The Facts Of The Lord’s Resurrection, In Their Relative Order

Each Gospel has only a selection or summary connected with its own immediate subject. Thus, in Matthew, no interview of our Lord with His apostles is mentioned, but on the mountain in Galilee where a specific commission is given. Now, we know from the Acts that He was seen of them forty days, and conversed on the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. John gives His meeting with the apostles on two successive Lord’s days, not to speak of the subsequent scene at the sea of Tiberias. 1 Corinthians 15 relates several distinct appearances of the risen Saviour, in one of which He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once.

All this shews how entirely these accounts are matters of inspiration, and not merely the memory aided or directed by the Holy Ghost. The things which, in such a case, Matthew, for instance, must have recollected, and might naturally have been expected to record, he does not, but simply gives (or rather the Spirit by him) what was suitable to the special aim of his Gospel. Not a hint is dropped of those meetings with the apostles in Jerusalem, though Matthew beyond doubt was there. But the Spirit led him purposely to omit all notice of Jerusalem, and of the Lord’s visits there after the resurrection. His business was to shew the Lord in His accustomed place with the disciples, only widening their mission from the lost sheep of Israel to all the nations, in virtue of the universal power given to Him, the risen Son of man, and the name of God now fully revealed according to the dispensation which superseded Judaism. The scene of the ascension is also omitted there. A similar principle applies to the three other accounts.

Comparing the Gospels, we find, first, that the disciples were all in great perplexity. They had no idea of resurrection. So John expressly tells us; and this same thing appears in the avowal of the two on the road to Emmaus. “Yea, and certain women, also, of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre, and when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain,” etc. Though some of the particular circumstances, or facts, were credited by individuals, there was no understanding of the great truth. Then we learn that Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, and Salome, if not more, came to the sepulchre with spices.37 These found the stone rolled away. Mary Magdalene runs and tells Peter and John of the empty tomb; and they, hastening, found it so, and went away again to their own home. The women go in, and the angel or angels address them, announcing His resurrection according to His own word.

At this moment, as at the former, Mary Magdalene seems to have been alone outside, weeping, when the angels addressed her; then, turning round, she sees and converses with Jesus Himself, receiving a special message to the disciples. Jesus met all the women subsequently, and gave them a general message to the disciples. They had fled away affrighted before, and said nothing; reassured now, they told all. It appears that Mary Magdalene went off as soon as she saw the stone rolled away, and had then seen nothing of the angels; and that as the women went in fear to tell the disciples what the angel said, the Lord met them, and added His personal testimony to that of the angels. From Mark we learn that He was first seen of Mary Magdalene. From Matthew we gather that, soon after, He met the women on their way to the disciples.

In Luke 24:10, Mary Magdalene is united in a common general statement with the other women—no unfrequent thing both in Matthew and Luke.

In verse 12 the Authorised Version might mislead. “Then arose Peter,” etc. The Greek here translated “Then” is not an adverb of time, but a conjunctive particle used to mark opposition or mere transition. In the course of that day the Lord appeared to Simon Peter, also to the disciples journeying to Emmaus. When these two got back that night, they found the disciples occupied with the Lord’s appearing to Peter. But there was much incredulity in their minds, though such a testimony seems to have had much influence on them. But there was not real faith in the matter. Then came the statement of the returned disciples; but, as Mark lets us know, “neither believed they them.” While thus gathered and speaking, Jesus Himself appeared. They were, or had been, at supper—at least the eleven. Even then, till He ate, they believed not for joy.

Of the remaining facts I need not speak, as their course is plain. But it seemed desirable to give an historical outline as it appears to me, where many find difficulties.

37 I think it is certain, from Matthew 28:1, and from Mark 16:1, 2, that the coming of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, was during the twilight of Saturday evening.