John 20:14
And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
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(14) And saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.—There is no need to imagine an external cause for her turning round, and if there was one it is useless for us to ask what it was. She has expressed her woe, and turns aside again to weep, when she sees another form. Weighed down by her sorrow, not looking intently, it may be, or seeing indistinctly through tear-filled eyes, she does not recognise her Lord. We know not what the appearance was. Figure, feature, clothing, there must have been; but these differing, in this as in other manifestations, from those with which they had been familiar. She, perhaps, hardly looked at all, but supposed that the only person there at that early hour would be the keeper of the garden.

John 20:14-15. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back — Probably hearing a sudden noise behind her, and being affrighted; and saw Jesus standing — Near her; but knew not that it was Jesus — His habit being changed, her eyes also overflowing with tears, and her mind being so far from any expectation of his appearance, and so much distressed, that she probably did not so much as look up to the face of the person who appeared; Jesus saith — With his usual tone of voice and accent; Woman, why weepest thou? — These were probably the first words Christ spoke after his resurrection. Why weepest thou? — I am risen. The resurrection of Christ has enough in it to allay all our sorrows, to check the streams, and dry up the fountains of our tears. Here we may observe, Christ takes cognizance, 1st, Of his people’s griefs, and inquires why they weep? 2d, Of his people’s cares, and inquires whom or what they seek, or what they would have; when he knows they are seeking him, yet he will know it from them; they must tell him whom they seek. She, supposing him to be the gardener — The person employed by Joseph to dress and keep his garden, who she thought was come hither thus early to his work; saith, Sir, if thou have borne him hence — If, for any unknown reason, thou hast taken him away from this place, where the master of the sepulchre saw fit so honourably to lay him but a few hours ago; tell me where thou hast laid him — Where I may find his corpse; and I will take him away — Will take effectual care that his corpse shall be removed and decently interred elsewhere. Here we may observe, 1st, That her taking Jesus for the gardener intimates, that there was nothing very splendid in his dress: accordingly when he appeared to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus they seem to have taken him for a person of a rank not superior to their own. 2d, That she accosts this stranger in respectful language, even when she took him for a servant, prudently reflecting, that an error on that hand would be more excusable than one on the other, supposing he should prove a person of superior rank in a plain dress. 3d, That she does not name Jesus, but speaks in indefinite terms; If thou have borne him hence — Intimating that he was the one person of whom her own thoughts and heart were so full, that she took it for granted every one must know whom she meant. 4th, She seems to have supposed, that this gardener disdained that the body of a person who was ignominiously crucified should have the honour of being laid in his master’s new tomb, and that therefore he had removed it to some sorry place which he thought fitter for it.20:11-18 We are likely to seek and find, when we seek with affection, and seek in tears. But many believers complain of the clouds and darkness they are under, which are methods of grace for humbling their souls, mortifying their sins, and endearing Christ to them. A sight of angels and their smiles, will not suffice, without a sight of Jesus, and God's smiles in him. None know, but those who have tasted it, the sorrows of a deserted soul, which has had comfortable evidences of the love of God in Christ, and hopes of heaven, but has now lost them, and walks in darkness; such a wounded spirit who can bear? Christ, in manifesting himself to those that seek him, often outdoes their expectations. See how Mary's heart was in earnest to find Jesus. Christ's way of making himself known to his people is by his word; his word applied to their souls, speaking to them in particular. It might be read, Is it my Master? See with what pleasure those who love Jesus speak of his authority over them. He forbids her to expect that his bodily presence look further, than the present state of things. Observe the relation to God, from union with Christ. We, partaking of a Divine nature, Christ's Father is our Father; and he, partaking of the human nature, our God is his God. Christ's ascension into heaven, there to plead for us, is likewise an unspeakable comfort. Let them not think this earth is to be their home and rest; their eye and aim, and earnest desires, must be upon another world, and this ever upon their hearts, I ascend, therefore I must seek the things which are above. And let those who know the word of Christ, endeavour that others should get good from their knowledge.Knew not that it was Jesus - She was not expecting to see him. It was yet also twilight, and she could not see distinctly. 13. Woman, why weepest thou?—You would think the vision too much for a lone woman. But absorbed in the one Object of her affection and pursuit, she speaks out her grief without fear.

Because, &c.—that is, Can I choose but weep, when "they have taken away," &c., repeating her very words to Peter and John. On this she turned herself and saw Jesus Himself standing beside her, but took Him for the gardener. Clad therefore in some such style He must have been. But if any ask, as too curious interpreters do, whence He got those habiliments, we answer [with Olshausen and Luthardt] where the two angels got theirs. Nor did the voice of His first words disclose Him to Mary—"Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?" He will try her ere he tell her. She answers not the stranger's question, but comes straight to her point with him.

And presently Christ himself appeareth to her, though at first she did not know him. And when she had thus said,.... As soon as the words were out of her mouth, before she could have an answer from the angels:

she turned herself back; perceiving, either by the looks and gesture of one of the angels, or by hearing a noise, that somebody was behind her:

and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus; she saw a person, but did not know who he was, by reason of the form of his appearance, the difference of his clothes, and not expecting to see him alive; or through modesty, she might not look wistfully at him; and besides, her eyes were filled with tears, and swollen with weeping; so that she could not see clearly; and her eyes might be holden also, as the disciples were, that as yet she might not know him: so sometimes, in a spiritual sense, Christ is with, and near his people, and they know it not: Christ, as God, is omnipresent; he is every where, and in all places; the spiritual presence of Christ, is more or less, in some way or another, always in all his churches, and among his dear people; but the sight of him is not always alike to them, nor does he appear to them always in the same form; sometimes against them, at least in their apprehensions, nor always in a manner agreeably to their expectations; nor is his grace always discovered in the same way, nor has it the same effect.

{3} And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

(3) Jesus witnesses by his presence that he is truly risen.

John 20:14-15. Her conversation with the angels is interrupted, as she turns round and—sees Jesus standing by, but unrecognised by her.

ἐστράφη εἰς τ. ὀπίσω] Whether accidentally only, or as seeking after her Lord, or because she heard the rustle of some one present, is not clear. Unauthorized, however, is the view of the scene adopted by Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euth. Zigabenus, that the angels, on the sudden appearance of Jesus, had expressed their astonishment by their mien and gestures, by which Mary’s attention had been aroused.

καὶ οὐκ ᾔδει, κ.τ.λ.] The unfamiliar clothing, her own troubled and weeping glance, and, along with this, the entire remoteness from her mind of the thought of the accomplished resurrection—all this may have contributed to the non-recognition. The essential cause, however, is to be found in the mysterious alteration of the corporeity and of the appearance of Jesus, which manifests itself from His resurrection onwards, so that He comes and disappears in a marvellous way, the identity of His person is doubted and again recognised, etc. See on Matthew 28:17. That John imagined a withholding of her vision, as in Luke 24:16 (Calvin, Grotius, comp. already Ammonius), is in nowise indicated. Again, the ἐν ἑτέρᾳ μορφῄ, Mark 16:12, does not apply here.

ὁ κηπουρός] Naturally, since this unknown individual was in the garden, and already so early. Quite unnecessary, however, is the trivial assumption that He had on the clothing of the gardener (Kuinoel, Paulus, Olshausen, and several others), or: He was clothed with the loin-cloth, a piece of raiment used for field and garden labour, in which He had been crucified (altogether without evidence, comp. on John 21:18) (Hug’s invention in the Freib. Zeitschr. VII. p. 162 ff., followed by Tholuck).

κύριε] Address arising from her deeply prostrate, helpless grief.

σύ] With emphasis, in retrospect of John 20:13.

αὐτόν] She presumes that the supposed gardener has heard her words just spoken to the angels.

κἀγὼ αὐτ. ἀρῶ] in order to inter Him elsewhere. Her overflowing love, in the midst of her grief, does not weigh her strength. “She forgets everything, her feminine habits and person,” etc., Luther.John 20:14. ἐστράφη εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω … “And she sees Jesus standing and did not know that it was Jesus”; not merely because her eyes were dim with tears, but because He was altered in appearance; as Mark (Mark 16:12) says, ἐν ἑτέρᾳ μορφῇ. So little was her ultimate recognition of Jesus the result of her expectation or her own fancy embodied.14. And when] Omit ‘and.’ Perhaps she becomes in some way conscious of another Presence.

saw] Better, beholdeth, as in John 20:6; John 20:12.

knew not] Christ’s Risen Body is so changed as not to be recognised at once even by those who had known Him well. It has new powers and a new majesty. Comp. John 21:4; Luke 24:16; Luke 24:37; Matthew 28:17; [Mark 16:12].John 20:14. Εἰποῦσα ἐστράφη, having said thus, she turned) She does not attend to what one might speak, or who might speak it, in the sepulchre. It is Jesus that she is seeking.Verse 14. - Then follows the simple record of the most wonderful event in the history of the world. There and then a flash of light broke on one human soul, and on human life at large, which has been brightening and broadening in its luster till this very hour. With what awful and tender simplicity is it related! When she had said this, she turned herself back (εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω) to what was behind her, away from the angels, and from their apparent but fruitless offer of sympathy, still weeping passionately in the utter desolation of a broken heart. But why did she turn? Was she not conscious of a presence near her which she had not seen? The blind are Often aware of the presence of unseen persons, when no footfall is heard and no word spoken. And beholdeth (θεωρεῖ) Jesus standing (ἑστῶτα, perfect participle), as though for some time he had been standing there, watching her (cf. that which he had said to the eleven (John 16:22), "I will see you"). But strange, mysterious, unutterably wonderful, entirely and absolutely inconsistent with the hypothesis, to which we have often referred, that this book is a theological romance, John, on Mary's own authority, adds, She knew not that it was Jesus. This is one of those remarkably vivid and autoptic touches that carry conviction of truth, whatever may be the explanation or the conclusion to be drawn from it. How far was this lack of recognition due to her, and how far to this the first manifestation made of "spiritual body" to human ken? Some have frigidly taken a commonplace explanation. Her eyes were blinded with continuous weeping; or the darkness of the morning; or Jesus may have stood in the shadows of the city wall, as the glare of the first beam of sunrise broke out of the purple mists on the Moab hills; or Christ's appearance was so changed by the agony through which he had passed, and by the recovery and reconstitution of his humanity, that the signs of his identity were obscured. He could not have clothed himself with the glittering garments of the Transfiguration, or with the dazzling robes of angels; for she mistook him for the keeper of the garden, either for Joseph of Arimathaea himself or his steward. "She knew not that it was Jesus." Human eyes are often holden so that they do not see the Lord, even when by some objective manifestation he makes it possible to do this thing. Thus (Judges 13:16), "Manoah knew not that it was the angel of the Lord." And several other of the theophanies of the Old Testament, encountering the blindness of human vision, slowly dawn upon even prophetic intelligence. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, are all instances. And we find that in Matthew 28:16, 17, "some doubted" the Resurrection, even when the vision led others to adore (Luke 24:16). The eyes of Cleophas and his friend were holden, even though their hearts were burning. Those who traveled with Paul to Damascus saw a light and heard a sound, but they did not see nor did they hear what the apostle saw and heard. The μορφή of the risen Jesus was not, according to Mark (Mark 16:12), always the same. For the vision and perception of this mode of being, the eye needs special training and preparation. Though the eyes of love are the quickest to discern these wondrous realities, yet the vision tarries, and is for an appointed time, and even they who ultimately see have to wait for it. Turned herself back

Canon Westcott, with that beautiful subtilty of perception which so eminently characterizes him, remarks: "We can imagine also that she became conscious of another Presence, as we often feel the approach of a visitor without distinctly seeing or hearing him. It may be, too, that the angels, looking toward the Lord, showed some sign of His coming."

Saw (θεωρεῖ)

Present tense. Rev., beholdeth. She looks at Him steadfastly and inquiringly as at a stranger. The observance of these distinctions between verbs of seeing, is very important to the perception of the more delicate shading of the narrative.

Knew not (ᾔδει)

Indicating a knowledge based on spiritual fellowship and affinity, an inward, conscious, sure conviction of His identity.

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