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CHRIST's Resurrection, and his Appearance to Mary Magdalene and to others. The LORD giveth his Commission to his Apostles; and returned unto Glory.
AND when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
Reader! let us pause at the very entrance on this precious chapter, with which the HOLY GHOST is pleased that Mark should finish his Gospel. Every word is big with events, in recording the wonderful history of our LORD's resurrection, and may well merit the closest attention of his people. The sabbath was past, we are told, and the LORD of the sabbath (Mark 3:28 .) had rested from his own works. Hebrews 4:10 . and that blessed scripture but little understood, yet most highly significant, was now to be immediately accomplished. Jeremiah 31:26 . Those godly women, still unconscious of the great things in which they themselves were so highly interested, had bought sweet spices, (and so had Nicodemus, John 19:39 .) with intention of embalming the body of JESUS. Reader! behold how the LORD was pleased to keep those whom he loved in ignorance for a while, of a subject which when made known, filled their hearts with a joy unspeakable and full of glory. Let you and I, from hence learn to estimate our mercies, and desire with Paul, to know CHRIST, and the power of his resurrection. Philippians 3:10-11 .
(2) And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun, (3) And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? (4) And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away; for it was very great.
There is somewhat very striking in the short, but sweet account, of the rising of the sun. It became a beautiful representation of the rising of the sun in nature; to shadow forth Him, who is the sun of righteousness in grace. Well might the created sun arise to his glory, who was, and is, the Creator of all things. Malachi 4:2 . The difficulty those women apprehended, from the great stone at the door of the sepulchre, stopping their way, and the removal of it they knew not how, may suggest to us, how much better to his people the LORD is, than all their fears. But, Reader, though you and I follow those women to the tomb of JESUS by faith, yet we shall have no cordial belief in the resurrection of JESUS, until the LORD hath not only caused the stone to be rolled away from the door, but He himself hath taken it out of our heart. It can be nothing short of an Almighty work to do this. The first day of the week with every child of GOD in being brought acquainted with the resurrection of JESUS, is the first day of a new life and salvation together. Hence Paul's prayer for the Church, which I beg the Reader not to pass from those verses till he hath read. Ephesians 1:15 , to the end.
(5) And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. (6) And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. (7) But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. (8) And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they anything to any man: for they were afraid.
The Jewish Sepulchres were all made large, not only to admit many bodies being placed by the side of each other; but also for the entrance of the friends, who might indulge the pleasing melancholy of visiting them. I pass over several very interesting circumstances related here, to call the Reader's attention to the tenderness expressed to Peter among the other disciples, in calling him by name. The LORD JESUS well knew how exceedingly the consciousness of having denied CHRIST had operated upon the heart of the Apostle, and therefore he will have the message sent to Peter more particularly by name: Go tell his disciples and Peter! Oh! what grace is in the heart of CHRIST. Had the message been sent to the disciples, only as disciples, Peter might have been tempted to fear, that on account of his shameful conduct, he was no longer a disciple, and as such, not included in it. But being particularly named, how very blessedly he must have felt this renewed attention in his LORD. Reader! do not, dismiss the very gracious testimony, such a view of Jesus brings with it, to the hearts of all the LORD's disciples. We learn most evidently from it, that the LORD's grace is not restrained by our unworthiness; neither is it bestowed for our deservings. CHRIST's love, and not ours, is the only standard for CHRIST's mercy to his people. And I would beg to call the Reader's attention to another most blessed instruction, this conduct of the LORD JESUS holds forth, in the immediate regard he shewed to his disconsolate disciples. The first thing the LORD JESUS had respect to, when he arose from the dead, was to send his Angel to comfort his disciples with the assurance of his love, while he informed them of his resurrection. Go tell my disciples and Peter! Disciples still, and brethren still, for John's relation is to the same amount. John 20:17 . So that his Al mighty power, by which he arose from the dead, Romans 1:4 . and his altered state made no alteration in his love. He is still the same Jesus, and the same brother as before. Oh! for grace to have this always in remembrance!
(9) Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. (10) And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. (11) And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
I cannot help pausing over this view of CHRIST's grace to Mary Magdalene, that she should have the honor of beholding the LORD of life and glory the first of all his redeemed, after he rose from the dead. And as the Evangelist adds, out of whom he had cast seven devils. Doth it not seem to intimate, in that GOD the HOLY GHOST hath thought proper, to have this act of grace of JESUS mentioned at the same time, as if the LORD would thereby encourage, and comfort any, and every one, of his more than ordinarily distressed members, to this conclusion, that where sin aboundeth, grace shall much more abound? All CHRIST's redeemed shall have the love-tokens of JESUS; but the one which Satan most afflicts, CHRIST will more abundantly comfort.
(12) After that, he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. (13) And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. (14) Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
We never can sufficiently bless the LORD for his gracious condescension, in those repeated appearances he made to his disciples. But how astonishing is it to behold their great unbelief. No doubt for the greater confirmation of the faith the LORD had so appointed it; for it wholly removes the ridiculous charge of the Jews, that while the soldiers slept, the disciples should have taken away the body of CHRIST from the sepulchre; when we find that evidence upon evidence did not prove sufficient for a while to bring those poor timid disciples into the heart's conviction of our LORD's being risen from the dead. See Matthew 28:0 .
(15) And he said unto them; Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (16) He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (17) And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; (18) They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
It should seem, from the relation of this final commission the LORD gave to his disciples, that it was not all delivered at this morning and evening of the day of his resurrection, but in the different meetings which JESUS graciously made with them during the forty days he went in and out before them, to the day he returned to glory. And the commission itself of going into the whole of the then known world, and preaching the Gospel to every creature, carried with it the full glorious tidings of salvation in his blood, and righteousness both to Jew and Gentile. See Isaiah 49:1-6 . And while the LORD thus taught them that the door of salvation was to be opened to the people of GOD, which were scattered abroad, the Gospel itself implied that CHRIST himself in his person, work, grace, blood-shedding, and righteousness, became JEHOVAH's one and only ordinance of salvation, to everyone which believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. CHRIST in himself is comprehensive of the whole Gospel. In Matthew's relation of this, it is added, they were to baptize the people, in the joint name of the FATHER, SON, and HOLY GHOST, intimating thereby, that to the joint love, and grace, and mercy, of the HOLY THREE in ONE, the whole blessings of redemption flow. See 1 Peter 1:2 , compared with Numbers 6:22 , to the end. 2 Corinthians 13:14 .
(19) So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven; and sat on the right hand of God. (20) And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and con firming the word with signs following. Amen.
Mark sums up the glorious event of CHRIST's ascension, and the HOLY GHOST's descension, in a comprehensive manner indeed, in these two verses. But his testimony of those wonderful acts was all that the HOLY GHOST thought proper to make use of by his ministry. The events themselves are more largely followed up in the relation in the Acts of the Apostles, to which, therefore, I refer. For the present, it will be sufficient to observe, that Mark's testimony is confirmed by the LORD's testimony, in those gracious signs which followed. And the LORD JESUS's name, like the sign and seal of a charter, the AMEN, closeth Mark's Gospel, as the Verily, the faithful witness of Heaven. Revelation 3:14 ; Isaiah 65:16 .
READER while you and I hasten, with the ardent love of those godly women, to the Sepulchre of JESUS, and hear with the ear of faith, as they heard in sense, the invitation of the Angel; Come see the place where the LORD lay. Oh! for the teaching of GOD the HOLY GHOST, to follow Jesus from the cross to the throne, and behold where the LORD lay from all eternity, in the bosom of the FATHER.
Send down, thou risen and exalted SAVIOR, all those precious gifts thou art returned on purpose to impart! And as in the case of Mary Magdalene, such grace was manifested; so in the instance of all thy redeemed ones, prove, thou dearest LORD, that thou art exalted as a Prince and a SAVIOR, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. Oh! the blessedness of receiving the power of CHRIST's resurrection, in the heart and conscience, when the LORD works with his holy word, and confirms that word with signs following. May the souls of all the LORD's redeemed family, thus find the sweet testimonies to the truth of our LORD's resurrection; when first GOD our FATHER having raised up his SON JESUS, hath sent him to bless us in turning away every one of us from our iniquities.
And now FAREWELL Mark! thou faithful Evangelist; surely thou hast well done the work of one, and made full proof of thy Ministry. For the testimony of thy Gospel is in the hearts of thousands, to the truth as it is in Jesus, through the power of the HOLY GHOST. Precious is the written Word, when confirmed as an engrafted Word, by the SPIRIT's grace in the heart; and when that Almighty LORD, sets to his seal, in the heart, that GOD is true. All the faithful will thank thee, Mark, for thy labour of love, as they daily read the wonders recorded by thee of JESUS. And all will find cause, who are taught of GOD, to say as Paul did concerning thee, though not called to the service of the sanctuary, as he was; for he is profitable to me in his ministry!
Precious LORD JESUS! while we thank the servant, we bow down with unspeakable thanksgiving to the MASTER! Be thou everlastingly loved, and praised, and adored, in thy Person, Work, Offices, Characters, and Relations. Men shall be blessed in thee, and all nations shall call thee blessed. Praised be the FATHER, SON, and HOLY GHOST, for all Covenant love, in JESUS CHRIST! Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Mark 16". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25