And he said to them, Be not affrighted: You seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here…
I. This message brings to us the glad tidings that HE WHO ONCE DIED FOR US NOW LIVES FOR US. For the salve of convenience in the presentation of thought, we may be permitted to speak of Christ's death as having two aspects in its saving efficacy — a heavenward and an earthward aspect, — and we assert that its power in both directions depends upon the truth that He is risen.
1. The heavenward aspect. Our benefit, in this direction, from the death of Christ, depends on our trust in Him, and not on our ability to explain precisely what His death has done. We know, at any rate, that it has done all that was necessary, and that not only has He died, but also risen again. His resurrection, sanctioned by the seal of law and all the pomp of heaven, gave to His redeeming act the most public and solemn satisfaction.
2. The earthward aspect. He who is our Saviour must be our Saviour every day, and our Saviour in every place; our Saviour from Satan, from the world, and from ourselves. Not only must we, by the heavenward efficacy of His death, have the forgiveness of sins; but, by its earthward efficacy have Him with us as a living presence, ever at work by "the renewing of the Holy Ghost." Some time ago the agents of Anti-Christianity placed posters about London, on doors, on walls, and on wooden fences, advertising the question, "Will faith in a dead man save you?" If, as thus insinuated, the Christian faith is like this, then Christianity is a shock to common sense. Dead Hampden will not take a hand against tyranny; dead Milton will not sing; dead Wellington will not fight; dead Wilberforce will not work for the emancipation of slaves in the Soudan; a dead lawyer will not save you from legal complications; a dead doctor will not save you from the grasp of fever; and just as fantastic, and just as insane, is the conception of salvation by faith in a dead Saviour — a Saviour who is behind eighteen centuries, a Saviour who was crucified but of whom we have been told nothing more. Without the resurrection all the gospel would collapse, as an arch would collapse without the keystone.
II. THE GRAVE IS THE ONLY PLACE WHERE THE TRUE SEEKERS OF JESUS MAY NOT FIND HIM.
1. "He is not here": this will not apply to heaven.
2. "He is not here": this will not apply to any earthly solitude.
3. "He is not here": this will not apply to the walks of human life. A Christian may say of his place of business, "Here I pass most of my life; this is my soul's battlefield; and will Christ leave me to fight my battles alone?" Never! "Here, in my commercial life," one may say, "Christ is with me, quickening my conscience, and holding my soul in life, while I seem to be only dealing with questions of material, colour, and shape; or with distinctions of weight and currency; or with tables of value, or calculations of outlay, or rates of exchange." It is an axiom of sanctified reason and a sovereign article of faith, that Christ most is — where Christ is most wanted; and that wherever I am, if I want Him, and seek Him, He is near to my heart as the sun is to that which it shines upon.
4. "He is not here": this will not apply to the worshipping assembly.
5. "He is not here": this will not apply to the place where the prodigal stands in his rags and tries to pray, but is speechless; it will not apply to the place where the backslider bemoans himself; it will not apply to the spot where some interceding soul, whose concern for some other soul has risen to the point of intolerable, bursts into the prayer, "Lord help me!"
6. "He is not here": Christ is not in the grave. To think of Christ as among the dead would be to give up faith in Christ. Christ is the life; He cannot, therefore, be among the dead; He must, therefore, be everywhere except in the grave.
III. THE SEEKERS OF JESUS HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR, even from that which may look most alarming. When we are overpowered with a sense of the awful other world, let us remember that angels and ministers of grace are all our friends. We and they are under the same Lord, at home in the same heaven, choristers in the same service.
IV. ALL WHO KNOW THE GLAD TIDINGS ARE BOUND TO TELL THEM TO OTHERS.
(G. Stanford, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.