Acts 1:3
After His suffering, He presented Himself to them with many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a span of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
Sermons
After the ResurrectionHomilistActs 1:3
Christ Risen, Yet not AscendedW. H. Lewis, D. D.Acts 1:3
Christ's Conception of His KingdomActs 1:3
Forty Days with JesusJ. P. Gledstone.Acts 1:3
He Rose Again from the DeadF. Barrow, D. D.Acts 1:3
Noblesse ObligeJ. W. Burn.Acts 1:3
Sense Evidence Given of Christ's ResurrectionW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 1:3
Sensible Proofs of Christ's ResurrectionR. Tuck Acts 1:3
The Best Proof of Christ's ResurrectionChristlieb.Acts 1:3
The Conversations of the Great Forty DaysG. T. Stokes, D. D.Acts 1:3
The Epiphanies of the Forty DaysW. Denton, M. A.Acts 1:3
The Forty DaysJ. P. Lange, D. D.Acts 1:3
The Forty DaysJ. Hampden Gurney, M. A.Acts 1:3
The Forty DaysM. G. Pearse.Acts 1:3
The Forty DaysAlexander MaclarenActs 1:3
The Identification of the Risen ChristW. R. Campbell.Acts 1:3
The Kingdom of GodActs 1:3
The Risen JesusR.A. Redford Acts 1:3
The Significance of the Forty DaysJ. Lightfoot, D. D.Acts 1:3
The Unfolding of the Divine Kingdom Throughout the AgesMark Hopkins.Acts 1:3
The World's Supreme Question to the FrontP.C. Barker Acts 1:3
Things Pertaining to the Kingdom of GodActs 1:3
The Dawn of the Gospel DayR.A. Redford Acts 1:1-5
The Forty Days After the PassionE. Johnson Acts 1:1-5
Christ's Mission and OursS. Conway Acts 1:1-8
A True Commencement Must have Respect to What has Gone BeforeH. C. Trumbull, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
Aspects of Christ on the EarthActs 1:1-12
Christ Directs Thought to HeavenActs 1:1-12
Christ Preceding His Apostles to HeavenA. Maclaren, D. DActs 1:1-12
Christ's Finished and Unfinished WorkA. Maclaren, D. DActs 1:1-12
Jesus LivesJ. Stoughton.Acts 1:1-12
Literary HistoriesW. R. Campbell.Acts 1:1-12
St. Luke a Model for the Bible StudentR. Burgess, B. D.Acts 1:1-12
Teaching to be Combined with DoingGf. Pentecost.Acts 1:1-12
The Ascending LordMonday ClubActs 1:1-12
The Ascension of ChristJ W. Hamilton.Acts 1:1-12
The Ascension: its Central PositionNesselmann.Acts 1:1-12
The Beginning of Apostolicity (1J. Parker, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
The Beginning of Apostolicity (2J. Parker, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
The Coronation of ChristW. B. Campbell.Acts 1:1-12
The Ever-Active ChristA. Verran.Acts 1:1-12
The Gospels and the ActsW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
The Gospels the Living Picture of ChristLittle's "Historical Lights."Acts 1:1-12
The Last Days of the Gospel PeriodW. Hudson.Acts 1:1-12
The Memorabilia of ChristActs 1:1-12
The Ministry of Jesus a BeginningW. Hudson.Acts 1:1-12
The Permanence of Christ in HistoryA. Maclaren, D. DActs 1:1-12
The Pre-Eminence of the Doctrine of Christ IncarnateEvangelical MagazineActs 1:1-12
The Resurrection and Ascension of ChristD. Jennings.Acts 1:1-12
The Unchanged PlanW. R. Campbell.Acts 1:1-12
The Uniqueness of Christ's Earthly MinistryD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 1:1-12
TheophilusBp. Jacobsen.Acts 1:1-12
To whom he also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God.

I. THE WITNESSES.

1. Prepared and trained for the work. Not shown to all, but to those who could look at the miracle in its spiritual aspect, who could see the fulfillment of God's Word.

2. The certain knowledge of Christ's resurrection a solemn responsibility which all were not able to bear. Nothing secret but that it may come abroad. Not to the wise of this world, who know not how to use Divine secrets, but to the babes in disposition, simple, humble, self-forgetful, waiting on God.

3. The main work of Christ's servants is witnessing, not theorizing; not building up ecclesiastical structures; not seeking dominion over the faith of others; but "showing forth" the great facts. Our, preaching should be of the nature of witnessing. "Add to our seal that God is true. Although apostles had distinct duties as leaders and founders of the visible Church, they share with all the Lord's people the office of witnesses. "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord." See to it that we speak as those who "know the certainty of the things."

II. THE PROOFS. The Resurrection must be proved infallibly (τεκμηρίοις); that is, beyond all reasonable doubt. We must build on a foundation of fact and testimony. Our first teachers must be those who could say that they had tasted, handled, felt of the Word of Life (1 John 1:1-4). Now the proofs were:

1. Appearances of the risen Jesus, thirteen in number, in various circumstances, to different kinds of witnesses, and with amply sufficient tests of reality.

2. Coincidence of the facts with-the words of our Lord himself and the promises of the Old Testament.

3. Distinction of the signs and proofs of the Resurrection from any other facts; from the possible misapprehensions or illusions of disciples. It was unexpected; proved against unbelief; with growing assurance; and with concurrence of many sincere and faithful men who knew their responsibility as witnesses.

4. Jesus showed himself alive after his resurrection. The fact to which apostles testified was not the mystery of the Resurrection itself, but the simple fact that Jesus was alive. No one saw him rise, but they saw him after he was risen. They might mistake what occurred at the sepulcher; they could make no mistake in talking with a living man, handling him, eating with him, and that for forty days and on many occasions, in one another's presence. Necessity that we should set the proof of the Resurrection and risen life of Jesus first and foremost in our defense of Christianity. It is the key-stone of the arch.

III. THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE FACE OF JESUS CHRIST. The forty days and their influence on the first disciples, and through them on all future ages.

1. The personal presence of Jesus lifted up into a more glorious fact. The infirmities gone. The fact of his victory shining in his face. The influence of his condescension; the risen Jesus still the Friend and Companion of his people. The expectation of his return to heaven: "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God" (John 20:17). The effect on Thomas: "My Lord and my God!" The necessity that disciples should cease to "know Christ after the flesh." Henceforth they felt his presence spiritually.

2. Forty days of special instruction "concerning the kingdom of God." The history which follows corrects the view sometimes put forward that the risen Savior imparted to his apostles any body of ecclesiastical laws. Had they received them they would certainly have referred to them. He spoke of the kingdom itself, which is not meat and drink, not external ordinances and regulations, not creeds and shibboleths; but "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." He called to remembrance what he had preached. He opened their understandings to the meaning of the Old Testament. He corrected their worldly views. He showed them the relation of the gospel facts to the kingdom; that is, that he could reign by the power of these facts. "The Messiah ought to suffer, and to enter into his glory." He led them back to Calvary with new faith before he took them to Olivet. Jesus was a Teacher to the last. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. - R.







To whom also He showed Himself alive after His Passion.
I. THE FACT ITSELF, OR THE NOTION OF A RESURRECTION IN GENERAL. Admitting the power and providence of God, there can be nothing in it repugnant to reason, or incredible.

1. To raise a dead man to life surpasses the power of any creature; but no reason can be assigned why it should be beyond the Divine power; since the doing it involves no contradiction. He that first inspired the soul into the body, may surely be supposed capable of reuniting them.

2. Nor was it apparently in its design unworthy of God, or inconsistent with His holy will: for the ends thereof, such as were pretended by its attesters, were —

(1)Important.

(2)Good.

(3)Reasonable.

II. THE WITNESSES.

1. General considerations:(1) As to their number, it was not one or two, but many, who conspired in asserting it.(2) They were no strangers to Jesus, but persons by long conversation familiarly acquainted with Him.(3) They did aver themselves to be eye or ear-witnesses of the matter, as fully informed about it as senses could make them.(4) The chief of these witnesses, the apostles themselves, were at first so far from being credulous in this matter, that they took it for a fiction, gave no credence thereto, and were at last with difficulty persuaded of it.(5) On these grounds they boldly and concurrently aver the fact: "they spake the Word of God with boldness": and "with great power gave witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus." Which things being weighed, it appears impossible that the attesters of this fact, supposing them in their wits and senses, could be ignorant therein, or mistaken about it.

2. The character of the witnesses.(1) They were persons who did (with denunciation of God's heavy judgments on the contrary practice) preach and press earnestly all kinds of goodness, sincerity, modesty, and equity, as main points of that religion which by this testimony they confirmed.(2) Their practice was answerable to their doctrine, being exemplary in all sorts of virtue and sincerity, whereby they did in effect conciliate much respect and authority to their words: the life they led was not the life of wicked impostors, but worthy of the divinest men; fit to carry on the best design.(3) They were:persons of good sense; very wise and prudent; not in the way of worldly or fleshly wisdom, to compass projects of gain or pleasure to themselves; but endued with a wisdom far more excellent, and suitable to the characters they sustained.(4) As to their purposes in this case: profit, honour, pleasure, or any worldly advantage they could not have in view; for they willingly abandoned all those things, for the sake of this very testimony incurring loss, disgrace, and pain.(5) And all such afflictions, as they knowingly exposed themselves to them, they did endure with contentedness and joy.(6) Whence it is evident enough that the satisfaction of their conscience, and expectation of future reward from God for the discharge of their duty, was all the argument that induced them to undertake this attestation, all the reason that could support them in it; neither of which could be consistent with the resolved maintenance of a falsehood.(7) And how is it conceivable that such persons should be bewitched with so passionate an affection toward a man, who died as a malefactor, that merely for his sake, or rather a vain opinion about him, they should with such obstinacy defy all the world, with its persecutions, and the punishment of hell itself.(8) Again, we may consider these witnesses to have been persons very unlikely to devise such a plot, very unfit to undertake it, very unable to manage and carry it through.

III. THEIR TESTIMONY.

1. How could such a cheat, if contrived, have so easily prospered,. and obtained so wonderful a progress?

2. The matter of their testimony, and its drift, were very implausible, such as no impostors would be likely to forge, and no hearers, without great evidence of truth, be ready to admit.

3. One would indeed think that this report, had it been false, might easily have been disproved and quashed; they who were mightily concerned, and as eagerly disposed to confute it, wanting no means of doing it.

4. As also this testimony had no human power to sustain it, so it used no sleight to convey itself into the persuasions of men" it craved no blind faith: it dared all adversaries and powers to withstand it, relying on the patronage of heaven alone.

5. Furthermore, the thing itself, had it been counterfeit, was adapted to fall of itself; the witnesses clashing together, or relenting for their crime. The advice of Gamaliel on this point had much reason in it.

6. He then who doubts the sincerity of this testimony, or rejects it as incredible, must instead of it admit stronger incredibilities.

7. To these things we may add that God Himself did signally countenance and ratify this testimony, by extraordinary powers and graces conferred on the avowers thereof, as well as by a wonderful success bestowed on them.

(F. Barrow, D. D.)

There is a strong disposition to reverence that which has been connected with the great and good. If the wood of the true Cross had been preserved, few could look upon it but with the deepest interest. It is remarkable, however, that we have few relics of Christ's days; while the museums of all civilised lands are filled with well-authenticated fragments from Greece, Rome, Babylon, Egypt. God has wisely ordered this to check the tendency to superstition and idolatry. But can no good use be made of this law of our nature? Our Church has judged that there can, and she teaches us not to seek for relics, but to remember events in Christ's life, and then leads our thoughts to the instruction they convey.

I. HOW, OR IN WHAT FORM, DID OUR LORD "SHOW HIMSELF AFTER HIS PASSION"? There was evidently some change in His body and some difference in His manner of appearing. He ate, indeed, with His disciples, yet not as one who needed food, but only to convince them of His corporeal existence. He does not seem to have lived with them familiarly as He bad before done, but came to them occasionally; and the forms of expression intimate something miraculous. "He showed Himself" as one was invisibly present, but, at will revealing Himself, like the sun shining from a cloud. Then, "He vanished out of their sight." At other times He would come when "the doors were bolted." The disciples regarded Him far otherwise than in His former state. Their accustomed free intercourse was changed for the deepest reverence. All questions concerning the nature of Christ's body must remain unanswered till we know for ourselves what a spiritual and glorified body is.

II. WHERE? Chiefly in Galilee. There had been the favoured scene of His earthly ministry, and there His followers were most numerous. With what intense interest must those lowly followers have flocked together when the summons was to meet their risen Lord! He offers to meet us in His sacraments, house, word, prayer, yet how carelessly we regard the summons I He has carried the same loving, compassionate spirit with Him to heaven, and we may share with His disciples in His Divine consolations, if we seek them aright.

III. FOR WHAT PURPOSE. To speak "of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God," i.e., His Church. They had been hitherto very dull, and Christ in these meetings gave them fuller instructions. It is probable that we have the substance of our Lord's conversations in the Acts and Epistles, for in these they would naturally embody and carry out their Master's directions. It is also very likely that many of the customs of the primitive Church were nothing more than our Lord's instructions reduced to practice. Hence we see the importance of appealing, for our own guidance, to primitive usage. If, for instance, we find immediately after the apostles' times, that infants were baptised, and nothing to oppose this in the New Testament, we might be strengthened in our conclusions, that this was a practice settled by our Lord Himself. How many points there are in civil law which are decided by such an appeal to established usage, and are not found in any written code! Many points, however, upon which our Lord dwelt in these interviews, are recorded. He promised to send them the Comforter, etc.

IV. ITS CERTAINTY. "By many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days." Our faith and hopes rest then on infallible proofs. And the certainty of the gospel increases the guilt and danger of those who neglect it. Are you living as if you believed it true?

(W. H. Lewis, D. D.)

Many infallible proofs.
As the faith of the Church depends on the Resurrection God has given ample evidence of the fact. But He gave none other than that which appeals to the senses — the only way of proving any fact. Even our Maker could not give us better evidence without changing radically our nature. Observe how this bears on the Romish dogma of transubstantiation. The pillar on which that rests is the assumption that the senses deceive and cannot be trusted. But this assumption would leave the Resurrection incapable of proofs. Either the evidence of the senses is a valid proof of a fact or it is not. If it is transubstantiation is false; if it is not the Resurrection is unproved. The very same evidence which proves that Christ has risen proves also that the bread and wine are not changed into Christ's body and blood. Thus the Roman apostasy cannot sustain its fundamental superstition without destroying the proof that the Redeemer has risen.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

Being seen of them forty
I. FOR THE LORD. The period of —

1. The Sabbath rest after the completion of His work of redemption.

2. The last care of the Shepherd for His disciples.

3. The joyful expectation of His approaching exaltation.

II. FOR THE DISCIPLES. The period of —

1. The last blessed intercourse with their Divine Master.

2. Quiet communion with their own heart ("Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?").

3. Earnest preparation for their apostolic mission.

III. FOR US. An emblem of —

1. The blessed life of faith with Christ in God, concealed from the world (Corinthians 3:3).

2. The blessed work of love in the hearts of our friends in looking forward to our approaching separation.

3. The expectation of hope of our heavenly perfection.

(J. P. Lange, D. D.)

Mark,

I. HOW CAREFUL OUR SAVIOUR WAS TO HAVE THE FACT OF HIS RESURRECTION CERTIFIED TO HIS DISCIPLES BEYOND THE POSSIBILITY OF DOUBT. Strictly speaking, one meeting was enough. But proofs were multiplied, as His visits were repeated. They grew familiar with His look and aspect; heard Him talk, etc.; and after all this, they could never suppose that a vision had been imposed upon them. The positiveness with which they always spoke on this subject was an important element in their preaching, and it was their Lord's purpose to build them up in a confidence which should never be shaken. Through the "forty days" a work of education was going on the fruits of which were seen in the next forty years.

II. THIS PERIOD WAS NOT ONE OF UNINTERRUPTED INTERCOURSE, but of brief meetings, followed sore-times by days, or possibly weeks, of separation. Very graciously the Lord condescended to His friends, very blessed were these seasons when they came, but there was not the companionship of former days. Now Christ stood forth in His proper character as the Divine Mediator, to whom all power was committed in heaven and earth. The apostles had to learn this truth, and act upon it. Their approaches to the Mercy-seat, while bold, were to be marked with that solemn reverence without which all worship is a mockery.

III. TIME WAS GIVEN TO TEACH THE APOSTLES MUCH OF THEIR LORD'S WILL, AND TO SEND THEM FORTH WELL EQUIPPED FOR THEIR FUTURE WORK.

1. Particular directions given from time to time. They were to tarry at Jerusalem, where, judging from past experience, they would sow their seed as upon a rock, and peril their lives for nought. From that centre light was to radiate over the wide surface of this fallen world.,

2. Special gifts were promised to them for their work and "power from on high."

3. Mistakes and prejudices were corrected.

4. The great truth was enforced, explained, anti illustrated, that their Lord's death was the world's life.Learn —

1. A lesson of patience. Think what was before Him, and how contentedly He waited for it. No hasting to His crown till all was ready. We may well suppose that there was eagerness on the part of the heavenly hosts. Their harps were ready strung, and the song was on their lips, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates," etc. But their King has work to do in this lower world; and the march of triumph must be deferred. Let us then not only put up with our crosses, but wait patiently for the good things to come. What we sow in faith we shall reap one day; and God's harvest-time is the best. We long to see the Church advancing faster in her march of triumph, to see Christ's name more honoured among ourselves. Let us not wish less fervently, but let us wait more humbly. Centuries rolled away before the Son of God was manifested, and many more may come and go before He shall come back again in glory. Ten thousand unconscious agents in different lands are doing His work, and fulfilling His pleasure.

2. To think of Christ as the apostles thought of Him. They knew Him well before as the human Friend, but now as the Divine Redeemer. In both characters may we think of Him as ascended to His throne, and realise His presence with ourselves! You must not so degrade the Saviour as to think of Him only as the world's great Prophet, or as the perfect Pattern; nor in your attempts to exalt Him, lose sight of the truth that He carried His human nature with Him to heaven. "Such an High Priest became us," etc.

(J. Hampden Gurney, M. A.)

The best proof of Christ's resurrection is a living Church, which itself is walking in a new life, and drawing life from Him who hath overcome death.

(Christlieb.)

Luke, the writer of our twofold gospel of the resurrection, was a physician, who would have been inclined and able to sift the evidences of our Lord's bodily presence and identity among His followers. The longest and best accounts of Christ's return to earth, except those of John, are by a medical expert. Special past events were referred to by the Lord, which were familiar to the disciples, such as the baptism of John. Stanley carried a boy back up the Congo who had been taken from there when quite small. Coming into the vicinity of the dwelling place of his tribe, a canoe rowed out to meet the steamer. In the boat the lad recognised his elder brother, but the latter was sceptical, and cried, "Give me some sign that I may know you." The boy who had been away answered at once, "Do you remember the crocodile? His scar is there on your right arm." So Christ to His disciples gave many proofs. His lines of thought and speech during His forty days' residence among them were in the familiar phrase of the past, such as the "things concerning the kingdom of God." There might have been good evidences of Jesus's resurrection if He had appeared in China or under the Southern Cross or in the clearings of the Danubian forests. Had He gone there after He came from the grave, by the by the tidings would have reached the outer world of some strange and illustrious personage who manifested Himself at one place and another, just as a comet is reported in the sky. Yet we should always be grateful that the Lord showed Himself alive to those apostles "whom He had chosen." There was the possibility of verification which we so often ask for.

(W. R. Campbell.)

A host of reasons suggest themselves as to why He should at once enter into His glory.

I. EARTH AT BEST COULD HAVE BEEN BUT A VERY DREARY HOME FOR HIM WHO HAD COME FROM THE PARADISE OF GOD. For Him, the high King of Glory, we could find no fit entertainment. What society was there for Him, the all-wise? Thou hast given Thy life, O Lord, O glorious Son of God. Thou canst give no more. And where upon this guilty earth is any rest for Thee now since that dreadful Cross has cast its shadow over all the land!

II. THEN CHRIST HIMSELF LONGED FOR REST. He who dwelt in the bosom of the Father was an exile here.

III. THEN, AGAIN, THERE WAITED FOR CHRIST HIS GREAT TRIUMPH, that to which He has looked forward during all His life-work, finding in it strength and consolation. "For the joy that was set before Him He endured the Cross, despising the shame."

IV. DELAY WOULD BE WORSE THAN UNFITTING. If His reign means the world's salvation, gifts for men, the proclaiming of the gospel with the power of the Holy Ghost, dare He linger still upon earth? No, it is not human, this delay, Not our thought nor our way is this. It is all Divine — just like our blessed Lord. This lingering for the forty days is the crowning proof of His tender regard for His little flock. He who had laid down His life for them is loath to leave them. He must tarry with them till He has made them feel that He is just the same friendly, brotherly Jesus that He has ever been, caring for them in their work, watching them with a yearning pity, stooping to kindle a fire for their warmth and to cook the fish for their meal, and then to bid them come and dine.

V. Then again, THESE DAYS WERE THE NECESSARY PREPARATION FOR THE ASCENSION. A very tender and beautiful upleading of the disciples. Then with this exalted vision of their glorious Lord filling all their soul they went back to Jerusalem. Now they were able worthily to celebrate the Ascension. They returned to Jerusalem with great joy. Now all the familiar songs of triumphs come in to tell of the coronation of the King. Now they heard the rapturous anthem of the angels, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in." So we must know Him. And thus does He seek to lead us in our weakness and dimness of faith into the knowledge of Himself. So day by day does He lead us on our way, ordering our steps that life may make more room for Him, and that He may give us Himself as our salvation and our strength.

(M. G. Pearse.)

Men now-a-days yearn for a repetition of Pentecost without the trouble of preparing for it. The text teaches that that must be preceded by prolonged communion with Jesus.

I. THIS COMMUNION GAVE THE DISCIPLES THE FULL PERSUASION THAT CHRIST WAS THE SON OF GOD. They held such a thought before, but the crucifixion had shaken it. The resurrection however restored it and the forty days intercourse confirmed it. No Pentecost without the mastering conviction that Jesus is the Son of God with power.

II. Along with these great thoughts of Christ's Godhead THE INTERCOURSE BROUGHT THE MOST DELIGHTFUL CONSCIOUSNESS THAT JESUS WAS STILL THEIR BROTHER. He called them by that name, and demonstrated his Brotherhood by many infallible proofs. The realisation of this relationship by love-begetting certitude of Christ's presence is necessary to Pentecost. The Holy Spirit simply gives us power to bear witness to facts of which we are sure.

III. THE CHARACTER OF THIS INTERCOURSE.

1. It was discriminating. Christ dealt with each man as each required Peter, Thomas, John, etc.

2. It was self-discovering. Unsuspected faults were revealed and hearts were moved to self-renunciation.

3. It was educational.

4. It was encouraging. Knowing what we do of the disciples Pentecost would have been an impossibility before the forty days. So now we all need to be dealt with one by one, to know ourselves, to be humbled, taught, and inspired.

IV. THE SUBJECT DWELT UPON. "The kingdom of God" — its spirituality, glory, universality, final triumph. This was the matter which they had by the Spirit's inspiration to preach. Hence they must know about it from the King. Hence Christ must fire our minds with the same thought before the Spirit can fire our hearts to proclaim it.

(J. P. Gledstone.)

Homilist.
I. JESUS HAD COME BACK FROM THE MYSTERIOUS CHANGE, BUT HE HAD FORGOTTEN NOTHING — neither the places, the dear familiar shores, the roads, the mountain paths, the lake, and the hills, the hallowed spots of His life-work. Now, as to the persons, Martha and Mary, and Peter, and the other disciples, were not only still remembered, but still loved. It will be so with us when we also come back from the mysterious regions of the grave. The present life will he something more than a dream. It will be a living reality.

II. JESUS HAD COME BACK FROM THE MYSTERIOUS CHANGE, BUT HIS LOVE REMAINED THE SAME. It will be the same with us. When we have crossed to the other side, we shall still bear with us the fond remembrances of past love. The affections will not be destroyed.

III. JESUS HAD COME BACK FROM THE MYSTERIOUS CHANGE, BUT HIS PHYSICAL NATURE REMAINED. And His human nature was visible, tangible, capable of taking food. Our physical powers will, in a certain manner, remain with us after death. There will be conversation and action in the same way as at present. Wherein, then, will be the change? Our human bodies will not be destroyed, but they will be changed. We may gather some particulars from the resurrection of our Lord.

1. It will be the same body fully developed. It is evident to all that our human bodies are cramped and dwarfed by circumstances. They are but elementary, imperfect organisations. If they were perfect they would not change. If they were perfect they could not deteriorate. If perfect they could not die. That they are undeveloped is observable from the capacities which they possess. How strong and mighty the body may become! What we call maturity of character is in reality only its commencement. With regard to the body, take its power of progression, limited to, say, four miles an hour — a rate which would require millions of years to reach the nearest star. The same body will have all its powers fully developed to their utmost capacity.

2. It will be the same body rendered immaterial.

(Homilist.)

The period is a significant space of time in Scripture, and is frequently allotted as a term of probation before some great event which concerned God's kingdom. For forty days and forty nights rain was sent upon the earth as the prelude to the Deluge. Before the giving of the law Moses was in the Mount forty days and forty nights; and when after the destruction of the first tables, the law was renewed again, Moses was with the Lord forty days and nights. The same space of time was spent by the spies who were sent forth to survey Canaan the type of the spiritual inheritance of the people of God. For forty days and nights Elijah journeyed before he came by Divine direction to Horeb the Mount of God. The time of probation and repentance given to Nineveh was a like space of time. When we come to the New Testament we note the same phenomenon. Forty days after His birth our Lord was presented in the Temple. Before He entered on the work of His ministry after His baptism He was forty days tempted in the wilderness. So now He abode on earth forty days before His ascension. What significancy there may be in the number we are not informed: the recurrence, however, of this space of time, usually in connection with events of extraordinary importance, would lead us to believe that there is a mystery in the number. Nor is this diminished when in parallelism with the forty days' wandering (Numbers 14:33, 34) Jerusalem had its forty years of trial and space for repentance after the Crucifixion;and not until that period had been accomplished was it destroyed by the Romans. For forty days during which He showed Himself alive they were obdurate, and forty years afterwards each day for a year came the destruction of the nation.

(J. Lightfoot, D. D.)

1. To Mary Magdalene (Mark 16.; John 20.)

2. To the women who had first visited the sepulchre, by whom the disciples were summoned to meet Christ in Galilee (Matthew 28:1-10).

3. To Peter (Luke 24:33-35; 1 Corinthians 15:5).

4. To Cleophas and another on the way to Emmaus (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13-32).

5. To the eleven in the absence of Thomas, at Jerusalem (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25).

6. "Eight days afterwards" to the disciples, Thomas being present (Mark 16:14; John 20:26-29; 1 Corinthians 15:6).

7. To certain of the disciples when fishing on the lake of Galilee (John 21:1-24).

8. To James (1 Corinthians 15:7).

9. To the apostles, and probably the whole body of disciples on a certain mountain in Galilee (1 Corinthians 15:6).

10. On the morning of the ascension (Luke 24:43-51, and text). Speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

I. OF THE CHURCH MILITANT — the kingdom of God on earth.

1. Its governance.

2. The means of its extension.

II. OF THE CHURCH TRIUMPHANT — the kingdom of God in heaven.

1. Its glories.

2. Themeans of obtaining them.

(W. Denton, M. A.)

1. Its Founder (ver. 1).

2. Its laws (ver. 2).

3. Its privilege, the personal presence of the Holy Spirit (vers. 4, 5).

4. Its extent, the whole world (ver. 8).

5. Its King, a risen and ascended Saviour (ver. 9).

6. Its hope, a returning Christ.

Let us reflect for a little on the characteristics of Christ's risen appearances to His disciples. I note then in the first place that they were intermittent, and not continuous — here and there, to Mary Magdalene at one time; to the disciples journeying to Emmaus, to the assembled twelve, to five hundred brethren at one, at other times. In one place in the Gospel narrative we read that our Lord replied thus to a section of His adversaries: "In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven." Now we often read of angelic appearances in Holy Scripture, in the Old and New Testament alike. We read too of appearances of Old Testament saints, as of Moses and Elias on the Mount of Transfiguration. And they are all like these of our Lord Jesus Christ after His resurrection. They are sudden, independent of time or space or material barriers, and yet are visible and tangible though glorified. Such in Genesis was Abraham's vision of angels at the tent door, when they did eat and drink with him.

I. NOW LET US HERE NOTICE THE NATURALNESS OF THIS QUERY CONCERNING THE RESTORATION OF THE KINGDOM. The apostles evidently shared the national aspirations of the Jews at that time. We can scarcely realise or understand the force and naturalness of this question, "Dost Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" as put by these Galilean peasants till one takes up Archbishop Laurence's translation of the book of Enoch, and sees how this eager expectation dominated every other feeling in the Jewish mind of that period, and was burned into the very secrets of their existence by the tyranny of Roman rule. They were thinking simply of such a kingdom as the book of Enoch foretold. This very point seems to us one of the special and most striking evidences for the inspiration and supernatural direction of the writers of the New Testament. Their natural, purely human, and national conception of the kingdom of God was one thing their final, their divinely taught and inspired conception of that kingdom is quite another thing. Some persons maintain that Christianity in its doctrines, organisation, and discipline was but the outcome of natural forces working in the world at that epoch. But take this doctrine alone, "My kingdom is not of this world," announced by Christ before Pilate, and impressed upon the apostles by revelation after revelation, and experience after experience, which they only very gradually assimilated and understood. Where did it come from? How was it the outcome of natural forces? The whole tendency of Jewish thought was in the opposite direction. Nationalism of the most narrow, particular, and limited kind was the predominant idea, specially among those Galilean provincials who furnished the vast majority of the earliest disciples of Jesus Christ. How could men like them have developed the idea of the Catholic Church, boundless as the earth itself, limited by no hereditary or fleshly bonds, and trammelled by no circumstances of race, climate, or kindred? The magnificence of the idea, the grandeur of the conception, is the truest and most sufficient evidence of the divinity of its origin. If this higher knowledge, this nobler conception, this spiritualised ideal, came not from God, whence did it come? I do not think we can press this point of the catholicity and universality of the Christian idea and the Christian society too far. We cannot possibly make too much of it. There were undoubtedly Christian elements, or elements whence Christian ideas were developed, prevalent in the current Judaism of the day. But it was not among these, or such as these, that the catholic ideas of the gospel took their rise.

II. IN THIS PASSAGE AGAIN THERE LIES HIDDEN THE WISEST PRACTICAL TEACHING FOR THE CHURCH OF ALL AGES. We have warnings against the folly which seeks to unravel the future and penetrate the veil of darkness by which our God in mercy shrouds the unknown. We have taught us the benefits which attend the uncertainties of our Lord's return and of the end of this present dispensation. "It is not for you to know times or seasons."

1. The wisdom of the Divine answer will best be seen if we take the matter thus, and suppose our Lord to have responded to the apostolic appeal fixing some definite date for the winding-up of man's probation state, and for that manifestation of the sons of God which will take place at His appearing and His kingdom. Our Lord, in fixing upon some such definite date, must have chosen one that was either near at hand or else one that was removed far off into the distant future. In either of these cases He must have defeated the great object of the Divine society which He was founding. That object was simply this, to teach men how to lead the life of God amid the children of men. The Christian religion has indeed sometimes been taunted with being an unpractical religion. But is this the case? Has Christianity proved itself unpractical? If so, what has placed Christendom at the head of civilisation? Compare Christendom and India from the simply practical point of view, and which can show the better record?

2. Our Lord's answer to His apostles was couched in words suited to develop this practical aspect of His religion. It refused to minister to mere human curiosity, and left men uncertain as to the time of His return, that they might be fruitful workers in the great field of life. And now behold what ill results would have followed had He acted otherwise! The Master in fact says, It is not well for you to know the times or seasons, because such knowledge would strike at the root of practical Christianity. Uncertainty as to the time of the end is the most healthful state for the followers of Christ.

3. There are in the New Testament, taken as a whole, two contrasted lines of prophecy concerning the second coming of Christ. If in one place the Lord Jesus speaks as if the date of His coming were fixed for His own generation and age, "Verily, I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away till all these things shall be fulfilled," in the very same context He indicates that it is only after a long time that the Lord of the servants will return, to take account of their dealings with the property entrusted to them. Suppose Christ had responded to the spirit of the apostolic query, "Dost Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" and fixed the precise date of His coming? He would in that case have altogether defeated the great end of His own work and labour. Suppose He had fixed it a thousand years from the time of His ascension. Then indeed the doctrine of Christ's second coming would have lost all personal and practical power over the lives of the generation of Christians then living, or who should live during the hundreds of years which were to elapse till the date appointed. The day of their death, the uncertainty of life, these would be the inspiring motives to activity and devotion felt by the early Christians; while, as a matter of fact, St. Paul never appeals to either of them, but ever appeals to the coming of Christ and His appearing to judgment as the motives to Christian zeal and diligence. But a more serious danger in any such prediction lurks behind. What would have been the result of any such precise prophecy upon the minds of the Christians who lived close to the time of its fulfilment? It would have at once defeated the great end of the Christian religion, as we have already defined it. The near approach of the great final catastrophe would have completely paralysed all exertion, and turned the members of Christ's Church into idle, useless, unpractical religionists. We all know how the near approach of any great event, how the presence of any great excitement, hinders life's daily work.

4. Again and again has history verified and amp]y justified the wisdom of the Master's reply, "It is not for you to know times or seasons." It was justified in apostolic experience. The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians is a commentary on our Lord's teaching in this passage. The language of St. Paul completely justifies our line of argument. He tells us that the spirits of the Thessalonians had been upset, the natural result of a great expectation had been experienced as we might humanly have predicted. The beginning of the second chapter of his Second Epistle proves this: "Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto Him; to the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is present." See here how he dwells on mental perturbation as the result of high-strung expectation; and that is bad, for mental peace, not mental disturbance, is the portion of Christ's people.

III. Christ, after He had reproved the spirit of vain curiosity which strikes at the root of all practical effort, then indicates THE SOURCE OF THEIR STRENGTH AND THE SPHERE OF ITS ACTIVITY. "Ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you."

(G. T. Stokes, D. D.)

His thought and teaching concerning the kingdom was manifestly different from theirs. Their idea was narrow, small, and limited to Israel after the flesh, while His idea was large, and universally included all peoples, nations, and languages. It is always difficult for us to rise out of our own narrow limitations, and take in God's great thoughts and purposes. This narrowness of mind on our part is always obtruding itself on God's great thoughts; indeed, they are higher than ours as the heavens are higher than the earth. God's thoughts and purposes of mercy have in them a wideness like the wideness of the sea, while ours are bounded by local surroundings. As we come into a closer and more intimate fellowship with Jesus, we shall also come into a larger and more godlike view of things, both in heaven and earth.

Now that Jesus was about to depart, it might reasonably be expected that His parting instructions would be concerning that kingdom which He was to rule as the Invisible Head, and they were to administer as the visible agents.

I. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IS A KINGDOM. With Christ and His apostles it was never less. Christ did not come as an ecclesiastic to found a new sect, nor as a philosopher to construct a new school of thought, nor as a democratic leader to form a new social club or to draw up a new social programme. He came as a sovereign to establish a new Kingdom of Truth, of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Hence the apostles felt that they had more to do than to secure a place for Christianity side by side with Judaism and Paganism — they claimed universal sovereign supremacy. Hence, again, they had no philosophy to set over against the school of Hillel or the school of Aristotle. True they reasoned, but that was only because the kingdom rested on a rational and not on a military basis, and its subjects were to be won by the force of persuasion and not by the force of arms. And hence lastly the apostles entered into no revolutionary plots, nor asked any man to rise above or turn aside from the secular occupation; but told slave and governor alike to abide in the callings wherein they were called as servants of the Lord Christ. Note

1. The grandeur of this conception. Sects, systems, programmes are all limited, and one after another pass away. Christians are citizens of a commonwealth which transcends space and outlives time. Compared with the dignity of the Christian that of the proudest autocrat is mean. Here all subjects are royal. The divine right of kings, a myth elsewhere, is a reality here. Christ "hath made us kings and priests unto God."

2. The responsibility.

Kings by virtue of their office are under an obligation to live royally. Let us then walk worthy of Him who hath called us to His kingdom and glory.

II. THE THINGS PERTAINING TO THIS KINGDOM.

1. The King. Christ Jesus. God and man who occupies the throne because He became obedient to the death of the Cross (Philippians 2.).

2. The means of entrance into this kingdom — the new birth (John 3.)

3. The conditions of continuance in the kingdom.

(1)Loyalty to the King.

(2)Love to our fellow subjects.

(3)Endeavours to extend the boundaries of the realm.

4. The glorious prospects of the kingdom. "The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God," etc. "He shall reign from sea to sea," etc.

(J. W. Burn.)

The patriarchal, the Jewish, and the Christian dispensations, are evidently but the unfolding of one general plan. In the first we see the folded bud; in the second the expanded leaf; in the third the blossom and the fruit. And now, how sublime the idea of a religion thus commencing in the earliest dawn of time; holding on its way through all the revolutions of kingdoms and the vicissitudes of the race; receiving new forms, but always identical in spirit; and, finally, expanding and embracing in one great brotherhood the whole family of man! Who can doubt that such a religion was from God?

(Mark Hopkins.)

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