8 From John’s gospel it seems that Mary Magdalene apparently left the garden as soon as she “saw the stone already taken away from the tomb” (20:1). Before the angel appeared, “she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him’” (v. 2). Obviously she had missed the angel’s announcement of Jesus’ resurrection. It did not occur to her that Jesus might be risen as He had predicted, and she assumed that someone had stolen the body and hidden it. Peter and John did not consider the possibility of resurrection either, and they immediately ran to the tomb to find out what they could (John 20:3-4). The guards were so awestruck that at first they shook for fear of him, they then became like dead men. The idea seems to be that they not only became rigid but unconscious, completely traumatized by what they saw. The women were also frightened, but, unlike the soldiers, they received comfort from God’s messenger. Aware of their fright, the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not he afraid.” The soldiers had good reason to be afraid. Not only was the angel’s appearance terrifying in itself but, because they had been charged with protecting the grave, an empty tomb could spell their death. The angel said to them; “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.” Jesus Himself had power to give up His life and to take it up again (John 10:18). But Scripture makes clear that He also was raised by the power of the Father (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:3) and of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11). The entire Trinity participated in the resurrection of Jesus. The angel reminded the women that Jesus’ resurrection should not surprise them, because it happened just as He said. Luke reports that they then “remembered His words” (24:8).
While the women were in the tomb, another angel joined the first, “one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying” (John 20:12). Their positions are reminiscent of the two golden cherubim who were on either side of the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant (Ex. 25:18). The two angels in the garden were posted at either end of the tomb of Jesus, who, by the sacrifice He had just made of His own life, became the true and eternal Mercy Seat. One of the angels then said, “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead.” This is another example of God’s mercy to tell the disciples as soon as possible, so they would not have to experience another moment of misery and grief. He did not rebuke them for their lack of faith but rather sent them this word of hope and comfort. The women depart quickly from the tomb.
V 9-10 Immediately recognizing the Lord, the women worship Him. They now knew with certainty that He was the risen Messiah the anointed King of Israel. They did what all will do one day. When He comes again, “every knee will bow… and… every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord . . .” (Phil. 2:10-11). It is interesting to note that Yeshua wants to meet with His disciples in Galilee rather than Jerusalem. Likely this is because he wanted to be removed from the seat of religious power while He instructs them prior to their having the Holy Spirit upon them in full measure. It would also ease their fears.
11-15 Some of the guards went to report the incident to the chief priests all that had happened at the tomb. They have less to fear from the chief priests than from Pilate, and they probably hoped their leaders could protect them from the governor. The Pharisees and Priests only concern was to keep that news from their fellow Jews, fearing that many would accept Him as the Messiah and that their own influence, power, and wealth would be severely diminished. The first reaction was to quickly convene the Sanhedrin, and when they had assembled with the elders, they counseled together as to how they might best obstruct the spreading of the news the soldiers had brought. Counseled together was a formal phrase used of official decisions, and at this meeting the Sanhedrin decided on a three-point resolution: to bribe the soldiers, to spread a lie about the body, and to protect the soldiers from possible reprisal by Pilate. Because they had so much at stake, the Sanhedrin did not hesitate to pay a high price for the lie to be spread. The second part of the resolution was a plan to disseminate the falsehood as widely as possible. The purpose of the lie was to hide the truth. The third part of the Sanhedrin’s resolution offered protection to the soldiers.
V 16 -18 The eleven proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain designated by Jesus, this meeting probably took place about 25 days after His resurrection. It is believed that Galilee was chosen because Jesus not only wanted the disciples present to hear this word but others of His followers as well, and they were in Galilee. He and the disciples would shortly return south to Jerusalem before His ascension, but before He would ascend He had a word for His disciples and probably the 500 plus who Paul spoke of in (1 Cor 15:6), There were some who had reservations about this entire thing and Matthew calls them doubters. Maybe because of the size of the crowd there were a few who thought Jesus was an imposter and not really the Jesus they knew and loved. In love and grace He came near and spoke to them. He told them that He had all the authority of heaven and of earth. His earthly ministry that included his teaching and miracles demonstrated his authority, and now this stunning proof that He had risen from the dead further demonstrate the authority that the Father gave Him. For them to carry out the commission He was about to give them they had to acknowledge and submit to His authority as Lord and Savior.
V 19-20 – Therefore, since He was sovereign Lord, He commanded His followers, His disciples, to go and make disciples of all the nations. The Greek word that is used denotes continual action, so the making of disciples is a continual process. Disciple making is not just leading people to the Lord but nurturing them in the faith. The process of making disciples has three aspects to it: Go, Baptize, Teach. With the command to go we understand that we are not to wait for people to come to us, but rather go to them. Secondly we must baptize – Baptism is not just a New Testament ritual but one rooted in the O.T. Abraham in a sense experienced a baptism when he crossed over the river to the Promised Land. The word “crossed over” is the root of the word “Hebrew”. Israel as a nation was baptized when they “crossed over” by entering the promised land (1 Cor 10:12). It is the process of leaving the old world and our affections for it behind, buried in the Sea. Baptism is identifying with Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection. That we are baptized into the “Father, Son and the Holy Spirit” is an indication that we have identified and have been placed into the unity of God. The third aspect of being a disciple is teaching. We are not simply to be taught but also to teach. In fact the best way to learn is to teach. This is an essential element of disciple making. In order to assure us Jesus told us that He is with us through it all… to the end of the age.