Lie, lay, laid, lain…I never have been able to keep those words straight. But I know that when I read the words of the angel in verse 10, “Come see the place where He lay” — that is past tense!
Jesus, who was crucified and buried, is no longer dead! He is alive! The great symbol of our salvation is not a cross, it is an empty tomb!
With a force that shook the ground, the angel broke the seal and toppled the stone that covered the mouth of the tomb. He did not do that to let Jesus out, for He was already gone. He opened the tomb for Christ’s followers to see that it was empty! (I know, that’s already five exclamation points…I can’t help it today!…that’s six!…seven!…Jesus is alive!)
When the two Marys ran from the empty tomb “with fear and great joy,” they met the risen Lord and fell at His nail-scarred feet, embracing and worshiping Him. I can only imagine their relief. They thought their Lord was dead, and that their hope had died with Him. But they were wonderfully wrong!
Meanwhile the chief priests were doing what haters of Jesus have been doing ever since: covering up the greatest miracle in history. If they could explain away the resurrection of Jesus, they reasoned that they would not have to deal with His Lordship. How wrong they were! One day they will have no choice but to bow their knees and confess, “Jesus is Lord.”
This chapter (and Matthew’s gospel) ends with the Great Commission (v.18-20). It is the marching orders for the church of every age: to make disciples of all nations as we share the gospel, to baptize new believers into the fellowship of the church, and to teach new disciples to follow Jesus.
The best part of the Great Commission is the concluding promise of the constant presence of Jesus with us as we go with the gospel. He is with you today…go get ’em!*
*That’s a dozen. You were counting, right?