But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher,…
We see —
I. THAT THOSE WHO LOVE CHRIST MOST DILIGENTLY AND PERSEVERINGLY ARE THOSE WHO RECEIVE MOST PRIVILEGES FROM CHRIST'S HAND.
1. Mary would not leave the sepulchre when Peter and John went away to their own home. Love to her Master made her honour the last place where His precious body had been seen by mortal eyes. And she reaped a rich reward. She saw the angels whom Peter and John had never observed; had soothing words addressed to her; and was the first to see our Lord, and to hear His voice.
2. As it was in the morning of the first Easter Day, so will it be as long as the Church stands. All believers have not the same degree of faith, or hope, or knowledge, or courage, or wisdom; and it is vain to expect it. But it is certain that those who love Christ most will always enjoy most communion with Him. To know Christ is good; but to "know that we know Him" is far better (1 John 2:3).
II. THAT THE FEARS AND SORROWS OF BELIEVERS ARE OFTEN QUITE NEEDLESS.
1. "Mary stood at the sepulchre weeping." She wept when the angels spoke to her, and when our Lord spoke to her. And the burden of her complaint was always the same — "They have taken away my Lord." Yet all this time her risen Master was close to her. Like Hagar in the wilderness, she had a well of water by her side, but she had not eyes to see it.
2. How often we are anxious when there is no just cause for anxiety! How often we mourn over the absence of things which in reality are within our grasp! Let us pray for more faith and patience, and allow more time for the full development of God's purposes. Jacob said "All these things are against me"; yet he lived to thank God for all that had happened. If Mary had found the seal of the tomb unbroken she might well have wept. The very absence of the body which made her weep was a cause of joy for herself and all mankind.
III. WHAT LOW AND EARTHLY THOUGHTS OF CHRIST MAY CREEP INTO THE MIND OF A TRUE BELIEVER.
1. The first surprise, and the reaction from great sorrow to great joy, was more than the mind of Mary could bear. It is highly probable that she threw herself at our Lord's feet, and made greater demonstrations of feeling than were seemly or becoming; too much like one who thought all must be right if she had her Lord's bodily presence, and all must be wrong in His bodily absence; like one who forgot that her Master was God as well as Man. And hence she called forth our Lord's gentle rebuke, "I am not yet ascending to My Father for forty days: your present duty is not to linger at My feet, but to go and tell My brethren that I have risen. Think of the feelings of others as well as of your own."
2. The fault of this holy woman was one into which Christians have always been too ready to fall. In every age there has been a tendency to make too much of Christ's bodily presence, and to forget that He is "God over all, blessed for ever" as well as Man (Romans 9:5). The pertinacity with which Romanists cling to the doctrine of Christ's real corporal presence is only another exhibition of Mary's feeling. Let us be content to have Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith, and when two or three are met in His name. What we really need is not His literal flesh, but His Spirit (John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 5:16).
IV. HOW KINDLY AND GRACIOUSLY OUR LORD SPEAKS OF HIS DISCIPLES.
1. He bids Mary Magdalene carry a message to them, as "His brethren." All was forgiven and forgotten (Psalm 103:13, 14).
2. As He dealt with His erring disciples, so will He deal with all who believe and love Him, until He comes again. When we wander out of the way He will bring us back (chap. John 6:37; Psalm 103:10).
Parallel VersesKJV: But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,