After Christ's crucifixion and burial, he arose from his tomb to dwell on earth for 40 days before ascending to heaven. According to the Gospel account of Matthew, as depicted here, the soldiers guarding the tomb fell asleep and the tomb opened miraculously. Christ appears above, triumphant. The resurrection of Christ is essential for the doctrine of salvation and the hope of deliverance from the power and effect of sin. The promise of salvation, of a new day, is symbolized by the rising sun, to which Christ points, and Christ's halo, which resembles a sun.
Galle's engraving is based on a monochrome wash drawing by Bruegel. The print, which is the same size as the drawing, but with the image reversed, even retains the frame.