The history and evidences of our Saviour’s resurrection, being of infinite importance, are reserved to the last chapter of St. John.
Matthew 28:1. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week. εις μιαν σαββατων, towards the first of sabbaths. The Vulgate Latin reads the same: in prima sabbati. Calvin also says, Le premier des sabbaths. See Luke 24:1. These readings intimate that the sabbath, or first day, was appointed by the Lord himself, as the day of joyful repose in commemoration of his resurrection, when he began his new creation. The stone which the builders had rejected, being now made the head of the corner, the church were commanded to sing, “The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly; the right hand of the Lord bringeth wonderful things to pass. This is the day, the new sabbath, that the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118. See additional remarks on Deuteronomy 5.
Mary Magdalene was a native of Galilee, because when Jesus went through the cities and villages of that district, he found her there. Luke 8:2. She was a demoniac, whom the Lord healed. Mark 16:9. She was also a woman of property, who in conjunction with the richer women among Christ’s disciples, made an offering out of their property. Cardinal Baronius thinks, she was Mary, sister of Lazarus, and called Magdalene from the word Magdala, a plaiter of hair, like other harlots. He thinks so, because otherwise this sister of Lazarus is not mentioned at all in the resurrection. But that is not likely, because the sister of Lazarus is mentioned as supping with Christ and her brother in Simon’s house, who was a nobleman, and had been a leper. It is also highly probable that she would sleep at Bethany in her own house. Hence others are of opinion, that Mary Magdalene received this surname from Magdala, a town on the sea of Galilee, for surnames are mostly derived from places.
It is however the piety of this woman, recorded in the scriptures to encourage sinners in turning to God, with which we are chiefly concerned. After her conversion she was more distinguished for piety, than before she had been for sin. — Her piety was constant, for she followed the Lord to the end of his abode on earth, and we believe to a high throne of glory. — She loved much, having much forgiven, for it is highly probable that her affliction had been a punishment for her pride and wickedness. — She was liberal, and devoted her savings from worldly extravagances to God and the poor. She loved the Lord as much after he was crucified as she had done when the multitudes adored him; for true love does not abate when Christ is degraded and persecuted in his members by the wicked. — She was more distressed for Christ than the others. She hallowed and adored him in her heart. The more reverend of the scribes only called him “master:” so did some of the disciples till they were confirmed in his Godhead. But Mary, whose soul flowed in sorrows, said, They have taken away MY LORD. — Lastly, she was honoured above others, being made the first witness of his resurrection. Oh astonishing grace, grace unmerited and free!
Oh sinner, great and grievous sinner: oh woman of pride, and of every lascivious habit: yea thou, oh woman, who hast a front for a British theatre, and who conformest thy life to the manners of the great, here is a model for thee; and here is grace in Christ to make thee as great a saint as thou art now a sinner. Here is love divine to cover all thy shame, to restore thy soul to the perfection of love, to ennoble thy person, and to raise thee to an immortal throne. Now take thy choice between Christ and the world; but take it now, for the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, when the proud, yea and all that do wickedly shall be as stubble; it shall burn them up, and leave them neither root nor branch, saith the Lord of hosts. These words were addressed to the two women here named. St. Luke adds, Johanna, and other women with them, who had come up from Galilee to the passover.
Matthew 28:3. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. The women saw the angel; they saw his face, and the whiteness of his robes. They heard his voice, his gracious words to calm and compose their minds. They received the angel’s commands —
Matthew 28:5. Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. While the angel of the Lord struck the bold Romans with terror, and spared their lives but to strike greater terror into the guilty council, he turned a smiling aspect towards the pious women, and said, Fear not ye. — These words may most aptly be improved to encourage and comfort penitent souls who seek the crucified Redeemer. The law appears with a terrific aspect, and menaces the guilty with death. But justice, losing her sternness in the smiles of mercy, addresses the sincerely penitent in all the promises of grace. Let us therefore gather a few hints from the case of these pious women. They saw the haste in which the Lord was interred, but they knew not of Nicodemus’s hundred pounds weight of gum, cassia, and myrrh, nor of the guards around the sepulchre. They came in simplicity and sincerity to do the offices of decency for the dead. Let us see that we likewise be sincere and pious in our approaches to the Lord.
They sought him with sadness and with tears. Let all penitents likewise review their sins, and study their case till their hearts are deeply impressed, and till tears freely flow for sin.
They sought him while it was yet dark; but after walking through the streets, and reaching Calvary, the sun was just risen. Come gracious soul, come with all thy ignorance and darkness of mind; come and look into the Saviour’s sepulchre, and the sun of righteousness shall arise upon thee with healing in his wings.
They sought him with many fears: but fear not ye, said the angel. And aye, how many fears and scruples have seekers still. Their case is too bad, their sins are too many to be pardoned. They shall never find the Lord. But a voice says, fear not ye. Go on, go on, and the Lord will be better to you than all your fears.
They sought him with embarrassment, who shall roll us away the stone? Ah, these difficulties. This stony heart, this unbelief. Go on, go on, again I say, and on approaching Christ, all these impediments shall be rolled away.
They sought him with balmy spices. Come, oh woman, with thy sighs, thy prayers, thy tears; and the angel of the covenant shall present them, with all the fruits of thy repentance, as incense to the Father. Come, oh come, all ye weeping company, and you shall find the Saviour, not in the sepulchre, not in the hands of his enemies, but at the Father’s right hand, able to anoint and comfort you. Come weeping soul for a pardon, and you shall return with joyful tidings to your brethren.
Matthew 28:7. Go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen. The balm of gospel comfort for the wounded mind must not be deferred. The women were commanded to remind the disconsolate disciples of the Saviour’s promise at the last supper, Matthew 26:32, that after his resurrection he would meet them in Galilee; yet their words seemed as mere reveries.
Matthew 28:9. Jesus met them, saying, all hail. This is a Gothic salutation of peace, health, and joy. The Greek is as in Luke 1:28. χαιρετε, rejoice. The word is rarely used now, except in poetry: it is of frequent occurrence in Dr. Beattie’s minstrel, and in Macpherson’s Homer.
Matthew 28:16. Then the eleven went away into a mountain. St. Paul says, that the number of brethren assembled there was about five hundred. The brief way in which Matthew names this, and all the other appearances, proves that he regarded this appearance, as the grand seal of truth and joy to the church. But some, for time, doubted, and resisted the testimony of those that had seen him; others were afraid, and indeed terrified, till composed and encouraged by the Saviour. He chose the saints to confess him, and imposed silence on demons.
Matthew 28:18. All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. As Mediator, all judgment was committed to the Son. Therefore he spake like himself, and sent forth his servants as the plenipotentiaries of heaven. He allowed them not to ask leave of kings, whether they should declare his gospel in their territories; that would have been to make earthly princes greater than their heavenly Lord. He clothed them, as in Mark 16., with celestial powers, to cast out demons, to heal the sick, to take up serpents, and fortified them against all the deadly effects of poisonous draughts.
Matthew 28:19. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations. Whatever I have said in private conversations, or in the public ministry, that proclaim as from the house-top. He that heareth your sayings, heareth mine. Unfold all the grace of ordinances, and all the cares of discipline, that with an enlightened mind and a willing heart, they may come to baptism, and make an open profession of my name. These words, as joined with others spoken at this time, mark the sovereignty of Christ in heaven to confer the power; and the sovereignty of Christ on earth to remove the sentence of darkness from the gentiles.
Baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Philosophy, now offered to us as a substitute for the bible, has no hidingplace here. De Rossi can find no variations in manuscripts reputed ancient. The three hypostases or triune nature of Deity is here declared. The true sense of the Elohim, as in the prophets, shines out. Christ is the Son of God; the Word, the Wisdom, the arm or power of Jehovah. The Spirit is the breath of his mouth. Psalms 33:6; Psalms 110:1. Proverbs 8:22; Proverbs 30:4. Isaiah 49, 63. The Saviour declares his omnipresence and eternity, when he adds, Lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world. As to the nature of baptism, and designations of the ordinance, Matthew Poole speaks thus.
“(1) It distinguishes the professors of christianity from the heathen world.
(2) It is an introduction into the church, and by consequence a privilege.
(3) It is a seal of the divine truth of the covenant, or the promises.” Romans 4:11. See Dr. Wall on Infant Baptism.
On the practice of baptism, this author also adds, “that children are included in the covenant, being part of their parents, as Levi paid tithes in the loins of Abraham. Genesis 17. It was always the practice of the jews to baptize the children of heathen parents, and the gentiles devoted their children to idols by lustrations.”
Irenæus speaking of Christ, says, “As he was a master, he had also the age of a master, not disdaining, nor walking in a higher path than human nature, nor violating in his own person the laws prescribed to mankind, but hallowed all its ages by the resemblance they have to himself; for he came to save all persons by himself. By all, I mean all who are by him regenerated to God; viz. infants, little ones, children, youths, and aged persons. Therefore he passed the several ages; — for infants, he was made an infant, sanctifying infancy. For little ones, he was made a little one, sanctifying those of early age, by giving them an example of piety, justice, and filial obedience. To young men, he was the pattern of youth,” finishing his course in the meridian of his days.
The whole of this parting scene is full of grace, full of majesty, and of celestial glory. See more on Mark 16:15.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Matthew 28". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany