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Mark 16:1 . “ And the Sabbath passing away, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, purchased aromatics, in order that, having come, they may embalm Him.” The city of Magdala, in the land of Dalmanutha, stands on the northwestern coast of the Galilean Sea, and was immortalized by the nativity and residence of the most heroic and spiritual female disciple of our Lord, cognomened Magdalene, designative of her city. I saw it frequently while sailing over that beautiful sea on the track of my Lord, and visited it once. The other Mary here mentioned, and second in prominence only to Mary Magdalene, was the mother of the Apostle James, surnamed the Less. Salome was the honored mother of James the Greater and John the beloved apostle. The hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes, furnished by Nicodemus at the time of His hurried interment on Friday evening, was only a noble beginning of that rich and royal embalmment with which they proposed to honor the One they all loved as no tongue could tell.
It is pertinent here to observe, that the disciples failed to discriminate between the prophecies appertaining to His two advents, mixing them up heterogeneously, and applied them all to His first coming; therefore we hear them certifying frequently that “when Christ comes, He will abide forever” (Daniel 7:14), which was currently enunciated by the prophets. Consequently when they all see that He is dead, the result is that they give up all hope of His Christhood but still believing that when the Messiah comes, He will abide forever. However, they still believe that He is a prophet, and the greatest of all the prophets who have ever lived upon the earth, having such power as none of His predecessors ever wielded, but unfortunately, venturing too far permitted His enemies to get the advantage of Him, and consequently lost His life in the bloom of youth, at the early age of thirty-three with the Jews, thirty being majority and fifty maturity.
Though now under the awful collapse of blighted hopes and perished aspirations, yet they love Him as no tongue can fell; and feeling assured that He is the greatest prophet God ever sent to Israel, they are determined to compliment Him with the most honorable interment, embalming His body after the Jewish method, and sparing no expenditure in procuring an abundance of the most valuable Oriental antiseptics.
History says all the apostles, and these prominent, holy women so frequently mentioned, were at the house of Rabbi Amos, a friend of Jesus in the metropolis, and were all engaged in silent mourning, alter the Jewish method of mourning for the dead seven days. Naught is heard through the long, dreary night but sighs, groans, and sobs. As deepest grief is silent, their sorrow was too great for utterance. They also spent the ensuing day and night in silent mourning, the inviolable sanctity of the Sabbath being their only guarantee against the cruel arrest, imprisonment, and execution which would, it was apprehended, certainly follow quickly the ensuing week.
Matthew 28:2-40.28.4 . “ And, behold, there was a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord, having descended from heaven, coming, rolled away the stone from the door, and sat upon it. And his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And from fear, the keepers did quake, and became like corpses.” When the great archangel, whose countenance was like lightning, his pinions like rainbows, and his feet like pillars of fire, came sweeping down from heaven, old Earth trembling and quaking, and touched the great stone, secured by the seal of the Roman Empire, it rolled away as if struck with a score of battering-rams; meanwhile those gigantic Roman soldiers, who delighted in the thunder of the battle-field, fell in their tracks on all sides, pale and motionless as dead men. And now, the Conqueror of Mount Calvary, vacating the sepulcher, walked out, as free as a bird of paradise.
ANGELS AT THE SEPULCHER
Matthew 28:5-40.28.7 ; Luke 24:4-42.24.8 ; Mark 16:5-41.16.7 : “ Having come to the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right, clothed with a white robe; and they were affrighted. And he says to them, Be not alarmed; you are seeking Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified; He is risen; He is not here; behold the place where they laid Him. But go tell His disciples, and Peter, that He goes before you into Galilee; and there you shall see Him, as He said to you.” Luke: “ And it came to pass, while they were at a loss concerning Him, and two men stood before them in shining apparel, they being afraid, and inclining their face toward the ground, he said to them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen. Remember how He spoke to you, being yet in Galilee, saying that it behooves the Son of man to be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and to be crucified, and to arise the third day; and they remembered His words.” These were angels in human form, and it is highly probable that Gabriel, who announced His conception, was one of them. We see here that these holy women were much alarmed, as in all ages it has been very trying to mortal nerves to meet glorified spirits. In this there is nothing condemnatory, but a demonstration of the simple fact of decisive, angelic superiority, so that their presence, when seen with mortal eyes, inundates us with the realization that we are actually in contact with the eternal world, and hence overawed, and even panic-stricken, by the certainty of the heavenly inhabitants literally present and looking us in the face. Here we observe an especial message sent to Peter, doubtless from the fact of the unhappy notoriety he gave himself by denying the Lord while under prosecution.
RETURN OF THE WOMEN
Matthew 28:8-40.28.10 ; Mark 16:8 ; Luke 24:9-42.24.11 ; John 20:2 . “ Then she runs, and comes to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and says to them, They have taken away the Lord from the sepulcher, and we know not where they have placed Him.” This is spoken of Mary Magdalene, the most prominent of our Lord’s female disciples, and the only woman John mentions in this early visit to the sepulcher. This is not out of harmony with the other three, from the simple fact that she was the leader of the heroic sisterhood who lingered last at the cross, and hastened first to greet the risen Lord and look into the empty sepulcher.
I must here observe, in reference to Mark’s Gospel, that this eighth verse, which you see in the above reference, winds it up, the following twelve verses having been added by an unknown hand after Mark had laid down his pen. This fact of these last twelve verses not appearing in the old and authoritative manuscripts, does not necessarily invalidate their claims to inspiration, the author might have been inspired for ought we know, though we can have no idea as to his name. As it is believed that Peter dictated this Gospel to Mark, his faithful amanuensis and gospel helper, while in Rome, about A. D. 63, some suppose his martyrdom stopped the work, and consequently some one took it on himself to finish it out somewhat after the order of Matthew’s, which had been written A. D. 48. From the simple fact that in all of this writing I have used the Greek Testament by Tischendorf, on the basis of the Sinaitic manuscript which he discovered in the Convent of St. Catherine, on Mt. Sinai, A. D. 1859, and has thrown a flood of light on the New Testament, being the oldest manuscript and the only one entire, and as it closes Mark’s Gospel with this eighth verse of the sixteenth chapter, I shall neither quote nor expound the ensuing twelve verses; for, like John 8:1-43.8.11, and not a few other isolated passages, they are not in my book.
Matthew: “ Having quickly come out from the sepulcher, with fear and great joy, they were running to tell His disciples.” You see how these women take the report of the angels, and run with all expedition to render obedience. “ And while they were going to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, Hail! And they having come, embraced His feet, and worshipped Him. Then Jesus says to them, Fear not; go, tell My brethren, that they may depart into Galilee, and there they shall see Me.” Luke: “ And returning from the sepulcher, they proclaimed these things to the eleven, and all the rest, And they were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women along with them, who continued to tell these things to the apostles. And their words appeared unto them like a dream, and they believed them not.” Though Jesus had three different times distinctly prophesied to them His crucifixion and resurrection, they had never understood it; but were all settled in the common conviction that the Christ would never die, but abide and reign forever. Luke says that these prophecies were withheld from them, so they understood them not. That was all right. It was absolutely necessary that these most salient facts of redeeming mercy should be prominent in the prophetical curriculum, which, along with miracles, constitutes the basis of all faith in the Christhood.
Then why withhold it from their understanding until after it was all over? Good reason! If the disciples had understood it, they would have fought, bled, and died in His defense. Thousands would have helped them, and a bloody civil war broken out at the time of His arrest. Through fear of the people, His enemies were often restrained from laying hands on Him, finally attacking Him at midnight, doing their best to kill Him before day; and despite the tardiness of Pilate and Herod, actually had Him nailed to the cross at the early hour of 9 A.M., Pilate finally signing His death-warrant as a sheer peace measure, as he saw the crowd gathering rapidly, and knew they were going to fight for Him, and thus involve the whole country in a terrible civil war. In the good providence of God, the prophecies revealing His crucifixion and resurrection were withheld from the understanding of His disciples till after the momentous tragedy of the world’s redemption was consummated. When they saw Him expire on the cross, they gave up all hope of His Messiahship, settling down in the conclusion that He was the greatest prophet the world ever saw and no more, so that when those women came and told them that He was absent from the sepulcher, and the angels had said He was risen, and that they had actually seen Him, their words seemed like a dream the news was too good to be believed.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Mark 16". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent