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CHAPTER XVII.

'ON THE THIRD DAY HE ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD; HE ASCENDED INTO

HEAVEN.'

(St. Matt. xxviii. 1-10; St. Mark xvi, 1-11; St. Luke xxiv. 1-12; St. John xx. 1-18;

St. Matt. xxviii. 11-15 ; St. Mark xvi, 12, 13; St. Luke xxiv. 13-35 ; 1 Cor. xv. 5;
St. Mark xvi. 14 ; St. Luke xxiv. 36-43 ; St. John xx. 19-25; St. John xx. 26-29;
St. Matt. xxviii. 16 ; St. John xxi. 1-24 ; St. Matt. xxviii. 17-20; St. Mark xvi.
15-18; 1 Cor. xv. 6; St. Luke xxiv. 44-53; St. Mark xvi. 19, 20; Acts i. 3-12.)

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GREY dawn was streaking the sky, when they who had so lovingly watched Him to His Burying were making their lonely way to the rock-hewn Tomb in the Garden. Considerable as are the difficulties of exactly harmonising the details in the various narrativesif, indeed, importance attaches to such attempts—we are thankful to know that any hesitation only attaches to the arrangement of minute particulars,2 and not to the great facts of the case. And even these minute details would, as we shall have occasion to show, be harmonious, if only we knew all the circumstances.

The difference, if such it may be called, in the names of the women, who at early morn went to the Tomb, scarcely requires elaborate discussion. It may have been, that there were two parties, starting from different places to meet at the Tomb, and that this also accounts for the slight difference in the details of what they saw and heard at the Grave. At any rate, the mention of the two Marys and Joanna is supplemented in St. Luke å by that of the other women with them,' while, if St. John speaks only of Mary Magdalene, her report to Peter and John : 'We know not where they have laid Him, implies, that she had not gone alone to the Tomb. It was the first day of the week 3_according to Jewish reckoning the third day from

It must remain uncertain, however elaborate and learned attempt at conciliimportant, whether the dyè raBBátwv ation is that by Mr. McClellan (New Test.. refers to Saturday evening or early Harmony of the Four Gospels, pp. 50 Sunday morning.

538), although his ultimate scheme of 2 The reader who is desirous of com- arrangement seems to me too composite. paring the different views about these 3 μία σαββάτων, an expression which seeming or real small discrepancies is exactly answers to the Rabbinic 778 referred to the various Commentaries.

.
On the strictly orthodox side the most

# St. Luke
xxiv. 10
b St. John
XX, 1

בשבת

THE WOMEN AT THE SEPULCHRE.

629

XVII

Semach. viii

b Gen. xxii.

of page

d Ber. R. 91

e Moed K. 28 b; Bur.

His Death. The narrative leaves the impression that the Sabbath's CHAP. rest had delayed their visit to the Tomb; but it is at least a curious coincidence that the relatives and friends of the deceased were in the habit of going to the grave up to the third day (when presumably corruption was supposed to begin), so as to make sure that those laid there were really dead. Commenting on this, that Abra- . Mass. ham descried Mount Moriah on the third day, the Rabbis insist on p. 29 d. the importance of the third day' in various events connected with 4 Israel, and specially speak of it in connection with the resurrection of the dead, referring in proof to Hos. vi. 2.c In another place, Ber. R. 56, appealing to the same prophetic saying, they infer from Gen. xlii. p. 102 6, top 17, that God never leaves the just more than three days in anguish.d In mourning also the third day formed a sort of period, because it was thought that the soul hovered round the body till the third day, when it finally parted from its earthly tabernacle.e

Although these things are here mentioned, we need scarcely say R. 100 that no such thoughts were present with the holy mourners who, in the grey of that Sunday-morning, went to the Tomb. Whether or not there were two groups of women who started from different places to meet at the Tomb, the most prominent figure among them was Mary Magdalene 3—as prominent among the pious women as Peter was among the Apostles. She seems to have first reached the Grave, and, seeing the great stone that had covered its entrance rolled away, hastily judged that the Body of the Lord had been removed. Without waiting for further inquiry, she ran back to inform Peter and John of the fact. The Evangelist explains, that there had been a great earthquake, and that the Angel of the Lord, to human sight as lightning and in brilliant white garment, had rolled back the stone, and sat upon it, when the guard, affrighted by what they heard and saw, and especially by the look and attitude of heavenly power in the Angel, had been seized with mortal faintness. Remembering the events connected with the Crucifixion, which had no doubt been talked about among the soldiery, and bearing in mind the impression of such a sight on such minds, we could readily understand the effect on the two sentries who that long night had kept guard over the Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

This must be held as evidence, that St. * I cannot believe that St. Matthew Matthew could not have meant that the xxviii.1 refers to a visit of the two Marys two Marys had visited the grave on the on the Saturday evening, nor St. Mark previous evening (xxviii. 1). In such xvi. 1 to a purchasing at that time of case they must have seen the guard. spices.

Nor would the women in that case have * The accounts imply, that the women wondered who could roll away the stone knew nothing of the sealing of the stone for them. and of the guard set over the Tomb.

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solitary Tomb. The event itself (as regards the rolling away of the stone), we suppose to have taken place after the Resurrection of Christ, in the early dawn, while the holy women were on their way to the Tomb. The earthquake cannot have been one in the ordinary sense, but a shaking of the place, when the Lord of Life burst the gates of Hades to re-tenant His Glorified Body, and the lightninglike Angel descended from heaven to roll away the stone. To have left it there, when the Tomb was empty, would have implied what was no longer true. But there is a sublime irony in the contrast between man's elaborate precautions and the ease with which the Divine Hand can sweep them aside, and which, as throughout the history of the Christ and of His Church, recalls the prophetic declaration : He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh at them.'

While the Magdalene hastened, probably by another road, to the abode of Peter and John, the other women also had reached the Tomb, either in one party, or, it may be, in two companies. They had wondered and feared how they could accomplish their pious purposefor, who would roll away the stone for them? But, as so often, the difficulty apprehended no longer existed. Perhaps they thought that the now absent Mary Magdalene had obtained help for this. At any rate, they now entered the vestibule of the Sepulchre. Here the appearance of the Angel filled them with fear. But the heavenly Messenger bade them dismiss apprehension; he told them that Christ was not there, nor yet any longer dead, but risen, as, indeed, He had foretold in Galilee to His disciples; finally, he bade them hasten with the announcement to the disciples, and with this message, that, as Christ had directed them before, they were to meet Him in Galilee. It was not only that this connected, so to speak, the wondrous present with the familiar past, and helped them to realise that it was their very Master; nor yet that in the retirement, quiet, and security of Galilee, there would be best opportunity for fullest manifestation, as to the five hundred, and for final conversation and instruction. But the main reason, and that which explains the otherwise strange, almost exclusive, prominence given at such a moment to the direction to meet Him in Galilee, has already been indicated in a previous chapter. With the scattering of the Eleven in Gethsemane on the night of Christ's betrayal, the Apostolic College was temporarily broken up. They continued, indeed, still to meet together as individual disciples, but the bond of the Apostolate was, for the moment, dissolved. And the Apostolic circle was to be

See this Book, ch. xii.

PETER AND JOHN AT THE SEPULCHRE.

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* St. John
xxi. 2
b St. Matt.

re-formed, and the Apostolic Commission renewed and enlarged, in CHAP. Galilee ; not, indeed, by its Lake, where only seven of the Eleven XVII seem to have been present,a but on the mountain where He had directed them to meet Him. Thus was the end to be like the beginning. Where He had first called, and directed them for their xxviii, 16 work, there would He again call them, give fullest directions, and bestow new and amplest powers. His appearances in Jerusalem were intended to prepare them for all this, to assure them completely and joyously of the fact of His Resurrection—the full teaching of which would be given in Galilee. And when the women, perplexed and scarcely conscious, obeyed the command to go in and examine for themselves the now empty niche in the Tomb, they saw two Angels probably as the Magdalene afterwards saw them one at the head, the other at the feet, where the Body of Jesus had lain. They waited no longer, but hastened, without speaking to any one, to carry to the disciples the tidings of which they could not even yet grasp the full import.?

2. But whatever unclearness of detail may rest on the narratives of the Synoptists, owing to their great compression, all is distinct when we follow the steps of the Magdalene, as these are traced in the Fourth Gospel. Hastening from the Tomb, she ran to the lodging of Peter and to that of John-the repetition of the preposition to' probably marking, that the two occupied different, although perhaps closely adjoining, quarters. Her startling tidings induced them to eso nlrcady

Bengel go at once—and they went towards the sepulchre.' ‘But they began to run, the two together'-probably so soon as they were outside the town and near the Garden.' John, as the younger, outran Peter.3 Reaching the Sepulchre first, and stooping down,' he

It may, however, have been that the dalene, recorded in St. John xx. 11-17, appearance of the one Angel was to one and referred to in St. Mark xvi. 9—the company of women, that of two Angels

as the words in St. Matt. to another.

xxviii. 9 as they went to tell His dis? While I would speak very diffidently ciples ’are spurious, being probably inon the subject, it seems to me as if the tended for harmonistic purposes. But, Evangelists had compressed the whole of while suggesting this view, I would by no that morning's events into one narrative: means maintain it as one certain to my * The Women at the Sepulchre.' It is own mind, although it would simplify this compression which gives the appear- details otherwise very intricate. ance of more events than really took place, * It may be regarded as a specimen of owing to the appearance of being divided what one would almost call the wicked into scenes, and the circumstance that imputations of sinister motives to the the different writers give prominence to Evangelists, when the most advanced' different persons or else to different negative criticism describes this . legend' details in what is really one scene. Nay, as implying the contest between Jewish I am disposed—though again with great and Gentile Christianity (Peter and diffidence-to regard the appearance of John) in which the younger gains the Jesus “to the women' (St. Matt. xxviii. race! Similarly, we are informed that 9) as the same with that to Mary Mag- the penitent thief on the Cross is intended

more

SO

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It was

seeth' (BXÉTEL) the linen clothes, but, from his position, not the
napkin which lay apart by itself. If reverence and awe prevented
John from entering the Sepulchre, his impulsive companion, who
arrived immediately after him, thought of nothing else than the
immediate and full clearing up of the mystery. As he entered the
sepulchre, he steadfastly (intently) beholds' (Dewpɛl) in one place
the linen swathes that had bound the Sacred Limbs, and in another
the napkin that had been about His Head. There was no sign of
haste, but all was orderly, leaving the impression of One Who had
leisurely divested Himself of what no longer befitted Him. Soon
the other disciple' followed Peter. The effect of what he saw was,
that he now believed in his heart that the Master was risen—for till
then they had not yet derived from Holy Scripture the knowledge
that He must rise again. And this also is most instructive.
not the belief previously derived from Scripture, that the Christ was
to rise from the Dead, which led to expectancy of it, but the evidence
that He had risen which led them to the knowledge of what Scrip-
ture taught on the subject.

3. Yet whatever light had risen in the inmost sanctuary of John's heart, he spake not his thoughts to the Magdalene, whether she had reached the Sepulchre ere the two left it, or met them by the way. The two Apostles returned to their home, either feeling that nothing more could be learned at the Tomb, or to wait for further teaching and guidance. Or it might even have been partly due to a desire not to draw needless attention to the empty Tomb. But the love of the Magdalene could not rest satisfied, while doubt hung over the fate of His Sacred Body. It must be remembered that she knew only of the empty Tomb. For a time she gave way to the agony

of her sorrow; then, as she wiped away her tears, she stooped to take one more look into the Tomb, which she thought empty, when, as she “intently gazed' (Dewpel), the Tomb seemed no longer empty. At the head and feet, where the Sacred Body had lain, were seated two Angels in white. Their question, so deeply true from their knowledge that Christ had risen: “Woman, why weepest thou?' seems to have come upon the Magdalene with such overpowering suddenness, that, without being able to realise-perhaps in the semigloom—who it was that had asked it, she spake, bent only on obtaining the information she sought: “Because they have taken away to indicate the Gentiles, the impenitent intended as covert attacks by certain the Jews! But no language can be tendencies in the early Church against too strong to repudiate the imputation, others-the Petrine and Jacobine against that so many parts of the Gospels were the Johannine and Pauline directions.

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