John 20:1-18 and Waldenström's Commentary
Verse 1 — However1 on the first day of the week came Mary of Magdala2 early in the morning, while it was still dark, to the tomb and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
Verse 2 — Then she ran and came to Simon Peter and to1 the other disciple that Jesus loved,2 and said to them: "They have taken away the Lord from the tomb,3 and we4 do not know where they have laid him."
Verse 3 — Then Peter and the other disciple left and came to the tomb.
Verse 4 — But they ran both together, and the other disciple ran faster than Peter and came to the tomb first.1
Verse 5 — And when he leaned forward,l he saw the linen wrappings laying there; yet he did not enter.
Verse 6 — Then came Simon Peter, following after him and he went inside the tomb1 and saw2 the linen wrappings laying there.
Verse 7 — and the sudarium, that was on his head was not with the linen wrappings but in a different place, folded.1
Verse 8 — Then even the other disciple went in, he who had first come to the tomb, and he saw and believed.1
Verse 9 — Because still they1 did not understand the scriptures that he must arise from the dead.2
Verse 10 — Consequently the disciples went home to their own again.1
Verse 11 — But Mary1 stood2 outside the tomb, crying. When she thus cried, she leaned inside the tomb
Verse 12 — and saw1 two angels in white clothes, sitting one at the head and one at the feet where Jesus' body laid.2
Verse 13 — They said to her: "Woman, why do you cry?" She said to them: "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him."
Verse 14 — When she said this, she turned around1 and saw Jesus standing there and she did not know that it was Jesus.2
Verse 15 — Jesus said to her: "Woman, for what reason do you cry? Whom do you seek?" She who thought that he was the gardener said to him: "Sir, if you1 have buried him,2 tell me where you have laid him and I shall remove him."3
Verse 16 — Jesus said to her: "Mary!" She turned around1 and said to him in Hebrew: "Rabboni!"2 which means teacher.
Verse 17 — Jesus said to her: "Do not touch me;1 because I have not yet departed up to the Father,2 but go to my brothers3 and say to them: I will depart up to my father and your father and my God and your God."4
Verse 18 — Mary from Magdala came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had told her all this.1
When the sabbath was over (6 o' clock on Saturday) the women bought ointment and spices so that on Sunday morning they could come and anoint the Lord's dead body (Mark 16:1). Early on Sunday morning they went to the tomb — at dawn, says Matthew (28:1), at sunrise says Mark (16:2), while it was still dark, says John (20:1). Of all these statements it is clear that it was not yet full daylight when they started out. While they were on the way, they wondered who would help them remove the stone from the opening to the tomb (Mark 16:3). About the guard at the grave they knew nothing for he had been placed there during the sabbath (Matt. 27:52ff) and on the sabbath the women did nothing (Luke 23:56). When they now came toward the grave and looked up, they saw that the stone had been moved away (Mark 16:4). How this had happened, Matthew talks about in chapter 28:2ff. An angel had rolled away the stone and scared the guards so that they ran away. The women go forward to the tomb. When they find it empty, Mary from Magdala turns around right away — possibly she never went up to the tomb with the others but turned around as soon as she saw that the stone was removed. She ran to Peter and to John and said: "They have removed the Lord and we know not where they have laid him" (John 20:2). In the meantime the other women remained, bewildered by the tomb (Luke 24:4). Then appeared to them an angel (Mark 16:5, Matt. 28:5). That Matthew and Mark say ONE and Luke TWO angels (Luke 24:4) is because none of them make any distinction between this revelation that was given to these women by ONE angel and the revelation that Mary of Magdala later had when she saw TWO angels (John 20:12). The angels comforted the women and instructed them to go to the disciples and especially Peter to tell them that he was risen (Matt. 28:5-7, Mark 16:6,7, Luke 24:5-8). Then the women ran with great fright and joy to tell everything to the disciples (Matt. 28:8, Mark 16:8). They knew of course where the apostles were. But, they did not believe them (Luke 24:11).
By meeting these women, Peter and John, because of Mary's word, ran toward the grave. They found the grave empty, turned around and went home, each to his own. Mary, who had followed them to the grave remained there when they left. When she leaned inside the tomb, she saw two angels who asked her why she cried. Later, when she turned around, she saw the Lord, wanted to worship him but was stopped by him. He sends her with a message to the disciples — everything that is told in its entirety by John in this chapter. Thus it is evidently true, what is told in (the otherwise not genuine) Mark 16:9, that Jesus after his resurrection showed himself first to Mary of Magdala.
Before Mary with the assignment that the Lord had given her reached the disciples, two had left Jerusalem to walk to Emmaus. The Lord appeared to them as an unknown stranger on the road. Later he became known to them during the meal at Emmaus whereby they immediately went back to Jerusalem to seek the others and tell them that the Lord was risen. When they came to Jerusalem, they found the eleven (without Thomas) [should it not 8? 12-Thomas, Judas, and the 2 of them - ed.] gathered and they were now convinced that the Lord had risen. The Lord had revealed himself to Peter — what time of the day that happened is not certain. See all about this in Luke's detailed story in Chapter 24:13-35. While the disciples were talking with each other, a revelation took place that John talks about here in verses 19-23, also Luke in chapter 24:36-43.
Against this description of the happenings' course and context, it can now be stated that Matthew in chapter 28:9ff says that when the women had seen the angels and left the grave, they met Jesus and worshiped him and were sent by him with a message to the disciples. And this story does not have any room in the above mentioned description of the events. Thereby we note that what Matthew here talks about is in all probability an incomplete rendering of the revelation TO MARY FROM MAGDALA that John very carefully describes in chapter 20:14ff. It was also not the WOMEN that saw and worshiped Jesus hut only Mary from Magdala. This we conclude from the following circumstances: 1) Matthew's story about resurrection day is throughout very short and concise. Therefore he does not differentiate the revelation that happened to Mary from that of the other women hut rather talks about the two as if they arc one. And, he talks about all the women concerning what happened only to Mary. 2) Luke 24:23 shows that the above mentioned women on their return only talk about the angels, hut not that they had seen the Lord — which is unbelievable if they had really seen him. If thus our described understanding of Matthew correct, we have in this Bible passage the right explanation of Mary's meaning when she tried to touch the risen Jesus. She only wanted to worship him.