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3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.
( His countenance.' In the original, it refers to his whole person. His general aspect, or the appearance of the angel himself, was, &c. Like lightning. Peculiarly bright and shining. 'His raiment white as snow.' The celestial beings are usually represented as clothed in white, Acts i. 10. Dan. vii. 9. Rev. iii. 4, 5; iv. 4; vii. 13, 14. White, among the Jews, was the symbol of purity, or innocence.
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
'The keepers did shake. It was night. The appearance was unexpected and terrific. The stone was probably suddenly removed. At the noise, the light, the suddenness of the appearance, they were affrighted. And became as dead men.' They fainted, or were thrown into a swoon. The narrative leads us to suppose that it was not long before the women came to the sepulchre, or near the break of day.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
Mark says, entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment,' xvi. 5. Luke says, xxiv. 3, they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus; and as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold two men stood by them in shining garments.' Seeing the stone rolled away, and the sepulchre open, they of course anxiously entered into the sepulchre, to see if the body was there. They did not find it, and there they saw the vision of angels, who gave them information respecting his resurrection. Infidels have obiected that here are three inconsistencies in the accounts by Mark and Luke: 1. That Mark says the angel was sitting, and Luke says they were standing. Answer. The word in Luke does not of necessity mean that they stood, but only that they were present. 2. It is objected that Luke mentions two, but Mark and Matthew one. Answer. Mark mentions the one who spoke; for it cannot be supposed they both spake the same thing. He does not deny that another was present with him. Luke affirms that there was. This way of speaking is not unfrequent. Thus Mark and Luke mention only one demoniac who was cured at Gadara. Matthew mentions two. The fact that but one is mentioned-where it is not denied that there were others-does not prove that there could not be others. 3. Matthew calls this an angel. Mark and Luke, a man. Answer. Angels in the scriptures, from appearing in the form of men, are often called as they
appear, and are mentioned as men. See Gen. xviii. 2, 16, 33; xix. 1, 5. Fear not ye.' Be not agitated, or troubled, that you do not find the body of the Saviour. I know that ye seek him, and are troubled that he is removed; but you need not fear that he has been stolen, you will see him again in Galilee.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay:
'He is risen, as he said.' He had often predicted that he would rise, but the disciples did not understand it, and consequently did not expect it, Matt. xvi. 21; xx. 19. 'The place where theLord lay. The place of a body in a sepulchre was commonly a niche cut in the wall. The sepulchre of David was more than a hundred feet in length, cut out of solid rock under ground, and separated into various apartments. All round the sides of those apartments were niches for the dead; or they were ranged around the sides, in places cut in the solid rock just large enough to contain the body. In such a place our Lord lay.
7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
'Tell his disciples.' Mark adds particularly, and Peter.' This was a kind message to Peter, who had so recently denied his Lord. It would serve to cheer him in his despondency, and to assure him that his sin had been forgiven; and it shows the tender love and remembrance of Jesus-even for his unfaithful friends.
8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
Joyful at the news, and wishing to impart it to all, they fled to find the disciples, and tell them that the Lord was risen. 'With fear and great joy.' A confused state of mind, apprehensive in part, perhaps, that it might not after all be true. The news was too good to be credited at once. Yet they had sufficient belief in it to fill them with great and unexpected joy. Perhaps no words could better express the state of their minds-the mingled awe and rejoicing-than those here used. And did run,' &c. The city, where the disciples were, was half a mile or more from the place.
9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
This was when they left the sepulchre the second time. Jesus
first appeared to Mary Magdalene, when alc.ie, John xx. 14. Afterwards he appeared to the other women, as related by Matthew. See the accounts of the resurrection harmonized, at the end of this chapter. All hail.' The meaning of the word 'hail' here, is, rejoice; a term of salutation connected with the idea of joy: joy at his resurrection, and at meeting them again. Held him by the feet. Or threw themselves prostrate before him. This was the usual posture of supplication. See 2 Kings iv. 37. It does not mean that they took hold of his feet, but only that they cast themselves down before him. And worshipped him.' See note, Matt. viii. 2. In this place the word 'worship' seems to denote the homage due to the Messiah risen from the dead; regarded by them now in a proper light, and entitled to the honour which was due to God, agreeable to John v. 23.
10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
'Be not afraid.' When in the presence of a heavenly beingan angel, or one who was supposed to be possessed of Divine power-men were commonly struck with great fear, as well as a great sense of their unworthiness. See Luke v. 8. Judges vi. 22, 23; xiii. 21, 22. The women were in like manner alarmed when they saw Jesus: believing him now peculiarly to be a Divine being; seeing him returning from the regions of the dead; and doubtless impressed with a new consciousness that they were unworthy of being in his presence. Go tell my brethren.' There is something exceedingly tender in the appellation here used, my brethren.' Though he was risen from the dead; though about to be exalted to heaven; yet he did not disdain to call his disciples his brethren. This was calculated still further to silence the fears of the women, and to inspire them with confidence. Into Galilee.' Galilee was the northern part of the land. There the Saviour commenced his ministry; and there, away from the noise and confusion of the city, he purposed again to meet them.
Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
"When they were going.' Or when they had gone from the tomb. 'Some of the watch. Some of the guard that had been set around the tomb to keep it safe. 'Showed unto the chief priests, To Annas and Caiaphas.
12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money ur.to
the soldiers, 13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
They deemed the matter of so much importance as to justify he calling together of the great council of the nation. Notwithstanding all their caution, it was plain that the body of Jesus was gone. They had been at great pains to procure his death. They had convinced Pilate that he was dead. They had placed a guard for the express purpose of preventing his being taken. It would be in vain after this to pretend that he was not dead; that he was in a swoon; that he died in appearance only. They concluded, after consultation, that but one way was left to bribe the soldiers-to induce them to tell a falsehood, and to attempt to convince the world that Jesus, in spite of themselves, and in the face of all probability, had been really stolen. 'Large money. Much money. This was given to bribe them; to induce them to conceal the truth; and to affirm what they knew was false.
14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
'The governor's ears.' To Pilate. If it is reported to him that Jesus was stolen while you slept. 'We will persuade him.' We will convince, or satisfy him, so that he shall not punish you. This they might promise with safety. They knew from the character of Pilate that he could be easily bribed. He had not been inclined at all to interfere in any thing concerning the Saviour, until it was urged upon him by the Jews. He would not be disposed of himself to take any further trouble about the matter, unless the sanhedrim should demand it. This of course they would not do.
15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
Commonly reported.' This account of the disappearance of the body of Jesus from the sepulchre is commonly given. 'Until this day. The time when Matthew wrote this gospel, that is, about thirty years after the resurrection.
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus, of which an account is given in this chapter, is one of the most important doctrines of the christian religion, and is attested by the strongest evidence that can be adduced in favour of any ancient fact. He had often foretold his own death and resurrection. See Matt. xii. 40; xvi. 21; xx. 19. There was no doubt that he was really dead. Every proper precaution was taken to prevent his removal by stealth. On the third day the body was missing. In this all were agreed. The disciples affirmed that he was alive. The Jews
hired the Roman soldiers to affirm that he was stolen while they slept, and succeeded in making many of the people believe it. This account of the Jews is attended with the following difficulties and absurdities: 1. The Roman guard was composed usually of sixty men, and they were stationed there for the express purpose of guarding the body of Jesus. 2. The punishment of sleeping while on guard was death, and it is perfectly incredible that they should expose themselves in this manner to death. 3. The disciples were few in number, unarmed, weak, and timid. They had just fled before those who took Jesus in the garden, and how can it be believed that in so short a time they should dare to attempt to take away from a Roman guard of armed men what they were expressly set to defend? 4. How could the disciples remove the stone and the body, without awaking one of their number? 5. The regularity and order of the grave clothes, John xx. 6, 7, show that the body had not been stolen. When men rob graves of the bodies of the dead, they do not wait coolly and regularly to fold up the grave clothes, and lay them carefully by themselves. 6. If the soldiers were asleep, how did they, or how could they know that the disciples stole the body away? If they were awake, why did they suffer it? The whole account, therefore, was absurd. On the other hand, the account given by the disciples was perfectly natural. 1. They account for the reason why the soldiers did not see the Saviour when he rose. Terrified at the vision of an angel, they became as dead men. 2. They affirmed that they saw him. All the apostles affirmed this, and many others. 3. They affirmed it in Jerusalem, in the presence of the Jews, before the high priest and the people. See the Acts of the Apostles. If the Jews really believed the account which they themselves had given, why did they not apprehend the apostles and prove them guilty of the theft and of falsehood? things which they never attempted, and which show, therefore, that they did not credit their own report. 4. In regard to the Saviour, they could not be deceived. They had been with him three years. They knew him as a friend. They again ate and drank with him; they put their fingers into his hands and side; they conversed with him; they were with him forty days. There were enough of them to bear witness. The law commonly requires not more than one or two competent witnesses, but here were twelve plain, honest men who affirmed in all places, and at all times, that they had seen him. 5. They gave every possible evidence of their sincerity. They were persecuted, ridiculed, scourged, and put to death for affirming this. Yet not one of them ever expressed the least doubt of its truth. They bore every thing rather than deny that they had seen him. They had no motive in doing this, but the love of the truth. They obtained no wealth by it; no honour; no pleasure. They gave themselves up to great and unparalleled sufferings; going from