Much has been made of Matthew 24 and the signs of the end of the age. In this article, I want to highlight Matthew 28 relative to the Second Coming.
Matthew 28’s obvious focus is on the Resurrection. But in reading this account of the resurrection, I noticed several design patterns or picture types that pointed to the return of Christ. I will highlight those below, either by verses or parts of verses. Here’s Matthew 28:
Matthew 28:1 – Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week… It’s the beginning of the beginning of the week. It’s Sunday morning, the dawning of a new day. It’s the end of the dark with the light just moments away. Something brand new is happening.
Matthew 28:1 – …Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. There’s actually a lot packed in this short phrase. Mary, in the original language, Greek (and its counterpart Miriam, in Hebrew), means rebellion. For the moment, in this picture type, the Marys symbolize the rebellious people of earth. And, that there are two signifies a witnessing of this rebellion. Magdalene, interestingly, means tower. So we have a rebellious tower, akin to the tower of Babel. The Marys go to see the tomb, or grave in some translations. The word see means to know, and of course tomb implies death. The rebels and their tower of defiance know death. Outside of Jesus, we are rebellious to God and His cause, and are destined for eternal death.
Matthew 28:2 – And behold, there was a great earthquake… It’s not just an earthquake, but a great or violet earthquake. That description seems a little overplayed based on what we read, until you pair with end times events. This phrase sounds like the earthquake descriptions in Revelation, specifically Revelation 6:12, 11:13, and 16:18, all using the same adjective. Elsewhere, this phrase is found in Ezekiel, and perhaps most interestingly in Acts 16:26… the foundations of the prison were shaken, the doors were opened and bondage’s unfastened… just as it will be when believers are set free from a world ruled by the satan with the return of the Messiah Jesus.
Matthew 28:2 – …for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came… When Jesus returns, he will be accompanied by the heavenly host. There are several references to angels dealing with earth at the Second Coming… several in Revelation, 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and elsewhere.
Matthew 28:2 – …and rolled back the stone and sat on it. The angel moved the stone away from the tomb. This is a picture type of the dead becoming alive. The word stone can metaphorically mean people, as shown in 1 Peter 2:5, where he says believers are living stones. The angel moved the stone away from the tomb or death, giving way to life as shown in this story in Matthew. The angel then sat on the stone, residing on it in a sense. This will be the case in the new Heaven and new Earth, when the two become one, when angels reside on earth and man resides in heaven.
Matthew 28:3 – His appearance was like lightning… This was the verse that first piqued my interest in this chapter of the Bible as being a picture type of the Second Coming, and specifically, the angel being like lightning. Jesus said he saw Satan fall like lightning (Luke 10:18), so here we have two direct statements that correlate angels with lightning. In the New Testament, the word lightning means glare or bright shining. In the Old Testament, there are many Hebrew words translated as lightning, but generally the meaning is glittering or gleam, bright, or flashing. When angels are seen they are described as being bright and light. 2 Corinthians 11:14 says Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Lightning suggests action, such as the angel moving the stone, or Satan falling like lightning. This thought process can bring us back to Genesis 3:24, where Cherubim guarded the way to the Tree of Life with a sword turning every way.
Lightning is key in several end times verses, and is associated with an earthquake in Revelation on three occasions. In one instance, Revelation 16:18, it says, “And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder, and there was a great earthquake….”
Lightning is also mentioned earlier in the book, where Matthew 24:27 says, “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” This is yet another Second Coming usage of the term lightning.
Collectively, it’s not hard to imagine that lightning is a picture type of angels at the Second Coming, when they play a significant role in the activities related to the return of Jesus to earth. Matthew 24:31 is in agreement with the previously stated 24:27, “And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
Matthew 28:3 – …and his clothing white as snow. The angels’ garments were bright and white like snow, matching the description of God from Daniel 7:9 and Revelation 1:14. David sings praises to God in Psalm 51:7, where he will be cleansed from sin and made whiter than snow. You will be too, Christian. That’s why the Bible says we will be like the angels in Matthew 22:30. We too will be dazzling white in our eternal home with Jesus.
Matthew 28:4 – The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. Guards had been placed at the tomb to keep the body from being stolen. Here, the word guard in the Greek means a watcher or to observe. It means to keep in the current state, to hold firmly. All of these descriptors fit nicely with our Second Coming picture type. People who are not believers will be watching in fear as Jesus comes to take His people home, but they will be as dead men. The word fear can also be translated as terror, and being as dead men means they’ll be left in place. They won’t be taken as the angels gather believers. Jeremiah 9:22 says of dead men, “none shall gather them.”
Matthew 28:5 – But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.” This verse speaks of women, leading to the thought that all believers are the bride, BRIDE of Christ… numerous verses speak to this (2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:27, Revelation 19:7). With the Second Coming, the trumpet call of God the bridegroom will speak to His bride, calling us into His presence for an eternal marriage.
The Bible says to approach the throne with boldness (Hebrews 4:16), and not to be afraid. Yes, we seek to be with Jesus, to be ready for Him as the five virgins readied themselves with oil for the coming of the bridegroom (Matthew 25:10). We seek Jesus who was crucified on our behalf.
Matthew 28:6 – “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.” Jesus said he would die and be resurrected… that he would not stay in the grave but would be alive, evermore. Likewise, Jesus said he would come again. And He will, when the fullness of the Gentiles is complete.
Matthew 28:7 – “Go quickly and tell his disciples that He has risen from the dead”… Again the angel mentions that Jesus is alive. And it’s true, that can’t be overstated. Jesus is alive in our minds and hearts every day as we trust in Him. We, as His hands and feet, are commissioned to spread the gospel as expedient as possible, so folks can be ready for meeting with Him when He returns.
When Jesus was here the first time, He said that the kingdom of God is at hand. And it was with Him. But He didn’t take it with Him when He ascended. Where is God’s kingdom? It’s where God dwells. Where does God dwell? In you, Christian, through the Holy Spirit. It’s the already-but-not-yet kingdom. Fullness of this kingdom occurs with His Second Coming. But until then, we are to tell others about God and Jesus.
Matthew 28:7 – …”He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him”… The word Galilee means circle or circuit, and in one biblical definition is referred to as the heathen circle! That’s this world today, the heathen circle. The world is filled with corruption and Godlessness, and even so Jesus did everything He could at His first coming to prepare the ‘heathen circle’ for His Second Coming.
Jesus’ home base during His ministry was in Galilee, not Jerusalem. The religious folks of the day, namely the Pharisees, were not kind or welcoming to the Messiah. Just the opposite in fact. But the Galilean region was more hospitable. And it’s interesting to note that Galilee was a very fertile region, which applies literally for crops and figuratively for folks accepting Jesus’ message. Note the related harvest language in Revelation 14:15, “the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.”
Matthew 28:7 – …”behold, I have told you.” God has told us that He came once through His son Jesus to atone for sins, and that He would come a second time to take His people home. There will be no excuses for those who didn’t believe, they have been told.
Matthew 28:8 – …they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy… When Jesus comes back, the dead will quickly be raised to life. Some will be raised to eternal punishment, this is fear… and some to eternal life, this is great joy (Matthew 25:46 and Daniel 12:2).
Matthew 28:8 – …ran to report it to his disciples. In verse 7 the disciples were told to go and tell of the resurrection. Now in this verse, they do it. Romans 10:14 speaks to this.
From an end times perspective, 1 Thessalonians 4:16 comes to mind. There it says that believers will respond to the voice of the archangel and rise to meet Christ… quickly, in the blink of an eye Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:52.
Matthew 28:9 – …Jesus met them and greeted them… Some translations say, Greetings! It’s a joyous, emphatic meeting.
Earlier in this article I talked about end times events including flashes of lightning, and sounds and peals of thunder, and a great earthquake (Revelation 16:18). Here are the peals of thunder. It’s God’s voice. Consider Job 37:2, where it mentions the thunder of His voice, and John 12:28-29, where the crowd thought a voice from heaven was thunder.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 says believers will meet the Lord in the air. Thereafter, listen for Him to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Matthew 28:9 – …they… worshiped Him. This is why we were created, to be with our Creator God to worship Him. Revelation 22:3 says that His servants will worship God and the Lamb.
Matthew 28:10 – Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.” As believers, we are supposed to boldly proclaim the word of God so others can enter the kingdom of God. We do this by spreading the word. Paul speaks of the importance of this in Romans 10:17, where he says, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Jesus wants us to take His word to all parts of the world so people can become His brethren. Then this group of people, who have accepted Him as Lord and Savior, will be ready when He comes again and turns the heathen circle into a new paradise, where God dwells with man. There, we will see Him, and be with Him for eternity.
Matthew 28:11-15 – …”Tell people, His disciples came by night and stole him away… These verses collectively tell the other side of the story. Here, we see the guards, chief priests and elders conspiring together with lies about the resurrection. This is analogous to the Second Coming. The unbelievers have and will spread falsehoods, deception and misinformation to dissuade people from believing in Jesus or His return. Verse 15 says the falsehoods about the resurrection continue, “to this day.” The false story about the guards falling asleep and followers taking Jesus’ body were apparently still known decades after the resurrection. And today, people will be spreading rumors and falsehoods about a Second Coming right before the event, and probably even after as an excuse for not believing. 2 Peter 3:4 says that unbelievers in the end times will say, “where is the promise of His coming?”
Matthew 28:16 – But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. Mountain talk throughout the Bible points to God’s dwelling place, or Edenic imagery, or God’s kingdom. As mentioned in Daniel 2:35, the earth will be filled with a great mountain from God that eliminates previous kingdoms from existence. Then it will only be the kingdom Jesus has designated. No more heathen circle!
Matthew 28:17 – When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. Believers will worship King Jesus when they see Him. Finally, in the presence of the Savior, what will you do? Simple. Worship the King. Conversely, unbelievers are doubters that will have an altogether different experience. However, there will be one commonality between the believer and unbeliever at the Second Coming. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).
Matthew 28:18 – Jesus… said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Jesus has the name above all names, and power and authority to finish what He started. He created in the beginning, knowing that the authority He gave man would end in failure, as man would submit to the satan. Jesus’ perfect life, death and resurrection were proof of His God-given authority over creation. And 1 Corinthians 15:24 says, “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.” Jesus will bequeath a perfect world and holy kingdom to His and our Father, and heaven and earth will be reunited once again forevermore.
Matthew 28:19 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations”… Micah 4:1-2 really captures the essence of this verse as a Second Coming picture type, and notice the mountain speak: “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” Likewise, Revelation 21:24 says of the new city, “the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.”
Matthew 28:19 – …”baptizing them”… Biblical baptism is the believer’s representation of going from death to life. And the Second Coming and the raising of believers from the heathen circle, death, to heaven and eternal life is the ultimate fulfilling of what baptism represents.
Matthew 28:20 – …“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” After the Second Coming, Jesus will be with us for all of eternity, without end. God, man and the heavenly host will dwell together in the new Heaven and new Earth. Revelation 21:3 says, “The dwelling place of God is with man.” And the beauty of it is mentioned in the next verse, where it says God will wipe away our tears and there will be no more death. We’ll have and experience eternal life, with a new, physical body in an environment where God’s glory will be our light.
While Matthew chapter 28 is an astounding account of the Lord’s resurrection, I believe it to be an equally compelling picture type of the Second Coming of Christ as shown here. Regardless of what your thoughts are about this take on this part of Matthew, make sure you are prepared for the return of Jesus the Messiah. Trust in Him alone. The Bible talks about newness of life in a sinless recreation, but you must also be made anew. That only happens by believing that Jesus fully paid for your sins on the cross… a now empty cross due to the resurrection. Believe in Him who died for your sins and rose back to life, to enjoy eternal life with Him!