He Is Not Here; He Has Been Raised
A Hebrew Catholic Perspective
Easter Day Year A
St. Matthew 28: 1 — 10
When we read various accounts of our Lord’s Passion and Death in the New Testament we find little discrepancy among them. After all, every moment of this horrific story was observed and recorded. However, when we read the various accounts of His Resurrection we can see very easily, the differences in the detail. No one witnessed our Lord rising from the dead, and no effort was made to hide this fact. The accounts are the interpretations of the event by each writer. If we study the various commentaries, we can be almost overcome by all the comparisons made by the learned authors.
It may help us to remember some advice from John Meier” “The fact that Jesus was raised from the dead stood at the centre of early Christian preaching (1 Cor. 15: 4 — 5; Rom.1: 3 — 4; Rom. 4: 25). The manner and circumstances of the resurrection and of the resurrection appearances were not described in the earliest preaching, and so it is not surprising that the evangelists describe the events differently.”
Some authors will explain that this situation demonstrates the authenticity of Christ’s rising from the dead. Certainly the early Church saw it that way. Let’s now examine one account written by St. Matthew.
Some Reflections On Our Text
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
“After the Sabbath” does not mean after sunset on Saturday evening, the liturgical end of Sabbath. Out of devotion to God and respect for His sharing His presence with mankind, Jews continued the spirit of Sabbath-keeping through to sunrise on Sunday morning. Thus our account begins very early, just before sunrise on Sunday. The two women came back to the tomb, in their cultural tradition, to take up their mourning for the Crucified Messiah whom they loved so much.
Verses 2 and 3
And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of
the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back
the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was
white as snow.
Some would say the two women were present when this apocalyptic event took place. Others consider that it happened while they were on their way to the tomb. Our text links the “great earthquake” with the descent of the angel of the Lord who has come to announce the Resurrection of Jesus which had already occurred.
This is no “ordinary” angel. He has all the splendour of the angel appearing to Daniel (See Daniel chapters 7 and 10). He rolls back the stone covering the entrance to the tomb and sits above it.
The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like
So the guards are rendered useless and scamper off as soon as they gather enough strength.
Verses 5 and 6
Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid!
I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
The women were just as scared as the guards but were spiritually resilient and could hold fast to their purpose for being there. The angel respects them for this and, in fact, honours them with kindness and a polite acknowledgement of their important mission.
Then comes the great announcement: “He is not here, for he has been raised “. We notice the angel emphasising that it is exactly as our Lord had already taught to His followers.
Immediately the two women are invited to look into the tomb to see where Jesus had been lying. But they are not allowed to dally and ask questions. There is simply no time for that!
Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised
from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there
you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.”
The women are given a specific and exalted commission. They are to go “quickly” — a common element in Hebrew Scriptures: the expectation to act with alacrity as a display of vibrant faith. They are to announce that the Messiah has been raised from the dead by God the Father. They are to add the angel’s statement that their Rabbi would meet them all, (as He prophesied in Matt. 26: 32) in Galilee — Galilee of the Gentiles where He had begun His public ministry — where He had called His first disciples. The angel brings his message to an end with a formal, majestic closure, demonstrating profound respect for these amazing ladies.
Verses 8 and 9
Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet
overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
St. Matthew emphasises the obedience of the women who went away “quickly” and “ran” to carry out their task. They were “fearful“, and in Biblical tradition this refers to their awareness of how solemn they saw their commission, as though sent by God Himself. They knew they were on a divine errand, and they were “overjoyed”.
The account continues: “And behold,” which signifies, “out-of-the-blue,” suddenly the Lord meets and greets them. Their approach to Him is in the strictest Jewish tradition. They didn’t “hug” His feet, they knelt before Him and bowed down, hands flat on the ground touching His feet, and lowered the head to touch the ground. This was in the tradition of the great Patriarchs and Prophets, as is often mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments:
Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord;
Let us acclaim the Rock of our Salvation.
Let us greet him with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing Psalms to him. …..
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the Lord who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
(Psalm 95: 1, 2, 6 and 7)
In our text above, the two women instinctively, given the circumstances, perform this act of homage to Jesus.
Our Lord Yeshua always accepted this homage from those who sincerely gave it. Christians in the East, (more especially in our times, men and boys) still bow in God’s presence, in this manner, following Jewish tradition of 4,000 years.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my
brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
Our Lord repeats the angel’s gentle kindness and quietly, without conversation, instructs His willing and faithful servants to go to His brother disciples and ask them to gather in Galilee — back to where it all began. Not Jerusalem, not the empty tomb, but where they were first called to be His disciples. This instruction does not imply Jesus did not visit Jerusalem, or anywhere else, but emphasises the detailed fulfilment of our Lord’s own prophetic statements.
So, there we have the most momentous event in history presented to us in the plainest of language — in a style so very matter-of-fact, without any expression of amazement! St. Matthew lets the event “speak for itself“. Its impact is all the greater, and therefore needed no embellishment.
In Genesis 3: 15 — proto-type of the Gospel (proto-evangelium), God gives a glimpse of how He would undo the work of Satan, who brought death into God’s creation:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between
your offspring and hers; He will strike your head, while you
strike at his heal.”
Our Rabbi Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, offspring of Eve, born of a virgin, was indeed bruised at the heel by Satan: despised, beaten, crucified. But He was raised from the dead on the third day and thus conquered death. As St. Paul put it:
“For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be
brought to life.”
Thank you Rabbi Yeshua!
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Proclaim the Gospel to Every Creature
(Mark 16: 15)
The real Jesus, is the real answer to the real needs of the world!
Let us remember God’s Teaching, contained in His Word and in doing so, remain
close to Him. The following are only examples illustrating how you can note the gems
the Holy Spirit highlights for your on-going reflection.
He Is Not Here; He Has Been Raised
Easter Day Year A St. Matthew 28: 1 — 10
Three Very Special Days
Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Day together, in sequence, form a wonderful fulfilment of their counterparts in the Creation account of Genesis. As this is a unique moment in our Christian Year, we will take the unusual step of adding new material to the Resurrection account for our Easter meditation
1. Creation of Man — In the Genesis account of Creation, God creates man on Day Six — Friday.
In the account of the Passion of Jesus, our Lord is crucified, and freely gives His blessed life for the redemption of all mankind — thus undoing the effect of Satan’s deception. The Church has always, through 2000 years, looked upon this moment as the re-creation of man in the perfect image of God: the image of His Son whom He sent for this purpose. Thus Jesus paid the price of our redemption with His own life.
2. Creation of the Sabbath — On Day Seven God created Sabbath by resting.
“The divine rest of the seventh day does not allude to an inactive God, but emphasises the
fullness of what has been accomplished. It speaks, as it were, of God’s lingering before the
‘very good’ work (Genesis 1: 31) which his hand has wrought, in order to cast upon it a
gaze full of joyous delight. This is a ‘contemplative’ gaze which does not look to new
accomplishments but enjoys the beauty of what has already been achieved. It is a gaze
that God casts upon all things, but in a special way upon man, the crown of creation.”
John Paul II, apostolic letter Dies Domini 11 (1998).
On the Sabbath following our Lord’s death, He too rested: but His rest, as was His Father’s, not “inactive”. This was a Sabbath like no other. Though His Body lay in the tomb, His soul — His human soul — visited the just who were waiting in “the bosom of Abraham”, (St. Luke 16: 22) for this day. About whom are we talking? We know some of them: Adam, Eve, Abel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, the prophets and all those loyal to God’s Divine Law, reaching to the time of St. John the Baptist and St. Joseph. To them Jesus brought the fullness of salvation. Finally, they were brought into the perfect rest of God.
In this way Jesus rewarded the faithful with the perfect rest of the Eternal Sabbath in the vision of God. The Sabbath was and remains His to give. He, in His works of salvation, has Himself become the Sabbath in all its spiritual meaning. In a way, we could say Jesus has recreated the Sabbath “in His own image” — that is, as His own self. John Paul II, apostolic letter Dies Domini 18 (1998).
What God has accomplished in Creation and wrought for His People in the Exodus has
found its fullest expression in Christ’s Death and Resurrection, though its definitive
fulfilment will not come until the Parousia,# when Christ returns in glory. In Him
the spiritual meaning of the Sabbath is fully realised, as Saint Gregory the Great *
declares: “For us the true Sabbath is the person of our Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is why the joy with which God, on humanity’s first Sabbath, contemplates all that
was created from nothing, is now expressed in the joy with which Christ, on Easter Sunday,
appeared to His disciples, bringing the gift of peace and the gift of the Spirit
(see St. John 20: 19 — 23).
# Paraousia — The Second Coming of Jesus at the close of time.
* Pope Gregory — (Pope Gregory I, also known as St. Gregory the Great. C.E. 540 — 604)
3. Creation of the Light — On the first day of Creation, God created light.
“Christian thought spontaneously linked the Resurrection, which took place on ‘the first
day of the week’, with the first day of that cosmic week (see Genesis 1: 1 — 2: 4), which
shapes the creation story in the Book of Genesis: the day of the creation of light
(see Genesis 1: 3 — 5). This link invited an understanding of the Resurrection as the
beginning of a new creation, the first fruits of which is the glorious Christ, ‘the firstborn
of all creation’ (Colossians 1: 15) and ‘the firstborn from the dead’ (Colossians 1: 18).”
John Paul II, apostolic letter Dies Domini 24 (1998).
Blessed be God.
Blessed be the (Ha) Name (Shem) of God.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
May HaShem bless you and all whom you love and for whom you care.
Let us pray God’s blessing daily upon everyone we wish to be included in our prayer.
Matthew 28: 1 — 10
1 1 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, 2 Mary
2 3 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord
3 His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow.
4 The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men.
5 Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know
6 4 He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see
7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the
8 Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and
9 6 And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They
10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go
1 [1-20] Except for ⇒ Matthew 28:1-8 based on ⇒ Mark 16:1-8, the material of this final chapter is peculiar to Matthew. Even where he follows Mark, Matthew has altered his source so greatly that a very different impression is given from that of the Marcan account. The two points that are common to the resurrection testimony of all the gospels are that the tomb of Jesus had been found empty and that the risen Jesus had appeared to certain persons, or, in the original form of Mark, that such an appearance was promised as soon to take place (see ⇒ Mark 16:7). On this central and all-important basis, Matthew has constructed an account that interprets the resurrection as the turning of the ages (⇒ Matthew 28:2-4), shows the Jewish opposition to Jesus as continuing to the present in the claim that the resurrection is a deception perpetrated by the disciples who stole his body from the tomb (⇒ Matthew 28:11-15), and marks a new stage in the mission of the disciples once limited to Israel (⇒ Matthew 10:5-6); now they are to make disciples of all nations. In this work they will be strengthened by the presence of the exalted Son of Man, who will be with them until the kingdom comes in fullness at the end of the age (⇒ Matthew 28:16-20).
2  After the sabbath . . . dawning: since the sabbath ended at sunset, this could mean in the early evening, for dawning can refer to the appearance of the evening star; cf ⇒ Luke 23:54. However, it is probable that Matthew means the morning dawn of the day after the sabbath, as in the similar though slightly different text of Mark, “when the sun had risen” (⇒ Mark 16:2). Mary Magdalene and the other Mary: see the notes on ⇒ Matthew 27:55-56; 57-61. To see the tomb: cf ⇒ Mark 16:1-2 where the purpose of the women’s visit is to anoint Jesus’ body.
3 [2-4] Peculiar to Matthew. A great earthquake: see the note on ⇒ Matthew 27:51-53. Descended from heaven: this trait is peculiar to Matthew, although his interpretation of the “young man” of his Marcan source (⇒ Mark 16:5) as an angel is probably true to Mark’s intention; cf ⇒ Luke 24:23 where the “two men” of ⇒ Matthew 24:4 are said to be “angels.” Rolled back the stone . . . upon it: not to allow the risen Jesus to leave the tomb but to make evident that the tomb is empty (see ⇒ Matthew 24:6). Unlike the apocryphal Gospel of Peter (9, 35 – 11, 44), the New Testament does not describe the resurrection of Jesus, nor is there anyone who sees it. His appearance was like lightning . . . snow: see the note on ⇒ Matthew 17:2.
4 [6-7] Cf ⇒ Mark 16:6-7. Just as he said: a Matthean addition referring to Jesus’ predictions of his resurrection, e.g., ⇒ Matthew 16:21; ⇒ 17:23; ⇒ 20:19. Tell his disciples: like the angel of the Lord of the infancy narrative, the angel interprets a fact and gives a commandment about what is to be done; cf ⇒ Matthew 1:20-21. Matthew omits Mark’s “and Peter” (⇒ Mark 16:7); considering his interest in Peter, this omission is curious. Perhaps the reason is that the Marcan text may allude to a first appearance of Jesus to Peter alone (cf ⇒ 1 Cor 15:5; ⇒ Luke 24:34) which Matthew has already incorporated into his account of Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi; see the note on ⇒ Matthew 16:16. He is going . . . Galilee: like ⇒ Mark 16:7, a reference to Jesus’ prediction at the Last Supper (⇒ Matthew 26:32; ⇒ Mark 14:28). Matthew changes Mark’s “as he told you” to a declaration of the angel.
6 [9-10] Although these verses are peculiar to Matthew, there are similarities between them and John’s account of the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene (⇒ John 20:17). In both there is a touching of Jesus’ body, and a command of Jesus to bear a message to his disciples, designated as his brothers. Matthew may have drawn upon a tradition that appears in a different form in John. Jesus’ words to the women are mainly a repetition of those of the angel (⇒ Matthew 28:5a, ⇒ 7b).
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible,