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be led into his grave, and to see an angel, and talk with him about it, could not but cause fear. The fear and joy together quickened their pace, and added wings to their motion; the angel bid them go quickly, and they ran. Those that are sent on God's errand must not loiter or lose time; where the heart is enlarged with the glad tidings of the gospel, the feet will run the way of God's commandments.
These zealous good women not only heard the first tidings of Christ after his death, but had the first sight of him after his resurrection (verses 9, 10),–As they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them. In the words with which he saluted them, we may observe,-1. The good-will of Christ to us and our happiness, even since he entered upon his state of exaltation. 2. The freedom and holy familiarity which he used in his fellowship with his disciples, calling them friends. lle rebukes their fear,--Be not afraid. They must not fear being imposed upon by these repeated notices of his resurrection, nor fear any hurt from the appearance of one from the dead; for the news, though strange, were both true and good.—He repeats their message,- Go, tell brethren that they must prepare for a journey into Galilee, and there they shall see me. That which is especially observable here is, that he calls his disciples his brethren. Go, tell my brethren, not only those of them that were akin to him, but all the rest, for they are all his brethren (chap. xii. 50); but he never called them so till after his resurrection, here and John xx. 17. Being by the resurrection himself declared to be the Son of God with power, all the children of God were thereby declared to be his brethren. Being the First-begotten from the dead, he is become the First-born among many brethren, even of all that are planted together in the likeness of his resurrection. Christ did not now converse so constantly and familiarly with his disciples as he had done before his death; but, lest they should think him grown strange to them, he gives them this endearing title, Go to my brethren, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which, speaking of his entrance upon his exalted state, saith, “ I will declare thy name unto my brethren.” They had shamefully deserted him in his sufferings; but, to show
uld forgive and forget, and to teach us to do so, he not only continues his purpose to meet them, but calls them brethren. Being all his brethren, they were brethren one to another, and must love as brethren. His owning them for his brethren put a great honour upon them, but withal gave them an example of humility in the midst of that honour. 11 q Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the
city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. 12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, 13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. 15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this
saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. When the women were going to bring that news to the disciples, which would fill their hearts with joy, the soldiers went to carry the same news to the chief priests, which would fill their faces with shame. Some of the watch, probably those of them that commanded in chief, came into the city, and showed the chief priests all the things that were done ; told them of the earthquake, the descent of the angel, the rolling away of the stone, and the coming of the body of Jesus alive out of the grave. These things being reported to them, they called an assembly, and considered what was to be done. For their own parts, they were resolved not to believe that Jesus was risen; but their care was, to keep others from believing. They had put him to death, and there was no way of standing to what they had done, but by confronting the evidence of his resurrection. They who. have sold themselves to work wickedness, find that one sin draws on another, and that they have plunged themselves into a wretched necessity of adding iniquity to iniquity, which is part of the curse of Christ's persecutors. Psal. lxix. 27. The result of their debate was, that those soldiers must by all means be bribed off. They put moncy into their hands; and what wickedness is it which men will not be brought to by the love of money? They gave them large money, probably a great deal more than they gave to Judas. These chief priests loved their money as well as most people, and were as loth to part with it; and yet, to carry on a malicious design against the gospel of Christ, they were very prodigal of it; they gave the soldiers, it is likely, as much as they asked, and they knew how to improve their advantages. They put a lie into their mouths (ver. 13),--Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. A miserable shift is better than none, but this is a miserable one indeed. Lest the soldiers should object on account of the penalty they incurred by the Roman law for sleeping upon the guard, which was very severe (Acts
xii. 19), they promised to interpose with the governor -We will persuade him, and secure you. The soldiers cared as little for Christ and his religion as the chief priests and elders did; and men that have no religion at all can be very well pleased to see Christianity run down, and lend a hand to it, if need be, to serve a turn. They took the money—a bait for the blackest temptation ; mercenary tongues will sell the truth for it.
Those that were willing to be deceived, not only credited, but propagated the story,—This saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. The plot took well enough, and answered the end. The Jews, who persisted in their infidelity, when they were pressed with the argument of Christ's resurrection, had this still ready to reply, His disciples came, and stole him away. To this purport was the solemn narrative, which (as Justin Martyr relates in his dialogue with Trypho the Jew) the Sanhedrim sent to all the Jews of the dispersion concerning this affair, exciting them to a vigorous resistance of Christianity, that when they had crucified and buried him, “his disciples came by night, and stole him out of the sepulchre,” designing thereby not only to overthrow the truth of Christ's resurrection, but to render his disciples odious to the world. When once a lie is raised, none knows how far it will spread, nor how long it will last, nor what mischief it will do.
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus, of which an account is given in this chapter, is one of the most important doctrines of the Christian religion, and is attested by the strongest evidence that can be adduced in favour of any ancient fact. Let it be considered, -1. That he had often foretold his own death and resurrection. See chap. xvi. 21, xx. 19. 2. There was no doubt that he was really dead. Of this the Jews, the Romans, and the disciples were all equally well satisfied. 3. Every proper precaution was taken to prevent his removal by stealth. A guard, usually consisting of sixty men, was stationed at the tomb for the express purpose of watching it: it was also secured by a large stone, and by a seal. 4. On the third day the body was missing. In this all were agreed. The high priest did not dare to call it in question. They laboured, therefore, to account for it. The disciples affirmed that he was alive. The Jews hired the Roman soldiers to affirm that he was stolen while they slept, and succeeded in making many of the people believe it. This account of the Jews is attended with the following difficulties and absurdities :-1. The Roman guard was composed usually of sixty men, and they were stationed there for the express purpose of guarding the body of Jesus. 2. The punishment of sleeping while on guard in the Roman army was death, and it is perfectly incredible that they should expose themselves in this manner to death. 3. The disciples were few in number, unarmed, weak, and timid. They had just fled before those who took Jesus in the garden, and how can it be believed that in so short a time they would dare to attempt to take away from a Roman guard of armed men what they were expressly set to defend? 4. How could the disciples presume that they would find them asleep? or, if they should, how was it possible to remove the stone and the body, without awakening some one of their number? 5. The regularity and order of the grave-clothes (John xx. 6–7) show that the body had not been stolen. When men rob graves of the bodies of the dead, they do not wait coolly to fold up the grave-clothes and lay them carefully by themselves. 6. If the soldiers were asleep, how did they, or how could they know that the disciples stole the body away? If they were awake, why did they suffer it? The whole account, therefore, was intrinsically absurd. On the other hand, the account given by the disciples was perfectly natural,-1. They account for the reason why the soldiers did not see the Saviour when he rose. Terrified at the vision of an angel, they became as dead men. 2. They affirmed that they saw him. All the apostles affirmed this, and many others. 3. They affirmed it in Jerusalem, in the presence of the Jews, before the high-priest and the people. See the Acts of the Apostles. If the Jews really believed the account which they themselves had given, why did they not apprehend the apostles, and prove them guilty of the theft and of falsehood ?—things which they never attempted, and which show, therefore, that they did not credit their own report. 4. In regard to the Saviour, they could not be deceived. They had been with him three years. They knew him as a friend. They again ate and drank with him; they put their fingers into his hands and side ; they conversed with him; they were with him forty days. There were enough of them to bear witness. Law commonly requires not more than one or two competent witnesses; but here were twelve plain, honest men, who affirmed in all places, and at all times, that they had seen him. Can it be possible that they could be deceived? Then all faith in testimony must be given up. 5. They gave every possible evidence of their sincerity. They were persecuted, ridiculed, scourged, and put to death for affirming this. Yet not one of them ever expressed the least doubt of its truth. They bore every thing, rather than to deny that they had seen him. They had no motive in doing this
, but the love of truth. They obtained no wealth by it-no honour-no pleasure. They gave themselves up to great and unparalleled sufferings--going from land to land; crossing almost every sea; and enduring the dangers, toils, and privations of almost every clime, for the simple object of affirming every where that á Saviour died and rose. 6. The world believed them. Three thousand of the Jews themselves believed in the risen Saviour, on the day of Pentecost, only fifty days after his resurrection. Acts ii. 41. Multitudes of other Jews believed during the lives of the apostles. Thousands of Gentiles believed also, and in three hundred years the belief that Jesus rose had spread over and changed the whole Roman empire. Had the apostles been deceivers, that was the age in which they could most easily have been detected. Yet that was the age when converts were most rapidly multiplied, and God fixed his seal to their testimony that it
16 | Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain
where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 T'Go ye therefore, and TM || teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
i Chap. xxvi. 32; Ver. 7. k Dan, vi. 13, 14; Chap. xi. 27, xvi, 28; Luke i. 32, X. 22; John iii. 35, v. 22, xül. 3, xvii. 2; Acts ii. 36; Rom. xiv. 9; 1 Cor. xv. 27; Eph. i. 10, 21: Phil. ii. 9, 10; Heb. i. 2. ii. 8; 1 Pet. iii. 22; Rev. xvii. 14. I Mark xvi, 15. m Isi. lii. 10; Luke xxiv. 47; Acts ii. 38, 39; Rom. x. 18; Col. i. 23. 1 Or, make disciples, or, Christians of all nations. n Acts ii. 42.
The disciples having gone into Galilee according to Christ's appointment, and having there seen the Lord, they worshipped him. Many of them did so, nay, it should seem they all did so; they gave divine honour to him, which was signified by some outward expressions of adoration. But some doubted ; some of those that were then present. Even among those that worship there are some that doubt. The faith of those that are sincere may yet be very weak and wavering. These doubts were afterward removed, and their faith grew up to a full assurance: and it tended much to the honour of Christ, that the disciples doubted before they believed ; so that they cannot be said to be credulous, and willing to be imposed upon; for they first questioned and proved all things, and then held fast that which was true, and which they found to be so.
Jesus came, and spake unto them, verses 18–20. Though there were those that doubted, yet he did not therefore reject them; for he will not break the bruised reed. He did not stand at a distance, but came near, and gave them such convincing proofs of his resurrection, as turned the wavering scale, and made their faith to triumph over their doubts. Christ now delivered to his apostles the great charter of his kingdom in the world, sent them out as his ambassadors, and gave them their credentials.
Observe, 1. The commission which our Lord Jesus received himself from the Father. Being about to authorise his apostles, if any ask by what authority he doeth it, and who gave him that authority, here he tells us, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth-a very great word, and which none but he could say. Hereby he asserts his universal dominion as Mediator, which is the great foundation of the Christian religion. IIe las all power. Whence hath he this power ? He did not assume it, or usurp it, but it was given him. He was legally entitled to it, and invested in it, by a grant from him who is the Fountain of all being, and consequently of all power. God set him King (Psal. ii. 6), inaugurated and enthroned him (Luke i. 32). As God, equal with the Father, all power was originally and essentially his; but as Mediator, as God-man, all power was given him-partly in recompence of his work (because he humbled himself, therefore God thus exalted him), and partly in pursuance of his design. He had this power given him over all flesh, that he might “give eternal life to as many as were given bim” (John xvii. 2), for the more effectual carrying on and completing our salvation. This power he was now more signally invested in, upon his resurrection. Acts xiii. 33. He had power before-power to forgive sins (chap. ix. 6); but now all power is given him. He is now going to receive for himself a kingdom (Luke xix. 12); to sit down at the right hand (Psal. cx. 1). Llaving purchased it, nothing remains but to take possession; it is his own for ever.-IIe has this power in heaven and earth, comprehending the universe. Christ is the sole universal Monarch-he is Lord of all. Acts x. 36.
He has all power in heaven. He has power of dominion over the angels; they are all his servants. Eph. i. 20, 21. He has power of intercession with his Father, in the virtue of his satisfaction and atonement; he intercedes, not as a suppliant, but as a demandant—Father, I will. He has all power on earth too. Having prevailed with God, by the sacrifice of atonement, he prevails with men, and deals with them as one having authority, by the ministry of reconciliation. He is indeed, in all causes and over all persons, supreme Governor. By him kings reign. All souls are his, and to him every heart and knec must bow, and every tongue confess him to be the Lord. This our Lord Jesus tells them, not only to satisfy them of the authority he had to commission them, and to bring them out in the execution of their commission, but to take off the offence of the cross. They had no reason to be ashamed of Christ crucified, when they saw him thus glorified.
Observe, 2. The commission he gives to those whom he sent forth, --Go ye therefore. This commission is given-(1.) To the apostles primarily, the chief ministers of state in Christ's kingdom, the architects that laid the foundation of the Church. Now, those that had followed Christ in the regeneration were set on thrones. Luke xxii. 30. Go
It is not only a word of command, like that, Son, go work, but a word of encouragement, — Go, and fear not ; have I not sent you? Go, and make a business of this work. They must not take state, and issue out summons to the nations to attend upon them ; but they must go, and bring the gospel to their doors,—Go ye. They had doted on Christ's bodily presence, and hung upon that, and built all their joys and hopes upon that; but now Christ discharges them from farther attendance on his person, and sends them abroad abou: other work. (2.) It is given to their successors, the ministers of the gospel
, whose business it is to transmit the gospel from age to age, to the end of the world in time, as it was theirs to transmit it from nation to nation, to the end of the world in place, and no less necessary. The Old Testament promise of a gospel ministry is made to a succession (Isa. lix. 21); and this must be so understood, otherwise how could Christ be with them always till the end of the world?
Observe, 3. How far his commission is extended,—to all nations. Now, this plainly signifies it to be the will of Christ—(1.) That the covenant of peculiarity, made with the Jews, should now be cancelled and disannulled. This word broke down the middle wall of partition, which had so long excluded the Gentiles from a visible church-state; and whereas the apostles, when first sent out, were forbidden to go into the way of the Gentiles, now they were sent to all nations. (2.) That salvation by Christ should be offered to all, and none excluded that did not by their unbelief and impenitence exclude themselves. The salvation they were to preach is a common salvation ; whoever will, let him come, and take the benefit of the act of indemnity ; for there is no difference of Jew or Greck in Christ Jesus. (3.) That Christianity should be twisted in with national constitutions, that the kingdoms of the world should become Christ's kingdoms, and their kings the Church's nursing-fathers.
They must admit disciples by the sacred rite of baptism,—“Go into all nations, preach the gospel to them, work miracles among them, and persuade them to come in themselves, and bring their children with them, into the Church of Christ, and then admit them and theirs into the Church by washing them with water;" either dipping them in the water, or pouring or sprinkling water upon them, which seems the more proper, because the thing is most frequently expressed so, as Isa. xliv.3 Tit. iii. 5, 6 ; Ezek. xxxvi. 25; Isa, lii. 15. This baptism must be administered in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Iloly Ghost. That is—(1.) By authority from hearen, and not of man ; for Christ's ministers act by authority from the three persons in the Godhead, who all concur, as to our creation, so to our redemption. (2.) Calling upon the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Everything is sanctified by prayer, and particularly the waters of baptism. The prayer of faith obtains the presence of God with the ordinance, which is its lustre and beauty, its life and efficacy.---By our being baptized, we solemnly profess-(1.) Our assent to the Scripture revelation concerning God, the Father, Son, and IIoly Ghost. We confess our belief that there is a God—that there is but one God—that in the Godhead there is a father that begets
, a Son that is begotten, and a lloly Spirit of both. We are baptized, not into the names, but into the name, Father, Son, and Spirit, which plainly intimates that these three are one, and their name one. The distinct mentioning of the three persons in the Trinity, both in the Christian baptism here, and in the Christian blessing (2 Cor. xiii
. 14), as it is a full proof of the doctrine of the Trinity, so it has done much towards preserving it pure and entire through all the ages of the Church ; for nothing is more great and awful in Christian assemblies than these two. °(2.) Our consent to a covenant relation to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Baptism is a sacrament ; that is
, it is an oath. It is an oath of abjuration, by which we renounce the world and the flesh, as rivals with God for the throne in our hearts ; and an oath of allegiance, by which we resign and give up ourselves to God
, to be his
, our own selves, our whole selves, body, soul, and spirit, to be governed by his will, and made happy in his favour.-All that are baptized, are thereby obliged-(1.) To make the command
the moral duties, and all the instituted ordinances. Our obedience to the laws of Christ is not sincere
. if it be not universal ; we must stand complete in his whole will. the commands of Christ, and as not to diminish from them, so not to add to them. (4.) To learn their duty according to the law of Christ, from those he has appointed to be teachers in his school, for therefore we were entered into his school.
(3.) To confine themselves to
Christ gives his disciples the assurance of his spiritual presence with them in the execution of this commission,—And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Not, I will be with you, but I am. As God sent Moses, so Christ sent his apostles, by this name—I am ; for he is God, to whom past, present, and to come are the same. See Rey. i. 8. He was now about to leave them; his bodily presence was now to be removed from them, and this grieved them; but he assures them of his spiritual presence, which was more expedient for them than his bodily presence could be. Christ was now sending them to set up his kingdom in the world, which was a great undertaking, and seasonably promises them his presence with them-(1.) To carry them on through the difficulties they were likely to meet with. (2.) To prosper this great undertaking,—“ Lo, I am with you always, to make your ministry effectual for the discipling of the nations, for the pulling down of the strongholds of Satan.” It was an unlikely thing that they should unhinge national constitutions in religion—that they should establish a doctrine so directly contrary to the genius of the age, and persuade people to become the disciples of a crucified Jesus; but, lo, I am with you, and therefore you shall gain your point.
This spiritual presence of Christ with his people continues always, even unto the end of the world. They shall have his constant presence always. There is no day, no hour of the day, in which our Lord Jesus is not present with his Churches and with his ministers; if there were, that day, that hour, they were undone. Since his resurrection he had appeared to them now and then, once a-week it may be, and scarcely that. But he assures them that they shall have his spiritual presence continued to them without intermission. Wherever we are the word of Christ is nigh us, even in our mouth, and the Spirit of Christ nigh us, even in our hearts. The God of Israel, the Saviour, is sometimes a God that hideth himself (Isa. xlv. 15,) but never a God that absentetlı himself; sometimes in the dark, but never at a distance.
Two solemn farewells we find our Lord Jesus giving to his Church, and his parting word at both of them is very encouraging. One was here, when he closed up his personal converse with them, and then his parting word was, “ Lo, I am with you always ; I leave you, and yet still I am with you." The other was, when he closed up the canon of Scripture by the pen of his beloved disciple, and then his parting word was, “ Surely, I come quickly. I leave you for awhile, but I will be with you again shortly." Rev. xxii. 20. By this, it appears that he did not part in anger, but in love; and that it is his will we should keep up both our communion with him and our expectation of him.