why is this important?


How important is it to you that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive, not dead?


Jesus repeats the angel’s instructions: Do not be afraid; tell the disciples to go to Galilee, where they will see me.  But he doesn’t call them “disciples.”  He calls them “brothers.”  Why is it significant that, at this particular point in time, he is calling them “brothers”?

Jesus had not used the word “brothers” for them previously in Matthew except in a vague way in Matthew 12:46-50.  Calling them “brothers” now, after they deserted him, is a clear sign of the depth of his love for them and dedication to them.  It is also a declaration of the relationship they will have with him forevermore.


Jesus considers us, too, his “brothers and sisters.”  How does it feel to you, to be called a brother or sister of Jesus?


Now look beyond just how it feels.  What does it mean to say that you are a brother or sister of Jesus?


Is there anything you would like to say to the risen Lord Jesus, or that you would like to do, in response to the fact that he considers you his brother or sister?



Take a step back and consider this:


At a few points in our study of Matthew’s Gospel, where scholars disagreed or there were conflicting interpretations of a passage, I have said or implied that it doesn’t really matter for our faith which interpretation is right.  For example, whether there was a Roman or Jewish guard at Jesus’s tomb doesn’t affect our faith.  It is not a central issue.  (I am not promoting relativism here.  There is an absolute truth.  Either there were Roman soldiers guarding the tomb or there weren’t, regardless of what we think.  But practically speaking, the answer to that question does not have any significant effect on what we believe as Christians or how we live out our faith.)


But the issue of the Resurrection does matter.  Whether Jesus did in fact rise from the dead, resulting in an empty tomb and a living Lord; or whether there was still a body in a tomb somewhere, now long decomposed; or whether the disciples stole the body, also now long decomposed – that matters a lot.


If Jesus did rise bodily from the grave, he did something that no other human could do, after announcing it in advance.  In that case, the Resurrection confirms and authenticates the claims he made when he was alive.  If he can do that, he is not just a human.  And since he called himself the Son of God, his Resurrection calls us to response to him as the Son of God.


If Jesus did not rise from the dead, his claims are fraudulent.  Moreover, in that case the transformation of the fledgling Christian community from fearful waverers to bold witnesses is incomprehensible.  Many people have died for a lie, but who would suffer excruciating torture for a fraudulent claim they knew they had made up?  The story from the beginning, for which people gave their life, is that Jesus bodily rose from the dead and lives in a very real way today.


So this really matters.


Why have Christians from the very beginning emphasized the reality of the Resurrection so much?


Is the Resurrection a central part of your faith?  How important is the Resurrection in your understanding of God’s interaction with the world and with you?


Are there ways that you have experienced the resurrection power of God?  What has God done in your life that gives you confidence that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive today?



For small groups studying Matthew:


Preparation for next time: If you can, please do this small amount of preparation before our final meeting (but come anyway, even if you can’t do this “homework”):


Look back through the Gospel of Matthew and try to answer these two questions:


  1. What do you think Matthew wants his readers to do in response to his account of the life and teachings of Jesus?  Please don’t stop at something simple like, “He wants us to believe.”  Yes, of course he does.  But what would that look like?  What does he want us to do or how does he want us to live our lives as our response to Jesus?

  2. What is your favorite story, quote, or teaching from Matthew’s Gospel, or what strikes you as most important or most meaningful, and why?



Click here for the bibliography.

Copyright © 2024, Tom Faletti (Faith Explored, This material may be reproduced in whole or in part without alteration, for nonprofit use, provided such reproductions are not sold and include this copyright notice or a similar acknowledgement that includes a reference to Faith Explored and See for more materials like this.

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