Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 20:15

Jesus *said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she *said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Art;   Friendship;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Love;   Mary;   Trouble;   Women;   Thompson Chain Reference - Arts and Crafts;   Dead, the;   Gardeners;   Mary;   Mortality-Immortality;   Resurrection;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Arts of the;   Gardens;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Resurrection;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Angel;   Resurrection;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Resurrection of Christ;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Tammuz;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Death, Second;   Garden;   Hour;   John, the Gospel of;   Mary;   Resurrection of Jesus Christ;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - John, Gospel of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Considerateness;   Eschatology;   Garden ;   Judas Iscariot (2);   Manifestation;   Manuscripts;   Marks Stigmata;   Mary;   Questions and Answers;   Tears;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Garden, Gardener;   Mary Magdalene ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Smith Bible Dictionary - John, Gospel of;   Ma'ry Magdalene;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Mary;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Christ, the Exaltation of;   Gardener;   Papyrus;   Sir;   Text and Manuscripts of the New Testament;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for November 1;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Supposing him to be the gardener - Κηπουρος, the inspector or overseer of the garden, from κηπος, a garden, and ουρος, an inspector - the person who had the charge of the workmen, and the care of the produce of the garden; and who rendered account to the owner.

And I will take him away - How true is the proverb, Love feels no load! Jesus was in the prime of life when he was crucified, and had a hundred pounds weight of spices added to his body; and yet Mary thinks of nothing less than carrying him away with her, if she can but find where he is laid!

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 20:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-20.html. 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

John 20:15

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?

The risen Christ and the Magdalene

I. HOW JESUS WAS HIDDEN FROM MARY. There are times when friends are unrecognized because of mental absorption or because of our belief that they are elsewhere, or because of a supposed moral impossibility that they should be there.

1. Mary was under the influence of unfavourable associations.

2. Closely connected was Mary’s false notion of Jesus. He was, despite His own promise, a dead Jesus to her. And so false thoughts of Him are largely the cause of unbelief and hatred on the one hand, and of doubt and hesitation on the other. Men are thinking of another Christ than He who came that we might have life--of the Christ as churches have often made Him--the Christ of creeds and systems, of the dead letter rather than of the living Spirit, of sect or school. And men’s minds are so full of these representations that they do not know Him who is love.

3. Tears blinded Mary’s eyes. So may sorrow, joy, excitement, dim ours. Our mistake may differ from hers. We may mistake the gardener for Christ. All do so who put priest, church, system, &c., in the place of Christ.

II. JESUS CONVINCED AND SUBDUED MARY. He had but to turn His eye upon her, and address His gracious words to her; and then when her eyes were opened and her ears caught the sound of His voice there was no doubt or hesitation longer.

1. Here we see the marvellous personal attraction of Jesus. Again and again do we find friends and foes impressed by His aspect. In the synagogue at Nazareth; in the Temple before the accusers of the woman taken in adultery; in the garden when the soldiers fell to the ground. Is the power of His personal influence lost because He is no longer here as man with men? No; His dealings with Mary are a type of His dealings with us.

2. He manifests Himself everywhere to seeking souls. Why was Mary honoured to be the first! We might have thought His mother would have been selected, or John, or Peter. Christ blesses men not because of birth, or talent, or office, but according to the humility and earnestness with which they seek Him.

3. He revealed Himself in a personal call, and only as Mary heard and answered that call was her joy complete. And there are innumerable voices that come from Him to-day--voices of mercy or affliction; voices that waken to gratitude or melt to penitence; voices that startle in the ease of carnal security or that comfort in the hour of trouble; voices to break the stubborn heart or to revive the heart of the contrite one--and not one of them is without signification. (J. Guinness Rogers, B. A.)

The Lord’s question to Mary

I. SOME OF THOSE TO WHOM THIS QUESTION MAY BE STILL ADDRESSED.

1. Those who have not yet found rest for their souls in God. If God be in the heart there are many ways m which men may enjoy Him; and, if God be absent, there are as many by which they may seek to fill up the vacant place--power, fame, pleasure, knowledge, and affection. For a while they aredeceived by the ardour of pursuit, or the first glow of possession. But there comes the death of their hope, their grief before its grave. And so, if their nature be of the common superficial kind, they begin the chase after new shadows. Or, if the nature be deeper, they turn in upon themselves to lament the vanity of human endeavour. And yet the Christ is near the place where they are groping among the ashes of buried hopes, which come to them to make them feel after and find Him.

2. Those who have had a deep sense of the soul’s value, and of Christ as a Friend who could meet its need. But they seem to have lost Him. It may come in different ways; through a shaking of our faith in the Divine and eternal as real, or through a loss of our own personal hold of them, or, as often happens, through an intermingling of both. But, however it comes, those who feel it are of all men most miserable. The cause of the gospel was never so despaired of as in the hour of its birth, and this question is for the encouragement of those who are seeking Him whom they seem to have lost.

3. Some of those who know that they have not only a dead but a risen Lord. A little view of His greatness made one of His disciples say, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man,” and the sight of it, with the spiritual eye, filled the apostle with an eager longing--“If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

II. THE ANSWER, WHICH IS CONTAINED IN THE FORM OF THE QUESTION. It is composed of two parts; the first directs us inward to our own heart, with its want and sorrow, the other, outward to what is to meet and relieve it. Let us look at them,

1. It may be that speculative unbelief is troubling your soul. Observe, then, how in creation and man, there is an agreement between the need and cry, and the provision, e.g., seed and climate, eye and light, hunger and bread, thirst and water, the breathing frame and the vital air, and the manifold necessities and supplies which are like prayers and answers in every place and through all time. If it be so in the lower wants, shall it fail to approve itself in the higher? Shall God have regard to the animal necessities and turn a deaf ear to the cries of the soul? The ear which hears the young raven’s cry cannot be deaf to the sobs and prayers of human hearts. And let us thank God that He has made the soul so that when it is truly wakened by Himself, none but Himself can satisfy its need. If there are such breathings of desire in human spirits there must be an object and end for them. The word is nigh thee, even in thy heart, and then the living Word Himself is near who answers it: “Why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?”

2. But it may be that your trouble is that you feel unable to lay hold of Him. Then the question still comes with its own answer. Ask yourself of your pain, and see if there be not in Him the remedy you seek. Are you oppressed with the burden of guilt? Here is forgiveness from His hand in a way which should meet your heart’s desire. Is life a battle to you, with daily cares, troubles, and temptations, others leaning on you, and you without strength? There is one who comes to help the fallen that they who wait upon Him may renew their strength. Is it that you feel the loneliness of life when lover and friend have been put far from you, and the world outside is bleak and bare? There Christ stands at the door and knocks--“If any man open, I will come in.”

3. It is by putting such questions as these that we learn the fitness of God’s answer to our heart’s cry, and find it all in Jesus Christ. It is the way God Himself has taken in the Bible; for what is the Old Testament, with its utterances of want and longing desire, but a pressing of the question, Why weepest thou? and what is the New Testament but the unveiling of Him who answers the question, Whom seekest thou? And when He comes in person what is His earthly life but a touching of the deep chords of man’s nature, that He may awaken him to a consciousness of his misery and sin, and then assure him of His power to save and satisfy? And what is this life but a questioning us of our heart-sores and losses, with strength and comfort interspersed like pledges which make us say, Lord, to whom but to Thee? in order that He may prepare us for the answer when the weeping of the night gives place to the joy of the morning? “I will come and take you to Myself.”

III. SOME THINGS WORTHY OF NOTICE IN THE RECOGNITION WHICH FOLLOWED.

1. That Christ reveals Himself to the heart before He discloses Himself to the eye. He stood at first beside Mary as a stranger, led her to review her past, and seek and find Him in her sorrow; and then He removed the cloud which had come between, and appeared as the risen Saviour. It is this method which explains to us the gloomy hours and long questionings of some who are seeking Him: “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!” We wonder that God does not show Himself and speak out. But He means to deepen the sense of need, and to make the revelation of Himself more blessed, “Whom having not seen we love.”

2. That Christ makes Himself known in the way of duty. Some make comfort the guide of their spiritual life. But this recognition of Christ came to one who had no comfort, and who was scarcely seeking it. She came to Christ’s grave because she could not stay away. Grief, loyalty, love, drew her there, and she had her reward.

3. Christ’s way of revealing Himself. A human historian would have constructed a long speech, but Christ used a single word--so simple, so natural. It is like Him who has distilled His mercy into short Bible words--Immanuel, Jesus, Saviour, God is Love,--making it small that it may enter feeble hearts, as He makes the drops of water small to visit the blades of grass. The single word was a name. It spoke of personal knowledge and interest. We read that “God counts the stars and calls them by their names;” but it is something greater in Him that He calls by name the children of men: “Jacob whom I have chosen; the seed of Abraham my friend.” “He called His own sheep by name.” It was at the name that she turned and knew Him.

4. In this way of recognition, we have a hint of how Christian fellowship shall be restored in the world beyond death? This great Friend, who carries all other true friendships in His heart, named Mary from beyond His grave, to bid us hope and trust that He will meet and name His friends on the heavenly threshold Christ surely first as well befits Him, but afterward they that are Christ’s, and ours. (J. Ker, D. D.)

A handkerchief

1. Woman has had many reasons for weeping since the fall.

2. Jesus went to His death amid weeping women, and on His rising He met a little company of them.

3. The first words of a risen Saviour are to a weeping woman.

4. He who was born of woman has come to dry up woman’s tears.

5. Observe the wise method followed by the Divine Consoler.

6. In all cases Jesus is the most suitable Comforter and comfort. Let us put this question in two ways.

I. IS IT NATURAL SORROW?

1. Art thou bereaved? The risen Saviour comforts thee, for He

2. Are thy beloved ones sick? Sorrow not impatiently, for He

3. Art thou thyself sick? Be not impatient, for Jesus lives

4. Art thou poor? Do not murmur, for He

5. Art thou of a sorrowful spirit? Do not despond, but see

II. IS IT SPIRITUAL, SORROW?

1. Distinguish. See whether it be good or ill. Is it

2. Declare. Tell Jesus all about it.

(a) Are loved ones abiding in sin?

(b) Is the Church cold and dead?

(a) Dost thou miss His presence?

(b) Hast thou grieved His Holy Spirit?

(c) Canst thou not attain to holiness?

(d) Canst thou not serve Him as much as thou desirest?

(e) Do thy prayers appear to fail?

(f) Does thine old nature rebel?

(a) Dost thou weep because of past sin?

(b) Dost thou fear because of thine evil nature?

(c) Art thou unable to understand the gospel?

(d) Dost thou weep lest thou grow hardened again?

(e) Dost thou mourn because thou canst not mourn?

Conclusion:

1. He is before thee: believe in Him, and weeping will end.

2. He accepts thee: in Him thou hast all thou art seeking for. (C. H.Spurgeon.)

Women and the Bible:

A Hindoo woman said to a missionary, “Surely your Bible was written by a woman.” “Why?” “Because it says so many kind things for women. Our pundits never refer to us but in reproach.” (C. H.Spurgeon.)

Mission of sorrow:

It is said that gardeners sometimes, when they would bring a rose to richer flowering, deprive it for a season of light and moisture. Silent and dark it stands, dropping one fading leaf after another, and seeming to go down patiently to death. But when every leaf is dropped, and the plant stands stripped to the uttermost, a new life is even then working in the buds, from which shall spring a tender foliage and a brighter wealth of flowers. So, often, in celestial gardening, every leaf of earthly joy must drop before a new and divine bloom visits the soul. (Mrs. H. B. Stowe.)

The living God the source of comfort:

A prudent and pious lady observing her husband dejected by some misfortune which had befallen him, to such a degree that he could not sleep, pretended in the morning to be disconsolate herself, and gave way to lamentation and to tears. As she had spoken cheeringly to him the evening before, he was astonished and asked the cause of this sudden grief. Hesitating a little, she replied that she had been dreaming, and that it seemed to her that a messenger had come from heaven, and had brought the news that God was dead, and that all the angels were weeping. “Foolish woman,” said the husband, “you know right well that God cannot die!” “Indeed,” said the wife; “and if that be so certain, how comes it that you are now indulging your sorrow as immoderately, as if He really did no longer exist, or, at least, as if He were unable to set bounds to our affliction, or mitigate its severity, or convert it into a blessing? My dear husband, learn to trust Him and to sorrow like a Christian. Think of the old proverb, ‘What need to grieve if God doth live?’” (J. L. Nye.)

She, supposing Him to be the gardener

Christ the gardener

1. It is not an unnatural supposition; Mary was mistaken here; but if we are under His Spirit’s teaching we shall not make a mistake, for if we may truly sing, “We are a garden walled around,” &c., that enclosure needs a gardener.

2. Neither is the figure unscriptural; for in one of His own parables our Lord makes Himself to be the Dresser of the vineyard.

3. If we would be supported by a type, our Lord takes the name of “the Second Adam,” and the first Adam was a gardener. Thus also Solomon thought of Him when He described Him as going out with His beloved for the preservation of the garden, saying, “Take us the foxes,” &c. “Supposing Him to be the gardener,” we have here

I. THE KEY TO MANY WONDERS in the garden of His Church.

1. That there should be a Church at all in the world; a garden blooming in the midst of this sterile waste. “Ye are of God, little children, and the whole world lieth in the wicked one.” We understand its existence, “supposing Him to be the gardener,” but nothing else can account for it. He can cause the fir tree to flourish instead of the thorn, and the myrtle instead of the briar.

2. That the Church should flourish in such a clime. This present evil world is very uncongenial to the growth of grace, and within are elements which tend to its own disorder and destruction if left alone; even as the garden has in its soil all the germs of a thicket of weeds. The continuance and prosperity of the Church can only be accounted for by “supposing Him to be the gardener” Almighty strength and wisdom are put to the otherwise impossible work of sustaining a holy people among men. “I will water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.”

3. That ever we should have been placed among the plants of the Lord. How is it that we have been kept there, and borne with in our barrenness, when He might long ago have said, “Cut it down: why cumbereth it the ground?” Who could have manifested such infinite patience? I know not, except upon this ground, “supposing Him to be the gardener.”

II. A SPUR TO MANY DUTIES.

1. Joy. Surely it must help every little plant to drink in the sunlight when it is whispered among the flowers that Jesus is the gardener. “Supposing Him to be the gardener,” He will make the best of you. You cannot be in better hands.

2. Valuing the Lord’s presence, and praying for it. We ought whenever the Sabbath morning dawns to pray our Well-beloved to come into His garden and eat His pleasant fruits. It is our necessity that we have Christ with us, “supposing Him to be the gardener”; and it is our bliss that we have Christ walking between our beds and borders, watching every plant, training, maturing all.

3. Yield ourselves up entirely to Him. A plant does not know how it ought to be treated. Happiness lives next door to the spirit of complete acquiescence in the will of God, and it will be easy to exercise that when we suppose the Lord Jesus to be the gardener.

4. Bring forth fruit to Him. If Jesus is to bear the blame or the honour of what we produce, then let us use up every drop of sap and strain every fibre, that we may produce a fair reward for our Lord’s travail.

III. A RELIEF FROM CRUSHING RESPONSIBILITY. “Supposing Him to be the gardener,” the Church enjoys a better oversight than mine; all must go well in the long run. He that keepeth Israel doth neither slumber nor sleep. A certain man of God in troublous times became quite unable to do his duty because he laid to heart so much the ills of the age. Then one said to him, “Mr. Whitelock, are you the manager of the world?” No, he was not quite that. “Did not God get on pretty well with it before you were born, and don’t you think He will do very well with it when you are dead?” That reflection helped to relieve the good man’s mind, and he went back to do his duty. While this relieves us of anxiety it makes labour for Christ very sweet. “Supposing Him to be the gardener,” I am quite willing to work on a barren rock, or tie up an old withered bough, or dig a worthless sod; for, if it only pleases Jesus, the work is profitable to the last degree.

1. In dealing with the souls of men, we meet with cases which are extremely difficult. Some persons are so fearful that you do not know how to comfort them; others are so presumptuous that you hardly know how to help them; others so fickle that you cannot hold them. Some flowers puzzle the ordinary gardener: we meet with plants which are covered with prickles, and wound the hand that would help them. These strange growths would make a great muddle for you if you were the gardener; but “supposing Him to be the gardener,” you can go to Him and say, “Lord, I do not understand this singular creature. Oh, that Thou wouldest manage it, or tell me how.”

2. And then, again, plants will die down, and others must be put into their places, or the garden will grow bare; but we know not where to find them. We say, “When yonder good man dies, who will succeed him?” Let us wait till he is gone and needs following. “Supposing Him to be the gardener,” the Lord has other plants in reserve which you have not yet seen: the Lord will keep up the true apostolical succession till the day of His second advent.

IV. A DELIVERANCE FROM MANY GLOOMY FEARS. I walked down a garden where all the path was strewn with leaves and broken branches and stones, and I saw the earth upon the flower-beds tossed about: all was in disorder. Had a dog been amusing himself? or had a mischievous child been at work? No; the gardener had been doing it for the good of the garden. It may be it has happened to some of you that you have been a good deal clipped lately. Well, if the Lord has done it our gloomy fears are idle. Supposing Him to be the gardener, then

1. The serpent will have a bad time of it. Supposing Adam to be the gardener, then the serpent gets in and mischief comes of it. So, if we are afraid that the devil should get in among us, let us be always in prayer, because Jesus can keep out the adversary. Other creatures intrude; caterpillars and all sorts of destroying creatures, How can we keep them out? There is no protection except one, “supposing Him to be the gardener.”

2. What if roots of bitterness should spring up among us to trouble us? Who is to prevent this? Only the Lord Jesus by His Spirit.

3. Suppose the living waters of God’s Spirit should not come to water the garden, what then? We cannot make them flow. All, but the Spirit of God will be in our garden, “supposing our Lord to be the gardener.” The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hands.

V. A WARNING FOR THE CARELESS.

1. There are many to the Church what weeds are to a garden. Take heed; for one of these days, “supposing Him to be the gardener,” “every plant which My heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.”

2. Others are like the branches of the vine which bear no fruit. “Supposing Him to be the gardener,” He will fulfil that sentence: “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away.”

VI. A QUIETUS TO THOSE WHO COMPLAIN

1. Certain of us have been made to suffer much physical pain; others have suffered heavy losses. Take the supposition of the text. The Lord has been pruning you sharply. Be quiet until you are able to say, “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away,” &c.

2. Especially I speak to those who have suffered bereavement. The best rose in the garden is gone. The gardener came this way and gathered it. Dry your grief by “supposing Him to be the gardener.”

VII. AN OUTLOOK FOR THE HOPEFUL. “Supposing Him to be the gardener,” then

1. Expect where He works the best possible prosperity. It is our unbelief that straitens God.

2. Expect Divine intercourse of unspeakable preciousness. When Adam was the gardener the Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of the day; and “supposing Him to be the gardener,” then we shall have the Lord God dwelling among us.

3. Expect He will remove the whole of the garden upward with Himself to fairer skies; for He rose, and His people must rise with Him. (C. H.Spurgeon.)

Christ the Gardener:

If Creation itself was a mediatorial act; that “God created all things by Jesus Christ”; then Jesus is the true Gardener.

1. Every flower that blows was once a thought in the mind of my Saviour; and every wave of loveliness that charms me began in Him, passed on, at last reached my heart as its strand, and broke there. All the blooms of all the gardens owe their life to Him; and all the lights of science are hid in His “treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” He plants God’s gardens, He waters them, He gives the increase. Flowers, like sweet wonders, blossoming in our hedge-rows; shy flowers that look out from the green darkness of a Devonshire lane; flowers that waver like a rich mist of beauty all round the shafts of the forest; flowers in every strip of moss that softens the wayside stone; flowers under every leaf you lift in some rustic tangle; flowers that tesselate every inch of the upland moor; small flowers such as those which only a magnifying glass can show; and great flowers crowning stalks thirty feet high; flowers that blaze mile after mile in the rolling prairie; flowers about which strange birds dart like live jewels in the tropical day; land-flowers that seem delicate as coloured light, and fine as woven air; sea-flowers, in gardens that lie like worlds of enchantment under the great southern oceans, on floors where no mortal can ever stand, but of the existence of which science is sure; “Crimson weeds that spreading, flow, Or lie like pictures in the sand below,” in the pools left between sea-side boulders. All these are witnesses to Christ. Oh, yes, He is the Gardener--Gardener of the wild landscape, Gardener of the trees as well as of the flowers. Trees of the orchard, of the wood, of the stately forest, of the shadowed avenue, of every zone, are all of His plantation. And as I muse in the solitudes of nature on these aspects of His perfection, think of the infinite delight He must feel in creating flowers, and the tender kindness He shows in giving them; think of Him “walking amidst the trees of the garden,” and think of Him for ever calling into life the million marvels of the green wilderness, I have larger and more exalted thoughts of the Saviour who “wore the platted thorn” for me, and feel that these revelations of His glory enlighten and animate my faith.

2. But He cultivates other gardens than these. “Devout Magdalene,” meditates Bishop Hall, “thou art not much mistaken. As it was the trade of the first Adam to dress the garden, so it is the trade of the Second Adam to dress the garden of the Church. He digs up the soil by seasonable afflictions, He sows in it the seeds of His grace, He plants it with gracious motions, He waters it by His own Spirit, He weeds it by wholesome censures. Oh! blessed Saviour, what is it that Thou neglectest to do for this selected enclosure of Thy Church? As in some respect Thou art the True Vine, and Thy Father the Husbandman, so also in some other we are the vine, and Thou art the Gardener. Oh! be Thou such to me as Thou appearedst to Magdalene! Break up the fallows of my nature, implant me ever with Thy fresh grace, prune me with meet corrections, bedew me with the former and the latter rain; do what Thou wilt to make me fruitful.” (C. Stanford, D. D.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "John 20:15". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/john-20.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Mary's failure to recognize the Lord is not a problem, for her attention was focused inwardly upon her own grief, from which not even the angels of God could divert it. Jesus asked exactly the same question as the angels, but with the additional question, "Whom seekest thou?" Some power beyond herself was required to break her soul out of the power of the smothering grief that overwhelmed her; and that power Jesus at once provided.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 20:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/john-20.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Jesus saith unto her, woman, why weepest thou,.... The same question he puts to her, as was put by the angels: adding,

whom seekest thou? for she was not only weeping for the loss of him, but was inquiring after him, if anyone saw him removed from thence, and where he was carried:

she supposing him to be the gardener; that had the care of the garden, in which the sepulchre was; for not the owner of the garden, who was Joseph, but the keeper of it is meant; she could not imagine that Joseph should be there so early in the morning, but might reasonably think the gardener was:

saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away; she addresses him, though she took him to be but the gardener, in a very civil and courteous manner; which was rightly judged, especially since she had a favour to ask of him: she does not mention the name of her Lord, but imagined he knew who she meant, being so lately buried there; and suggests, that perhaps it might not have been so agreeable to the gardener to have his body lie there, and therefore had removed it; and would he but be so kind as to let her know where he was put, she, with the assistance of her friends close by, would take him away with them: so in a spiritual sense, a truly gracious soul is willing to do anything, and to be at any trouble, so that it may but enjoy Christ; it dearly loves him, as this good woman did; it early, and earnestly, and with its whole heart, seeks after him, as she did; and absence of him, or loss of his presence for a while, sharpens the desire after him, and makes his presence the more welcome.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 20:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-20.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Sir, if thou have borne him hence — borne whom? She says not. She can think only of One, and thinks others must understand her. It reminds one of the question of the Spouse, “Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?” (Song of Solomon 3:3).

tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away — Wilt thou, dear fragile woman? But it is the language of sublime affection, that thinks itself fit for anything if once in possession of its Object. It is enough. Like Joseph, He can no longer restrain Himself (Genesis 45:1).

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 20:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/john-20.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Sir (ΚυριεKurie). Clearly not “Lord” here, for she thought him to be “the gardener” (ο κηπουροςho kēpouros), old word (κηποσ ουροςkēpos class="normal greek">ει συ εβαστασος αυτον — ouros), keeper of the garden, only here in the N.T.

If thou hast borne him hence (συei su ebastasos auton). Condition of the first class. Note emphasis on καγωsu (thou). A new idea struck Mary as mistaken as the other one. Jesus had repeated the question of the angels, but she did not recognize him.

And I
(kagō). Emphasis and crasis.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 20:15". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-20.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

The Fourfold Gospel

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him2, and I will take him away.

  1. Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? Christ's first question expressed kindly sympathy; the second suggested that he knew the cause of her grief, and might be able to help her find what she sought.

  2. Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him,
  3. and I will take him away. Thus encouraged, Mary at once assumes that the gardener himself had removed the body, probably under instructions from Joseph, and hope lightens her heart. In her effort to remove the body, she doubtless counts upon the help of her fellow-disciples.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 20:15". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-20.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Господин! если ты вынес Его. Она называет Его господином по общему обычаю своего народа. Ибо евреи приветствуют как господ земледельцев и других почтенных людей. Мы видим, что Мария думала при этом только о земном. Она хотела найти тело Христа лишь для того, чтобы снова положить его в могилу. Она упустила главное, не надеясь на божественную силу Его воскресения. Посему не удивительно, если глаза ее затмили столь грубые чувства.

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 20:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-20.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Ver. 15. Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?] Where the angels left, the Lord begins. God hath for our sakes taken the preaching of the gospel from the angels, and given it to ministers, who have thenceforth also changed names; for ministers are called angels, Revelation 2:1, and angels ministers, Hebrews 1:14.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 20:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-20.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

John 20:15

Christ the Gardener

The mistake which Mary made in supposing Jesus to be the gardener, will suggest some profitable thoughts for Eastertide. "The time being spring," as good Bishop Andrews remarks in his sweet, quaint way, "and the place a garden, Christ's appearing as a gardener has some propriety about it." In one sense, as St. Gregory said, Christ may well be called a gardener, and indeed is one. Christ is ever what He seems to be.

I. Man began his earthly career in a garden, and Jesus, the Divine Word who made all things, was the Creator of this temporal paradise. In that sense, therefore, He may be accounted a gardener.

II. Again, at His glorious resurrection from the dead, He did but exemplify the calling of a gardener. Nor is this to end His wonder-working power. By virtue of His own resurrection, He will raise up our bodies also. "He will change all our graves into garden plots."

III. Jesus, as the Gardener, waters and cultivates the plants which His own right hand has planted—His heavenly graces, bestowed in answer to believing prayer; and in the devout reception of the holy sacrament, refreshes and revives the soul.

J. N. Norton, Old Paths, p. 259.


References: John 20:15.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix., No. 1699; Ibid., My Sermon Notes: Gospels and Acts, p. 163; J. M. Neale, Sermons for Children, p. 121; Contemporary Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 233; Preacher's Monthly, vol. ix., p. 252; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 388; J. M. Neale, Sermons, 2nd series, vol. i., p. 68. John 20:15, John 20:16.—C. C. Bartholomew, Sermons Chiefly Practical, p. 75.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on John 20:15". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/john-20.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

John 20:15. She, supposing him to be the gardener, &c.— It is very probable that Jesus might speak low, or in a different way from what he usually did; and Mary's taking him for the gardener, seems to intimate, that there was nothing very splendid in his dress. Accordingly, when he appeared to the two disciples in their way to Emmaus, they seem to have taken him for a person of a rank not much superior to their own. Her eyes might also be withheld at first from knowing Jesus, as theirs were, Luke 24:16. It is observable, that Mary accosts this stranger in respectful language, even when she took him for a servant; for the word κηπουρος cannot with propriety signify the owner of the garden. She prudently reflected that an error on that hand would be more excusable than on the other; supposing he should have proved one of superior rank in a plain dress. It is also observable, that she does not name Jesus, but speaks in indefinite terms, If thou hast borne him hence; intimating, that he was the one person of whom her own thoughts and heart were so full, that she took it for granted every one must know whom she meant. Such language in such circumstances was perfectly natural.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 20:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/john-20.html. 1801-1803.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

15.] The same kind of repetition by the Lord of what the angel had before said is found in Matthew 28:7-10.

It is idle to enquire why she thought Him to be the gardener (see specimens of such speculations in Lücke and Stier in loc.): but I may once for all observe that we must believe the clothing of His risen Body to have been that which He pleased to assume; not earthly clothing, but perhaps some semblance of it. Certainly, in this case, He was clothed;—or she must at once have recognized Him. But see on στραφεῖσα below.

κύριε, the appellation of courtesy to an unknown person.

σύ, emphatic.

κἀγὼ αὐτ. ἀρῶ] She forgets her lack of strength for this, in the overbearing force of her love. (Meyer.)

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 20:15". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-20.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 20:15. κηπουρὸς) The article indicates that the garden was a large one, such a one as could not be kept without a gardener.— κυριε, Sir, Lord) Since she addresses with this title a gardener) dresser of herbs), she herself seems to have been in an humble position of life.— αὐτὸν, Him) She supposes that it must be evident at once to the gardener, who it is that she wants.— ἀρῶ, I will take Him away) out of the garden. She was ready to seek for a new sepulchre.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 20:15". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-20.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Either these words passed before the angels had told her that he was risen, Mark 16:6 Luke 24:5,6; or (which is most probable) Mary was hard to believe what the angels had told her so lately; but coming out of the sepulchre, Christ appeareth to her, whom she knew not, but thought him to have been the person that had the charge of that garden where Christ was buried, and that he for his own convenience had removed the dead body; she therefore desires to know where he had disposed of it, having a mind to remove it to some honourable place of burial.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 20:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-20.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Supposing him to be the gardener; the keeper of the garden in which the body of Jesus was buried. Matthew 27:60.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 20:15". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/john-20.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15.Supposing him to be the gardener—Still neither attentively looking nor listening, she supposed him to be the superintendent of Joseph’s grounds, in which the sepulchre belonged.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 20:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-20.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Jesus says to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” She, supposing him to be the garden attendant says to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him off your hands.”

When the dimly discerned man asked her what was wrong, and why she was crying, she could only ask in tears what they had done with Jesus’ body. Her only concern was that it be treated with reverence. These words lay bare the heart of Mary. She did not stop to consider the difficulties. She longed only to ensure that the body of her crucified Master was given proper burial. Let this attendant but tell her what they had done with the body and she would take it off their hands.

She would not be surprised to find people in the garden at that hour who had not been there previously. Dawn was breaking and workers could expect to be up and going about their business now that the Sabbath was over.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 20:15". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/john-20.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Jesus addressed this heartbroken disciple by respectfully calling her "woman" (Gr. gynai), as had the angels ( John 20:13; cf. John 2:4; John 19:26). He also asked the same question they had asked ( John 20:13). Jesus" first recorded post-resurrection words were these in which He combined compassion and mild rebuke. He also asked whom she was seeking as preparation for His self-revelation to her. He meant, what type of Messiah did she think Jesus was?

Mary did not answer either of Jesus" questions. Her grief had made her somewhat irrational (cf. John 11:21; John 11:32). However there seems to have been something about Jesus" resurrection body that made immediate recognition of Him difficult for many people ( Mark 16:12; Luke 24:16; John 21:4; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:35-49). Perhaps this was due partially to the terrible beatings that He had received. Instead she asked this apparent gardener for Jesus" body and promised to assume care of it. Her request revealed her devotion to Jesus. She thought that the gardener had removed it for some reason. Her "sir" (Gr. kyrie) here obviously was a courteous address, not a confession of faith.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 20:15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-20.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 20:15. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? The object of the questions seems to be, to recall Mary to herself and to awaken more deliberate thought. She is confounded by all that has happened, overwhelmed by her emotions, and hence unable to judge justly of what she is to see. The questioning and answering bring her back to calmness and self-possession.

She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou didst bear him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. So much is Mary absorbed in her own thoughts, and so completely is her mind filled with one great subject, that she imagines that every one must at once enter into her feelings. Accordingly she does not even mention the name of Jesus, but asks whether the gardener has borne ‘Him’ away. She seeks but to learn where He is, that (for no recollection of woman’s weakness presents itself to hinder the thought) she may take Him to another tomb. As she speaks, her faith and love are drawn forth in increasing measure, and the moment is at hand when they shall be satisfied.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 20:15". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-20.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 20:15. ; That she was searching for some one she had lost was obvious from her tears and demeanour. But not even the voice of Jesus sounds familiar. . She supposed Him to be the gardener (or garden-keeper) not because He had on the gardener’s clothes—for probably He wore merely the short drawers in which He had been crucified (see Hug and Lücke)—nor because He held the spade as represented in some pictures, but because no one else was likely to be there at that early hour and question her as to her reason for being there. Her answer shows that she thought it possible that it had been found inconvenient to have the body of Jesus in that tomb and that it had been removed to some other place of sepulture. In this case she will gladly relieve them of the encumbrance. It is none to her.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 20:15". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-20.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

If thou hast taken him away. Thinking him, as the evangelist remarks, to be the gardener, how comes it, that without saying whom she sought, she asks if he had taken him away? Because such was the ardour of her love, that she could not imagine any one could think of any other but him, of whom her own mind was so full. (St. Gregory, hom. xxv. in Evan.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 20:15". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/john-20.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

gardener. Greek. kepouros. Occurs only here. Sir. Greek. kurios. App-98. B. b.

if. App-118.

have borne = didst bear.

hast laid = didst lay.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 20:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-20.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? - questions which, redoubled, so tenderly reveal the yearning desire to disclose Himself to that dear desciple.

She, supposing him to be the gardener. Clad, therefore, in some such style He must have been. But if any ask, as too curious interpreters do, whence He got those habiliments, we answer, with Olshausen and Luthardt, where the two angels got theirs. The voice of His first words did not, it seems, reveal Him; for He would try her before He would tell her. Accordingly, answering not the stranger's question, but coming straight to her point with him, she

Saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence - borne whom? She says not. She can think only of One, and thinks others must understand her. It reminds one of the question of the spouse, "Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?" (Song of Solomon 3:3.)

Tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Wilt thou, dear fragile woman? But it is the language of sublime affection, that thinks itself fit for anything if once in possession of its Object. It is enough. Like Joseph, He can no longer restrain Himself (Genesis 45:1).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 20:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-20.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(15) Sir, if thou have borne him hence . . .—The word rendered “Sir” is generally a mark of respect, but like the corresponding word in most languages, was also used to a stranger, and even to an inferior. The “gardener,” moreover, corresponded more to what we should call a “bailiff.” He would have been a servant of Joseph of Arimathæa, and as such may have become known to Mary at the time of embalming. She says, with emphasis, “If thou hast borne Him hence;” turning away from the angels to address him. The word rendered “borne” here means properly “to bear,” and then “bear away,” “remove,” and then “remove secretly.” (Comp. John 12:6.) Of this last meaning there are many undoubted examples in Josephus, and this seems clearly to be the thought here.

Tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away .—Three times she refers to the Lord simply by the pronoun “Him.” She has named Him in the previous verse, and perhaps thinks that the gardener had heard those words; but the impression formed from her eager words is that her own mind is so entirely filled with the one subject, that she supposes it to be in the minds of others. The same passionate eagerness is heard in the words which follow. Devotion such as hers does not weigh difficulties. A place of safety for that sacred body is the object of her will; and that will neither dreads danger nor sees that the task would be physically impossible, but asserts in the confidence of its own strength, “and I will take Him away.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 20:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-20.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
whom
1:38; 18:4,7; Song of Solomon 3:2; 6:1; Matthew 28:5; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:5
if
1 Samuel 1:16; Matthew 12:34
Reciprocal: Genesis 37:15 - What;  1 Samuel 1:8 - why weepest;  Song of Solomon 3:3 - Saw;  Ezekiel 34:31 - ye my;  Luke 7:13 - Weep not;  John 2:4 - Woman;  John 6:24 - seeking;  John 19:41 - and in;  John 20:2 - They have taken;  John 20:13 - why

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 20:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-20.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ver. 15. "Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing Him to be the gardener, saith unto Him, Sir, if thou have borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away."

When Mary knew not Jesus, it was obvious that she should first think of the gardener: garden and gardener pertain to each other. What she says to the supposed gardener is not so much the real meaning of her heart, as the expression of her glowing desire to have her Lord again, were it only His dead form. The κύριε, Sir, which in its respectfulness goes beyond the position of the gardener, must be explained by the consideration that she thought herself dependent upon him for what was her dearest treasure.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 20:15". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-20.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

15.Lord, if thou hast carried him hence. She calls him Lord, according to the custom of her nation; for the same appellation, Lord, ( Κύριε (198)) is employed by the Hebrews in addressing laborers and other persons of low condition. We see that Mary has no view of this matter but what is earthly. She desires only to obtain the dead body of Christ, that she may keep it hidden in the sepulcher; but she leaves out the most important matter, the elevation of her mind to the divine power of his resurrection. We need not wonder, therefore, if such grovelling views place a veil before her eyes.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on John 20:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/john-20.html. 1840-57.