January 17, 2022 – Monday
Matthew 28:2-4 NIV
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.
4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
These verses provide context for what Mary Magdalene and another Mary discover as they approached the tomb where Jesus was buried. They had hoped to wrap the body of Jesus with more herbs and spices per the custom for a burial. Joseph from Arimathea had only wrapped it in a clean cloth according to Matthew (27:59). However, continuing our look at verses with ‘light’ in them, here we are primarily concerned with the appearance of the angel in verse three.
Along with the appearance of the angel, his sitting on the stone which had been moved by him tells us something as well. The angel sitting on the stone is a vivid statement of Jesus’ triumph over death. The guards likely feared for their lives, but God had no intention of killing them. The angel simply sat there (I imagine regally) waiting to speak with the women.
This is not the first time in scripture an angel had appeared with a face like lightening. Daniel 10:5-6 describes one thusly, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.
What does it mean to have a face like lightening? I once worked as a member of a lightening research team where we literally launched rockets with a trailing copper wire into clouds with a high static charge. As a result, I saw many lightening strikes. Two major points, they are incredibly brilliant and last only a very small part of a second. Even though they have such a short duration, their brilliance burns their image into the retina of the eye so that they appear to last longer, even when we turn our eyes away. For those who looked upon the angel’s face, they could quickly turn away, but the image of the face would remain. No wonder the soldiers were so frightened.
Different commentaries noted, The brilliance of the angel of the Lord is often associated with descriptions of lightning, while the white clothing is typical to indicate angelic brilliant purity. The idea of purity matches what we read about in chapter 17 when Jesus was transfigured and (17:2) His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Luke 9:30 implies during the transfiguration, it was very similar for Moses and Elijah, Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. This glorious splendor was likely like that of the angel, raiment white as snow, raiment we may one day wear.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for sharing how Jesus defeated death and how an angel sat upon the stone that once sealed His tomb with great composure and assurance of Jesus’ victory. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Riley D. Driver – Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton