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§ 300. Christ appears to the Women at the Tomb; to Mary; to the two Disciples on the Way to Emmaus.

During the absence of the Apostles, Christ appeared first to the two women who had gone away; and they, filled with joy, surprise, fear and reverence, fell before him and embraced his feet. But he spoke to them encouragingly: “Be not afraid.” All that he said was encouraging and cheering; and in bidding them announce his resurrection to the Apostles, he spoke of them as “brethren.”804804   Matt., xxviii., 10.

He then appeared to Mary, who had remained at the tomb oppressed with anxiety and grief. Seeing him so unexpectedly, in the morning twilight, she did not at first recognize him.. But when he called her by name, she knew at once the well-accustomed voice. With an exclamation of joy she turned and (probably) stretched out her hands towards him. But Jesus bade her not to grasp him: “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, to my God and your God.’”805805   The word ἅπτεσθαι (John, xx., 17) means not only a momentary touching, but to seize, to grasp. It can, also, be applied to the embracing of an object that one intends to retain hold of; and of the beginning of a continued occupation with any subject. This obscure saying obviously refers to the last discourses reported by John, and cannot be understood apart from them. We know he had promised the disciples that, after ascending to the Father, he would return and remain with them forever. Now he had returned; and they might deem this to be the return which he had promised, and expect him to remain with them thenceforth in the same form. He cautioned them against so misunderstanding the promise as to cleave to him in the form in which he then appeared, because he had not “ yet ascended to the Father.” After that event, when he should manifest himself as the glorified one, were they to embrace him wholly; obviously not in a natural, but in a spiritual 430sense.806806   If the passage only meant, “Delay not here with me, but go,” we might expect ὄυπω γὰρ ἀναβαίνω instead of ὄυπω γὰρ ἀνάβεβηκα. His stay in his then form was to be but transient; only after his ascension could he remain permanently, and that in another form.807807   It is clear that the passage contains no proof that Christ ascended to heaven immediately after his conversation with Mary. Even with this view (since it cannot be supposed that he would have brought from heaven a body that could be physically touched) the ἁπτεσθαι, after his reappearance from heaven, would have to be taken in a higher sense. Therefore, he did not commission Mary to announce his sensible coming, but his ascension to the Father, and his subsequent revelation to them; making no mention of the intermediate and brief manifestation that was only to prepare. the way for the higher and permanent one. The words “my brethren, my Father, my God, your God,” served to remind them of the promise in his last discourses, viz., that they, through Him, should enter into a special relation to the Father, whom He, in a sense peculiarly his own, could call “His Father” and “His God;” that they should, in communion with Him, recognize the Father also as “their Father” and “their God,” and, therefore, have full confidence that He would come to them with the Father.

Two disciples808808   Luke, xxiv., 13. (not of the number of the Apostles809809   And, therefore, Paul does not mention the occurrence.) were going in the afternoon to the village of Emmaus, about a mile from Jerusalem. They had heard that the body was not found in the grave, and of what the women had seen before Christ appeared to them; but had not yet learned that he had risen and appeared. As they walked they conversed, in sorrow, of what had occurred; of the expectations they had cherished that Jesus should be the Messiah to redeem the people of God; of the failure of their hopes, and their uncertainty as to the future. Absorbed in this conversation, they were joined by Jesus. He took part in their conversation, expounded the Scriptures relating to himself, and pointed out the errors into which they had fallen. Under the power of his words their hearts burned within them, and new anticipations dawned upon their souls. But still they did not recognize lie speaker, either because the thoughts he uttered withdrew their attention from his person; or because they could not suppose that He should first appear to them; or, finally, because of a change in his person. Not until, as they sat at meat, he pronounced the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to them, did they discern Him who had sat so often with them at table. Although the lateness of their recognition may appear strange, the time of it—just at the repetition of an accustomed habit—is entirely natural. There is not even a mystical feature about it, in itself considered; although we may perhaps trace, in the way in which he made himself known, an allusion to the promise given 431at the Last Supper, that he would always be as truly with them in their common meals as he was on that occasion.

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