But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher,…
I. MARY'S MOURNING, or love's grief expressed (ver. 11).
1. Standing beside the vacant tomb — a hopeful circumstance. How much worse for her had it been tenanted!
2. Lamenting in mistaken sorrow. Most sorrow perhaps of this sort. Christians grieve when they ought to rejoice, e.g., at the graves of those who are for ever with the Lord. Continuing dejected without. Had Mary gone in she would have found it a habitation of angels. "No more a charnel house to fence, the relics of lost innocence," &c. (Keble).
II. MARY'S VISION, or love's attention arrested (vers. 12-14).
1. The advanced guards of the King.
(1) Their nature — angels.
(2) Their number — two, to correspond with the two robbers.
(3) Their appearance — in white, or shining garments (Daniel 10:6; Revelation 10:1).
(4) Their situation — at the head and feet, guarding the place from profanation.
(5) Their question — to arrest attention and convey sympathy.
2. The person of the Risen Lord.
(1) Near her, as always to His people (Matthew 18:20), especially in times of sadness (Luke 24:15).
(2) Speaking to her. Christ still notes the tears of His people (Luke 24:17; Hebrews 4:15).
(3) Yet unrecognized by her, as He often is by His sorrowing disciples (Luke 24:16).
III. MARY'S MISTAKE, or love's blindness discovered (ver. 15).
1. Great. Already she had committed several blunders — seeking the living among the dead, sorrowing when she ought to have rejoiced, &c., but none so great as mistaking Christ for Joseph's gardener.
2. Natural. The likeliest person at that hour was the gardener, and as to other disciples He may have had "another form."
4. Beautiful — love knows no impossibilities; and no passion is so omnipotent as that of a renewed heart for Christ. "At this hour millions would die for him" (Napoleon).
IV. MARY'S AWAKENING, or love's darkness dispelled (ver. 16).
1. The familiar voice. What a wealth of pitying love would be infused into the "Mary" (cf. John 21:15; Luke 22:48; Acts 9:4, 10).
2. The spell broken. No voice but One could say "Mary" like that.
3. The heart relieved — "Rabboni."
V. MARY'S PROHIBITION, or love's ardour restrained (ver. 17).
1. The restriction — "Touch Me not."
2. The reason — "I am not yet ascended."
3. The consolation. The restriction would only be temporary.
VI. MARY'S COMMISSION, or love's service claimed (ver. 17).
1. To whom sent-Christ's brethren.
(1) The condescension in it — God's Son calls them brethren.
(2) The honour in it.
(3) The love in it — they had deserted Him.
2. With what charged — a message concerning —
(2) His ascension.
(3) The Father.
VII. MARY'S OBEDIENCE, or loves willingness expressed (ver. 18).
1. With cheerful resignation.
2. With prompt execution.
3. With faithful repetition.Learn —
1. "Blessed are they that mourn," &c.
2. The eyes of Christ's people are sometimes holden (Luke 24:16).
3. "My sheep hear My voice," &c.
4. Truly our fellowship is with the Father, &c.
5. The ascended Christ is not ashamed to call His people brethren (Hebrews 2:11).
(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,