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"And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it."

— Matthew 28:2Matthew reported two earthquakes in his gospel. The first occurred the moment Jesus died on the cross. Matthew wrote, “The earth shook and the rocks were split.” He also reported, “Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’” (Matthew 27:51, 54). Matthew described the second earthquake as “a great earthquake,” which occurred the moment an angel descended and rolled back the stone that sealed Jesus’ tomb. The angel and the earthquake terrified these Roman guards also. Perhaps God timed the earthquakes so people could easily remember and report the times of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Probably everyone in and near Jerusalem felt these earthquakes, and Jesus’ disciples could easily explain the reasons for their timing. The angel descended and opened the tomb so the women could see that Jesus’ tomb was empty — not to let Jesus out of the tomb, as Jesus had the tomb of Lazarus opened before He called him forth alive. Jesus’ resurrection transfigured His body so He could pass through solid stonewalls or appear in a locked room to His disciples. When Jesus rose from the dead, He was the first person with a human body to die and then rise with an imperishable body. After 40 days, He ascended to heaven in glory and power. The Apostle Paul also saw the risen Savior, and he wrote that those who follow Jesus will receive a spiritual body like Jesus’ body (1 Corinthians 15:42-58).

Parkhurst Jr. writes the International Bible Lesson Commentary at www.theiblc.com. Send email to lgp@prayersteps.org.

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