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Easter: He is Risen!
“For I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” —Matthew 28:5b, 6
How bitter were the women and the disciples of the Lord Jesus! How their expectations have been deceived! Instead of Israel’s deliverance, the cross has become Christ’s portion. How deeply their faith has been tried! How strong was their hope, but death was the end of all. Their hope had perished and their faith seemed to have been in vain. But their love did not perish because that love is as real as the grave and stronger than death. It is that love which moved the women to go to the grave and to confer their last service upon Christ. That love enabled them to surmount all difficulties; that love penetrated through everything; that love never perished.
Having arrived at the grave, the angel of God came and spoke to them:” I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.” That angel was also enabled to say:” Fear not.” This was not said by the angel to the watchers who became as dead men, but to the women who sought Jesus and who, even in His death, desired to manifest their love toward Him.
They are blessed people who seek Jesus out of a true, unfeigned love because this love can only be a fruit of the love which He has bestowed upon them. Christ had sought them, and they had experienced His love in every word which was spoken unto them with His blessed lips. Should they not love Him who had spoken to their heart? How richly He had manifested that He was able to unravel the riddles of their hearts. He had so abundantly comforted them. They still sought to demonstrate their love toward Him, even though they were disappointed in the way in which He went. Although it is love which urged them, yet it is unbelief which accompanied them on the way to the grave.
Why were their faces so sad, and why had their hopes perished? Must not Christ have had to travel in this way and thus enter into His glory? Surely, He had to travel this way, but these women understood nothing of that. They sought Him although He was crucified, but not because He was crucified. They did not understand the great benefit of His death. Their desire was to live with Him and that He would always remain with them, always comfort them with the words of His divine mercy. Receiving comfort from the Lord was so desirable for them. His presence had been such a blessing. Hence, they sought to bestow their love upon Him by going to the grave with various spices. They still wanted to serve a dead Jesus with their gifts. And then those women had to hear out of the mouth of the angel,” He is not here.” That was not a welcome tiding for them who sought Jesus.” He is not here.” Where they sought Him, they could no longer find Him. However sad that message seemed to be, and however great their disappointment appeared to become, when the angel told them the reason for His not being there,” He is risen,” it was the most joyful tiding which could be spoken to them.” He is risen!”
What a message of infinite value! He is the object of our present meditation, also the contents of the preaching of the gospel which is brought to all creatures. The significance of the resurrection of Christ from the dead cannot be expressed in a few words because all the truths of the gospel are connected with His resurrection.
Let us consider what this message signified to those women who had come with their spices to the grave to attend upon a dead Jesus. The angel told them with emphasis,” as He said.” Now the words of Christ descended like a heavenly light upon the entire way of His suffering and death. The fact of the resurrection revealed to these women that with the death of Christ all was not finished; but it confirmed His words which were spoken to them before. A new hope arose within their heart. Faith broke through all the hindrances which had been cast up by unbelief, and filled their hearts with great joy and unspeakable gladness.
No, as a crucified one, Jesus need not be served with the women’s gifts of love, but Christ would serve them with the gift of His love. As the resurrected One, He would glorify the value of His broken body and His shed blood within their hearts, and that is of greater value than their gifts of love could ever be. He is risen; and with that He has broken the bands of death and the grave, of hell, and also the dominion of emperor, world, and the devil. As the Victor, the” Lion of the tribe of Judah” has risen in order that with His blessed victory He might become the author of eternal salvation to His people.
All the truths of the gospel are connected with His resurrection.
This message must also be preached on this day in remembrance of His resurrection as a message which must cause the world to tremble, because His resurrection signifies their utter defeat. All His enemies have been cast down by Him, but this also is a message full of the sweetest comfort for those who seek Jesus. Although we who now live under the Word of God do not experience these blissful things like the disciples experienced them, yet there is a people upon earth who, like those women, are filled with love toward Christ because they have experienced His love, comforts, and encouragements to their soul. Oh, what unforgettable times there were when they were favored with His communion, when He spoke to their heart, and they could experience the conscious and blessed presence of the Lord! But oh, what dark times have followed upon that—when the Lord Jesus withdrew Himself as it were from their soul, and they have had to travel over the earth with the complaint,” Behold, I go forward but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him.” Such ones still desire to serve Jesus with their love, and they continue to seek for Him.
Oh, that on this day of commemoration God’s people mightgo out, not to serve Him, but to he served by Him in the marks of His glory!
How they do wander on the earth, hoping they may still find Him, because their hearts cannot be satisfied unless Jesus comes into their heart. These people miss Christ. They understand trie poet who cried out,” Give me Jesus, else I die,” because without Jesus there is no life, but only eternal destruction of the soul. Did not their hope perish with Him? Yes, surely their hope and expectation did perish with Him, but that must be shown to them.
There, where they sought Him He was not, because He was risen. He entered into death to pay the debt for His people and to bear the heat of God’s wrath for His people, quenching that heat completely. He has borne the judgment of God for His people and has perfectly fulfilled the strictest demands of God’s justice for them. He is risen to manifest the glory of His death and the value of His bloody suffering for them. No, they shall not serve Him, but He shall serve them with His gift of eternal love and with the ministration of His grace. He shall strengthen their heart. The justice of God has been satisfied by Him and in His resurrection His Father has declared that He no longer beholds sin in His Jacob and finds no more transgression in His Israel.
Dear children of God, all our sins and guilt have forever been cast behind Him into the sea of eternal forget-fulness. There is no greater grace than to be favored to hear and believe this resurrection message.” He is risen” for your profit and for your eternal salvation. He proclaims peace to you and imparts tnat peace to you. No devil shall be able to withhold from you that peace which He has prepared for you. And no power in the whole world shall be able to snatch that comfort away from you, which is proclaimed in this message to all those who seek Jesus. Oh, that God’s people might understand that” He is risen” ! He arose in glory and in power. He came to deliver you and He shall deliver you by His great grace and blessed mercy.
Oh, that on this day of commemoration God’s people might go out, not to serve Him, but to be served by Him in the marks of His glory! It is exactly like He told it. His Word has been verified—not like they thought that it would be confirmed, not in their way, but in His way which proclaims deliverance.
What foolish thoughts the disciples entertained about the way of Christ, but also what foolish thoughts have God’s dear children entertained about the way of the Lord. The disciples held fast to an earthly glory, but how God-glorifying has His blessed way now become for His children! How excellent has the Word of His truth been confirmed to them!
May the Lord grant that also in this day of commemoration, a people may still be found who may hear Jesus’ message,” He is risen.” And through this way they may be filled with great joy because through Him they have obtained access to communion with God.
The resurrection of Jesus cannot leave you indifferent. It is a message of comfort and judgment. Of comfort for those who cannot live without Him; but for all watchers at the grave of Jesus, it shall be a message of judgment throughout all ages whereby they shall be filled with terror. Blessed are they that know:” I live and ye shall live.”
“What is thy beloved more than another beloved…. My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefist among ten thousand.
—Song of Solomon 5:9,10
O, this is my Beloved,
There’s none so fair as He;
The chief among ten thousand,
He’s all in all to me.
My heart, it breaks with longing
To dwell with Him above,
Who wooed me first, and won me
By His great dying love.
Rev. A. Vergunst (1936-1981) served the Netherlands Reformed Congregations of Corsica, South Dakota and Kalamazoo, Michigan, in addition to three congregations in the Netherlands.
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Bekijk de hele uitgave van zondag 1 april 1990
The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's
Bekijk de hele uitgave van zondag 1 april 1990
The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's