And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,…
Of one lever and power the apostles of Christ speak with enthusiasm. When they touch upon the Resurrection, their words are winged with rapture, and burst into anthems.
I. THE FACT OF THE RESURRECTION. Compare the narratives of St. Matthew and St. Luke with that of St. John. It is as nearly as possible correct to say that in the accounts of the risen Lord, St. Matthew mentions Galilee without Jerusalem (after the first appearance), while St. Luke mentions Jerusalem without Galilee. And in this respect St. Matthew is consistent with his purpose from the beginning. St. John, on the other hand, gives us, after his fashion, an idealized picture of the risen Jesus. He selects the appearances which he will relate, and moulds the record so as to show the identity (under glorified conditions) of the "Word made flesh" before and after the resurrection. That is(1) The identity of the human body which rose from the grave with that which came from the Virgin's womb, and hung upon the cross;
(2) the identity of the human soul, the permanence of the human sympathy of the risen Lord. And thus in the twentieth anti twenty-first chapters the Saviour is with His own. Not only does He recognize the old faces; He calls them by name — "Mary," "Thomas," "Simon, son of Jonas." They traverse unforgotten places. The same palms are quivering in the air; the same waters are veiled with the hot morning haze, or sleeping under the blazing noon in their golden mountain cup. Think how He speaks — for a short while, indeed, not entirely recognized, but lovingly, like one from a higher sphere, as the eternal Wisdom who can teach them what they need to know. Then those two words after the loaf and the fish are so mysteriously prepared — "come, dine." There is no link or particle in His brief sentence to break the hush of awe which mingles the familiarity of the breakfast upon the white beach with the enfolding depths of the presence of God.
II. THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION.
1. Think of that power in increasing and sustaining the Church. In our time the Church seems weak. In one great capital of Europe the Good Friday of the present year saw a hideous revel, a ball of Antichrist, in which masked dancers moved to the strains of the sacred music which is heard in Christian churches. And people ask — why are such blasphemers allowed to live? why are they not struck dead? Ah! He is patient because He is eternal. If we could follow the histories of those revellers to the end, let us be sure that we should find not a few of them bowing before Him. And that for two reasons. First, the soul cannot live without God. A boy who lived in a rude cottage by the sea was once found by a wealthy relative and taken to an inland valley. There he was given a fairer home, and surrounded by every luxury. But he missed something sorely. He missed the morning and evening music of the tumbling tides, and the dewy spray upon his cheeks; and he climbed the highest point of the farthest hill, until far off, with a beating heart and moisture upon his eyelid, he saw a blue speck in the distance, and cried, "the sea!" And so the human soul misses that eternal, infinite Ocean which we call God. And as the ocean child cries — "give me the ocean!" so the soul, made for God and restless ever until it finds rest in Him, cries — "give me God!" Again, of those revellers there are some whom Christ will one day win by His voice. He will lay them on a sick bed. In His loving discipline He will open their hearts with that pierced hand which knows every bolt of the door of the heart. And when they are asked — "how were you converted?" — they will say that Jesus is not a memory, but a Person; that He lives and works, not as Napoleon or Luther, by the mere influence of a history and of ideas, but by a present living love; and that God has acted upon them "according to the working of the mighty power which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead."
2. Consider the power of the resurrection in making believers holy. There is one great principle of the spiritual life which is deeply imbedded in the thought of St. Paul, and which pervades the conception of the Church's year. All that was done in Christ is mystically repeated in Christ's people.
3. Think of the power of the resurrection as regards our hope for the future of our dead. Remember what has been said of the two closing chapters of St. John.
4. Consider, lastly, the bearing of this resurrection power as a principle of conciliation in the national life of Christian nations. What if a nation contains within its womb two races and two manners of people? What if each of those two races has its own hostile tradition and its own thread of history, in whose texture the strands of right and wrong are so strangely intertwined that the subtlest analysis fails to distinguish where one ends and the other begins? "The muse of history is, after all, not hate, but love." So wrote a great French philosophic historian more than half a century ago. In this our land there shall yet be two words, not stamped upon stone or metal, upon coin or plinth, but upon the fleshy tables of men's hearts, upon remote mountains, in great cities where the voice of thousands, homeless, or barricaded within squalid walls, now rises like the restless hum of bees that have lost their queen. These two words are — "Pacata Hibernia." From brother to brother shall come the Easter greeting which came first from the heart of the Risen Christ — "peace be unto you." The resurrection of love will be the true resurrection of our nation.
(Bp. Wm. Alexander.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,