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He would shortly meet them. Peter and John having heard the words of Mary Magdalene, immediately set forth to examine for themselves. They might have remained discouraged and afraid at a distance. They might have feared to have been suspected of having had something to do with the taking away of the body of Jesus, if seen near the place. A weak and cowardly mind would have feared these things, but Peter and John were too full of Christ to think of aught beside.
John xx. 3-5. “ Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together : and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying : yet went he not in.” John was the
of the two and reached the tomb first. He must have entered the outer chamber of the sepulchre, and stooped down to look through the low door which led to the tomb itself. No body was there, but the fine linen in which it had been wrapped by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.
Verses 6-8. “ Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed."
The quietness and order with which the grave-clothes had been arranged spoke convincingly to the minds of Peter and John. If the body had been stolen by friends, these would have been taken also, if by enemies who grudged to Jesus the rich man's tomb, and the costly marks of respect that had been paid to his remains, the fine linen would have been torn off and thrown down. Neither friends nor foes in their midnight robbing of the tomb (had it been possible for a large body of Roman soldiers so to have neglected their duty that they could have entered it at all,) would have dared to take time to wrap up carefully and lay apart the different articles in which the body of Jesus had been arrayed for his burial. These simple and natural signs convinced the two disciples that their Lord had not been taken from the grave, but had arisen from it by his own act of power. They were convinced, as any other witnesses would have been convinced, by these circumstances, and not from their remembrance of what Christ had often said of them.
Verses 9, 10. “For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that Jesus must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their home."
How full of thought must they have been! What tidings to take back to the mother of the Lord ! As yet they had not seen the other women, or received from them the message of Jesus.
Mary of Magdala does not seem to have spoken with them after they had visited the tomb. It is probable that she could not at all keep pace with them, and did not again reach it till after their departure. She remains after they are gone, still filled with grief for a supposed misfortune,—weeping over the very event which, had she understood it, would have filled her soul with joy. What a lesson for the down-hearted.
Verses ll- 13. “ But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping : and as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?"
Ah! how often, if we could hear the Angels speak, would they say to us“Why weepest thou ?” often like Mary we are grieving, while they are rejoicing, --often our tears flow for those
events, which, if we understood them, would fill our souls with rapture. The
that are blinded with tears see not wbat God is doing; the heart that is oppressed with sorrow cannot take in the comfort that lies straight before it. Thus Mary does not seem able to take in the idea that she is spoken to by Angels ; neither does she perceive that which had struck Peter and John with the conviction that their Lord was risen. In her childlike grief, she makes this simple answer to the question of the Angels why she wept,
Verse 13. “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.”
Poor Mary! it seems as though she were incapable of ought but grief ; but comfort, yea joy unspeakable is at hand. The Saviour, the blessed Jesus has pity upon the broken-hearted.
Verses 14, 15. “ And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus said unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seckest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away."
HIow touching is this simplicity of love that has but one thought ! that cannot hide its purpose. O love of woman, thou art stronger than death, yet is thy grief so bitter that though the Saviour is beside thee, thou knowest him not, though he speaks to thee, thou understandest not ! Yet will he not leave thee.
Verse 16. “Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni : which is to say, Master."
What a change! In the depth of her grief she neither saw nor understood. Jesus calls her by her name, and sudden rapture thrills through her heart. She turns,--do we not seem to see her start of ecstacy! In the full light of the rising sun, she beholds her Lord. But she may not hold him now.
It is joy enough that he has revealed himself to her.
Verse 17. “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not: for I am not yet ascended to my Father : but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend (or rather in the plain meaning of the word “I am ascending,”) unto my Father, and your Father : and to my God, and your God.”
Prayer. When the darkness of the tomb is upon me, when I can neither see thee, nor find thee, O my Lord and Saviour, and like Mary Magdalene I weeping mourn my vanished hopes, speak to me, call me by my name. At thy voice shall every fear depart, and in the full light of gospel truth, I shall know thee again, my Saviour and my God. Amen.
How great was the loving-kindness of Jesus ! It was to Mary Magdalene, the weakest, the most despairing of his followers, that He first revealed Himself when risen from the grave. To turn her sorrow into joy, he stayed a moment before he ascended to his Father's throne to show in the courts of heaven the seal of Redemption, his human body, in which he had died-in which he had risen-in which he was glorified-the first-born from the dead.* No mortal hand must be laid upon Him till he had returned to his father's bosom, and claimed for man the long-lost inheritance. Once again His Father would be their Father, and His God their God -- for "mercy and truth bad now met together, righteousness and peace had kissed each other." God could now be just, and yet the justifier of sinners.
* Mark xiv. 9.
Then it was that the graves, which had been opened by the shock of the earthquake, which had rent the rocks when Jesus bowed his head and died, gave up their dead.
MATTHEW xxvii. 53, 53. “And many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."
Did they return to the grave? We cannot think so. Far more likely is it that they followed their Lord to heaven--the first-fruits of the resurrection of the saints.
* For though not until after forty days did he visibly ascend to heaven there to remain, it seems probable, from this passage, that, unseen by man, on his first rising from the grave He bore His human nature up to God. There is no reason why this should not have been so, and many reasons why it should. At first He forbids Mary to touch Him, giving as His reason that He had not yet ascended to His Father. A little later He suffers her and the other women to hold Him by the feet; and not long after that invites the disciples to handle Him to satisfy themselves of the reality of His body. Surely this should tell us that His glorified human body was first to be presented in heaven before it could be submitted to the touch or examination of mortal man; that He first spake to Mary before He had risen up to God at all, and to the others after He had returned again, immediately, to carry out the work of convincing His disciples of His resurrection, and giving instructions for their conduct when He should entirely leave the earth. Though during a space of time that stretched over forty days, he appeared frequently to His disciples, still it was only short visits that He made them. He no longer dwelt with them ; nor does it appear that He dwelt on earth at all. His glorified body seems no longer to have been an inhabitant of this world, though He did not finally and visibly leave it till the appointed day.
of Rev. xx. 4-6.