Matthew 28: 1-4. “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. 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. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him, the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.”
The drama of this event is inconceivable to me. It wasn’t supposed to happen. Safeguards had been put into place. But compared to the power of God, man’s puny attempts to keep Jesus in His grave amounted to a tempest in a teapot.
The time was early, early in the morning on Sunday, the first day of the week. The two Marys were making their way to the tomb to keep vigil, perhaps to pray, surely to weep. Their grief had not dimmed in the three days since Jesus’ death.
Then the earth shook–again!—rocking everyone and everything nearby. How the people must have wondered at yet another earthquake. Surely, these were strange and dangerous times.
And then the Angel of the Lord appeared, in raiment that was as white as snow.
I spent a lot of my growing-up years in Minnesota. I remember how bright a fresh snowfall could be under a clear sky as the sun shone down on the whiteness. You could hardly look without some kind of eye protection. It glistened and sparkled, and it was beautiful.
Not only was his raiment glistening white; his face was like lightning. No wonder the guards fell to the ground in a dead faint. They were terrified. Wouldn’t you have been, in their place?
It is important to note that the earthquake and the rolling away of the stone from the opening to the tomb did not coincide with the resurrection of Jesus. He did not need the stone to be removed before He could leave the tomb. It was removed so that all who were there could see that the tomb was already empty! As the angel took his seat upon the stone, I can imagine him smiling with utter joy and satisfaction that the beloved only Son of the Father was no longer sealed inside; that the victory over sin and death was complete.