And for fear of him the guards did shake, and became as dead men.
Read Chapter 28
George Leo Haydock
The guards were struck Fear and astonishment seized upon them, because they had not that charity for our Redeemer, of which he is so deserving; and they became petrified, like statues, at the thought that the crucified Jesus was arisen from the sepulchre. For these men guarded the sacred tomb, actuated more by passion and cruelty than by any sentiment of love and duty. (Rabanus)
For what intent and purpose does the angel say to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus”? First to deliver them from dread and then to announce to them the resurrection. He addresses them personally: “I know you seek Jesus who was crucified.” By this he treated them with great honor. To be afraid is not for you but for those that crucified Jesus. The contrast here is between the extreme punishment that awaits those who dared to crucify Jesus and the freedom from fear for those who, having repented, sought after him. It was both by his words and by his appearance that the angel brought them deliverance from fear. The brightness of his appearance was such as to bring good news. He went on to say, “I know that you seek Jesus the crucified.” Note that he is not ashamed to call him “the crucified.” For it is chiefly by his crucifixion that he blesses. The Gospel of Matthew, Homily
The angel mentions the name of Jesus, alludes to his cross, speaks about his Passion and refers to his death. He then proclaims his resurrection and confesses his lordship. After all the punishment and after the sepulcher, the angel heralds the Lord, speaks of his subjection and sees that the full offense of the Passion has been transmuted into the glory of the resurrection. How could anyone judge that God was lessened by becoming human? Or believe that his power was demeaned by the Passion? Or think that his sovereignty was diminished by his servanthood? The angel speaks worthily of the crucified one. He shows the very place where the Lord’s body was laid, lest someone else and not he is believed to have risen from the dead.