Taken from: THE BIBLE TREASURY, Edited by William Kelly #474 (Old Series), November, 1895
Nor one of the four Evangelists attempts to give a complete history of the resurrection of our Lord. Yet each one of them furnishes us with many proofs of the accomplishment of the glorious fact.
When we bring all these proofs together, at the same time carefully distinguishing between each, the result is surprising; their number is so great, and the testimony of each so powerful, clear, and decisive.
The chief priests, the Pharisees, and Pilate were all confederate in their mutual desire if possible to prevent the fulfilment of His words, "After three days I will rise again.’" They had a watch, and made the sepulchre as sure as they could.
THE FIRST ANGELIC TESTIMONY
to the glorious fact of Christ’s resurrection (Matt. xxviii. 5-7) was given by that angel who "came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men."
His appearance terrorises the soldiers, but his _ words reassure those believing women, to whom he says, "Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is Our object being to distinguish between each distinct proof, we now draw special attention to the word of invitation to the women, who are as yet outside the sepulchre, "Come, see the place where the Lord lay."
THE SECOND ANGELIC TESTIMONY
is noticed by Mark (chap. xvi. 5-7) who, speaking of the women, says, "And entering into the sepulchre (so that they were now within it), they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted."
The testimony of him that sat upon the stone without, and of him that was seen by the women within, the sepulchre is strikingly similar in language; but whereas the first invited the women to "come" and "see," the second points out the actual spot, saying, " Behold the place where they laid Him." And that this angel gave His testimony while they were within the sepulchre is rendered all the more evident by Mark telling us that "they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre."
At the mouth of these two angelic witnesses has the fact of the resurrection been clearly established; but those devoted women are slow of heart to believe. "They trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid." Their utter failure in their not having at once accepted the truth, as to a glorious fact clearly attested by two divinely appointed and fully competent witnesses, is, in itself, a sufficiently clear explanation as to why
THE THIRD ANGELIC TESTIMONY
takes the form of earnest expostulation and implied rebuke (Luke xxiv. 4-7).
The sepulchre being still the spot of special attraction, and "nigh at hand," the women appear to have been constantly either going to it or returning again from it into the city.
Luke makes no allusion whatever to the soldiers, nor to the angel sitting without upon the stone. We however gather that of those women who had already entered the sepulchre and fled out of it, trembling, and saying nothing of what they had already been told by angels, certain of them have entered it a second time "much perplexed," and "behold, two men stood by them in shining garments."
Not only do these two angels give very "distinctive testimony to that which had been before given by the angel who sat on the stone without, and by him who sat within the sepulchre at the first, but the very character of the important announcement made by them totally differs from all that had preceded it.
"Why seek ye the living among the dead?" To have answered this so very searching question without admitting previous failure on their part was an impossibility. With very strong emphasis those words are now repeated, "He is not here, but is risen." This done, these two angels instantly recall to the recollection of those devoted women certain words of our Lord, spoken unto them while He was yet in Galilee:—"The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, sand be crucified, and the third day rise again." Real progress "is now made, for the women "remembered His words, and returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.""
The effect of the women’s testimony upon "the rest" is graphically described by the two who went that same day to Emmaus. They narrate in sorrow of heart before the then unknown Stranger the important fact that
The visit of Peter and John to the sepulchre, subsequent to the report being brought to themselves and others by the women, is rendered all the more remarkable by the comparison of it with that which both preceded and succeeded it. We read of no angels there seen by them, nor of any voices heard: what they saw was an empty sepulchre, and the linen clothes lying in the order befitting the stupendous event that had transpired before their own entrance. For themselves apparently satisfied with this negative proof of the resurrection, they return to their own home.
THE FOURTH ANGELIC TESTIMONY
Mary now stands all alone and without the sepulchre, weeping (John xx. 11-13), Why none of the other women are now with her, scripture does not explain: possibly they were busily occupied in preparing for themselves and others their early morning meal. But however others may be occupied, meanwhile Mary Magdalene can only remain there. Not intelligently, but none the less experimentally her soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Her heart and her flesh cry out for Him, and until she can find Jesus her Lord in it, the whole world is to her only a dry and weary land, yielding no refreshment whatever. "And as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, thou?"
How remarkable that the strong and even startling emphasis, with which the former testimonies of angels were given in the hearing of the women, now gives place to a gentle yet earnest expostulation, expressed in language of melting tenderness! For of all those who bad before listened to those so very strongly emphasised statements from the lips of angels, or to their faithful repetition by the women who had heard them, Mary alone now stands at the sepulchre.
The question asked of her by the angels gives her suited opportunity of clearly expressing her own heart’s earnest longings. She replies, " Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him." The vision before her eyes is in itself glorious, for they are angels whom she now beholds! Her privileges are indeed very great, for she is holding converse with celestial beings! But gazing upon and conversing with these cannot satisfy her longing soul—cannot fill her hungry soul with fatness. Even they by their presence and by their words cannot compensate her for the loss of Him.
From that vision of actively interested angels she turns herself back. Where, oh, where can she find Him?
She supposes that He Who now stands before her is the gardener, a man of humble birth and occupation. But her realised loss of her Lord outweighs every other consideration; and to him she makes her earnest appeal that he will tell her what the angels have not told her. "Sir, if thou hast borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away."
Taken from: THE BIBLE TREASURY, Edited by William Kelly #1 (New Series), January, 1896
MARY SEES HER RISEN LORD.
In a grand symphony of praise a multitude of angels, in the hearing of the shepherds of Bethlehem, celebrated the birth of our Lord. Assuredly not less interested in His glorious resurrection, certain angels rendered true and acceptable service in announcing before the women at the sepulchre its accomplishment. From that moment when from the vision of angels Mary Magdalene " turned herself back," these heavenly messengers were lost to sight, to appear again no more until after our Lord's ascension (Acts i. 10,11). When first our Lord foretold to His disciples His own resurrection from the dead, these questioned one with another what the rising from the dead should mean (Matt. ix.9). And, when we consider it, how much was involved in that glorious bringing again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep! For upon it depended our justification; also by it the Mighty Victor put all His enemies to open shame. The very glories attendant upon His victory make the riches of His grace all the more apparent as we perceive the manner in which our glorious Deliverer made Himself known to His weeping and sorrowing disciple (John xx.)
"Jesus saith unto her, Mary." That one word, uttered by Himself, instantly turned all her overwhelming grief into overflowing joy. It was Himself indeed, " Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever." Many waters had not quenched that love which His calling her by name abundantly proved to be, as ever, perfect. She had sorrowed much for His sake; He had endured infinitely more in accomplishing her salvation and ours; and now He was found of her whom He called by name.
"She turned herself, and saith unto Him, Rabboni." The writer on one occasion, having been hastily called to the bedside of a loved and dying sister, was quietly sitting near and watching the dear sick one, when she presently opened her eyes, gazed upwards very intently, and said, "Lord Jesus!" Those two words were uttered in a tone at once expressive of complete satisfaction of heart, of ecstatic spiritual joy, and of deepest reverence, as became a true worshipper. By that one word "Rabboni," Mary Magdalene expressed what this dying sister also felt when she too recognised her Lord.
Her natural impulses are instantly checked and restrained by the Lord’s authoritative injunction,— "Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father." The Son of God stood before her, soon to ascend up to where He was before; so that, if before her in infinite and condescending grace, Christ shall henceforth be known after the flesh no more. Yet is Mary very highly privileged in being commissioned to bear His message to those whom He is not ashamed to call His brethren, to announce the glorious fact that His ascension is now imminent, in language no less clear in its expression of the full reality of our unalterable relationship now existing between the risen Son of God and those who believed: His Father and God is theirs also.
OUR LORD'S SECOND APPEARANCE,
The omission from the ninth verse of Matt. xxviii. in the R. V. of what forms the first clause of the verse in the A.V. is a decided improvement. We quote the Revised, "And behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and took hold of His feet, and worshipped Him."
The manner of our Lord's salutation " All hail!" leaves no room for a doubt that quite a number of women, saw Him at His second appearance. Mary had gone and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and she had faithfully delivered His first message to them. Yet Mary’s only companions on her again returning to the sepulchre appear to be believing women, whom our Lord meets on their way, and so salutes them all. These are now privileged to hold Him by the feet, which Mary at His first appearance was strictly forbidden to do. Why that restriction then? And this liberty of action now? Evidently the Lord would have His "brethren" to be instant partakers with Mary in the joy of the full assurance that He was actually risen from the dead. There must be no delay in the delivery of the all-important message He sent at the first by her to them. Had they at once accepted the truth from her lips, they had doubtless all returned with her at once to the sepulchre. We believe that those thus returning with her believed because of her word, and that the favour of holding their risen Lord by the feet was specially conferred on those who readily received Mary’s testimony. The message they jointly receive to deliver to His "brethren" treats not of His ascension, but of His presently meeting them in Galilee
THE LORD APPEARS TO TWO GOING TO EMMAUS.
It has become quite the habit with some, whose sole standpoint in viewing the whole matter appears to be Psalm cxxxiii. 3, to reflect strongly upon those two disciples, who, on that eventful resurrection day, turned their backs upon and left Jerusalem to go to a comparatively obscure village. These Mentors seem to quite overlook the very significant fact that our Lord Himself does not in the least reflect upon them for their action, which exactly reversed that of the Queen of Sheba. The city of solemnities had an all-absorbing attraction for her, because there reigned Solomon, and there the Lord God of Israel was glorified in Israel’s accepted king. Therefore in her day it was a profitable employment to
That they might have the privilege of worshipping a greater than Solomon the wise men came from the east to Jerusalem. Not finding Him there, Zion’s "towers, bulwarks, palaces," have no attractions for them compared with Bethlehem, where He then was. The culpable indifference displayed by the inhabitants of Jerusalem with reference to His birth, had since given place to the open manifestation of their murderous hatred of Him, Whom they cast out of that city which He had Himself chosen to put His name there, and crucified on Calvary.
The entire narrative shows that Cleopas and his companion were thinking more about the treatment the Lord had received at the hands of its inhabitants than about the city itself. For all this their turning of their backs upon it was a testimony against Jerusalem, in which they had no heart any longer to abide, since He has been so shamelessly maltreated therein, and led out only to be crucified.
His crucifixion, death, and burial is their all- absorbing theme of conversation as they walk and are sad. Their affections are strong, and as deep as they were real; but faith is lacking, so that they are very depressed and sorrowful: chafed in their minds and wounded in their spirits because of what He had suffered at the hands of sinful men. Jesus draws near and goes with them, His every footstep betokening unweakened affection.
In infinite wisdom their eyes are holden that they do not know Him. He encourages them to tell out all their sorrows. Hiding nothing from Him whose full sympathies are with them, they tell of all that has so deeply wounded them. He answers them by the instant application of that word which is sharper than any two-edged sword. His sharp rebuke went deeper than all that had wounded before, and fully exposed a slowness of heart in believers, of the existence of which they had hitherto not been aware. As they now were deeply wounded and thoroughly humbled, their risen Lord forsakes them not; but instantly brings forward the testimony of the written word concerning Christ’s sufferings, and His glory that should certainly follow.
Jerusalem now is no longer in their thoughts; they fret no more over the wicked action of "the chief priests and our rulers;" they forget even their own sorrows. For their hearts are now burning within them, as He talks with them, and opens to them the scriptures.
They draw near unto Emmaus; He makes as though He would go farther. But they constrain Him to abide with them. Most gladly they do their best and utmost in their genuine desire to minister to the refreshment of their unknown Guest, Who has so fully refreshed their spirits by His ministration of the Christ to them through the written word.
He is known of them in breaking of bread, and vanishes. This is now indeed an overflowing cup; they must make others partakers with themselves of joys so full and deep and real. They rise up the same hour, and return to that very city upon which they have so recently turned their backs. Why is it become to them the city of desire, in which their feet now gladly tread? Christ’s own are there assembled; they are mourning and weeping, while Cleopas and his companion are filled with comfort. They hasten forward in their eagerness to tell good news, to find that the Lord has been graciously pleased to give another proof of His own resurrection. Certain anticipate them, "saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon." "And they told what things were done in the way, and how He was known of them in breaking of bread."