There were some things that Jesus as Son of Man did not know (24:44; compare with Mark 13:32). But the certainty that Jesus had of his own resurrection (16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 26:29, 64) was given to him by the Holy Spirit (3:16; 10:20; 12:18, 28, 32). And Paul discovered among the early Christians that the power of the Holy Spirit working in us is the same power that raised the Messiah from sheol, the place of the dead (Hades, see comment on 27:52-53). "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ (the Messiah) from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you" (Romans 8:11).
Compared with the Gospels of Luke and John, Matthew tells the resurrection story very briefly. His focus is on the good news of resurrection that must now be proclaimed (28: 7, 10, 18-20). The resurrection will also be the heart of the preaching in the Book of Acts (Acts 1:22; 2:24, 31-32, 36; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30-31; 7:56; 10:40; 13:32-35; 17:31-32; 23:6; 24:15; 25:19; 26:8, 23 ).
28:1 This year the Passover Sabbath was from the Friday evening to sundown on Saturday. Days were counted as the evening and the morning (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23). And on this occasion the regular weekly Sabbath coincided with the Passover Sabbath. Both ended at sundown on Saturday, and the resurrection was on Easter Sunday.
The same two women who were at the entombment (27:61) now come to the tomb Easter morning. They were joined by Salome (Mark 16:1). They had come with spices to anoint the body, and had wondered who would roll the stone away for them (Mark 16:3; Luke 24:1).
28:2-4 God announced the mighty act of resurrection with an earthquake (see note on 27:51). And the two women saw the seal break (27:66) and the heavy circular stone at the mouth of the tomb rolled aside. They then saw the angel that moved the stone seated upon it. Even the tough Roman soldiers were terrified by the awesome sight.
28:5-8 This was the first announcement of the resurrection, and the women were immediately told to make it known. From John's Gospel it seems that Mary Magdalene ran immediately to tell Simon Peter and the beloved disciple, who both ran to the tomb (John 20:1-10). From Luke's Gospel it seems that the other Mary ran to tell the women who had been with her at the cross, and they gave the news of the empty tomb to the other apostles (27:56, compare Luke 24:10).
28:9-10 It seems that Jesus himself did not appear to Mary Magdalene till she had announced the empty tomb to Peter and John, and then returned (John 20:1-2, 11-14). Meanwhile the other Mary had also come back and both women were instructed to give the news to Jesus' brothers, and say he would meet them in Galilee. This is only way of understanding the sequence of events.
We note that each of the Gospel writers records different facts remembered from a very confusing first Easter morning. As in any reporting of a momentous event, it may seem difficult to disentangle the actual sequence of events. But all four Gospel are agreed that their Messiah had truly died and had certainly been raised from the dead.
28:11-15 The careful attempt to seal the tomb and have it guarded (27:62-66) not only failed, but now it required further bribery and lies to suppress the fact of the resurrection.
28:16 Jesus ate with the disciples on Easter Sunday (Luke 24:30, 41-43) and probably again the next Sunday (compare John 20:19 and 26). Possibly it was the third Sunday morning when he ate with some of them by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-2, 12-14). It is also conceivable that Jesus ate with his disciples (Acts 10:41) after the resurrection on the five Sundays from Easter to the Ascension. That might be one explanation why among Christians Sunday became the Lord's day when they expected the Messiah to meet with his disciples for the breaking of bread (Acts 20:7; see the commentary on 26:17-30).
By now the apostles who had eaten with the Messiah by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-2) were joined with the other apostles who had come up to Galilee from Jerusalem. They met on a particular mountain. We wonder whether this mountain was perhaps the location of the Sermon on the Mount (5:1), or the mountain where 4,000 were fed (15:29, 32-38), or the Mount of Transfiguration (17:1-2)?. It is also tempting to guess that Jesus had a communion meal with his apostles on this occasion, which might have been the fourth resurrection Sunday.
28:17 In spite of all that Jesus had taught about the resurrection, and all the evidence of the previous appearances, some apostles still found it impossible to believe that they were now gathered with the Messiah who had been crucified and raised from the dead. In recording this Matthew wants us to know that the resurrection of Jesus' body was not something that a rational person could easily believe. It is not just modern scientists who assume that the resurrection of a body is impossible.
Matthew also wants to remind us that the good news of the next three verses was made known by people who were still tempted by very grave doubts.
28:18 Jesus now claims his royal authority as Messiah and reigning King. This is what Matthew set out to prove from the first chapter in which he put five references to the Messiah ( 1:1, 16, 17, 18, 20; see also 2:2, 5-6, 11 and throughout the Gospel). By transliterating the Greek Christos as "Christ" the KJV and other older translations obscure the fact that Matthew was obviously writing about the Messiah that the Jewish people expected and their religious leaders had crucified.
28:19-20 The way the good news is to be made known is by making disciples. Both John the Baptist and Jesus used baptism to enroll their disciples (John 4:1; see Go Make Learners chapters 2 and 3), and the apostles were to continue using baptism for this purpose.
Disciples are those who begin to learn with a teacher, at first knowing very little, as in the case of the apostles when they were baptized. Baptism can be immediately "without delay" and without any examination of sincere repentance or probation (Acts 16:33; see Acts 2:41; 8:5, 12; 16:15, 33). As explained in the parable of the Sower some baptized disciples will fall away (as Jesus' disciples did in John 6:66). In spite of severe persecution there will however be sufficient good seed for multiplication and a great harvest (13:23; as in Acts 2:47; 4:4; 5:14; 6:1; 9:31).
Christian baptism is in the name of the Trinity, which means that the new disciples are to be taught everything that Jesus taught about the Father, about himself as Messiah and Son of God, and about total dependence on the Holy Spirit.
As the apostles do this the Messiah promises to be with them till the end of the age which would occur in their own generation (23:35-36; 24:34). We can add that having seen how the Messiah blessed their apostolic labors, Christians in all countries will read the Gospels and the Book of Acts, and continue to do the same each in their age and generation till the end of our world.