Matthew Henry.

Exposition of the Old and New Testament : wherein each chapter is summed up in its contents ; the sacred text inserted at large, in distinct paragaraphs ; each paragraph reduced to its proper heads ; the sense given, and largely illustrated ; with practical remarks ad observations (Volume 5) online

. (page 284 of 289)
Online LibraryMatthew HenryExposition of the Old and New Testament : wherein each chapter is summed up in its contents ; the sacred text inserted at large, in distinct paragaraphs ; each paragraph reduced to its proper heads ; the sense given, and largely illustrated ; with practical remarks ad observations (Volume 5) → online text (page 284 of 289)
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that it was a step toward his ascension. Mary
thought, now that her Master was risen, he would
presently set up a temporal kingdom, such as tliey
had long promised themselves. " No," says Christ,
" touch me not, with any such thought ; think not
to lay hold on me, so as to detain me here ; for
though I am not yet ascended, go to my brethren, and
tell them, I am to ascend." As before his death, so
now after his resurrection, he still harps upon this,
that he was going away, was no more in the world ;
and therefore they must look higher than his bodily
presence, and look further than the present state of
things.

2. " Touch me not, do not stay to touch me now,
stay not now to make any further inquiries, or give
any further expressions of joy, for / am not yet as-
cended, I shall not presently depart, it may as well
be done another time ; the best service thou canst
do now, is, to carry the tidings to the discifiles ; lose
no time therefore, but go away with all speed."
Note, Public service ought to be prefeiTed before
private satisfaction. It is more blessed to give than
to receive. .Tacob must let an angel go, when the
day breaks, and it is time for him to look after his
family. Mary must not stay, to talk with her Mas-
ter, but must carry his message ; for it was a day of
good tidings, which she must not engross the com-
fort of, but hand it to others. See that story, 2
Kings 7. 9.

Secondly, He directs her what message to carry
to his disciples; But go to my brethren, and tell
them, not only that I am risen, she could have told
them that of herself, for she had seen him, but that
J ascend. Observe,

1. To whom this message is sent ; Go to my breth-
ren with it ; foi- he is not ashamed to call them so.
(l.)Tliough he was now entering upon his glory,
and was declared to be the Son of God with gi-eater
flower than ever, yet he owns his disci/iles as his
brethren, and expresses himself with more tender
affection to them than before ; he had called them
friends, but never AreZA?-en till now. Though Christ
be high, yet he is not haughty. Notwithstanding
his elevation, he disdains not to own his poor rela-
tions. (2. ) Though his discifiles had lately carried
themselves very disingenuously toward him ; he had
never seen them together since they all forsook him
and fled, when he was apprehended ; justly might
he now have sent them an angry message ; " Go to
yonder treacherous deserters, and tell them, I will
never trust them more, or have any thing more to
do with them." No, he forgives, he foi-gets, and
does not upbraid.

2. By whom it is sent ; by Mary Magdalene, out
of whom had been castseven devils, yet now thus fa-
voured. This was her reward for her constancy in
adhering to Christ, and inquiring after him ; and a
tacit rebuke to the apostles, who had not been so
close as she was in attending on the dying Jesus, nor
so early as she was in meeting the rising Jesus ; she
becomes an apostle to the apostles.

3. What the message itself is ; I ascend to my Fa-
Cher. T wo full breasts of consolation here are in
these words :



(1.) Our joint relation to God, resulting from our
union with Christ, is an unspeakable comfort.
Speaking^of that inexhaustible spring of Ifght, life,
and bhss, he says. He is my Father, and your Fa-
ther; my God, and your God. This is very ex-
pressive of that near relation that is between Christ
and believers ; he that sanctijieth, and they that are
sanctijied, are both one ; for they agree in one, Heb.
2. 11. Here are such an advancement of christians,
and such a condescension of Christ, as bring them
very near together. So admirably well is the mat-
ter contrived, in order to their union !

[1.] It is the great dignity of believers, that the
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is, in him, their
Father. A vast difference indeed there is between
the respective foundations of the relation ; he is
Christ's Father by eternal generation, our's by a
gracious adofition ; yet even that warrants us to call
him, as Christ did, .4bba, Father. This gives a
reason why Christ called them brethren, because
his Father was their Father. Christ was now as-
cending to appear as an Jdvocate with the Father,
with his Father ; and therefore we may hope he will
prevail for any thing with our Father, and tlierefore
we may hope he will prevail for us.

[2.] It is the great condescension of Christ, that
he is pleased to own the believer's God for his God ;
7ny God, and your God ; mine, that he may be
vour's ; the God of the Redeemer, to support him,
'(Ps. 89. 26.) that he might be the God of the re-
deemed, to save them. The summary of the new
covenant is, that God will be to us a God ; and
therefore Christ being the Surety and Head of the
covenant, who is primarily dealt with, and believers
only through him as his spiritual seed, this covenant
relation fastens first upon him, God becomes his God,
and so our's; we partaking of a divine nature,
Christ's Father is our Father ; and he partaking of
the human nature, our God is his God.

(2.) Christ's ascension into heaven in further pro-
secution of his undertaking for us, is likewise an un-
speakable comfort ; " Tell them I must shortly as-
cend ; that is the next step I am to take." Now
this was intended to be,

[1.] A word of caution to these disciples, not to
expect the continuance of his bodily presence on
earth, nor the setting up of his temporal kingdom
among men, which they dreamed of. " No, tell
them, I am risen, not to stay with them, but to go
on their errand to heaven." Thus they who are
raised to a spiritual life, in conformity to Christ's
resurrection, must reckon that they rise, to ascend ;
they are quickened with Christ, that they may sit
with him in heavenly places, Eph. 2. 5, 6. Let them
not think that this earth is to be their home and
rest ; no, being bom from heaven, they are bound
for heaven ; their eye and aim must be upon another
world, and this ever upon their hearts, / ascend ;
therefore must I seek things above.

[2.] A word of comfort to them, and to all that
shall believe in him through their word ; he was
then ascending, he is now ascended to his Father,
and our Father. This was his advancement, he as-
cended, to receive those honours and powers which
were to be the recompence of his humiliation ; he
says it with triumph, that they who love him may
rejoice. This is our advantage ; for he ascended as
a conqueror, leading captri'ity captive for us ; (Ps.
68. 18.) he ascended as our foreiiinner, to prepare a
place for us, and to be ready to receive us. This
message was like that which Joseph's brethren
brought to Jacob concerning him, (Gen. 45. 26. ) Jo-
seph is yet alive, and not only so, vivit imo, et in se-
natum venit — he lives, and comes into the senate too ;
he is governor over all the land of Egypt ; all power
is his.

Some make these words, I ascend to my God, and



ST. JOHN, XX.



943



your God, to include a promise of our resurrection,
m the virtue of Christ's resurrection ; for Christ had
proved the resurrection of the dead from these words,
I am the God of Abraham, Matt. 22. 32. So that
Christ here insinuates, " As he is my God, and hath
therefore raised me, so he is your God, and will
therefore raise you, and be your God, Rev. 21. 3.
Because I live, ye shall live also. I now ascend, to
honour my God, and ye shall ascend to him as your
God."

Lastly, Here is Mary Magdalene's faithful report
of what she had seen and heard, to the disci/iles ; {v.
18.) She came and told the discifiles, whom she found
together, that she had seen the Lord. Peter and
John had left her seeking him carefully with tears,
and would not stay to seek him -with her ; and now
she comes, to tell them that she had found him, and
to rectify the mistake she had led them into, by in-
quiring after the dead body, for now she found it was
a living body, and a glorified one ; so that she found
what she sought; and, what was infinitely better, she
had joy in her sight of the Master herself, and was
•willing to communicate of her Joy, for she knew it
would be good news to them. When God comforts
us, it is with this design, that we may comfort othei-s.

And as she told them what she had seen, so also
what«Ae had heard ; she had seen the Lord alive, of
which this was a token, (and a good token it was,)
that he had sjioken these things unto her, as a mes-
sage to be delivered to them, and she delivered it
faithfully. They that are acquainted with the word
of Christ themselves, should communicate their
knowledge for the good of others, and not grudge
that others should know as much as they do.

19. Then the same day at evening, being
the first day of the week, when the doors
were shut where the disciples were assem-
bled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and
stood in the midst, and saith unto them.
Peace be unto you. 20. And when he had
so said, he shewed unto them his hands and
his side. Then were the disciples glad,
when they saw the Lord. 21. Then said
Jesus to them again. Peace be unto you : as
my Father hath sent me, even so send I
you. 22. And when he had said this, he
breathed on them, and saith unto them. Re-
ceive ye the Holy Ghost : 23. Whose so-
ever sms ye remit, they are remitted unto
them ; and whose soever sins ye retain, they
are retained. 24. But Thomas, one of the
twelve, called Didymus, was not with them
when Jesus came. 25. The other disciples
therefore said unto him. We have seen the
Lord. But he said unto them. Except I
shall see in his hands the print of the nails,
and put my finger into the print of the nails,
and thrust my hand into his side, I will not
believe.

The infalfible proof of Christ's resurrection, was,
his she-.ving himself alix'e. Acts 1. 3. In these verses,
we have an account of his first appearance to the
college of the disci/lies, on the day on which he rose.
He had sent them the tidings of his resurrection by
trusty and credible messengers ; but, to shew Ais love
to them, and confirm their faith in him, he came him-
self, and gave them aU the assurances they could
desire of the truth of it, that they might not have it



by hearsay only, and at second hand, but might
themselves be eye-witnesses of his being alive, be-
cause they must attest it to the world, and build the
church upon that testimony. Now observe here,
• I. When, and where, this appearance was, u. 19.
It was the same day that he rose, being the first day
of the nveek, the day after the Jewish sabbath, at a
private meeting of the disci/ites, ten of them, and
some more of their friends with them, Luke 24. 33.
There are three secondary ordinances (as I may
call them) instituted by our Lord Jesus, to continue
in his church, for the support of it, and for the due
administration of the principal ordinances — the
word, sacraments, and prayer ; these are, the Lord's
day, solemn assemblies, and a standing ministry ; the
mind of Christ concerning each of tfiese is plainly
intimated to us in these verses, and of the two first,
here, in the circumstances of this appearance, the
other V. 21. Christ's kingdom was to be set u/i
among men, immediately upon his resurrection; and,
accordingly, we find the very day he rose, though
but a day of small things, yet graced with those so-
lemnities which should help to keep up a face of re-
ligion throughout all the ages of the church.

1. Here is a christian sabbath observed by the dis-
ci/iles, and owned by our Lord Jesus. The visit
Christ made to his disciples, was, on the first day of
the week. And the first day of the week is (I thmk)
the only day of the week, or month, or year, that is
ever mentioned by number in all the New Testa-
ment ; and that is several times spoken of as a day
religiously observed. Though it was said here ex-
pressly, (v. 1. ) that Christ rose the first day of the
week, and it might have been sufficient to say here,
{v. 19.) he appeared the same day at evening ; yet,
to put an honour upon the day, it is repeated, being
the first day of the week ; not that the apostles de-
signed to put honour upon the day, (they v.'ere yet
in doubt concerning the occasion of it,) but God de-
signed to put honour upon it, by ordering it that
they should be all together, to receive Christ's first
visit on that day. Thus, in effect, he blessed and
sanctified that day, because in it the Redeemer
rested.

2. Here is a christian assembly solemnized by the
discifiles, and that also owned by the Lord Jesus.
Probably, the discifiles met here for some religious
exercise, to pray together ; or, perhaps, they met,
to compare notes, and conside» whether they had
sufficient evidence of their Master's resurrection,
and to consult what was now to be done ; whether
they should keep together, or scatter : tliey met,
to know one another's mind, strengthen one an-
other's hands, and concert proper measures to be
taken in the present critical juncture.

This meetmg was pri\ate, because they durst not
appear publicly, especially not in a body ; they met
in a house, but they kept the doors shut, that they
might not be seen together, and that none might
come among them but such as they knew ; for they
feared the Jews, who would prosecute the discifiles
as criminals, that they might seem to believe the
lie they would deceive the world with, that they
cmne by night, and stole him awaij. Note, (1.) The
discifiles of Christ, even in difficult times, must not
forsake the assembling of themselves together, Heb.
10. 25. Those sheefi of the flock were scattered in
the storm ; but sheefi are sociable, and will come
together again. It is no new thing for the assem-
blies of Christ's discifiles to be driven into comers,
and forced into the wilderness, Hev. 12. 14. Prov.
28. 12. (2.) God's people have been often obliged
to enter into their chambers, and shut their doors, as
here, for fear of the Jews. Persecution is allotted
them, and retirement from persecution is allowed
them ; and then where shall we look for them but
in rffTJs and caves of the earth ? It is a real g;rief.



944



ST. JOHN, XX.



but no real reproach, to Christ's discifiles, thus to
abscond.

II, What was said and done in this visit Christ
made to his discifiles, and this interview between
them. •

1. When they were assembled, Jesus came among
them, in his own likeness, yet, drawing a veil over
the brightness of his body, now begun to be glori-
fied, else it would have dazzled their eyes, as in his
transfiguration. Christ came among them, to give
them a specimen of the performance of his promise,
that, -where two or three are gathered together in his
name, he nvill be in the ?nidst of them.

2. He came, though the doors were shut. This
does not at all weaken the evidence of his having a
real human body after his resurrection ; though the
doors were shut, ke knew how to open them with-
out any noise, and come in so that they might not
hear him, as foi-merly he had walked on the water,
and yet had a true body. It is a comfort to Christ's
discifiles, when their solemn assemblies are reduced
to privacy, that no doors can shut out Christ's pre-
sence from them.

We have five things in this appearance of Christ :
(1.) His kind and familiar salutation of his disci-
files ; he said. Peace be unto you. This was not a
word of course, though commonly used so at the
meeting of friends, but a solemnn uncommon bene-
diction, confeiTing upon them all the blessed fruits
and effects of his death and resurrection. The
phrase was common, but the sense was now pecu-
liar. Peace be unto you, is as much as. All good
be to you, all fieace always by all means. Christ had
left them his /leace for their legacy, ch. 14. 27. By
the death of the testator the testament was become of
force, and he was now risen from the dead, to prove
the will, and to be himself the executor of it; ac-
cordingly, he he're makes prompt payment of the
legacy ; Peace be unto you. His sfieaking fieace,
makes fieace, creates the fruit of the lijis, fieace ;
fieace with God, fieace in your own consciences,
fieace with one another; all \h\s fieace be with you ;
not fieace with the world, but peace in Christ. His
sudden appearing in the midst of them, when they
were full of doubts concerning him, full of fears con-
cerning themselves, could not but put them into
some disorder and consternation, the noise of which
waves he stills with this word. Peace be unto you.

(2.) His clear and undeniable manifestation of
himself to them, v. 20. And here observe,

[1.] The method he took to convince them oi the
truth of his resurrection. They now saw him alive,
whom multitudes had seen dead two or three days
before. Now the only doubt was, whether this that
they saw alive, was the same individual body that
had been seen dead ; and none could desire a further
proof that it was so, than the scars or marks of the
wounds in the body. Now,

First, The marks of the wounds, and very deep
marks, (though without any pain or soreness,) re-
mained in the body of the Lord Jesus even after his
resurrection, that they might be demonstrations of
the truth of it. Conquerors glory in the marks of
their wounds. Christ's wounds were to speak on
earth, that it was he himself, and therefore he rose
with them ; they were to speak in heaven, in the in-
tercession he must ever live to make, and therefore
he ascended with them, and appeared in the midst
of the throne, a Lamb as it had been slain, and bleed-
ing afresh. Rev. 5. 6. Nay, it should seem, he will
come again with his scars, that they may look on
him whom then fiierced.

Secondly, These marks he shewed to his discifiles,
for their conviction. They had not only the satis-
faction of seeing him look with the same counte-
nance, and hearing him speak with the same voice
they had been so long accustomed to. Sic oculos, sic



ille manus, sic ora, ferebat — Such were his gestures,
such his eyes and hands ! but they had the further
evidence of those peculiar marks ; he ofiened his
hands to them, that they might see the marks of the
wounds on them ; he ofiened his breast, as the nurse
her's'to the child, to shew them the wound there.
Note, the exalted Redeemer will ever shew himself
open-handed and open-hearted to all his faithful
friends and followers. When Christ manifests his
love to believers by the comforts of his Spirit, as-
sures them that because he lives, they shall live also,
then he shews them his hands and his side.

[2.] The impression it made upon them, and the
good It did them.

First, They were convinced that they saw the
Lord ; so was their faith confirmed. At first, they
thought they saw an apparition only, a phantasm ;
but now they knew it was the Lord himself. Thus
many true behevers, who, while they were weak,
feared their comforts were but imaginary, after-
ward find them, through grace, real and substan-
tial. They ask not. Is it the Lord? but are assured,
it is he.

Secondly, Then they were glad; that which
sti-engthened their faith, raised their joy ; believing,
they rejoice. The evangelist seems to write it with
something of transport and triumph. Then ! then !
were the discifiles glad, when they saw the Lord. If
it revived the sfiirit of Jacob, to hear that Josefih is
yet alive; how would it revive the heart of' those dis-
ci/lies, to hear that Jesur is again alive? It is life
from the dead to them. Now that word of Christ
was fulfilled, {ch. 16. 22.) I will see you again, and
your heart shall rejoice. This wified away all tears
from their eyes. Note, A sight of Christ will glad-
den the heart of a di.^cifile at any time ; the more we
see of Christ, the more we shall rejoice in him ; and
our joy will never be perfect till we come there
where we shall see him as he is.

(3.) The honourable and ample commission he
gave them to be' his agents in the planting of his
church, V. 21. Here is,

[1.] The preface to their commission, which was
the solemn repetition of the salutation before ; Peace
be unto you. This was intended, either. First, To
raise their attention to the commission he was about
to give them. The former salutation was to still the
tumult of their fear, that they might calmly attend
to the proofs of his resurrection ; this was to reduce
the transport of their joy, that they might sedately
hear what he had further to say to them ; or. Se-
condly, To encourage them to accept of the com-
mission he was gi\'ing them. Though it would in-
volve them in a gi-eat deal of trouble, yet he designed
their honour and comfort in it, and, in the issue, it
would be fieace to them. Gideon received his com-
mission with this word. Peace be unto thee, Judg. 6.
22, 23. Christ is our fieace ; if he be with us, fieace
is to us. Christ was now sending the disci/iles to pub-
lish fieace to the world ; (Isa. 52. 7. ) and Christ here
not only confers it upon them for their own satisfac-
tion, but commits it to them as a trust to be by them
transmitted to all the sons of fieace, Luke 10. 5, 6.

[2.] The commission itself, which sounds very
great ; ^s my Father hath sent me, even so send I
you.

First, It is easy to understand how Christ sent
them ; he appointed them to go on with his work
upon earth, and to lav out themselves for the sfiread-
ing of his gosfiel, and the setting ufi of his kingdom,
among men. He sent titem authorized with a divine
warrant, armed with a divine power ; sent them as
ambassadors to treat oi fieace, and as heralds to pro-
claim it ; sent them as servants to bid to the marri-
age. Hence they were called afiostles — men sent.

Secondly, But how Christ sent them as the Father
sent him, is not so easily understood ; certainly theii



ST. JOHN, XX.



commissions and powers were infinitely inferior to
his ; but,

1. Their work was of the same kind witl\ his, and
they were to go on where lie left off. They were
not sent to be priests and kings, like him, but only
projihets. As he was sent to bear ivitness to the
truth, so were they ; not to be mediators of the re-
conciliation, but only preachers and publishers of it.
Was he sent, not to be ministered to, but to jninister ;
not to do his own ivill, but the wilt of him that sent
him ; not to destroy the law and the profihets, but to
Jill them uji ? So were they. As the Father sent
him to the lost sheeji of the house of Israel, so he sent
them into alt the world.

2. He had a power to send them, equal to that
which the Father had to send him. Here the force
of the comparison seems to lie. By the same autho-
rity that the Father sent me, do I send you. This
proves the Godhead of Christ ; the commissions he
gave, were of equal authority with those which the
Father gave, and as valid and effectual to all intents
and pui-poses ; equal with those he .gave to the Ola
Testament prophets in visions. The commissions
of Peter and John by the plain word of Christ, are
as good as those of Isaiah and Ezekiel, by the Lord
sitting on his throne ; nay, equal with that which
was given to the Mediator himself for his work.
He had an incontestable authority, and an irresisti-
ble ability, for his work ; so had they for their's.
Or thus, As the Father hath sent me, is, as it were,
the recital of his power ; by virtue of the authority
given him as Mediator, he gave authority to them,
as his ministers, to act for him, and in his name,
with the children of men ; so that they who received
them, or rejected them, received or rejected him, and
him that sent him, ch. 13. 20.

(4.) The qualification of them for the discharge
of the trust reposed in them by their commission ;
(y. 22.) He breathed on them, and said. Receive ye
the Holy Ghost. Observe,

[1.] The sign he used to assui-e them of, and af-
fect them with, the gift he was now about to bestow
upon them ; he breathed on them ; not only to shew
them by this breath of life, that he himself was
really alive, but to signify to them the spiritual life
and power which they should receive from him for
all the sen'ices that lay before them. Probably, he
breathed upon them all together, not upon each se-
verally ; and though Thomas was not with them, yet
the Spirit of the Lord knew where to find him, as
he did Eldad and Medad, Numb. 11. 26. Christ
here seems to refer to the creation of man at first,
by the breathing of the breath of life into him, (Gen.
2. 7.) and to intimate that he himself was the au-
thor of that work, and that the spiritual life and
strength of ministers and christians are derived
from him, and depend upon him, as much as the na-
tural life of Adam and his seed. As the breath of
the Almighty gave life to man and began the old



Online LibraryMatthew HenryExposition of the Old and New Testament : wherein each chapter is summed up in its contents ; the sacred text inserted at large, in distinct paragaraphs ; each paragraph reduced to its proper heads ; the sense given, and largely illustrated ; with practical remarks ad observations (Volume 5) → online text (page 284 of 289)