Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 33: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part III, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
MATTHEW 28:8-10; MARK 16:8-11; LUKE 24:9-12
8. And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to inform his disciples. 9. And while they went to inform his disciples, then, lo, Jesus met them, saying, Hail. 305 And they approached, and held his feet, and worshipped him. 10. Then Jesus saith to them, Fear not; go, tell my brethren to go into Galilee; and there shall they see me.
8. And they went away quickly, and fled from the tomb; for they were seized with trembling and amazement, and said nothing to any person; for they were afraid. 9. Now, when Jesus was risen early on the first day of the Sabbath, 306 he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. 10. She went and told it to those who had been with him, who were mourning and weeping. 11. And they, when they heard that he was alive, and had been seen by her, did not believe.
9. And returning from the tomb, they told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest. 10. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and others who were with them, that told these things to the apostles. 11. And their words appeared to them as idle fancies, and they did not believe them. 12. And Peter rose, and ran to the tomb, and stooping down, saw the linen clothes placed by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at what had happened.
Matthew 28:8. And they departed quickly. The three Evangelists pass by what John relates about Mary Magdalene, (Joh 20:2,) that she returned into the city before she had seen the angels, and complained with tears that the body of Christ had been taken away. Here they mention only the second return to the city, when she, and other women who accompanied her, told the disciples that Christ was risen; which they had learned both from the words and testimony of the angel, and from seeing Christ himself. Now before Christ showed himself, they already ran to the disciples, as they had been commanded by the angel. On the road they received a second confirmation, that they might with greater certainty assert the resurrection of the Lord.
With fear and great joy. By these words Matthew means that they were indeed gladdened by what the angel told them, but, at the same the were struck with fear, so that they were held in suspense between joy and perplexity. For there are sometimes opposite feelings in the hearts of the godly, which move them alternately in opposite directions, until at length the peace of the Spirit brings them into a settled condition. For if their faith had been strong, it would have given them entire composure by subduing fear; but now fear, mingled with joy, shows that they had not yet fully relied on the testimony of the angel. And here Christ exhibited a remarkable instance of compassion, in meeting them while they thus doubted and trembled, so as to remove all remaining doubt.
Yet there is some diversity in the words of Mark, that they fled, seized with trembling and amazement, so that through fear they were dismayed. But the solution is not very difficult; for though they were resolved to obey the angel, still they had not power to do so, 307 if the Lord himself had not loosed their tongues. But in what follows there is greater appearance of contradiction; for Mark does not say that Christ met them, but only that he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, while Luke says nothing whatever of this appearance. But this omission ought not to appear strange to us, since it is far from being unusual with the Evangelists.
As to the difference between the words of Matthew and of Mark, it is possible that Magdalene may have been a partaker of so great a favor before the other women, or even that Matthew, by synecdoche, may have extended to all what was peculiar to one of their number. It is more probable, however, that Mark names her alone, because she first obtained a sight of Christ, and in a peculiar manner, in preference to the others, and yet that her companions also saw Christ in their order, and that on this account Matthew attributes it to all them in common. This was an astonishing instance of goodness, that Christ manifested his heavenly glory to a wretched woman, who had been possessed by seven devils, (Lu 8:2,) and, intending to display the light of a new and eternal life, began where there was nothing in the eyes of man but what was base and contemptible. But by this example Christ showed how generously he is wont to continue the progress of his grace, when he has once displayed it towards us; and, at the same time, he threw down the pride of the flesh.
9. And held his feet. This appears not to agree with the words of John, (Joh 20:17,) where he declares that Mary was forbidden to touch Christ. But it is easy to reconcile them. The Lord, perceiving that Mary was too eager to embrace and kiss his fleet, orders her to retire; because it was proper to correct the superstition, and to point out the design of his resurrection, which Mary was withheld from perceiving, partly by an earthly and carnal affection, and partly by foolish zeal. Yet at first the Lord permitted her to touch his feet, that nothing might be wanting to give her a full conviction; and, therefore, Matthew immediately adds, that they worshipped the Lord, which was a proof that they fully recognized him.
10. Then Jesus saith to them. We conclude, that it was an improper fear, from which Christ again delivers them; for though it arose out of admiration, still it was opposed to the tranquillity of faith. That they may raise themselves to Christ, the Conqueror of death, they are commanded to be cheerful. 308 But by those words we are taught that we never know aright our Lord’s resurrection, until, through the firm assurance which we have conceived in our hearts, we venture to rejoice that we have been made partakers of the same life. Our faith ought, at least, to proceed so far that fear shall not predominate.
Go, tell my brethren. When Christ ordered them to tell this to the disciples, by this message he again collected and raised up the Church, which was scattered and fallen down. For as it is chiefly by the faith of the resurrection that we are now quickened, so at that time it was proper that the disciples should have that life restored to them from which they had fallen. Here, to it is proper to remark the astonishing kindness of Christ, in deigning to bestow the name of brethren on deserters who had basely forsaken him. Nor can it be doubted that he intentionally employed so kind an appellation, for the purpose of soothing the grief by which he knew that they were grievously tormented. But as the Apostles were not the only persons who were acknowledged by him as brethren, let us know that this message was conveyed by the recommend of Christ, in order that it might afterwards come to us. And, therefore, we ought not to listen with indifference to the narrative of the resurrection, when Christ, with his own mouth, kindly invites us to receive the fruit of it on the ground of our being related to him as brethren. As to the interpretation which some have given to the word brethren, as denoting the cousins and other relatives of Christ, 309 their mistake is abundantly refuted by the context; for John expressly says that Mary came and told the disciples, (Joh 20:18;) and Luke immediately adds, that the women told these things to the apostles. Mark also agrees with them; for he says that Mary came and told it to the apostles, while they were mourning and weeping.
Mark 16:11. And when they heard. The testimony of Mary alone is related by Mark; but I am convinced that all of them in common conveyed the message in obedience to the commands of Christ. And even this passage confirms more fully what I have just now said, that there is no disagreement among the, Evangelists, when one of them specially attributes to Mary Magdalene what the other Evangelists represent as common to all the women, though not in an equal degree. But the disciples must have been held bound by shameful indifference, so that they did not recall to their recollection that what they had often heard from their Master was accomplished. If the women had related any thing of which they had not formerly heard, there would have been some reason for not immediately believing them in a matter which was incredible; but now they must have been uncommonly stupid in holding as a fable or a dream what had been so frequently promised and declared by the Son of God, when eye-witnesses assured them that it was accomplished. Besides, their unbelief having deprived them of sound understanding, they not only refuse the light of truth, but reject it as an idle fancy, as Luke tells us. Hence it appears that they had yielded so far to temptation, that their minds had lost nearly all relish for the words of Christ.
Luke 24:12. And Peter arose, and ran to the tomb. I have no doubt that Luke here inverts the order of the narrative, as may be readily inferred from the words of John, (Joh 20:3;) and, in my opinion, the word ran (ἔδραμεν) might justly be rendered as a pluperfect tense, had run. All who possess a tolerable acquaintance with Scripture are aware that it is customary with Hebrew writers to relate afterwards those occurrences which had been omitted in their proper place. Luke mentions this circumstance for the purpose of showing more strongly the obstinacy of the apostles ill despising the words of the women, when Peter had already seen the empty grave, and had been compelled to wonder at an evident proof of the resurrection.
“Bien vous soit;” — “may it be well with you.”
“Au premier jour du Sabbath, ou, de la sepmaine;” — “on the first day of the Sabbath, or, of the week.”
“Toutesfois le moyen leur defailloit, et elles n’eussent sceu le faire;” — “yet they wanted the means, and would not have known how to do it.”
“De se resjouir, et ouster toute tristesse;” — “to be glad, and to lay aside all sadness.”
“Les cousins et autres parens de Christ.”