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Joh 20:1-18. MARY'S VISIT TO THE SEPULCHRE, AND RETURN TO IT WITH PETER AND JOHN--HER RISEN LORD APPEARS TO HER.
1, 2. The first day . . . cometh Mary Magdalene early,
Mt 28:1, 2).
3-10. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came first to the sepulchre--These particulars have a singular air of artless truth about them. Mary, in her grief, runs to the two apostles who were soon to be so closely associated in proclaiming the Saviour's resurrection, and they, followed by Mary, hasten to see with their own eyes. The younger disciple outruns the older; love haply supplying swifter wings. He stoops, he gazes in, but enters not the open sepulchre, held back probably by a reverential fear. The bolder Peter, coming up, goes in at once, and is rewarded with bright evidence of what had happened.
6-7. seeth the linen clothes lie--lying.
8. Then went in . . . that other disciple which came first to the
sepulchre--The repetition of this, in connection with his not having
gone in till after Peter, seems to show that at the moment of penning
these words the advantage which each of these loving disciples had of
the other was present to his mind.
9. For as yet they knew--that is, understood.
11-15. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping, &c.--Brief was the stay of those two men. But Mary, arriving perhaps by another direction after they left, lingers at the spot, weeping for her missing Lord. As she gazes through her tears on the open tomb, she also ventures to stoop down and look into it, when lo! "two angels in white" (as from the world of light, and see on Mt 28:3) appear to her in a "sitting" posture, "as having finished some business, and awaiting some one to impart tidings to" [BENGEL].
12. one at the head, and the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain--not merely proclaiming silently the entire charge they had had of the body, of Christ [quoted in LUTHARDT], but rather, possibly, calling mute attention to the narrow space within which the Lord of glory had contracted Himself; as if they would say, Come, see within what limits, marked off by the interval here between us two, the Lord lay! But she is in tears, and these suit not the scene of so glorious an Exit. They are going to point out to her the incongruity.
13. Woman, why weepest thou?--You would think the vision too much
for a lone woman. But absorbed in the one Object of her affection and
pursuit, she speaks out her grief without fear.
15. Sir, if thou have borne him hence--borne whom? She says not.
She can think only of One, and thinks others must understand her.
It reminds one of the question of the Spouse, "Saw ye him whom my soul
16, 17. Jesus saith unto her, Mary--It is not now the distant, though
respectful, "Woman." It is the oft-repeated name, uttered, no doubt,
with all the wonted manner, and bringing a rush of unutterable and
overpowering associations with it.
17. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to
my Father--Old familiarities must now give place to new and more awful
yet sweeter approaches; but for these the time has not come yet. This
seems the spirit, at least, of these mysterious words, on which much
difference of opinion has obtained, and not much that is satisfactory
18. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her--To a woman was this honor given to be the first that saw the risen R edeemer, and that woman was not His mother. (See on Mr 16:9).
Joh 20:19-23. JESUS APPEARS TO THE ASSEMBLED DISCIPLES.
19-23. the same day at evening, the first day of the week, the doors
being shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews,
came Jesus--plainly not by the ordinary way of entrance.
20. And when he had so said, he showed them his hands and his
side--not only as ocular and tangible evidence of the
reality of His resurrection (See on
but as through "the power of that resurrection" dispensing all
His peace to men.
21. Then said Jesus--prepared now to listen to Him in a new character.
22. he breathed on them--a symbolical conveyance to them of the Spirit.
23. Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, &c.--In any literal and authoritative sense this power was never exercised by one of the apostles, and plainly was never understood by themselves as possessed by them or conveyed to them. (See on Mt 16:19). The power to intrude upon the relation between men and God cannot have been given by Christ to His ministers in any but a ministerial or declarative sense--as the authorized interpreters of His word, while in the actings of His ministers, the real nature of the power committed to them is seen in the exercise of church discipline.
Joh 20:24-29. JESUS AGAIN APPEARS TO THE ASSEMBLED DISCIPLES.
24, 25. But Thomas--(See on
25. We have seen the Lord--This way of speaking of Jesus (as
and Joh 21:7),
so suited to His resurrection-state, was soon to become the prevailing
26-29. And after eight days--that is, on the eighth, or first day of
the preceding week. They probably met every day during the preceding
week, but their Lord designedly reserved His second appearance among
them till the recurrence of His resurrection day, that He might thus
inaugurate the delightful sanctities of THE
27. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither . . . behold . . . put it into my side, and be not faithless, but believing--"There is something rhythmical in these words, and they are purposely couched in the words of Thomas himself, to put him to shame" [LUTHARDT]. But wish what condescension and gentleness is this done!
28. Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God--That Thomas did not do what Jesus invited him to do, and what he had made the condition of his believing, seems plain from Joh 20:29 ("Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed"). He is overpowered, and the glory of Christ now breaks upon him in a flood. His exclamation surpasses all that had been yet uttered, nor can it be surpassed by anything that ever will be uttered in earth or heaven. On the striking parallel in Nathanael, see on Joh 1:49. The Socinian invasion of the supreme divinity of Christ here manifestly taught--as if it were a mere call upon God in a fit of astonishment--is beneath notice, save for the profanity it charges upon this disciple, and the straits to which it shows themselves reduced.
29. because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed--words of measured
commendation, but of indirect and doubtless painfully--felt rebuke: that
is, 'Thou hast indeed believed; it is well: it is only on the evidence
of thy senses, and after peremptorily refusing all evidence short of
Joh 20:30, 31. FIRST CLOSE OF THIS GOSPEL.
The connection of these verses with the last words of Joh 20:29 is beautiful: that is, And indeed, as the Lord pronounced them blessed who not having seen Him have yet believed, so for that one end have the whole contents of this Gospel been recorded, that all who read it may believe on Him, and believing, have life in that blessed name.
30. many other signs--miracles.