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THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
“He is nut here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Matt. 28:6
We have contemplated Christ’s humiliation, wherein the Sun or righteousness appeared as a setting sun, gone out of sight. But as the sun, when to us is set, begins a new day in another part of the world; so Christ, having finished his course in this world, rises again to perform another glorious part of his work, in the world above. In his death, he was in a sense totally eclipsed; but in his resurrection, he begins to recover his light and glory. An angel descends from heaven to roll away the stone, and with it, the reproach of his death; and to announce his resurrection to the two Marys, whose love to Christ had drawn them to visit the sepulchre, where they lately left him.
At this time — the Lord being newly risen — the keepers were trembling, and as dead men, so terrible was the majesty and awful solemnity attending Christ’s resurrection. But, to encourage these pious souls, the angel greets them with these good tidings: “He is not here; for he is risen, as he said: come, see the place where the Lord lay:” as if he had said, Be not troubled, though you have not the end you came for, one more sight of your dear, though dead Jesus; yet you have not lost your labor; for, to your eternal comfort, I tell you “he is risen, as he said”. And to put it out of doubt, come here and satisfy yourselves: “see the place where the Lord lay”. In which words we have both a declaration and confirmation of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
1. “He is not here.” Here indeed you laid him, here you left him, and here you though to find him as you left him; but you are happily mistaken. He is not here. He is risen; the word expresses the active power, or self-quickening principle, by which Christ raised himself from the state of the dead. It was the divine nature, or Godhead of Christ, which revived and raised the manhood.
2. Here is also plain confirmation of Christ’s resurrection, and first, from Christ’s own prediction. “He is risen, as he said.” He foretold that which I declare to be now fulfilled. Let it not therefore seem incredible to you. Secondly, by their own sight. “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” The grave has lost its guest, it is now empty; death has lost its prey. It received, but could not retain him; Hence,
Our Lord Jesus Christ, by the almighty power of his own Godhead, revived, and rose from the dead, to the terror and consternation of his enemies, and the unspeakable consolation of believers.
That our Lord Jesus Christ, though laid, was not lost in the grave, but the third day revived and rose again, is a truth confirmed to us “by many infallible proofs,” as Luke witnesses. We have testimonies of it both from heaven and earth. From heaven, we have the testimony of angels, who cannot deceive us. The angel tells the two Marys, in the text, “He is risen.” We have also testimonies of it from men, holy men who were eye-witnesses of this truth, to whom he showed himself alive for forty days after his resurrection, on at least nine occasions. At one time five hundred brethren saw him at once. These were holy persons, who dared not deceive, and who confirmed their testimony with their blood. So that no point of religion is rendered more infallibly certain than this before us. I proceed now to explain the nature and manner of his resurrection:
1. Christ rose from the dead with awful majesty. “And, behold, there was a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” Human infirmity was not able to bear such heavenly majesty as attended the scenes of that morning. This earthquake was a sign of triumph, or token of victory, given by Christ, not only to the keepers and the neighboring city, but to the whole world, showing that he had overcome death in its own dominions, and, like a conqueror, lifted up his head above all his enemies.
2. And to increase the splendor and the triumph of that day, his resurrection was attended with the resurrection of many of the saints, who had slept in their graves till then, and were awakened and raised to attend the Lord at his rising. “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” This wonder was designed both to adorn the resurrection of Christ, and to give a specimen or pledge of our resurrection, which also is to be in virtue of his. They were seen, and known of many in the city, who doubtless never thought to have seen them any more in this world.
3. As Christ rose from the dead with those attendants who accompanied him at his resurrection; so it was by the power of his own Godhead that he quickened and raised himself; and by virtue of his resurrection were they also raised who accompanied him. It was not the angel who rolled back the stone that revived him in the sepulchre, but he resumed his own life; so he tells us: “I lay down my life, that I may take it again.” Hence, he is said to be put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, that is, by the power of his Godhead, or divine nature, which is opposed there to flesh, or his human nature. By the eternal Spirit he offered himself up to God, when he died, Heb. 9:14; that is, by his own Godhead, not have been ascribed to him as his own act that he offered up himself. And by the same Spirit he was quickened again. Therefore the apostle well observes, that he was “declared to be the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead.” Rom. 1:4. Now, if he had been raised by the power of the Father, or of the Holy Spirit only, and not by his own, how could he be declared by his resurrection to be the Son of God? So that in this respect also it was a marvellous resurrection. No one ever did, or shall rise as Christ rose, by a self-quickening principle.
4. Christ rose as a public person; “as the first-fruits of them that slept.” I desire that this may be well understood; for upon this account it is that our resurrection is secured to us by the resurrection of Christ; and not a resurrection only, but a blessed and happy one, for the first-fruits both assured and sanctified the whole harvest.
Now that Christ did rise as a public person, repsenting and comprehending all the elect, who were called the children of the resurrection, is plain from Eph. 2:6, where we are said to be risen with, or in him. So that, as we are said to die in Adam, as the branches die in the death of the root, so we are said to be raised from death in Christ, who is the Head, Root, and Representative of all his spiritual seed. And why is he called the first-born, and first-begotten from the dead, but with respect to those that are also to be born from the dead in their time and order? As sure as the whole harvest follows the first-fruits, so shall the general resurrection of the saints to life eternal follow this birth of the firstborn from the dead. There is a threefold influence of Christ’s resurrection upon the resurrection of the saints, as at once its meritorious, efficient, and exemplary cause.
The resurrection of Christ is a meritorious cause of the saint’s resurrection, as it completed his satisfaction, and so our justification is properly assigned to it. Rom. 4:25.
It is also the efficient cause of it. For when the saints shall rise, they shall be raised by Christ as their Head, in whom is the effective principle of their life. Your life is “hid with Christ in God.” Col. 3:3. “And if Christ be in you, the body indeed is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness;” that is, though you are really united to Christ by the Spirit, yet your bodies must die as well as other men’s; but your souls shall be immediately, upon your dissolution, swallowed up in life. And then it follows, verse 11, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” That is, though your bodies must die, yet they shall live again in the resurrection; by virtue of the Spirit of Christ which dwelleth in you, and is the bond of your mystical union with him your Head. You shall not be raised as others are, by a mere word of power, but by the Spirit of life dwelling in Christ your Head.
Christ’s resurrection is also the pattern of our resurrection. “He being the first and best, is therefore the pattern and measure of all the rest.” “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” Phil. 3:21. Now the conformity of our resurrection to Christ’s may be noticed in the following particulars:
Christ’s body was raised substantially the same as it was before; and so will ours be. Not another, but the same body. “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal, immortality.” 1 Cor. 15:53. Should God prepare another body to be raised shall also effect their bodily resurrection from the a creation.
His body was raised, not by a word of power from the Father, but by his own Spirit. So the resurrection of the saints will be effected by his Spirit which now dwelleth in them. That very Spirit of Christ which effected their spiritual resurrection from sin, shall also effect their bodily resurrection from the grave.
His body was raised first. He had in this, as well as in other things, the preeminence. So shall the saints, in contrast to the wicked, have the preeminence in the resurrection: “The dead in Christ shall rise first.” 1 Thess. 4:16. They are to attend the Lord at his coming, and will be brought forth sooner than the rest of the world to attend on that service.
Christ’s body was marvellously improved by the resurrection; and so will ours be. It fell in weakness, but was raised in power, no more capable of sorrow, pain, and dishonor. In like manner our bodies are “sown in weakness, but raised in strength; sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown natural bodies, raised spiritual bodies.” 1 Cor. 15:43, 44. No infirmities attend glorified bodies, nor are they henceforth subject to any of those natural necessities by which they are now bound. There are no defects or deformities in the children of the resurrection. What members are now defective or deformed, will then be restored to their perfect being and beauty. From thenceforth they are free from the law of mortality, “Thev can die no more.” Luke 20:35, 36.
Again, Christ’s body was raised from the dead to be glorified and crowned with honor. Oh, it was a joyful day to him; and so will the resurrection of the saints be the day of the gladness of their hearts. It will be said to them in that morning, “Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust.” Isa. 26:19. Oh, how comfortable will be the meeting between the glorified soul and its new-raised body. Three things will make it so.
The gratification of the soul’s natural desire of union with its own body. For even glorified souls in heaven have such a desire of reunion. We are all sensible of the soul’s affection to the body now, its sympathy with it, and unwillingness to be separated from it. It is said to be “at home in the body.” 2 Cor. 5:6. This inclination remains in heaven, but it does not reckon itself completely happy till its older dear companion and partner be with it. Now, when this inclination to its own body, its longings after it, are gratified with the sight and enjoyment of it again, what a joyful meeting will this be!
But that wherein the chief joy of this meeting consists, is the end for which the glorified soul comes down to quicken and repossess it, namely, to meet the Lord, and ever to be with the Lord; to receive a full reward for all the labors and services it performed for God in this world. This must make that day a day of triumph and exaltation. It comes out of the grave, as Joseph out of prison, to be advanced to the highest honor. Oh, do but imagine with what an ecstasy of joy the soul will thus resume its own body, and say, as it were, unto it, Come away, my dear friend, who served and suffered with me in the world; come along with me to meet the Lord, in whose presence I have been ever since I parted with thee. Now thy bountiful Lord hath remembered thee also, and the day of thy glorification is come. Surely it will be a joyful meeting. What a joy is it for dear friends to meet after long separation; especially such as the business of that day will be, to receive a crown and a kingdom.
1. If Christ was thus raised from the dead, then death is overcome, and swallowed up in victory; were it not so, it would never have let Christ escape out of the grave. Death is a dreadful enemy, it defies all the sons and daughters of Adam. None but Christ dared cope with this king of terrors, and he, by dying, foiled it in its own territories and dominions, and came off conqueror. For, as the apostle says, it was impossible it should hold or detain him. Never did death meet with its superior before, and Christ conquering it for us, and in our names rising as our representative, now every single saint triumphs over it as a vanquished enemy: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thus, like Joshua, they set the foot of faith upon the neck of this king of terrors.
2. Have Christ and his resurrection such a potent influence upon the resurrection of the saints? Then it is the duty, and will be the wisdom of the people of God, so to govern, dispose, and employ their bodies, as becomes those that understand what glory is prepared for them at the resurrection of the just. Particularly,
Do not be fondly tender of them, but employ them for God. How many good duties are lost and spoiled by sinful indulgence of our bodies. Alas, we are generally more solicitous to live long than to live usefully. How many Christians have active, vigorous bodies, yet God has little service from them. If your bodies were animated by some other souls that love God more than you do, and burn with holy zeal in his service, more work would be done for God in a day, than is now done in a month. To have an able, healthy body, and not use it for God, is as if one should give you a strong and stately horse, upon condition you must not work or ride him. What is the mercy of having a body, unless it is employed for God? Will not its reward at the resurrection recompense all the pains now endured in his service?
Let not the indulgence of your bodies draw your souls into snares, and bring them under the power of temptations to sin. Oh, how many thousands of precious souls perish eternally for the satisfaction of a vile body! Their souls must suffer, because the body must be indulged. It is recorded to the immortal honor of those worthies, Heb. 11:32–35, that they “accepted not deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” They might have had a temporal resurrection from death to life, from reproach to honor, from poverty to riches, from pain to pleasure; but upon such terms they judged it all not worth acceptance. They would not expose their souls to secure their bodies. They had the same natural affections that other men have. They were made of as tender flesh as we, but such was their care of their souls, and the hope of a better resurrection, that they did not listen to the complaints of their bodies. Oh that we all had the same resolution!
3. Is Christ risen from the dead, as a representative of believers? How are we all concerned to secure to ourselves an interest in Christ, and consequently in this blessed resurrection. What consolation would be left in this world, if the hope of the resurrection were taken away? It is this blessed hope that must support you under all the troubles of life, and in the agonies of death. Securing a blessed resurrection to yourselves is therefore your deepest concern. And it may be secured to yourselves if, upon serious heart-examination, you discover the following evidences:
If you are regenerated, born in a new nature to God, for we are “begotten again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Christ’s resurrection is the groundwork of our hope, and the new birth is evidence of our interest in it. So that until our souls are partakers of the spiritual resurrection from the death of sin, we can have no assurance that our bodies shall be partakers of that blessed resurrection to life. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power.” Rev. 20:6. Let not unregenerate souls expect a comfortable meeting with their bodies again. Rise they shall, by God’s terrible citation, at the sound of the last trump, but not to the same end that the saints arise. They, and they only, who are sanctified by the Spirit, shall have a joyful resurrection.
If you are dead with Christ, you shall live again by the life of Christ. If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. This refers to Christ and believers, who are in other scriptures said to suffer together, and be glorified together; to die together, and live together; to be crucified together, and buried together; all showing the communion they have with Christ, both in his death and in his life. Now, if the power of Christ’s death, that is, the mortifying influence of it, have been exerted upon our hearts, killing their lusts, deadening their affections, and subduing their appetites, then the power of His life, or resurrection, shall come upon our dead, withered bodies, to revive and raise them up to live with Him in glory.
If your hearts and affections are now with Christ in heaven, your bodies in due time shall be there also, and conformed to his glorious body. “For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his own glorious body.” “The body is here called vile, or the body of our vileness.” Not as God made it, but as sin has marred it. Then those scattered bones and dispersed dust, like pieces of old broken, battered silver, will be newly cast, and wrought in the best and newest fashion, even like to Christ’s glorious body. Whereof we have this evidence, that our conversation is already heavenly. The temper, frame, and disposition of our souls is already so; therefore the frame and temper of our bodies in due time shall be so.
If you strive now to attain the resurrection of the dead, no doubt it shall be yours. This was Paul’s great desire, that “by any means he might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” He means not simply a resurrection from the dead, for that all men shall attain, but that complete holiness and perfection which shall attend the resurrection of the just. So then, if God has raised in your hearts a vehement desire and diligent endeavor after a perfect freedom from sin, and full conformity to God, in the beauty of holiness, that very love of holiness, and your present pantings after perfection, show you to be the persons for whom it is reserved.
What an incitement should this be to us all, as indeed the apostle makes it, closing up the doctrine of the resurrection with this solemn exhortation: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
“Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”
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Bekijk de hele uitgave van donderdag 1 april 1965
The Banner of Truth | 20 Pagina's
Bekijk de hele uitgave van donderdag 1 april 1965
The Banner of Truth | 20 Pagina's