We have here a very short account of two of Christ’s appearances, and the little credit which the report of them gained with the disciples.
I. He appeared to Mary Magdalene, to her first in the garden, which we have a particular narrative of, John 20:14. It was she out of whom he had cast seven devils; much was forgiven her, and much was given her, and done for her, and she loved much; and this honour Christ did her, that she was the first that saw him after his resurrection. The closer we cleave to Christ, the sooner we may expect to see him, and the more to see of him.
Now, 1. She brings notice of what she had seen, to the disciples; not only to the eleven, but to the rest that followed him, as they mourned and wept, Mark 16:10. Now was the time of which Christ had told them, that they should mourn and lament, John 16:20. And it was an evidence of their great love to Christ, and the deep sense they had of their loss of him. But when their weeping had endured a night or two, comfort returned, as Christ has promised; I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice. Better news cannot be brought to disciples in tears, than to tell them of Christ’s resurrection. And we should study to be comforters to disciples that are mourners, by communicating to them our experiences, and what we have seen of Christ.
2. They could not give credit to the report she brought them. They heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her. The story was plausible enough, and yet they believed not. They would not say that she made the story herself, or designed to deceive them; but they fear that she is imposed upon, and that it was but a fancy that she saw him. Had they believed the frequent predictions of it from his own mouth, they would not have been now so incredulous of the report of it.
II. He appeared to two of the disciples, as they went into the country, Mark 16:12. This refers, no doubt, to that which is largely related (Luke 24:13), of which passed between Christ and the two disciples going to Emmaus. He is here said to have appeared to them in another form, in another dress than what he usually wore, in the form of a traveller, as, in the garden, in such a dress, that Mary Magdalene took him for the gardener; but that he had really his own countenance, appears by this, that their eyes were holden, that they should not know him; and when that restrain on their eyes was taken off, immediately they knew him, Luke 24:16-31. Now,
1. These two witnesses gave in their testimony to this proof of Christ’s resurrection; They went and told it to the residue, Mark 16:13. Being satisfied themselves, they were desirous to give their brethren the satisfaction they had, that they might be comforted as they were.
2. This did not gain credit with all; Neither believed they them. They suspected that their eyes also deceived them. Now there was a wise providence in it, the proofs of Christ’s resurrection were given in thus gradually, and admitted thus cautiously, that so the assurance with which the apostles preached this doctrine afterward, when they ventured their all upon it, might be the more satisfying. We have the more reason to believe those who did themselves believe so slowly: had they swallowed it presently, they might have been thought credulous, and their testimony the less to be regarded; but their disbelieving at first, shows that they did not believe it afterward but upon a full conviction.