The Scriptorium

First Day of the New Age

And it starts with a bang. Matthew 28.1-4

Matthew 28: Risen! (1)

Pray Psalm 96.8-10.
Give to the LORD the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come into His courts.
Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns;
The world also is firmly established,
It shall not be moved;
He shall judge the peoples righteously.”

Sing Psalm 96.8-10.
(Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God, Who Reigns Above)
Bring off’rings sweet to Him, our Lord; in holy garments praise Him!
Tremble before Him, all the earth; among the nations raise Him!
The earth is fixed, it will not move; the peoples will His justice prove.
Exalt the Lord and praise Him.

Read and meditate on Matthew 28.1-4.


Prepare.
1. How did the earth respond to the resurrection of Jesus?

2. Who moved the stone that sealed the tomb? How did the guards respond?

Meditate.
Forget about all those chubby, goofy-looking angels you’ve seen since childhood, and even angels who look like men with wings. Angels are not like that, as our text today makes plain. Imagine yourself one of those guards. It’s early in the morning – not quite light. You’re drowsy and eager to be relieved. Then you begin to feel the earth trembling. The trembling becomes a quaking. Something like a lightning bolt strikes the tomb you’re guarding, and when you look, it’s a being unlike any you’ve ever seen. While the earth shakes with joy, you and your comrades shake with fear, and fall down as dead.

A new day has dawned. Jesus has risen from the dead. The tomb was not opened to let Jesus out, but so that we could see in. The single angel who broke the seal would have been sufficient to handle all the guards, had they chosen to fight, or all the Roman contingent in Jerusalem, or even all the legions of Roman armies scattered over the earth. The new day is the first day of the new age, the age of resurrection, and it begins with the trembling of the earth and the light of heaven.

The first day of the new age sees Christ risen from the dead, the light of God causing the darkness to scatter and sinners to cringe, and the earth leaping with joy, because Christ has reconciled the world to His Father, and the day of salvation has begun. It is a day for new songs (Ps. 96.1), for praising the Lord and proclaiming His salvation (Ps. 96.2), and for feeling the earth tremble beneath our feet as Christ’s Kingdom advances on it (Ps. 96. 11-13). Matthew ends his gospel where he began it, pointing to the Old Testament and its many teachings about Jesus and His salvation.

“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” were also there, and we shall see that the angel has a special redemptive mission for them.

Reflect.
1. The quaking of the earth at Jesus’ resurrection points us back to Psalm 96? Why?

2. Why were the guards terrified? What do we learn about the power of God from this passage?

3. The angel broke the seal on Jesus’ tomb and opened it. Why?

After the resurrection the angel appeared. But for what purpose did he come? To roll back the stone. Why? To attest to the women of the resurrection so that they might believe. The women themselves had earlier witnessed him in the sepulcher. Now they behold an empty tomb. This is why the angel rolled the stone away and why an earthquake took place: that they might be thoroughly aroused and awakened to the resurrection.
John Chrysostom (344-407), The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 89.2

Every new day is the day of salvation, Lord Jesus. Help me today to…

Pray Psalm 96.1-7, 11-13.
Celebrate the resurrection of Jesus with all creation, and commit yourself this day to proclaiming His salvation by your life and words.

Sing Psalm 96.1-7, 11-13.
Psalm 96.1-7, 11-13 (Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God, Who Reigns Above)
Sing to the Lord! O, bless His Name! All nations tell His glory!
Salvation’s tidings loud proclaim; let earth rehearse His story!
For God is greatly to be praised; His throne above all gods is raised!
Fear Him, and sing His glory!

All other gods are idols vain; the Lord created heaven.
Splendor and strength with Him obtain; to Him be glory given!
All fam’lies, praise this mighty Lord! Give strength and glory to His Word;
exalt the Lord of heaven.

Let heaven sing with lusty voice; let earth and sea sing sweetly!
Let fields and trees in Him rejoice, for He is coming swiftly
to judge the world in righteousness, the peoples in His faithfulness.
He comes; exalt Him greatly!

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore