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John xx. 4.
So they ran both together: and the other disciple did Jerusalem. 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.
Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie;
7. And the napkin that was about his head, not lying with
Then went in also that other disciple which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw and believed ".
15 The disciple whom Jesus loved came first to the sepulchre, and when be had stooped (standing on the floor of the outer apartment, that he might look into the burying-place), saw the linen clothes lie, yet went he not in. Put Peter went in, &c. &c. that is, from the floor he went down into the cave itself, where the rows of graves were, rɔɔ, in which, however, the body of Jesus only had been deposited.
St. Peter entered and examined the tomb, St. John went in also; and he says of himself, "And he saw and believed (a). What he saw was the same that St. Peter did: but what did he believe? An answer to this, I trust, we shall be able to collect from some circumstances in the history. When Peter went into the tomb he saw the linen clothes, Kueva, lying at full length, as when the body was in them; and the napkin, vrETUMIYμÉVOV, folded up in wreathes in the form of a cap (b), as it had been when it was upon our Lord's head. The Apostle, Dewpɛi, accu rately viewed, with some degree of contemplation, the burial clothes lying thus in such remarkable order: and it is no won der that he was astonished at this state of the tomb, which he could not account for; and though it might have seemed to him to border somewhat on the miraculous, yet it does not appear, from this part of the history, that he had any idea of the reality of our Lord's resurrection (c). The astonishment of Peter excited the attention of John, who then went down into the sepulchre, and on seeing that the body must have miraculously slipped out of its grave clothes, which lay in their right order, he saw and believed.
St. John's belief, then, of the resurrection arose from what he saw; "He saw and believed: but, at the same time, he honestly and candidly acknowledges his "slowness of heart to believe the sure word of prophecy ;" and seems in a manner to reprehend himself for grounding his belief merely on what he saw, when he should have founded it rather on the unerring prophecies of Scripture, which were written for his learning; but he adds, as an apparent apology, "that they knew not the Scripture, that he must rise again from the dead." The interpretation contended for, seems to flow in a natural and easy manner from the context of the Evangelist, and shows the inutility of 8 before EжSEVGεv in the Cambridge MS. or version; the Latin translation of which has no negative par. ticle (d). But however we must be allowed to assert, that neither a report nor insinuation of the resurrection was necessary to John's believing it: he might have believed the resurrection, and did believe it, as the context of the Evangelist shows, without any prior report; and he inferred it, as he reasonably might, from the state of the tomb, which afforded to an impartial and thoughtful mind, a very strong presumptive
John xx. 9.
For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must Jerusalem. rise again from the dead.
Then the disciples went away again unto their own
John xx. 11.
Mary Magdalene having followed Peter and John, remains
JOHN XX. part of ver. 11.
But Mary stood without, at the sepulchre, weeping ".
argument of the reality of that miracle. When St. John there-
If it be said, that when the women told the eleven of the
(a) John xx. 8. (b) Luke xxiv. 12. (c) Luke xxiv. 25, 26. (d) See Doddridge's Family Expositor. (e) See on this verse Archbishop Newcome, ap Bowyer's Conjectures, p.329.
16 Mary, says Lightfoot, stood at the sepulchre without; that is, within the cave, on the floor, but without that deeper cave, where the r, or places for the bodies were deposited. She had followed the disciples, but they had left the sepulchre immediately that they had satisfied themselves of the absence of the body. She now arrived the second time at the tomb, and disappointed at finding they had left it without communicating the result of their inquiry, she weeps at the supposed profanation of the sepulchre by the unknown hands which had removed the body of her Lord, and at the scene of misery, auguish, and death, to which she had been witness. That Mary was now alone, is evident from the manner in which St. Mark, xvi. 9. describes the appearance of our Lord to her, as well as from the way in which the same narrative is told at greater length by John, xx. 11–14.
John xx. 11.
Mary Magdalene looks into the Tomb, and sees two Angels.
And as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the Jerusalem. sepulchre,
12. And seeth two angels " in white, sitting, the one at the
17 As the Cherubim were represented bending over the ark, as if desiring to look into the deep mysteries of God, so were the heavenly messengers engaged, when they were seen by the first human being, who was more deeply interested than they could have been, in the death and resurrection of Christ. The doctrine of the ministry of angels, so much esteemed by the primitive Church, as well as by the most eminent and pious Christians of all ages, has now become one of those which, without any one well founded argument, is to be reasoned away. The repeated appearances of angels, both in the old and new dispensations, seem designed to point out to us the near, though mysterious, connection of the invisible state with that which we now inhabit. And what can be more consolatory to the believer than the idea which this, and other passages of Scripture, appear so much to corroborate, than the belief that the angels of heaven are around us, the ministering spirits of God, for our good watching over us, and fulfilling the wisdom of his providence. Why should this opinion be disclaimed? Angels were present at the creation; they have been repeatedly manifested to man. To Isaiah the Seraphim appeared veiling their faces with widespreading wings. The form that was visible to Ezekiel had the semblance of a lambent flame, enveloping what seemed its body. To the women they appeared in shining garments, and to the keepers at the sepulchre as lightning, with raiment white as snow. They are the happy possessors of that blessedness to which the spirits of the departed hope to be admitted. And they shall be again visible in their thousands of thousands, at that magnificent and glorious triumph, when the Ancient of Days shall sit on the throne of his glory, and the assembled universe be summoned before his high tribunal. Is it impossible, then, that they are the invisible, yet efficient agents, in many of those innumerable events which are attended with moral and religious benefit to individuals, and to the world; which are but too generally ascribed to incidental circumstances, or to the well laid plans of human policy.
The soul of man is gifted with powers and properties which are distinct from the human body, and which it possesses in common with superior beings. I cannot believe, therefore, that idea to be irrational, which represents the manner of our present union with the invisible world by the following ingenious and curious image. Suppose a number of lighted lamps were placed in a room, one of which only was covered with an earthen vessel, the lamp so encumbered, as soon as the covering was either broken or removed, would find itself in the same state and condition with the other lamps. So it may be with the accountable spirit of man. The earthen vessel of the body may be broken by violence, or silently destroyed by sickness or age, but, as soon as the veil or the covering of the body be removed, the unfettered spirit finds itself the companion of kindred spirits, which, though now unseen, are continually surrounding it. The time is not far hence, when we shall know, even as we are known; in the mean time, the very attempt to speculate upon these things, elevates and purifies the mind (a).
John xx. 12. head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus Jerusalem, had lain.
Mark xvi. 9.
And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?
And when she had thus said, she turned herself back,
Christ first appears to Mary Magdalene, and commands
MARK XVI. 9. JOHN XX. part of ver. 14. and ver. 15-17.
(a) On the subject of angels, see Wheatley's Sermons, Hammond on the Angelic Life, a very curious and valuable work, a sermon of Bishop Bull's, &c. &c.
18 As woman brought death into the world, a woman was made the first witness of the resurrection of life. Of the manner of Christ's existence after he arose from the dead, we can form no possible, or adequate conception. The doctrine of the resurrection of the same body was, and is, one of the most incomprehensible difficulties of Christianity; and our Lord therefore has condescended to teach it, not like the generality of his other doctrines, by arguments and reasoning, but by repeated facts: and those of the most undeniable nature. And he taught it, lastly, by his appearing to his disciples after his resurrection.
Before that time our Lord had lived among his disciples as a man among his companions. He was in all points like unto them, sin only excepted. After that event his body, though to appearance the same as it had ever been, assumed various properties and powers which it had not before possessed. We read, that when the disciples had assembled in a room, the doors of which were shut for fear of the Jews, Jesus suddenly stood in the midst. On the evening of the day of his resurrection, he joins himself to two of his disciples as they were going to Emmaus. He enters into conversation with them. He talks of the Scriptures and of himself, till their hearts burn within them. But their eyes were holden, and they did not know him. When they came to their own home, he sat down with them, and then it was, in breaking the bread, that he made himself known; but at the very instant, when they were filled with joy, he became invisible: he vanished out of their sight. Before his resurrection our Lord had conversed familiarly with his disciples: after that event he was seen only occasionally among them, in a more solemn and mysterious manner. His great object on these occasions seems to have been, to increase their faith, and to convince them that the same body they had beheld committed to the ground, was now raised to life again, in a glorified form. He proves to them that a door, or a wall, or the sides of a grave, could not oppose his progress. He passes through solid matter as through the yielding air, yet he had still a body which they could touch and
John xx. 14. and [she] knew not that it was Jesus.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?
handle, bearing the marks of the spear and the prints of the
This doctrine of the resurrection of the body, which our
19 Mary Magdalene is here said to have turned herself back; and afterwards, in ver. 16. again to have turned herself. Schacht, in his Harmony of the Resurrection, proposes, as a solution of the difficulty, the supposition, that in the first instance she only turned her bead, and in the second her whole body. Or, he adds, after her address to Jesus as the gardener, she may again naturally enough have directed her attention to the sepulchre. This is from Koecher. I prefer the former so lution. Dr. F. Lawrence's Remarks on Scripture, p. 73.