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EPIPHANY TO MARY MAGDALENE.
Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils.
MARK Xvi. 9.
THE EPIPH ANY TO MARY MAGDALENE. .
Sacred Errand. Matt. xxviii. 1.
Luke xxiv. 1.
John xx. 1.
But although Jesus Christ has risen from The the dead, the august event occurred in such hallowed silence that none of His disciples has Mark xvi. 1, 2. heard of it. Meantime the sorrowing women have resumed at earliest daybreak the sacred office of preparing to embalm the body of their dead Friend. What though He had already received at the hands of Joseph and Nicodemus most honorable burial ? He had done wonderful things for them during their happy days in Galilee, Luke viii, 1–3. when they were permitted to follow Him and minister to Him of their substance. Although Hope has died, Love has not. Accordingly, when the honorable obsequies were over, and they had seen the great stone rolled up against the door of the sepulchre, they returned to their homes in the city, to prepare additional spices and ointments. But before they can complete their preparations Friday's sun sets, and the Jewish Sabbath is begun. Loyal to the commandment of Moses, they rest the twenty-four hours. And what a wretched Sabbath it is! No sooner
Mark xvi. 3.
has the sun gone down than they resume the work of completing their preparations for the anointing. · At length all is finished. But night is again on the land. Slowly creep away the heavy hours. And now, as it begins to dawn toward the first day of the week, while it is still very early and dark, they start for the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared. We know the names of some of them : Mary of Magdala, and Mary the mother of Joses, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome the mother of Zebedee's sons, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward. As they journey in company, they anxiously ask one another, “Who will roll away for us the stone from the door of the sepulchre ?” Strict observers of the Fourth Commandment, they had not stirred from their homes on the Sabbath, and so had not heard of the imperial seal and guard ; had they heard of them, I fear that even they, brave as they were, might not have dared to approach the sepulchre. On arriving at the tomb, however, they see that the great stone has been rolled back.
No sooner does Mary Magdalene perceive this than instead of rejoicing her heart sinks within her. True, Jesus had often foretold His own resurrection as well as death. But she had never believed that He would really die, and this too on a shameful cross, much less then that He would rise again. And now that He has been suddenly and violently torn from her, all His promises of resurrection are sunk in the Lethe of grief. Ac-> cordingly, the sight of the rolled-away rock, in
Mark xyi. 4.
stead of inspiring her with joy, awakens a horrible suspicion. Suddenly deserting her compan- John xx. 2. ions, she flies back to the city, and, hastening to •Simon Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved, she exclaims, “ They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid Him!” How often that exclamation has been repeated since ! When we have seen a skeptical scholarship turning the Holy Gospels into venerable legends, or a ceremonious ecclesiasticism flinging its gaudy mantle around the Nazarene, or an elaborate orthodoxy substituting creed for life, we too have exclaimed in our hearts : They have taken away the Lord from His throne, and we know not where they have laid Him. Although the story of the Epiphany to the Peter and John
at the Sepulother women begins at this point, we will reserve it for a separate study, and proceed with the story John xx 1-10. of the Epiphany to Mary. The news she brings to Peter and John is indeed startling. No sooner do they hear it than they burst forth at their utmost speed for the sepulchre, leaving behind them the agonized, breathless Mary, to follow as best she may. John is younger and fleeter of foot than Peter, and arrives at the tomb first. Stooping down and peering into the vault as far as he can, he notices the linen shrouds, but he does not venture into the vault itself. Peter now arrives, and with characteristic impetuosity plunges into the tomb. He observes the linen cloths lying by themselves, and he also observes that the napkin which had enveloped the sacred Head is not lying with the shrouds, but is carefully folded in