The Angel's Word
Matthew 28:1-7 (1) In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. (2) And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. (3) His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: (4) And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. (5) And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. (6) He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. (7) And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. Our text treats of the pre-daylight (“...when it was yet dark...” JOH 20:1) arrival of some women at the tomb where the Lord Jesus had been interred, planted in hard dirt “...in the heart of the earth” (MAT 12:40). They found not the Lord Jesus but an empty tomb, an angel from heaven and shaking soldier sextons. It is not said that the soldiers were trembling because they had seen the risen Lord; they were in fear of the angel. They were not entirely unlike many even now who are more stirred by angels than they are by the Lord Jesus Christ Who rules angels and Who wrote a Bible which is a higher authority than angels and it is that into which angels desire to look (1PE 1:12). A disproportionate emphasis on angels is not healthy: “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,” (COL 2:18). Nevertheless, this angel commanded attention; he was not the cute chubby infant of men's imaginations. “His countenance was like lightning...” (v. 3), as Ezekiel and Daniel had described angels (EZE 1:14; DAN 10:6). God “...maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire” (PSA 104:4). They are fearful creatures which “...excel in strength...” (PSA 103:20). The angel spoke comfortably to the women, “...Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified” (MAT 28:5). Such words were not spoken to the soldiers. Gospel comfort is reserved for them that seek Christ, not for them which scorn Him. God “...is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (HEB 11:6); His ministers are a savour of death to the perishing but a savour of life to them that are saved (2CO 2:14-16). The angel adhered to what Christ had spoken: “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said...” (MAT 28:6). And inasmuch as Jesus had earlier said, “But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee” (MAT 26:32), the angel told these women, “...he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you” (MAT 28:7). The word this angel spoke was stedfast (c/w HEB 2:2), that is, it was firm and unwavering: lo, I have told you. An angel from heaven can only speak Jesus' words lest he be accursed. The gospel which Jesus spoke to Paul was superior to men and angels: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (GAL 1:8). Sometimes people think that an angel has spoken to them. If so, I hope the angel said, “Pray for understanding and study your Bible” since his message can not be one whit different than Jesus' message given by His Spirit to His apostles as “...a more sure word of prophecy” (2PE 1:19). By it the saints shall judge angels (1CO 6:3) for Christ's words form the basis of the judgment of the last day (JOH 12:48). The angel also refers to Christ as “Lord” here: “...Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (MAT 28:6). Spirit-filled men also call Jesus “Lord” (1CO 12:3). Heaven's angels are saints' brethren, as the angel told John in REV 22:8-9, “...I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.” God's book really does regulate angels. They are family members of saints who believe Jesus is Lord over all. Paul once said, “...I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," (EPH 3:14-15). The Old Testament was given “...by the disposition of angels...” (ACT 7:53 c/w GAL 3:19). God spoke His word to men by them in times past. By contrast, God “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son...” (HEB 1:2) in the New Testament. It was appropriate that the Old Testament be spoken by angels for there is no deliverance from hell by the Old Testament for fallen men even as there is never deliverance from hell for fallen angels (2PE 2:4). The Old Testament bore a curse; no man could be justified before God by it (GAL 3:10). Only someone who had never fallen in sin could expect a heavenly inheritance by the “do and live” (ROM 10:5) message of the Old Testament Law, even as the angels of heaven who had not fallen. “Do and live” is a rule of immortality for sinless angels but not for sinful men. Adam ruined us all (ROM 5:12). However, the angels did give in the Old Testament the types, shadows and prophecies which may be searched to find Christ (JOH 5:39), and therein it was written, “...That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles” (ACT 26:22-23). Truly the angel in our text did well; his message was the same as the angels' message to believers has always been: Christ crucified but Christ risen. The words of the angel in our text were recorded for us by those to whom the Son Himself has spoken. Consider therefore our superior testament, superior inheritance and superior responsibility: Hebrews 2:1-4 (1) Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. (2) For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; (3) How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (4) God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?