<< Matthew XXVIII, John XX: Risen >>
EARLY in the morning the first day of the week the women came from the city, bringing the spices which they had prepared. There were five or more of them. As they started it was still dark; the sky was brightening as they went, and when they came to the sepulchre the sun was rising above the Mount of Olives.
They remembered the sepulchre as they had seen it on the Friday evening. They remembered the garden, and the chamber cut in the rocky hill-side, and how the door was closed by the great stone. As they went they were thinking, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door; but when they came near to the garden and could see the door the stone was rolled away and the Lord was not there.
Mary Magdalene, who was one of the women, hastened back to the city to tell Peter and John that the sepulchre was empty. She believed that the enemies of the Lord had taken Him away. Meantime the other women came to the sepulchre and they saw angels there. One with face like lightning, and with garments white as snow, had come from heaven, and while the earth shook at his presence he had rolled back the stone from the door and sat upon it. Other angels were with him. One spoke with the women and bade them not to fear, for the Lord was risen, and he showed them the place where the Lord had lain. And he sent them to tell the disciples that the Lord was risen.
In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and 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. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.—Matthew XXVIII, 1-8.
Another Gospel speaks more briefly of the first visit of the women, but tells also how John and Peter ran together to the sepulchre. They saw that the Lord was not there, and John believed that He was risen. So they went away again to their own home.
But Mary Magdalene had come again to the tomb, and she was the first to see the risen Lord.
The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did 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, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: 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, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the LORD, and that he had spoken these things unto her.—John XX. 1-18.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
“The first day of the week”, “early,” “while it was yet dark,” >> The beginning of a new state of thought and feeling for the women and the disciples
The stone which closed the sepulchre and was sealed by the priests to prevent its being moved >> Denial of the Lord and the false belief that He was dead
The Easter angel >> The messenger of the glad truth that the Lord still lived
“Rolled back the stone from the door.” >> The false belief of the Lord’s death being dispelled
The women first at the sepulchre >> Tender, grateful affections for the Lord, which open our minds to perceive His living presence
The running of John and Peter to the sepulchre >> The awakening of other powers of the mind to the reality of the Lord’s presence
John outran Peter and was also the first to perceive the meaning of the empty tomb and grave clothes and to believe that the Lord was risen >> Love is more quickly awakened
Peter’s going first into the sepulchre >> Investigation by the understanding, and its aid to the perception of a loving heart
The inquiry of the angels and of the Lord, “Woman, why weepest thou?” >> The tender sympathy of the angels and the Lord and their desire that we shall see the cause of our sorrow as a help in removing it
Whom seekest thou? >> The Lord knows our hearts more thoroughly than the angels
Mary turned herself >> The turning of the mind
Mary’s first turning to see the Lord as the gardener >> The opening of the mind to instruction.
The second turning of Mary when the Lord spoke her name >> The full sense of His living presence
THE LAW OF THE RELATION TO GOD.
THE work at Jerusalem was finished ; and in it we see illustrated the full meaning of the third section of the Sermon on the Mount, the Christian Law. They had judged Him to death, rejecting in Him the love and the truth of God and all that makes heaven. This was their own judgment. Their whole care was given to the motes of external observance, and they gave no thought to the beam of pride of holiness which shut out from their sight everything good and true from God and heaven. The holy things of the Word and of worship were given to the selfish lusts represented by dogs and swine, and were trampled in the mire of foul life, while spiritual life was destroyed. The Lord had brought to them in their temple the Presence of the Heavenly Father, and offered them the good gifts that the Father loved to give. These they might have for the asking ; with the condition that they would observe the law of heaven : ” All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” They were warned to enter heaven by this gate; but they preferred the broad way of the love of self. They were false prophets, professing to be the flock of God, but really ravening wolves children of the devil. They were an evil tree bearing evil fruits. They professed to worship the God of heaven, to teach His Word, and to make many proselytes. But it was all for their own glory. The God of heaven was not in their work.
The Lord Himself had exemplified the keeping of the Law. He had come to save, not to condemn; and had condemned evil only to save the good. His judgment was the judgment of the love of God, with self-love wholly removed. No dogs or swine in Him defiled or resented the holy truth and good of God. The gifts of the Spirit of God to Him He offered them, knowing how exceedingly good they were. The way which led to life He walked and showed. The truth of love He taught, not for Himself, but from Love itself. He was a good tree, the very Tree of Life, bearing every good fruit. The Heavenly Father was with Him, well pleased with His saving work.
His house was the house of God, built upon the eternal Rock, and nothing that they could do could shake it ; while theirs was built upon the disconnected letter of the Word, with no hold upon Him Who was the life of the Word; and now it was falling, and great was the fall of it. What He had of their nature from them fell too ; but it was only the removing of the scaffolding to disclose the glorious temple within.
The veil of mere representatives was now rent in twain from the top to the bottom, that the love and the truth of God might come forth unveiled. (AE 400.) The change that was coming over the church was represented by the quaking of the earth ; the breaking up of false dogmas, by the rending of the rocks ; the new freedom to the spirits of men in both worlds, by the opening of the graves, and the appearance of the saints to many.
The candid world has seen these changes in the past, and is seeing them in their present more wonderful form ; and it will say, “Truly this was the Son of God.” Women are watching afar off, which are affections for truth centering in Him, and must wait until He is revealed to them in the fullest sense, as the life of the Word. And the recognition of and love for the Divine in the Lord, for which Joseph stands, lays up the memory of His life in its own ideal and hope of heaven, which the Lord has taught it to hew out in the Word.1
The Marys are watching and waiting Mary Magdalene, the affection for Him as the truth which saves from evil ; and Mary the Mother, affection for the truth which reveals the goodness of God.
They wait for the Word to open; while selflove and pride in holiness would seal up the spirit of love and charity in the Word that nothing of it might appear, for their condemnation. These impress upon the Word the seal of their interpretation, to keep it closed.
THE NEW STATE OF THE CHURCH.
THE representative of a Sabbath, with the Spirit of the Lord rejected, and nought but the pride of holiness and of self-intelligence in it, has ended. Even as the Marys are coming to see, and to testify to the holiness of the truth they have seen and known, the angel of the Divine Presence opens the Word, and inaugurates a new state of the church.(AE 400.) It is to be a state of good life, in which the Lord should be with them, and be seen of them. Jesus Himself, the saving Love of God, they see, which confirms this promise.
The love of self and the love of self-intelligence, give large rewards of flattery and wealth to their minions to deny the reality of the Presence of the Lord in the Word, and make it a fiction of the credulous ; and even so does it appear to this day to the lovers of self and the world. (Author: John Worchester, 1898. Matthew’s Gospel.)
1.As burial stands for the resurrection, so the tomb stands for the place of resurrection, or heaven. Also for the regenerate state.
Pictures: James Tissot —-Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum