Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 20:1-9

Joh 20:1  And on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen cometh early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre: and she saw the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

On the first day of the week. Literally, of the Sabbath, the week being called the Sabbath, after its principal day, or the day of the Pasch. (see on Matt 28:1)

Mary Magdalene cometh. The other gospels speak of the other women but she only is mentioned here, as being their leader, and more zealous and active than the rest.

When it was yet dark. In the early dawn (profundo diluculo), says S. Luke. Note here her activity, watchfulness, and ardour. She seeks Christ in the dawn, and hence she is the first to see Him as the rising sun. As S. Ambrose says on the title of Ps. 55, “For the morning undertaking.” This morning undertaking we can ascribe to Mary Magdalene, who went very early in the morning to watch at the tomb, and first greeted the resurrection of the Lord, and as the sunlight grew brighter, she only, and before the rest, recognised the rising of the Sun of righteousness, and as by this morning greeting she rejoiced at the return of daylight, so did she rejoice the more that Christ was raised from the dead, and in her was fulfilled the prophecy, In the evening weeping will tarry (see vulg.) (heaviness may endure for the night, E. V.) but at morning is joy (Ps 30:6).

Unto the sepulchre. To anoint the Body of Jesus, says Nonnus.

She saw the stone taken away. And the Angels, who said that Christ had risen, but the Magdalene did not believe it, and ran to Peter and John, saying, “They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.” See notes on S. Matt 28:8.  S. Jerome remarks (Ep. cl. Hedibiam), Her error was connected with piety—piety in longing to see Him whose Majesty she knew, but her mistake was in what she said.

Joh 20:2  She ran therefore and cometh to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved and saith to them: They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre: and we know not where they have laid him.

She ran therefore and cometh to Simon Peter, as the Chief Apostle, and as designated by Christ as His Vicar and successor, (Matt 16), and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, i.e., S. John, who would be more diligent than the rest in searching for the Body of Christ.

Joh 20:3  Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple: and they came to the sepulchre.
Joh 20:4  And they both ran together: and that other disciple did outrun Peter and came first to the sepulchre.

And they both ran together. Before the rest, as loving Him above the rest, says S. Gregory.

And that other disciple did outrun Peter, as the younger and more active, and moreover as more desirous of seeing that Body which he had just before seen marred on the cross.

Joh 20:5  And when he stooped down, he saw the linen cloths lying: but yet he went not in.

And when he stooped down, to look into the tomb, saw the linen clothes with which the Body of Christ had been wrapped. Yet went he not in, paying deference to Peter, as his senior and more worthy, says Lyranus, or else hindered by fear, or seized with a kind of sacred dread at the Body of Christ which was buried there.

Joh 20:6  Then cometh Simon Peter, following him, and went into the sepulchre: and saw the linen cloths lying,
Joh 20:7  And the napkin that had been about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but apart, wrapped up into one place.

Then cometh Simon Peter, following him, and went into the sepulchre. Peter (says S. Chrysostom) entered with ardour, and carefully inspected everything. For the soldiers who guarded the tomb, when they saw the angel and the earthquake, ran away through fear. See also S. Jerome, Quæst. vi. ad Hedib. And saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin that had been about his head (covering His face, as is generally done to the dead, for the sake of seemliness), not lying with the linen cloths, but apart, wrapped up into one place. “This,” says S. Chrysostom, “was a sign of His Resurrection, for if they had removed the body they would not have stripped it, and if they had stolen it, they would not have been so careful to fold up the napkin, and put it aside by itself; for John had said before that He was buried with myrrh, which makes linen clothes cling close to the body, so that no one would be deceived by those who said that It was stolen away; for what thief would trouble himself so much about an unnecessary matter?”

Joh 20:8  Then that other disciple also went in, who came first to the sepulchre: and he saw and believed.

Then that other disciple also went in, who came first to the sepulchre.

Tropologically: Toletus says that by John are signified all Christians, but by Peter the Pontiffs, Vicars of Christ. Peter then entered the tomb first as the highest in dignity, as the Vicar of Christ; but John came last, because it is possible that he who is first in rank, is behind others in desert and holiness.

And he saw and believed. Both of them, that is, believed that what Mary Magdalene said was true, namely, that the Body of Christ had been taken away. So says S. Augustine, Theophylact, and Jansen.  S. Cyril, Chrysostom, Euthymius, and Nyssen add that both believed that Christ had risen. But this word “believed” more clearly and correctly applies only to S. John, who remembered the words of Christ, that He would rise on the third day. But Peter, on account of the strangeness of a Resurrection, and from His earnest desire to see Him alive again, was more slow to believe that Christ had risen. Whence the Angel significantly said to the women, “Go, tell His disciples and Peter.” (Mark 16:7.)

Joh 20:9  For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

For although He had solemnly assured them that He would rise, yet on account of its strange and wonderful nature they believed it not, but thought that He spoke in a figure and parable, as He was wont to do

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One Response to Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 20:1-9

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for Easter Sunday | stjoeofoblog

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