and prepared spices and ointments; for the anointing, and embalming the body of Christ, called by the Jews the spices of the dead; see the note on Mark 16:1
and rested the sabbath day, according to the commandment, in Exodus 20:8 not knowing as yet the abolition of it, with the rest of the ceremonial law; and therefore, though they had bought and prepared the spices and ointments, they did not carry them to the sepulchre to anoint the body with them, till the sabbath was over; for this was forbidden to be done on a sabbath day. It is asked (f),
"what is that thing that is lawful to be done to a living man, and is forbidden a dead man? It is said, , "this is anointing".''
Though elsewhere (g) this
"is allowed of; for so runs one of their traditions; they do all things necessary for the dead, (i.e. on a sabbath day,) "they anoint", and wash him, only they may not move a limb of him.''
But how he could be anointed, and washed, without a limb being moved, is not very easy to say, as his foot, or hand, or eye brows, which are the parts one of their commentators instances in (h).
(f) T. Hieros. Sahbat. fol. 12. 2.((g) Misn. Sabbat. c. 23, sect. 5. (h) Bartenora in ib.
very early in the morning; just as light began to spring, the day to dawn, and break; the first appearance of the morning; when it first began to dawn;
when it was yet dark, as in John 20:1 and so read the Syriac and Persic versions here; and the Ethiopic version, "while it was yet night": this must be understood of the time when the women set out from the city, or suburbs; for by that time they got to the sepulchre it was at sunrise, Mark 16:2 and shows their great love, zeal, and devotion for Christ, and great courage and fearlessness to go out of the city at such a time, without any man with them, and to a grave:
they came unto the sepulchre, where Christ was laid; that is, the women who came with Christ from Galilee, and who had observed where, and how his body was interred:
bringing the spices which they had prepared; on the sabbath eve, to anoint the body, but were prevented by reason of the sabbath; see Luke 23:56
and certain others with them; that is, other women; besides Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Joses, and Salome, and other Galilean women, there were other Jerusalem women, or of Bethany, it may be, Mary, and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, and of the parts adjacent: this clause is left out in the Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions, and in one ancient copy of Beza's; but is retained in the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions.
and found not the body of the Lord Jesus; as they expected, having seen him put there, and had observed in what cave in the sepulchre, and in what form he was laid.
behold, two men stood by them in shining garments; who were angels in the form of men; and as these were the first witnesses of Christs resurrection, there were two of them; for by the mouth of two or three witnesses every thing is established. Matthew and Mark take notice but of one; but John makes mention of two, as here, seen by Mary Magdalene, though in a different posture; they were sitting, the one at the head, the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain; but when the rest of the women came, they were risen up, and stood close by them, on a sudden, at an unawares, being arrayed in white raiment, as white as snow, as a token of their purity and innocence, and as bringers of good tidings; and as joining in the triumph of their Lord's resurrection: their garments were bright and glittering like lightning, to set forth the glory and majesty of these celestial spirits, and that they might be known to be what they were.
and bowed down their faces to the earth, through great fear and reverence of these heavenly spirits, and as not being able to bear the lustre of their countenances and garments:
they said unto them, that is, the angels:
why seek ye the living among the dead? intimating, that Christ, though he had been dead, was now living, and not to be sought for in a sepulchre; a way of speaking, much like this, is used in a parable of R. Levi's, concerning Pharaoh's not finding the name of God among the gods of the nations, upon searching for it. Moses and Aaron said to Pharaoh,
"thou fool, is it usual for the dead to "seek" them among the living? , "or ever the living among the dead?" our God is living, these thou speakest of are dead (i).''
Nor is Christ to be found among dead sinners, or lifeless professors, but among living saints, and among the churches of the living God; nor is life to be found among the dead works of the law, or to be obtained by lifeless performances on the dead letter of the law.
(i) Shemot Rabba, sect. 5. fol. 95. 3.
remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee; for these women that followed him from Galilee were along with the disciples when he said the following words to them; and which are recorded in Matthew 17:22.
and be crucified: which was a Roman death, and a very shameful, and painful one:
and the third day rise again; it is for the sake of this chiefly that the angels put the women in mind of this whole paragraph, which so fully confirms their testimony of his resurrection; and which the women might be assured of, upon calling to mind these words, which they themselves had heard from Christ's mouth; and it being now the third day since the death of Christ. The words declare, that all these things must be; that there was a necessity of them; partly on account of the decrees of God, by which it was determined they should be; and partly on account of the covenant engagements of Christ, in which he agreed unto them; and also, by reason of the prophecies of the Old Testament, which gave out, that thus it must be; yea, our Lord's own predictions made them necessary; and the law and justice of God required them; or otherwise, the salvation of God's people could not have been obtained.
and told all these things; as that the stone was rolled away from the sepulchre: and that they found not the body of Jesus in it; that they had seen a vision of angels, who had told them, that Christ was risen, and had put them in mind of some words of his spoken to the disciples in their hearing in Galilee:
unto the eleven, and to all the rest; of the disciples: not only to the eleven apostles, but the seventy disciples, and as many others as were assembled together, perhaps the hundred and twenty, Acts 1:15. The Persic version very wrongly reads, "to all the twelve"; for Judas was not now one of them, nor alive; and Matthias was not yet chosen.
and Joanna; the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, one that had been a follower of Christ, and had ministered to him of her substance; see Luke 8:2
and Mary the mother of James; called the less; and also of Joses, and Simon, and Judas, the brethren, or kinsmen of Christ; this Mary, being the wife of Cleophas, or Alphaeus, said (k) to be the brother of Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of our Lord:
and other women that were with them; as Salome, the mother of Zebedee's children, and others, that came from Galilee; Mark 15:40.
which told these things unto the apostles; before observed.
(k) Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 11. 32. & 4. 22.
and they believed them not: for they had no thought, nor expectation of Christ's rising from the dead; they did not know that he was to rise again, according to the Scriptures; nor did they understand him when he told them of his rising again; and had no faith in it, nor hope concerning it, and could give no credit to it, when it was told them; and the Arabic version reads, "they did not believe it"; the word or report which the women delivered to them.
and ran unto the sepulchre; not alone, but with John, being in haste to be satisfied, how things were:
and stooping down; See Gill on Mark 16:5. See Gill on John 20:5.
he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves; in which the body of Jesus was wrapped; these lay by themselves, without the body, in one place; and the napkin about his head was wrapped together, and lay in another place by itself: so that it was a plain case, the body was not stolen, nor taken away; for neither friends, nor foes, would have taken the pains, or have lost so much time, as to have stripped the body, but would rather have carried off the clothes along with it. The Alexandrian copy leaves out the word alone, or by themselves:
and departed; from the sepulchre to Jerusalem, to John's house there:
wondering in himself at that which was come to pass; that the body should not be there, and yet the clothes should remain; he could not tell what to make of it. As for a resurrection, he had no notion of that, and yet could not account for the removal of the body, either by friends or foes, and the clothes left behind.
to a village called Emmaus; whither they might go either to see their friends, or upon some secular affair, or to be retired from the noise of the city, and be secure from danger by their enemies; or it may be this was the place of Cleophas's abode, who, with the other disciple, was returning home after the celebration of the passover. The place whither they went is particularly mentioned, not because it was a place of note, but for the certainty of the fact. It was now but a village, having been burnt since the death of Herod the great, by the order of Varus, the Roman governors (l); though it afterwards became a considerable city, if it is the same with Nicopolis, as Jerom asserts (m); though that rather seems to be the Ammaus, or Chammath of Tiberias, since it was situated by the lake of Genesareth. However, it is certain, that Emmaus is reckoned, by Josephus (n), one of their chief cities; and Jarchi, and Bartenora (o) say, it is the name of a city; and Pliny (p) calls it a toparchy, and says it was watered with fountains; which agrees with the account the Jews give of it (q).
"R. Jochanan ben Zaccai had five disciples; all the time that he stood, or lived, they sat before him; when he departed, they went to Jabneh; and R. Eleazar ben Arach went to his wife, "at Emmaus", a place of pleasant waters, and a beautiful habitation.''
It is mentioned, in company with Bethoron, and Lud, or Lydda: it is said (r),
"from Bethoron, to "Emmaus", is the mountain; and from "Emmaus" to Lydda, the plain; and from Lydda to the sea, the valley.''
Bethoron is mentioned as near Nicopolis, by Jerom; and perhaps is the same with Betholone in Pliny: in Emmaus was a market: at least there was a butcher's market in it; hence we read of, , "the shambles of Emmaus" (s); mention is made of a place so called, as in:
"So they went forth with all their power, and came and pitched by Emmaus in the plain country.'' (1 Maccabees 3:40)
"So the camp removed, and pitched upon the south side of Emmaus.'' (1 Maccabees 3:57)
"Now when Judas heard thereof he himself removed, and the valiant men with him, that he might smite the king's army which was at Emmaus,'' (1 Maccabees 4:3)
Another Emmaus is here meant:
which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs; or seven miles and a half; for eight furlongs make a mile. Josephus (t) says the same, and confirms the account of the distance of this place from Jerusalem.
(l) Joseph. Antiqu. l. 17. c. 12. (m) Epitaph. Paul. fol. 59. B. Catalog. Script. Eccl. fol. 98. B. Tom. I. & in Daniel 8.14. Tom. V. (n) Antiqu. I. 14. c. 18. (o) In Misn. Ceritot, c. 3. sect. 7. (p) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 14. (q) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 74. 4. (r) T. Hieros. Sheviith, c. 9. fol. 38. 4. (s) Misn. Ceritot, c. 3. sect. 7. T. Bah, Cholin, fol. 91. 2. & Maccot, fol. 14. 1.((t) De Bello Jud. l. 7. c. 27.
of all these things which had happened; concerning their dear Lord and master, Jesus Christ; how that he had been betrayed by Judas, one of his disciples; had been led bound, first to Annas, and then Caiaphas, the high priest, in whose palace he had been condemned to death; how that he was delivered by the chief priests and elders, to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of whom they requested, that he might be crucified: they very likely discoursed also, about the ignominious treatment he met with, both in the high priest's palace and: in Pilate's hall; and how at last he was crucified between two thieves, and was dead and buried; and particularly, they might be talking together of what they had heard that morning from the women, that had been at the sepulchre of Christ, and reported that he was risen.
and reasoned; with one another; about the truth and credibility of the late report:
Jesus himself drew near: the Persic version adds, "suddenly"; he came up at once to them, as if he had been a traveller on the road, and overtook them:
and went with them; joined himself in company to them, and travelled with them.
that they should not know him; that so they might not be surprised at once, as they would have been, had they looked at him, and discerned who he was; and that they might converse the more freely with him; and that he might convince them of their stupidity and unbelief, by proper arguments.
what manner of communications are these, that ye have one to another, as ye walk? what is the subject of your discourse; what is it your conversation one with another turns upon in your journey?
and are sad? what melancholy story are you telling to one another, which causes such sadness of countenance, and dejection of mind? for Christ by their countenances and gestures, as the shaking of their heads, and lifting up and wringing of their hands, could easily discern as man, as well as know as God, that they were full of sorrow and heaviness, and which were occasioned and increased by what they were talking of.
answering, said unto him, art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? The Persic version reads, "in these two days": the sense that whereas he appeared to come from Jerusalem, that if he was only a stranger and a sojourner, and not a stated inhabitant there, he could not be ignorant of what had been done there a few days past; or if he was, that he must be the only stranger, and the only man, that was so; for the facts referred to were so notorious, that every one must know them, inhabitant or stranger.
and they said unto him; both of them, or rather Cleophas, for himself and his companion:
concerning Jesus of Nazareth; that is, what had happened to him, who was commonly known by this name, and was called so by way of contempt: but
which was a prophet; not only a foreteller of things to come, as he foretold his sufferings, death, and resurrection, the troubles that should befall his disciples, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the end of the world; but he was a preacher of the Gospel, an eminent one, a famous and extraordinary one, that prophet which Moses spake of should come; and who was mighty in deed and word: he was anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power, which he showed by the miracles he wrought; such as healing the sick, cleansing lepers, casting out devils, restoring sight to the blind, causing the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, the lame to walk, and raising the dead to life; and in the doctrines he taught, which were with authority, and such as never man spake:
before God and all the people; he was sent and anointed by God as a prophet, and approved by him; who bore a testimony to him by a voice from heaven, declaring him to be his beloved Son; and the works he wrought, were done publicly before men, who glorified God on that account; and the doctrines he taught, were not taught in secret, but in the synagogues and in the temple, in the audience of all the people, and to their surprise and admiration.
delivered him; to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor:
to be condemned to death; the death of the cross, by the said governor, having first seized him and examined him before their sanhedrim, and pronounced him guilty of death:
and have crucified him; for though Pilate passed the sentence, and the Roman soldiers executed it, yet these men are said to do it, because it was at their request, and through their instigation, that it was done; hence Peter charges the Jewish sanhedrim with it, Acts 4:10.
that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel; they thought, hoped, and believed, that he was the Messiah, spoken of under the character of the Redeemer of Israel; and they had been in expectation of redemption by him, though only of a temporal kind, from the Roman yoke and bondage; but now they could not tell what to think of it, since he was dead; indeed they were not altogether without hope, since there was a report of his being raised from the dead; but what credit was to be given to that, they could not say: but certain it is, that he was the true Messiah, and promised Redeemer; and who was to redeem, and has redeemed the whole Israel of God; even all the elect of God, whether among Jews or Gentiles, from the servitude and damning power of sin, from the slavery of Satan, and the bondage of the law, and from every enemy; and that by his precious blood, his sufferings and death, the very things which were the occasion of these disciples' doubts about him, as the Redeemer: so the Jews say (u),
"that upon the death of the Messiah, the son of Joseph, all Israel shall flee to the deserts, and such as are of a doubtful heart shall turn to the nations of the world and say, "is this the redemption we have waited for", for the Messiah is slain?''
And besides all this, today is the third day, since these things were done; which is either mentioned, as an aggravation of the ignorance of the stranger, that these things should be done so lately, as within three days, and yet he should be ignorant of them, or not remember them, and need to be informed about them; or as a further reason of their doubting, that it was now the third day since the death of Jesus, and there was nothing certain of his resurrection, only the report of the women, which they could not depend upon; or else as a reason of their trusting, that he was the person that should redeem Israel; since this was the third day from his crucifixion; the day on which he said he should rise from the dead, and of which there was a report spread, not to be disproved, that he was that day actually risen: this day is greatly observed by the Jews (w): they take notice that the Scriptures speak of several remarkable third days; and besides Genesis 22:4 is cited a passage which refers to the resurrection of Christ on the third day; and they speak
"of the third day of the tribes, Genesis 42:18 of the third day of the spies, Joshua 2:16 of the third day of the giving of the law, Exodus 19:16 of the third day of Jonas, Jonah 1:17 (which was a type of the resurrection of the Messiah, Matthew 12:40) of the third day of those that came up out of the captivity, Ezra 8:15 of the third day of the resurrection of the dead, Hosea 6:2 and of the third day of Esther, Esther 5:1.''
(u) Abkath Rocel, l. 1. par. 1. sign. 7. p. 53. (w) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 56. fol. 49. 3.
made us astonished; surprised us, with an account they brought, so that we could not, nor can we now tell, what to think or say of it; it is such an one, we know not how to believe, nor to disprove; it is we fear too good to be true, and should it be as they report, it is amazing indeed:
which were early at the sepulchre; of the person now mentioned, Jesus of Nazareth; even this very morning, by break of day, at least at sunrise, whither they went to anoint his body, thinking nothing at all about the resurrection of him.
they came; they returned from the sepulchre with great haste, and in a very great fright, and came to the disciples, where they were assembled;
saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels. The Syriac and Persic versions add, "there"; at the sepulchre, for there were two of them at least, if not three; see Luke 24:4. They not only reported, that they could not find the body of Jesus, but also that they had seen some angels: or the sense may be, that they told them, that though they could not find the dead body of their Lord, yet they had seen him alive, as they did by the way, as they were returning, Matthew 28:9 and also that a vision of angels had appeared to them:
which said that he was alive; see Luke 24:5. So that it was not a deception of their sight, they certainly saw both Christ and the angels; and were assured from their testimony, as well as by their own eyes and ears, that he was certainly risen: now, though this was so clear a point, and so well attested, the disciples knew not how to believe it; they were perplexed about it; they could neither receive it, nor discredit it; they hoped it might be so, but feared it was not.
went to the sepulchre; of Jesus, to satisfy themselves and their companions, as much as they could, about these things:
and found it even so as the women had said; that is, that the body of Jesus was not there, and that the linen clothes were laid by themselves:
but him they saw not; the Ethiopic version reads, "and him they found not": the women, as before observed, might report, that though they found not the body in the grave, yet they saw him alive by the way, but so did not the disciples; which made it look very strange, doubtful, and suspicious, that the women should see him, and not his apostles; they could not tell how to account for this, and this made them to be in suspense about the fact.
O fools; not in a natural sense, as if they were destitute of the common understanding of men; nor in a moral sense, as wicked men, and as they themselves had been in their unregenerate estate; nor in a way of anger and contempt, and with a design to provoke; wherefore Christ did not act contrary to his own rule, in Matthew 5:22 but because they were so void of understanding in the Scriptures, and were so very ignorant of them, and were so blind as to the knowledge of them; particularly those which concerned the sufferings and resurrection of the Messiah, being influenced by the popular prejudices of education: he therefore expresses himself with much warmth, concern, and surprise, that he should have been so long with them, and they so long under his doctrine and ministry; besides the advantages of having the Scriptures, and being conversant with them from their youth; and which they daily read, and had heard expounded, and yet were so very senseless and stupid:
and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken; that is, upon these points, concerning the sufferings of Christ, and his resurrection from the dead; and indeed, they were very slow of heart to believe, not only what the women reported from the angels, but even those of their brethren, who had seen him after he was risen; for which Christ upbraids them, Mark 16:14. Yea, one of them declared after all, that he would not believe, unless he saw the print of the nails in his hands and feet, and put his hand into it, and thrust it into his side; wherefore Christ had good reason to treat them in this sharp manner, and charge them with folly and incredulity; the Jews ought not to object to the word "fools", as unbecoming Christ, since they frequently represent God as making use of it; as for instance, it is said, (x).
"the holy blessed God said to them, "O ye fools" that are in the world, whatsoever ye do, ye do for your own necessities. ---And a little after, "O ye fools" that are in the world, he that labours on the evening of the sabbath, shall eat on the sabbath day.''
(x) T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 2. 2. & 3. 1.
and to enter into his glory; which began at his resurrection from the dead, and is seen in his exaltation and session at the right hand of God; upon his ascension he was received up to glory, entered into it, took possession of it, and is crowned with it; and which will still be more manifest, when he shall come to judge the world in righteousness; when his saints also shall appear in glory with him, and shall be everlasting spectators of his glory; and indeed, his entrance into glory is not merely for himself, but in the name and behalf of them. The Vulgate Latin version reads, "and so, or thus to enter into his glory"; that is, by the way of sufferings, which is the way through which his saints enter the kingdom, Acts 14:22. And by a view of the glory that was to follow them, and which he and his people were to enjoy together, was he animated to endure them cheerfully and patiently; and this he is entered into, possesses and enjoys, as the consequence and reward of his sufferings.
and all the prophets; as David, Isaiah, Daniel, and others, very likely the passages in Psalm 22:1.
he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures in Moses, and the Prophets,
concerning himself; especially concerning these two points, his sufferings, and his glory, which the Spirit of Christ, in the Prophets, testified before hand: besides the above places referred to, concerning the sufferings of Christ, see the following, in reference to his resurrection and glory, Psalm 16:10.
whither they went: where they intended to go, when they set out; this was the end of their journey; wherefore this village was not some intermediate place between Jerusalem and Emmaus:
and he made as though he would have gone further; when they were come to Emmaus, and to the house where the two disciples intended to make their abode that night: whether it was a public house, or an house of one of their friends, or one of their own, it matters not; Christ stopped not, nor attempted to go in with them, but stepped a few steps onward, taking his leave of them. The Ethiopic version renders it, "he began to pass by them": which carried in it an appearance as if he intended to have travelled further; and in it there was no fraud, dissimulation, or collusion: he would have gone some little way further, doubtless, had they not detained him; and he intended to stay with them, provided they should ask him, as he did, though not all night, which he never designed: the whole of it is nothing else but a piece of modesty, civility, and prudence; for guile was never found in his mouth.
saying, abide with us; his conversation was so engaging, and his discourses were so heavenly and instructive, so sweet and delightful, so powerful and moving, that they could not bear to part with him, but were exceeding desirous of his continuance with them, even though he was a stranger to them. And as they had in view their own pleasure and profit, so they urge the necessity and advantage of his stay, with respect to himself:
for it is towards evening, and the day is far spent; it might be four or five o'clock in the afternoon:
and he went in to tarry with them; for a while, not all night. So earnest, importunate, and resolute was the church, when she had found Christ, that he would abide with her, Sol 3:4.
he took bread and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them; as if he was the master of the house, when he was both a guest, and a stranger, and as he used to do at common meals, when he ate with his disciples; and thus he did, when he fed five thousand at one time, and four at another, Matthew 14:19 see the notes there. See Gill on Matthew 14:19. See Gill on Matthew 15:26. Whether only Christ, and the two disciples, sat down together, or whether others that belonged to the house sat down with them, is not certain: if they were only three, they were a proper company to bless the bread together; that is, one in the name of the rest, they joining with him: if there were but two, they blessed, or said grace for themselves separately; but if three, the rules were these, according to the Jews (y):
"three that eat together, they are obliged to call a blessing (or for one) --and how do they call a blessing among three? one says, let us bless: if there are three besides himself, he says, bless ye. --Three that eat together have no power to divide;''
that is, to make a separate blessing, but are obliged to it conjunctly: thus here, being three at least, Christ blessed bread for them all.
(y) Misn. Betasot, c. 7. sect. 4, 3, 4.
and they knew him; to be their dear Lord and master, for whose death they had been sorrowing, and of redemption by him, and of whose resurrection they had been doubting:
and vanished out of their sight; not that he vanished as a spectre, or as smoke vanishes into air; but agility being a property of his risen body, he very suddenly, and swiftly, and in a moment, withdrew himself from them; for if he could withdraw himself from company in a very speedy manner before his resurrection, much more after; see Luke 4:30. The Syriac version renders it, "he was taken away from them"; as if some of the ministering angels were made use of to remove him at once; but this seems not necessary: the Arabic version renders it, "he was hidden from them"; that same power of his that held their eyes all the while they were travelling together, interposed some object between him and them, so that he could not be seen by them that very instant, even before he was gone out of the house.
did not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures? concerning himself, his sufferings, death, and resurrection, which are in Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. The Scriptures are as a sealed book to men, learned and unlearned; and none so fit to open them as the lion of the tribe of Judah: he did open and explain them to these his disciples, as well as conversed with them about other things, as they travelled together; and his words came with such evidence, power, and sweetness, that they were ravished with them; their minds were irradiated with beams and rays of divine light; their hearts were warmed and glowed within them; they became fervent in spirit, and their affections were raised and fired; they found the word to be as burning fire within them; and they now knew somewhat what it was to be baptized with fire, which is Christ's peculiar office to administer; see Psalm 39:3 they seem as it were not only to reflect on these things with wonder and pleasure, but also to charge themselves with want of thought, with inattention and stupidity; since they might have concluded from the uncommon evidence, force, and energy with which his words came to them, who he was, seeing no man could speak as he did, and with such effect as his words had.
and returned to Jerusalem; the same night, from whence they had come that day:
and found the eleven gathered together; at a certain house known to these two, and who met together in the night season, for the sake of privacy, and for fear of the Jews, and who were now up, though it was late: these are called "eleven", because Judas was now gone from them, and dead; and this being their whole number, it is used, though every one might not be present, as particularly Thomas was not; see John 20:19
and them that were with them; the seventy disciples, and other believers, both men and women; see Acts 1:15.
the Lord is risen indeed; it is certainly matter of fact: for though the women were not credited, but their accounts were as idle tales, and, at most, only occasioned some thoughts and reflections, which they could not settle; yet now they were satisfied of the reality of his resurrection, and speak of it with the greatest assurance and joy:
and hath appeared unto Simon; he appeared to him first, before he did to any of the rest, though he had denied him in so shameful a manner: which is an instance of great grace and goodness: and he appeared to him, on purpose, no doubt, to comfort him under his distress; as well as being the oldest, disciple, and a man of figure and credit among them, his report would be believed. None of the writers of the New Testament take notice of this appearance besides, only the Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:5. It is certain that it was the same day Christ rose from the dead; and was after the women had seen him, and after Peter had, been at the sepulchre; and before the return of the two disciples from Emmaus, and before he showed himself to the rest of the apostles.
and how he was known of them in breaking bread; that so it was, that whilst he was breaking bread, and giving it to them, and they were eating together, their eyes were opened, and they saw plainly who he was: now, though this was a common meal, and not the ordinance of the Lord's supper, yet since Christ made himself known to his disciples at an ordinary meal, may not his followers expect that he will make himself known to them, and grant them communion with him at his table? and which should be no small argument to engage believers to a constant attendance on it.
Jesus himself stood in the midst of them; the apostles; who were assembled together in a certain house, the doors being shut for fear of the Jews; and it was on the evening of the same day Christ rose from the dead, and late at night; see John 20:19 and without hearing the doors opened, or the sound of the feet of Jesus, and without seeing him come in, and approach unto them, he, in a moment, at once, stood in the middle of them, as if he had immediately rose up out of the earth before them; and so the Persic version renders it, "Jesus rose up out the midst of them": by his power he opened the and secretly let himself in, and shut them again at once; and by the agility of his body moved so swiftly, that he was not discerned until he was among them, where he stood to be seen, and known by them; whereby he made that good in a corporeal sense, which he had promised in a spiritual sense, Matthew 18:20 and was an emblem of his presence in his churches, and with his ministers, to the end of the world.
And saith unto them, peace be unto you; which was an usual form of salutation among the Jews; See Gill on John 20:19. The Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions add, "I am he, fear not"; but this clause is not in the Greek copies.
and supposed that they had seen a spirit; that what they saw was a phantom, or apparition, or a spirit, that had assumed, and appeared in, the shape of Jesus, and was not he himself.
and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? whether what they saw was Jesus, or an apparition, which gave them a great deal of trouble and uneasiness, and filled them with fright and terror; as it was, and is usual with persons when they fancy they see a spirit, or an apparition; see Matthew 14:26.
Handle me and see; or know by feeling, as well as by sight; so that if the one was not sufficient, the other might confirm; sight might be deceived, but feeling could not: Apollonius Tyaneus, to them that did not know whether he was alive or dead, and who took him for a spirit, proposed himself to be touched, and handled, that they might be convinced (z):
for a spirit hath not flesh and bones; nothing but appearance, or air at most; no solid substance to be felt and handled:
as ye see me have; or may perceive, both by sight and feeling.
(z) Philostratus de Vita Apollon. l. 8, c. 5.
he showed them his hands and his feet; that is, he held them forth to be seen and handled by them, which no doubt they did; and which were the infallible proofs by which he showed himself alive to them after his passion; and by which they knew the truth of his incarnation, or that he assumed a true and real body, and of the resurrection of the same body; see Acts 1:3.
and wondered; at the sight of their risen Lord, and at the power of God, which was seen herein: the thing was marvellous in their eyes, and was a wonderful confirmation of the truth of his deity, sonship, and Messiahship.
He said unto them, have ye any meat? not that he needed any, or was hungry and desirous of some to satisfy, or gratify his appetite, but to give them a further proof that he was not a spirit; and that he was risen from the dead in a true and real body, which was capable of eating and drinking.
and of an honeycomb; not to eat with the fish, but after it.
while I was yet with you; that is, whilst he was in his state of humiliation, whilst he dwelt among them, and had his abode with them; otherwise he was now with them, but not to continue with them; in a short time he was to ascend to his God, and their God, to his Father, and their Father:
that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me: concerning his sufferings, and death, and resurrection from the dead, spoken of in Genesis 3:15 Psalm 16:10 and in this he refers to what he had said to his disciples in Matthew 16:21 and alludes to the usual distinction among the Jews of the books of the Old Testament into the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa; among which last stands the book of Psalms, and is put for the whole; a division often to be met with in both their Talmuds (a), and other writings (b).
(a) T. Hieros. Shekalim, fol. 47. 3. T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 15. 1. & 18. 2. & 21. 1. Roshhashana, fol. 32. 1. Taanith, fol. 8. 1. & 16. 1. & 20. 1. & 30. 1. Megilla, fol. 21. 2. & 24. 1. Bava Bathra, fol. 8. 1. & 13. 2. & Sanhedrin, fol. 106. 1.((b) Zohar in Lev. fol. 39. 2.
that they might understand the Scriptures; concerning his sufferings, death, and resurrection, which they were very ignorant of before, and which were as a sealed book unto them, John 20:9 though they had been from their infancy brought up to the reading of the Scriptures, and had had the advantage of Christ's ministry for some years; which shows the necessity of the special illumination of the Spirit, and the influence of his grace to remove the darkness of the mind, and give the true sense of the sacred writings.
and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; it was necessary, both because of the decree and appointment of God, and because of the prophecies and predictions of the Old Testament; see Luke 24:25.
should be preached in his name; in the name of the Messiah; by his authority, and as coming through him; since the remission of sin is by his blood; and he is exalted as a prince, and a Saviour, to give both repentance and forgiveness of sins to all the Israel of God, whether Jews or Gentiles; and therefore it is fitting and proper that these should be preached,
among all nations; of the world, where God's elect are; that so they may be brought hereby to repentance, and receive the forgiveness of their sins:
beginning at Jerusalem; from whence, according to the Old Testament, the word and doctrine of the Lord were to go forth, Psalm 110:2 and is particularly mentioned, because the Gospel was to be first preached to the Jews, and be the power of God unto salvation to them; and because that in Jerusalem lived those who had been concerned in crucifying Christ, to whom repentance and forgiveness must be preached; and which would be a great encouragement to the vilest of sinners, to hope for mercy and forgiveness, since such received both.
(c) T. Bab. Ceritot, fol. 7. 1.
But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem; for the space of ten days; here they were to continue during that time, and not depart thence; yea, they were to sit there, as the word used signifies: they were to sit still, and be silent; they were not to begin to preach; they were only to attend to prayer and Christian conversation, and to wait for the Spirit, the promise of the Father; and who also is designed in the following clause:
until ye be endued with power from on high; the Spirit of God is a spirit of might, and of power, as well as of knowledge, of understanding, of counsel, of love, and of a sound mind; whereby they were to be fortified, and inspired with courage and greatness of soul, so as to look their greatest adversaries in the face with boldness and intrepidity, and freely, and without fear, speak unto them; and whereby their ministrations would be succeeded to the conversion of many souls; and accordingly so it was: for after the Spirit was poured out upon them, they who before were timorous and fearful, came forth publicly, with undaunted courage, and resolution, and boldness, to the amazement of their adversaries; and their preaching was with the demonstration of the Spirit, and of power; who may be said to be "from on high", since he descended from heaven upon them; and they may be said to be "endued", or "clothed" with him, since there was such an extra ordinary and plentiful effusion of his gifts and graces on them: and now they were to wait in Jerusalem for this, that in the place where the Spirit had been dishonoured and blasphemed, and the unpardonable sin against him had been committed by the Scribes and Pharisees, the might be in a most visible and signal manner honoured; and also, because the doctrine of the Lord was to go out of Zion, and the word of the Lord out of Jerusalem. The Vulgate Latin version leaves out the word "Jerusalem", and reads only, "sit ye in the city until", &c. but then no other city can be designed.
and he lift up his hands, and blessed them. The lifting up of his hands was not in order to put them upon his disciples; though the Ethiopic version adds, "and put them on"; nor was it used as a prayer gesture; nor was the blessing of them prayer wise, or by praying for a blessing on them; but as Aaron, his type, lift up his hands towards the people of Israel, and blessed them, when he had offered the offerings for them, Leviticus 9:22 so Christ, as the great high priest, having offered himself a sacrifice for the sins of his people, lift up his hands towards his apostles, and blessed them in an authoritative way, by bestowing blessings upon them: he blessed them with a larger measure of the Spirit; for though they were to wait some few days longer for the extraordinary effusion of the Spirit, yet, in the mean while, they received from him more of it than they had formerly had; for he breathed upon them, and said, receive the Holy Ghost, John 20:22. He blessed them with larger measures of grace, and with more spiritual light, and understanding into the Scriptures of truth, and with much inward peace of mind, and with the fresh discoveries of pardoning love; and which seemed necessary, since by their conduct towards him, one by denying him, and the rest by forsaking him, the peace of their minds was broken, and they needed a fresh application of forgiving grace. The form of blessing the people used by Aaron, and his sons, the priests, who were types of Christ, is recorded in Numbers 6:23 and though our Lord might not use the same form in blessing his disciples, yet it seems he used the same gesture, lifting up his hands, as they did. The Targumists say (d), the blessing of the priests was done by stretching, or spreading out their hands; but other Jewish writers observe, it was by lifting them up: concerning which their rule is (e);
"in the province, the priests lift up their hands, as high as their shoulders, but in the sanctuary, above their heads, except the high priest, who did not lift up his hands above the plate of gold on his forehead.''
The reason of this was, because the name Jehovah was written upon it, and it was not proper his hands should be lifted up above that. The account Maimonides (f) gives of this affair is;
"how is the lifting up of hands? in the borders, at the time the messenger of the congregation comes to service, when he has said, who ever will, &c. all the priests that stand in the synagogue, remove from their places, and go, and ascend the desk (or kjvs), and stand there with their faces to the temple, and their backs to the people, and their fingers closed within their hands, until the messenger of the congregation has finished the confession, or thanksgiving; and then they turn their faces to the people, and stretch out their fingers, and lift up their hands to their shoulders and begin to bless, and the messenger of the congregation pronounces them (the blessings) word by word, &c. How is the blessing of the priests in the sanctuary? the priests go up into the desk (or kjvs), after the priests have finished the morning daily service, and lift up their hands above, over their heads, except the high priest, who does not lift up his hands above the plate of gold, on his forehead; and one pronounces them (the blessings) word for word, as they do in the borders (in the country), &c.''
And as our Lord used this gesture in blessing, it is very likely he complied with another rule, by expressing it in the Hebrew tongue; for the Jews say (g), the blessing of the priests is not said in any place, but in the holy tongue.
(d) Targum Jon. in Num. vi. 23. & Targum in Cant. vii. 7. (e) Misn Sota, c. 7. sect. 6. Bemidbar Rabba sect. 11. fol. 203. 3.((f) Hilchot Tephilla, c. 14. sect. 3. 9. (g) Hilchot Tephilla, c. 14. sect. 11. Vid. Targum Jon. & Rabba, ut supra, & T. Bab. Sota, fol. 38. 1.
he was parted from them; as Elijah was from Elisha: their spiritual and mystical union by him remained, which is indissoluble; nor was his gracious presence from them withdrawn; nor was this parting in anger and resentment, as he sometimes does withdraw from his people, on account of their sinful conduct, in a little wrath, for a moment, resenting their unbecoming carriage; but this parting was while he was blessing them, and was only in body; his heart was still with them; it was a withdrawing of his corporeal presence from them, and that but for a while; he will come again a second time from heaven, from whence the saints expect him, and then they will meet, and never part more: and carried up into heaven; by his divine power, as God, by virtue of which he ascended himself, he went up gradually, till he became invisible to his disciples; or through the agility of his human body; for the bodies of the saints, when raised, will be like the angels, swift and nimble, and capable of moving from place to place, and of ascending and descending; and much more the glorious body of Christ, according to which, theirs will be conformed; though neither of these deny the use of means, that might be made, as of a cloud, and of angels; for a cloud received him out of the sight of the apostles; and there were the twenty thousand chariots of God, even thousands of angels, which attended him, when he ascended on high, and in which he may be properly said to be carried up into heaven, Acts 1:9 where he was received with a welcome, by his Father, by all the glorified saints, and holy angels, and where he is placed in human nature, at the right hand of God; is crowned with glory, and honour, and exalted above all creatures, human or angelic; and where he will remain until the time of the restitution of all things, and then he will descend to judge the quick and dead. The Arabic and Ethiopic Versions read both these clauses actively, "he parted himself", or "he departed from them, and went up into heaven"; and so reads the Syriac version the last clause.
and returned to Jerusalem: as they were ordered, where they were to tarry and wait for the pouring down of the Spirit: and this they did
with great joy; for though their Lord was parted from them, and was gone to heaven, this did not cause sorrow, as did his death, but, on the contrary, joy, even great joy; partly because of the glory he was entered into, and possessed of; and partly on account of what he was gone to do for them; to appear in the presence of God for them, to make intercession for them, to take possession of heaven in their name, and to prepare a place for them, as well as to receive gifts for them; and now they return to Jerusalem with great cheerfulness, in full hope and expectation, yea, assurance of faith, that they should shortly receive the promise of the Father.