HE IS RISEN
The inconceivable sufferings of Christ are over. The solemn scenes of Calvary have passed away. The sun, that seemed as if setting in thick darkness, has risen in the most surprising glory. The dying triumphant cry, “It is finished!” is proved to be a most significant and precious truth by the resurrection of the crucified Christ. The Surety is acquitted, and through Him millions are legally free. Death has no more dominion over Him, and the precious boon of eternal life is the sure portion of His elect.
These priceless blessings were too great for the sorrowing disciples to expect. Though Jesus had so often spoken of His resurrection, of His sufferings, and the glory that should follow, they could not, or would not understand. The doctrine of the resurrection was so strange to them that, when Jesus told them not to tell any man of His transfiguration until after His resurrection from the dead, we are informed, “they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean” (Mk. 9.9,10).
Again, when passing through Galilee, Jesus said plainly that He should be delivered into the hands of men, be killed, and that after that He would rise again on the third day, it is added that “they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask Him” (Mk. 9.32). No wonder then, that His death at once plunged them into the depths of sorrow, disappointment, and despair. Their fondly-cherished schemes, their most fervent hopes, seemed blasted for ever. They were completely bewildered. And yet, with all their bitter disappointment, the person, the words and works of Jesus had so deeply impressed and moved their hearts, that, like needles drawn to the magnet, their best affections and thoughts were drawn to Him. One common interest and sympathy brings them into one place. Their hearts bleed with sorrow. Their eyes flow with tears.
The fear of the Jews, and the love of Christ, are the two contending forces which struggle within them. In this struggle those disciples who were physically the weakest prove to be spiritually the strongest.
With no apparent expectation of the resurrection, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, hasten at the rising of the sun to embalm the precious body of the Lord Jesus. The love of Christ was mightier than the fear of man. But, though so strong in love, who would have strength to roll away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? To them most likely this difficulty appeared insuperable. But, on reaching the sacred spot, they found, to their surprise, what some of us have often found as to our anticipated troubles, that the stone had already been removed. Prompted by an anxious love, they enter the sepulchre, and how great their amazement on seeing “a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment.” No wonder that they were “affrighted” at an appearance so little expected. Deeply interested in the object of their search, the young man at once proceeds to allay their fears: “Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified!” There is no ground for fear to those who seek Jesus, for a true seeking for Jesus proves love to Jesus, and love to Jesus proves the existence of divine grace within the heart. “We love Him because He first loved us.”
But “why seek ye the living among the dead?” “He is risen.” Risen! What does that mean? The startling announcement almost petrifies them with amazement. “Risen! risen!” think they. “Can it be? Is it really possible?” Yes, indeed, the angel affirms it. “Look”, says he, “He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him.” See the napkin and the linen clothes in which His body was wrapped. The holy One whom ye seek is alive for evermore. Be of good cheer, then! Wipe away your falling tears! Your complete salvation is secured! “Go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you.” Under the influence of fear, love, and joy, “they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre” – from death in pursuit of life -Â•’for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man.” With what deer-footed alacrity they ran to tell the glorious news! And, as they sped on their eager errand, “behold Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him.” Having sought Jesus, they now found Him. Love, joy, and amazement are the most fitly expressed by instant prostration at His feet. Whatever of fear remains is immediately suppressed by the gracious words of their risen Lord:
‘Be not afraid; go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.”
The Elder Brother entertains no hard thoughts of His erring disciples. He is still, we see, the same tender and sympathizing Friend. He feels deeply for His sorrowing disciples. His will is that no time should be lost in giving them real comfort. First and foremost among the female disciples was Mary Magdalene, who announced to Peter and the rest of them the joyful news that she had actually seen the Lord, and that He Himself had sent them a sweet message of His love. This was followed by a further ten appearances of Christ to His disciples, as recorded in the New Testament.
We have abundant historical evidence of the actual resurrection of Christ. The resurrection is, in fact, the crowning evidence of the divine character of His heavenly mission. He had told.His enemies that His resurrection would supply one great proof to them of His being the Son of God. That resurrection once established, they could not deny it; but, to obviate the force of the evidence, they paid the soldiers a large sum of money to propagate a falsehood to the effect that, while they had been sleeping, the disciples had come and stolen the body of Jesus. This fact plainly proves that grace is wanted in the heart, as well as evidence of the head, to make disciples of Christ.
To the disciples, the resurrection was the beginning of Christ’s exaltation and reward. For this He had not to wait till His ascension. It was through Calvary, not at Mount Olivet, that the dividing line between labour and reward was drawn. Then, having endured the cross and despised the shame, He began to taste the joy that was set before Him. The glory which He had with the Father before the world was again surrounded Him. Hence He Himself said at this time, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Hence the fact that His resurrection body, although still identical with the body that died, was at least no longer subject to its old earthly conditions, but was heavenly – not a natural, but a spiritual body, free from weakness, pain, weariness, and death.
The resurrection of Christ is not only the pledge and seal of His acceptance with God the Father, and of the completeness of redemption through His blood, but it is also a pledge and seal of our own resurrection: that, as believers in Christ, we do already experience the power of His resurrection in a life of union and fellowship with Him. Raised up together with Him, we have our conversation in heaven. This is the new and risen life which we have in Christ, and which is imperishable.
If, then, we be risen with Christ, we shall seek those things which are above; so then, if Christ is our treasure laid up in heaven, our hearts will surely be there also. Our dwelling place will be on high;
our walk will be with God; our life will be with Christ in God; and ‘when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall appear with Him in glory.”
Moreover, as Christ’s resurrection is the pledge of our spiritual resurrection, so it is of our bodily resurrection. We might bring arguments from reason, and from analogies of nature, to prove that there shall be a resurrection of the body; but the strongest argument of all is the fact that “Christ is risen, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.” The bodies of our humiliation shall be fashioned like unto His glorious body. “It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that we shall be like Him.”
In conclusion, observe when it was that Christ rose from the grave
– on the first day of the week. It was not accidental that Christ rose on that particular day. It was most evidently by divine appointment, even as it was in reference to the time of Christ’s death at the period of the great Passover, thus exactly fulfilling that great and most expressive type. With regard to the day of Christ’s resurrection, futher calls attention to the fact as full of significance, and his remarks, though brief, are suggestive. He says, “The eighth day allegorically signifies the future life; for Christ on the Sabbath – that is, on the whole of the seventh day – rested in the sepulchre and rose again on the day following the Sabbath, which is the eighth and the beginning of a new week, and no other day is reckoned beyond that, or Christ concluded the week of times by His own death, and on the eighth day He entered another kind of life in which days are reckoned no more, but it is one eternal day without the succession of