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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).
Rev. A. Vergunst (1926-1981)
What bitter sorrow filled the hearts of the women and the disciples of the Lord Jesus! How their expectations had been deceived! Instead of being Israel’s deliverer, Christ had to suffer the cross as His portion. How deeply had their faith been tried! How strong was their hope, but it all ended in Christs death. Their hope had perished, and their faith seemed to have been in vain. Their love, however, did not perish because that love is as real as the grave and stronger than death. It was that love which moved the women to go to the grave and to there 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 the Lord spoke unto them, saying, “I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.” That angel was also enabled to say unto them, “Fear not.” This was not said by the angel to the watchers, who became as dead men, but unto the women who sought Jesus, who, even in His death, desired to manifest their love toward Him.
How blessed are those 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 blessed word which was spoken unto them. Should they not love Him who had spoken to their heart? He had manifested unto them that He was able to unravel the riddles of their heart. 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 was love which urged them on, yet it was unbelief which accompanied them on the way to the grave.
Why were their faces so sad, and why had their hopes perished? Was it not necessary for Christ to travel in this way and thus enter into His glory? Surely, He had to travel this way, but these women did not understand anything regarding it. They sought Jesus 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, that He would always remain with them to 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 to them; hence, they sought to bestow their love upon Him by going to the grave with their spices. They still wanted to serve a dead Jesus with their gifts, but when they came to the grave, they had to hear out of the mouth of the angel, “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 Jesus not being there was because “He is risen,” it was the most joyful tiding that could ever have been spoken unto them.
“He is risen”—what a message of infinite value! He, who is the object of our present meditation, is 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 to His resurrection.
Let us consider what this message signified to those women who had come to the grave with their spices to attend to 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 had been spoken unto them. A new hope arose within their heart. Faith broke through all the hindrances which had been cast up by unbelief and filled their heart with great gladness and unspeakable joy.
No, as a crucified One, Jesus need not be served with the womens 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 heart, and that is of greater value than their gifts of love could ever be. “He is risen,” and with His arising He has broken the bands of death and the grave, of hell and also the dominion of its emperor, the world and the devil. As the Victor, the “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” He has risen in order that with His blessed victory He might become the Author of eternal salvation for His people.
This message must also be preached in these days in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection as one 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 is also 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 moments 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, 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.” In spite of their missing, they still desire to serve Jesus with their love, and they continue to seek for Him.
They wander up and down in the earth, hoping that they may still find Him, because such hearts cannot be satisfied unless Jesus comes into their heart. These people miss Christ. They understand the poet who cried out, “Give me Jesus, else I die,” because without Jesus there is no life, 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.
He was not where they sought Him because He was risen. He entered into death to pay the debt of His people and to bear the heat of God’s wrath for His people, quenching that heat completely. He has born the judgment of God for His people and perfectly fulfilled the strictest demands of God’s justice for them. No, they shall not serve Him, but He shall serve them with His gift of eternal love and with ministrations of His grace. He shall strengthen their heart. The justice of God has been satisfied by Christ, and in His resurrection His Father has been satisfied by Him. In His resurrection the 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 a sea of eternal forgetfulness. 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 that peace to you. No devil shall be able to withhold from you that peace which He has prepared for you. 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, “He is risen.” He arose in glory and 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 as He told it; His Word has been verified—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 ways 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 excellently has the Word of His truth been confirmed to them!
May the Lord grant also in this day of commemoration that a people may be found who may hear Jesus’ message, “He is risen”—that they through this way may be filled with great joy because 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, therefore ye shall live also.”
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing” (Isaiah 35:5&6a).
In the previous verse it is said that Christ will come to save His people. By nature they are under the curse of the threefold death without any hope for deliverance on their side, but the Lord had thoughts of peace to open a way of salvation. He promised, “He will come and save you.” When the Lord comes in the heart of man, then it will become visible; a change, a renewal, will take place, which is expressed in our text. It is nearly unbelievable that this can happen, but for the Lord nothing is too wonderful. He can change the wilderness into a fruitful field, and so it can also happen in the desert of our heart under the operation of the Holy Ghost.
We do not live to the honor of God; we are always self-centered, but it is different if the Lord makes a change in us. Has this already been revealed in our life? Then our eyes have been opened to see the state wherein we have come. Our ears will also be opened to hear what the Lord has to say to us. Probably, we have always lived under the Truth, but we have never understood what is necessary to live and die happily. Now it is different!
First we went away from the Lord, but now there is a returning to Him and an asking for the Way. Conversion is a turning around; previously, we sought our life in the temporal things, but they do not satisfy anymore. We begin to look for the Bread of Life. When it pleases the Lord to reveal this in our life, then we are able to leap as a hart and sing of the goodness of the Lord that He looked down upon us. Then we see that the chief of sinners can yet be saved.
— Rev. A.M. den Boer
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