Moses by John August Swanson. Image from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, Tenn. Original source © 1983 by John August Swanson.
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Matthew 28:1-10 Commentary
by Elisabeth Johnson
The earthquake, the angel descending from heaven and rolling away the stone, the guards collapsing like dead men -- all of these details are unique to Matthew’s account of the empty tomb and are rich with possibilities for interpretation and preaching.
In Matthew, an earthquake occurs at the moment that Jesus breathes his last, splitting open rocks and releasing the bodies of saints from their tombs (27:51-53). So also, an earthquake accompanies the descent of the angel from heaven to roll away the stone, witnessed by Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary,” mother of James and Joseph (Matthew 28:1; see also 27:55-56; 27:61). The shaking of the earth is an appropriate parallel for the way that the events of Good Friday and Easter morning shake the very foundations of everything once thought to be secure.
We have grown so accustomed to celebrating Easter with beautiful flowers and joyful music that we tend to forget what an unsettling, confusing, frightening day it must have been for those who first experienced these events. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary have witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and burial (Matthew 27:55-56; 27:61), and now come to his tomb at dawn. Matthew does not say that they came to anoint Jesus’ ...
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2019-20 Worship resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL Podcast 360: Easter
April 21, 2019
Podcast on Matthew 28:1-10, the Narrative Lectionary readings for April 21, 2019 (Easter) featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker. Recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn., for Working Preacher.