Matthew 28:1-15 and Waldenström's Commentary
Verse 1 — However,1 later on the Sabbath,2 in the dawning of the first day of the week, came Mary of Magdala and the other Mary3 to see the grave.4
Verse 2 — And there was a big earthquake,1 for an angel of the Lord came from heaven and went forward and rolled the stone away and sat on it.
Verse 3 — His appearance was like lightning1 and his garment as snow.
Verse 4 — Of fear for him the guards were shaking and were like dead.1
Verse 5 — But the angel answered and said to the women: There is no need for you to be afraid, for I know that you1 seek Jesus who was crucified.
Verse 6 — He is not here, because he has been awakened as he said he would. (Matt, 12:40, 16:21, 17:23) Come here and see the chamber where he laid;
Verse 7 — and go quickly and say to his disciples that he has been awakened from the dead. And look, he goes before1 you2 to Galilee; there you shall see him (see Matt. 26:32). Now I have told you.3
Verse 8 — And they went with haste from the grave and ran with fear and great joy to tell about it to his disciples.
Verse 9 — And there Jesus met them, saying: Be glad!1 But they went up to him and fell to his feet and worshiped him.
Verse 10 — Then Jesus said to them: Fear not;1 go and tell my brothers2 that they may go to Galilee; and there they will see me. (See John 20:17; Acts 1:3, 12:31; I Cor. 15:5).
Verse 11 — But while they were going,1 some of the guard came to the city and told the high priests all that had happened.
Verse 12 — And after they had gathered with the elders and had some discussion, they gave a sufficient number1 of silver coins2 to the soldiers,
Verse 13 — saying: Say that his disciples came during the night and stole his body while we were sleeping.1 (See Mau. 27:64).
Verse 14 — And if it should be that the governor should inquire1 of this, we shall prevail upon him2 so that you need not be concerned3 about it.
Verse 15 — They took the silver coins and did as they were told. And this story1 has been celebrated among the Jews to this day.2
THE TESTIMONY OF THE DISCIPLES. Upon the resurrection of Christ, the disciples build the whole gospel sermon and thereby convey the Christian faith; on this they built salvation, justiTication by faith, the resurrection of the dead, in short, all of Christianity (see I Cor. 15:14-22; Romans 8:11, 10:9; I Peter 3:21; Acts 1:22). How could they have done this if t hey had not known that Christ was resurrected? Furthermore, how could Christ's resurrection have filled them with such courage, such joy in suffering and death, such endurance, to which their history testifies, if they had not known that he really was resurrected? They would have then been offering their lives for a sermon that was based on conscious lies and made this offer with joy and with prayer for their executioners! A dead Christ was, for the apostles, unthinkable. They had given up the thought that Jesus was Christ at the moment of his death. The overwhelming proof that he was resurrected restored their faith that he was Christ.
There have also been objections that the disciples were gullible and that their longing for his resurrection was so lively that finally they believed they saw him resurrected with their own eyes. But the gospel history shows the opposite. The apostles had given up all hope and were not waiting for the Lord to be raised from the dead. When they received word that he was risen, they did not believe. Only through his repeated appearances did they finally believe.
A special importance belongs to the testimony of the apostle Paul, He was at first a bitter enemy but then became the most energetic apostle, He offered all, to devote his life and all his strength to preach about the crucified and resurrected savior. He counted everything as detrimental in comparison to the infinite knowledge about Christ (Phil. 3). How was this change possible if he had not known that Christ was risen? None of the apostles places so much importance on the resurrection as he does. It is, therefore, irrefutable what he himself says in I Cor. 15:15, that if Christ is not really risen then the apostles are false witnesses. They are not wellmeaning — however misguided — but they are FALSE WITNESSES and nothing else. But their whole life and work prove that if there ever had been truthful persons on this earth, they were the apostles.
THE WORK OF APOSTOLIC PREACHING. How is it conceivable, that on the first pentecost after Christ's death, three thousand people could, through the preaching about Christ's resurrection, become converted in Jerusalem, if it was not known that Jesus really was resurrected? And how can it be explained that, century after century, this sermon could prove itself so powerful that it has recreated individuals and whole peoples, if it was only a lie?
THE TESTIMONIES OF THE ENEMIES. Because their attempt to carefully guard the grave had been a complete failure, they did not dare accost the disciples for their supposed stealing of the body. And, thereby, they had one of the most difficult counts of accusation against them that was possible — SUPPOSE 1T WAS TRUE. Now they found themselves, instead, forced to bribe the Governor so that he would not interfere in the matter. They did not even dare to officially accuse the disciples of lying when they preached that Christ was resurrected. How is all this conceivable if they did not know that the disciples were correct? With the acceptance of Christ's resurrection we are faced with one riddle which nevertheless, in reality is supported by valid historical evidence; with the denial of Christ's resurrection, we are faced with many riddles for whose sake we must defy the existing historical evidence. That we cannot explain the wonder of the resurrection only proves the stupidity of our understanding and nothing else. In reality there are thousands upon thousands of things that we experience on a daily basis that are equally unexplainable. Who has, for example, the ability to explain how a grain of seed grows, or how the child receives life from the mother's womb, and so on? And, yet, who denies their existence?
With Christ's resurrection, as Paul notes in I Cor. 15, the whole gospel stands or falls. It is also clear that the gospels show sinners the way to Christ as the Savior. But to direct sinners to a savior who is in the grave is as foolish as directing the sick to a doctor who is dead and buried. If Christ is not risen, Christianity is the biggest fraud that has ever been invented. Take away Christ's resurrection, and of the Gospel there only remains waste paper, so serious is this issue.