But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher,…
I. MARY'S SORROW.
1. She sought for a lost Christ, and looked for Him where He was not to be found. So —
(1) Some lose Christ when any great calamity comes upon them, and their faith is shaken in the Divine goodness.
(2) Others fall into temptations, become prosperous, and worldly, lose sight of all spiritual aims, become content with this world, and their faith and hope in Christ are gone.
(3) Others get entangled in intellectual difficulties about the Gospels, or inspiration, or miracles, and because they cannot see their way out. Christ meanwhile is almost, if not entirely, lost to their vision. We can lose Christ in a thousand ways, and look for Him in a thousand places where He is not to be found. We try to find Him in books of controversy, in going from one Church to another, in praying for faith in Him, in reiterating the creeds, forgetting that the restoration of all belief must begin on the high road of duty, and that spiritual work is the road to spiritual knowledge, and the recovery of our hold of Christ.
2. Mary failed to recognize Him though so near to her. So we often fail to recognize Christ though He manifests Himself to us in all the manifold forms of our life. We, too, often think that we can meet and recognize Him only in Church; but there is no charm in a Church for disclosing Christ; the charm must be in ourselves, perceiving and answering to the charm that there is in Christ. Then we can see Him everywhere.
(1) The wickedest persons ought to reveal Christ, for you may be sure that He is there yearning to recover them.
(2) Wherever an afflicted man or woman lies in sorrow, there you hear His voice, saying, "Come unto Me," &c.
(3) Whenever you see a man reviled or misrepresented, there you have an image of that Christ who was crucified for His goodness.
(4) Christ looks at us through the eyes of every innocent child; for there is in them the light of the kingdom of heaven.
(5) Every just and noble deed is a revelation of Christ; for He came not to be ministered unto, &c.
3. She mistook the Divine work for man's. "They have taken away my Lord;" not knowing that He had reclaimed His own life by the power of the eternal Spirit. There is a human and a Divine side to every event, and things become significant in proportion as we can see their Divine aspect. There are men who can see in Christ nothing but what is simply human. There are men who have no eye for the Divine. They are mostly cold, self-contented natures; having no moral enthusiasm, nor intellectual grasp, but play upon the surface of a great many things with cold moonlight gleams. Let us guard as beyond all price the faculty which can see God in all things.
II. THE STRENGTH OF MARY'S LOVE (ver. 15). Her overflowing love in the midst of her grief does not wait to measure her strength. She was equal to anything that her love prompted her to undertake. Love is the real worker of miracles in this world. And I am speaking now of human love; the Divine love, which is the parent of ours, is to ours as the ocean is to the rivulet, and as the sun is to the glow-worm. Human love still undertakes tasks that are beyond its strength, and dies in hopeless endeavours. How many lives are there who have not been able, through years of ill-treatment, to uproot the love of their youth, and who still wait and pray for a change in the husband who has long ago forfeited all title even to respect. And I think there are some men of the same nature. There is a love that descends upon those lower than itself, as when the mother loves the unworthy son or daughter, and there is the love that bends, entranced before a goodness and a beauty far surpassing itself. This was the love that kindled in the soul of Mary, and the highest proof that we have it is that we do not waste our time in visions and rapture, but imitate the love of Christ in doing His work. "Inasmuch as ye did it," &c.
III. THE IMPERFECTION OF MARY'S FAITH. She desired and dwelt too much on the outward Christ. Therefore she must not touch Him. The most difficult thing is to pass away from the outward things of religion into the region where faith grasps its objects, and sees its truths, and feels their reality. Does eternity open to you when you sing, or pray, or meditate? When you gather round the Lord's table, does it proclaim the unseen fact of Christ's sacrificial love?
IV. OUR LORD'S MESSAGE SENT BY MARY (ver. 17).
1. This was a message of forgiveness. There are two things difficult about forgiveness — the power to forgive and the manner in which it is done. There are some natures that cannot forgive, even when they profess to do it, but when we can turn our resentment into pity and mercy we have learned the lesson which Christ taught us from the cross.
2. The message was one of continued, unbroken affection. Go and tell My brethren — not My poor weak followers and disciples, not even My friends. He was not ashamed of them, notwithstanding all their spiritual poverty and their want of sympathy with Him. What a lesson it reads to us!
(C. Short, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,