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, &c.—(See on Mr 16:1-4; and
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—Dear disciple! thy
dead Lord is to thee "the Lord" still.
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
And the napkin, that was about his head, not
lying with the linen clothes—not loosely, as if hastily
thrown down, and indicative of a hurried and disorderly removal.
together in a place by itself—showing
with what grand tranquillity "the Living One" had walked forth from
"the dead" (Lu 24:5).
"Doubtless the two attendant angels (Joh 20:12) did this service for the Rising One,
the one disposing of the linen clothes, the other of the napkin" [Bengel].
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.
and he saw and believed—Probably he
means, though he does not say, that he believed in his Lord's
resurrection more immediately and certainly than Peter.
9. For as yet they knew—that is,
not the scripture that he must rise again from
the dead—In other words, they believed in His resurrection at
first, not because they were prepared by Scripture to expect it; but
facts carried resistless conviction of it in the first instance
to their minds, and furnished a key to the Scripture predictions of
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
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
Because, &c.—that is, Can I choose
but weep, when "they have taken away," &c., repeating her very
words to Peter and John. On this she turned herself and saw Jesus
Himself standing beside her, but took Him for the gardener. Clad
therefore in some such style He must have been. But if any ask, as too
curious interpreters do, whence He got those habiliments, we answer
[with Olshausen and Luthardt] where the two angels got theirs. Nor did
the voice of His first words disclose Him to Mary—"Woman, why
weepest thou? whom seekest thou?" He will try her ere he
tell her. She answers not the stranger's question, but comes
straight to her point with him.
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 loveth?" (So 3:3).
tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will
take him away—Wilt thou, dear fragile woman? But it is the
language of sublime affection, that thinks itself fit for anything if
once in possession of its Object. It is enough. Like Joseph, He can no
longer restrain Himself (Ge 45:1).
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.
She turned herself, and saith to him,
Rabboni!—But that single word of transported recognition was
not enough for woman's full heart. Not knowing the change which had
passed upon Him, she hastens to express by her action what words failed
to clothe; but she is checked.
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 said.
but go to my brethren—(Compare Mt
28:10; Heb 2:11, 17). That He
had still our Humanity, and therefore "is not ashamed to call us
brethren," is indeed grandly evidenced by these words. But it is
worthy of most reverential notice, that we nowhere read of anyone
who presumed to call Him Brother. "My brethren: Blessed Jesus, who
are these? Were they not Thy followers? yea, Thy forsakers? How dost
Thou raise these titles with Thyself! At first they were Thy
servants; then disciples; a little before Thy death, they
were Thy friends; now, after Thy resurrection, they were Thy
brethren. But oh, mercy without measure! how wilt Thou, how
canst Thou call them brethren whom, in Thy last parting, Thou
foundest fugitives? Did they not run from Thee? Did not one of them
rather leave his inmost coat behind him than not be quit of Thee? And
yet Thou sayest, 'Go, tell My brethren! It is not in the power of the
sins of our infirmity to unbrother us'" [Bishop
I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to
my God and your God—words of incomparable glory! Jesus had
called God habitually His Father, and on one occasion, in His
darkest moment, His God. But both are here united, expressing
that full-orbed relationship which embraces in its vast sweep at once
Himself and His redeemed. Yet, note well, He says not, Our
Father and our God. All the deepest of the Church fathers were
wont to call attention to this, as expressly designed to distinguish
between what God is to Him and to us—His Father essentially,
ours not so: our God essentially, His not so: His God only in
connection with us: our God only in connection with Him.
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
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
and saith unto them Peace be unto
you—not the mere wish that even His own exalted peace
might be theirs (Joh 14:27),
but conveying it into their hearts, even as He "opened their
understandings to understand the scriptures" (Lu 24:45).
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 Lu 24:37-43), but as through "the
power of that resurrection" dispensing all His peace to men.
Then were the disciples glad when they saw the
21. Then said Jesus—prepared now to
listen to Him in a new character.
Peace be unto you. As my Father hath sent me, so
send I you—(See on Joh 17:18).
22. he breathed on them—a symbolical
conveyance to them of the Spirit.
and saith, Receive ye the Holy
Ghost—an earnest and first-fruits of the more copious
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 Joh 11:16).
was not with them when Jesus came—why,
we know not, though we are loath to think (with Stier, Alford and
Luthardt) it was intentional,
from sullen despondency. The fact merely is here stated, as a loving
apology for his slowness of belief.
25. We have seen the Lord—This way of
speaking of Jesus (as Joh 20:20 and Joh 21:7), so suited to His resurrection-state,
was soon to become the prevailing style.
Except I see in his hands the print of the
nails, and put my linger into the print of the nails, and thrust my
hand into his side, I will not believe—The very form of this
speech betokens the strength of the unbelief. "It is not, If I shall
see I shall believe, but, Unless I shall see I will not
believe; nor does he expect to see, although the others tell him
they had" [Bengel]. How Christ Himself
viewed this state of mind, we know from Mr 16:14, "He upbraided them with their unbelief
and hardness of heart because they believed not them which had seen Him
after He was risen." But whence sprang this pertinacity of resistance
in such minds? Not certainly from reluctance to believe, but as
in Nathanael (see on Joh 1:46) from mere dread
of mistake in so vital a matter.
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 Lord's Day (Re 1:10).
disciples were within, and Thomas with them
… Jesus … stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto
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
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
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 that.'
blessed they that have not seen, and yet have
believed—"Wonderful indeed and rich in blessing for us who
have not seen Him, is this closing word of the Gospel" [Alford].
Joh 20:30, 31. First Close of
The connection of these verses with the last words of
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.
31. But these are written—as sufficient
the Christ, the Son of God—the one His
official, the other His personal, title.
believing … may have life—(See
on Joh 6:51-54).