The Narrative Of Passion-Week, And Of The Resurrection

I apprehend that the consideration of the different structure of the days makes the Last Supper and passover quite intelligible.

Thursday evening was their Friday. Thus our Lord ate the passover on Friday, and yet was offered up on Friday. We know that it was late; for it was night when He was betrayed, just after the supper. (John 13.) This was on their Friday night (preceding the day). The blessed Lamb of God was offered, being crucified the third hour; and the scene closed just after the ninth hour, about three hours within the Friday.

Learned men say between the two evenings means between three and six; but why? What is their authority? It is remarkable that the unleavened bread was to begin at even (that is, at 6 o’clock on Thursday, or their Friday), but the paschal lamb to be slain between the two evenings. Query whether it be not between the beginning of Friday (our Thursday evening) and the beginning of Saturday (our Friday evening)? It was strictly fulfilled in our Lord j and upon this supposition every statement in the scriptural account is consistent.

The order would then stand thus:—

Our Thursday evening


their Friday, Last Supper.



Friday, the Crucifixion.

Our Friday evening


their Saturday, the Sabbath.



Saturday, the Sabbath.

Our Saturday evening


their Sunday, or First-day.



First day of the week.

Thus our Thursday night, their Friday, was spent in the judgment-hall, though they would not go into Pilate’s that they might eat the passover.

The words “bought” in Mark 16:1, and “as it was dusk” in Matthew 28:1, have led me to new apprehensions as to the visits of the women to the sepulchre.

In the first place, it is to me beyond controversy that several things supposed to happen in the morning really happened on (to us) Saturday evening. The sabbath closed at 6 in the evening as is known, and from Saturday at 6 in the evening, the women were free to buy their spices or to do anything else. The Greek for “as it was getting dusk “as in Luke 23:54, does not mean solely nor properly “dawning.” Here the Friday evening of our reckoning is “the sabbath drew on,” it was the evening of the day that preceded Saturday, the dusk of the commencing Sabbath.

Hence, secondly, in Matthew 28:1, “in the end of the sabbath as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week,” is properly what we call Saturday; but this, being sabbath, it was only at the close of it, that is when it was over, that they went. However, the Greek words for the time differ, and “late” in Matthew 28:1 is not the same as “hespera” used for “evening” in Luke 24:29. The former (opse) means “after,” and even “a good while after.” See Wetstein on Matthew 28:1; but it is given as “late.” We learn also from Marsh (whose reasonings on the passage are unfounded) that the Syriac has translated Luke 23:54 and John 19:31 (which is certainly the evening) by the same word, that h, because it was the preparation; the same word as Luke; and this word has the natural signification of “becoming dusk,” Syriac being the apostles’ language.

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses, etc., saw where they laid Him; Mark 15:47. The sabbath over, the two Marys and Salome buy spices. That is, on Saturday evening they “bought” (not “had bought”) them; and Mary Magdalene and the other Mary after this, “late in the sabbath” (Matt. 28:1), go and see the sepulchre. It was thus late, after buying the spices. But Mary Magdalene was absorbed with thoughts of Jesus and not resting at all; while it was yet dark, she comes to the sepulchre (that is, on Sunday morning before day) runs and tells Peter and John, who come and examine the sepulchre and return home. Mary remains and sees Jesus, and then goes and tells the disciples in general (not to go to Galilee: that was not her message, but) that she had seen Jesus, and that He had told her He was to ascend to His Father and their Father, to His God and their God, that is, their new divine heavenly relationship according to His own through His Person and work.

Mark, who relates the message of the angels to the women as to Galilee, states also that He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, of which John gives the detail. Mary Magdalene’s occupation of mind is evident all through, and John to whom she went gives the detail of this part in accordance with the subject of all his Gospel. She did not wait to see anything else at the sepulchre. Seeing the stone rolled away, she set off at once to Peter and John (those specially attached to Jesus) to tell them the sepulchre was empty. The risen Saviour appears to her with the message cited. Jesus Himself drew her as an object of affection.

The women in general came to anoint Him. It was all well. It was the manner of the Jews to bury, and they would pay their crucified Lord honour thus. But there is no such hurry with them. They did not set off early, but are there only at sunrise. The scene with Mary Magdalene was all over. To them angels appear, a gracious but ordinary Jewish intervention on God’s part; and Jesus is associated with Galilee—His place of connection with the poor Jewish remnant. There they would see Him, as indeed they did. They are rejoiced and alarmed at the same time, and go off from the sepulchre; and as they go, they meet Jesus who also tells them to say that they will meet Him in Galilee—the same association. And they touch Him: to Mary Magdalene this was not permitted; for He was not returned to take the kingdom and be bodily present there. The close of Matthew connects itself with the Galilean position.

The only passage here which presents any difficulty is “they said nothing to any man,” Mark 16:8. From verse 7 it is evident that in result they told the disciples; only in going (fleeing) they said nothing to any one on the road till they reached the disciples. Matthew, indeed, does not say they executed their commission. Christ met them in Galilee on a mountain where He had ordered them to meet Him. The last words of this Gospel take up distinctly the Galilean place, and shew that He had now authority given Him for more extension, sending them out to all the nations with a new mission; but the point of contact with the old mission was Galilee, the seat of the poor remnant according to Isaiah 8 and 9.

I have here omitted Luke, because always in his Gospel he gives the general broad facts, without occupying himself with their order or connection in time. This is universally his character. He is perfectly exact, and in this way gives much additional moral light on many points. But as he is occupied with this, it is not the purpose of the Spirit in his Gospel to narrate historically. He will take from many periods what will bring out in common the same truth; or single out one fact which shews it forth without heeding the other accompanying ones, or name them without reference to their order in time, if their moral order be different, as in the temptation in the wilderness. So he passes over the flight into Egypt; and shews how, things being accomplished in the temple, they went to Nazareth, because he was not to take up the Jewish character of Christ, but the contrary. And hence, when obedience to the law was personally accomplished, Jesus gets at once into His Nazarene character.

It is the same in principle in the history of the resurrection. The women who had accompanied Him from Galilee (that is their character), having followed, beheld the sepulchre and how His body was laid; and having returned they prepared spices and ointments. He does not say, they bought, nor when they prepared. Perhaps they did on Friday night as well as Saturday: I doubt it, however; for at 6 o’clock sabbath began, and it must have been about that, if not quite, when they returned. They rested the sabbath, but the Greek here in Luke 23:56, gives it a moral character, and not the date after the buying.

So, in chapter 24:8-10, we have merely the general fact as to all the women that came from Galilee, without any detail; and to the eleven and all the rest Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James, and the others with them, told these things to the apostles. It was the affair of the women: where, and when, or who, to each or to several or collectively, is passed over entirely. It was not the object here of the Spirit of God. What He does tell us is the fact, and He gives it a moral character, and some additional particulars which are not elsewhere, but no details. It is possible that more than one party of women went to the sepulchre, and that hearing from the first party or through their means they went down. However, I have no object in supposing it: verses 22, 23 would rather say otherwise, as also verse 1. I do not speak here of Mary Magdalene. But this the scripture was not concerned to tell us. Each word of what it does tell us bears truth in it for the soul. So verses 23, 24. It is all put generally together; for we may well suppose that verse 24 refers to Peter and John, though most likely the two that went to Emmaus only heard this as a general report.

Verse 12 also is thus given as a confirming fact after the very vague general statement of all the women—telling the apostles and all the rest. They were about one hundred and twenty, men and women. These preparatory facts are really introductory almost to the account of the journey to Emmaus, which is also alluded to in Mark. The general effect of the women’s statement is given in verse 11. However, there was exception. For instance, Peter (it is not “Then Peter” as in the English; but should be “But Peter”) arose and went and saw and departed, wondering at what had happened; but, as John tells us, he had no scriptural understanding of, or faith in, the resurrection.

See the remarkable confirmation of this character at the close of this account of Luke, where verses 43, 44, 50 seem all continuous; and they are so morally. An infidel might say, Luke clearly did not know that there were forty days, but supposed He went up to heaven at once. Now Luke is the person who tells us in Acts 1 that there were forty days.