“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:1–20, ESV)
About dawn on the first day of the week, a couple of women make their way toward the tomb. Grief-stricken and disillusioned, the disciples try to cope with all that they have seen and endured during the last few hours. A great earthquake occurs as an angel descends from heaven and rolls the stone back to reveal the truth about the king. Death and darkness could not hold the King and the cross was not the end. The angel's appearance was awesome. It was like lightning and snow. The guards are awestruck and pass out because of their fear. The angel speaks to the woman and tells them not to be afraid. He knows that they have come looking for Jesus because he had been crucified and was buried at this very place. He announces that Jesus is not there because he had risen just as he said. He invites them to see for themselves and then go and tell the disciples. The angel gives specific instructions about going to Galilee where they will see Jesus. The women leave in a flurry of emotion which Matthew describes as fear and great joy. They are in a hurry to tell the disciples when they are met by Jesus who greets them. These women fall to the ground and worship the risen king. Jesus reassures them and tells them not to be afraid. He repeats the instructions that they had been given by the angel.
Some of the guards go into the city to alert the chief priests to events that had taken place. The religious leaders call an emergency session to determine the proper course of action and fabricate a story with the cooperation of the guards. They buy off the guards with a sufficient sum of money and promise to do whatever was necessary to keep them out of trouble with their superiors. The guards would say that they fell asleep and that the disciples stole the body under cover of night. These guards were willing to admit dereliction for money and protection. Matthew adds that this story continued to spread for years.
The King's Directive
The disciples did as they were told and made their way to the mountain in Galilee where they had been directed. Jesus meets them their and the response varied. Some worshiped Jesus, and some doubted Jesus. The risen King declares his absolute sovereignty over all things. Jesus has authority over everything in heaven and on earth. Every enemy is defeated, and King Jesus reigns. He commissions his servants to go and make disciples of all nations. Jesus' directive is not a suggestion or an option. The king with all authority commands his servants to go and make disciples. They should baptize and teach these disciples to obey. The king demands allegiance and obedience along with the promise to always be with his servants. The King lives. The King reigns. The King is near. Long live King Jesus!