And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.
I. No one of us needs proofs of the fact of our Lord's resurrection from the dead. Yet that resurrection remains an unsolved mystery. No one can explain it, but we inquire concerning its significance. One point only now engages our attention. Everybody who dies lives after death. Our dead friends are not dead. We never think of them as dead. They are dead in the sense of ceasing to respond to their present environment, but they are not passed out of existence. Moses and Elias passed away from mortal scenes ages before, but they spake with Jesus in the holy mount. What is true of man is also true of the Divine Man. If never a word had been spoken about his resurrection, we should have known that Jesus lived after and beyond death. That cross could not end Jesus; it only liberated a human spirit. Have we learned the lesson which our Lord almost in vain. tried to teach Martha? She cried, in her blinding agony, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." He answered, "Thy brother shall rise again." She misunderstood his reply, and away went her thoughts, coursing down the ages, until they came up against a great resurrection and judgment day. We need not so misunderstand our Lord. He did but wrap up his meaning in the usual figurative fashion. What he said was this, "Lazarus lives; is living now. What you really want, is not requickening of life, but restored relations of the living Lazarus to the body of Lazarus."
II. There is a marked difference between our Lord's living after death, and everybody else's living after death. When a man dies his life work is done. He lives, but he cannot carry on his work. Moses dies on Mount Nebo; nay, Moses lives; but he cannot carry on his work, and lead Israel through into the Promised Land. The artist is visited by the angel of death with the half-finished picture on his easel. The artist lives, but he cannot perfect the picture. Charles Dickens died with his work 'Edwin Drood' half written, and the plot undisclosed. Sir Edgar Boehm was caught away from his studio with the part-moulded statue before him. They live, but they cannot touch and finish their incomplete work. If the dead are active in some unknown sphere, they are certainly dormant in relation to all their earth work. For them death ends all enterprise. But it was not so with Christ. Death did not end all. His redemptive mission was not closed with his death. He resumed his earth work. After death he took it up again. Call it a picture, Jesus worked again at the picture. Call it a book, Jesus wrote on at the book. Call it the redemption of man from sin. Call it the sanctification of men unto righteousness. Jesus, living after death, goes on redeeming, goes on sanctifying. And the full convincement of this fact is the real meaning and purpose of our Lord's resurrection. It was forty days of showing us that he was at work again; of helping us to realize what his work was, and what his work would be forever. Our dead Lord is not only alive, he is active in relation to his lifework. "Alive forevermore;" his power is thus symbolized, "He has the keys of hell and of death."
III. The text declares the renewal of our Lord's commission. All power is given into the hands of Christ, but the only power Christ knows of or cares for is spiritual power. What the world calls "power" was to Christ illusion, mockery, play. To be Earth-King of humanity presented no attraction to him. The power given to Christ is the spiritual power, for which alone he cared. It is power on the souls that we are, and not mere power over the bodies that we have, and the relations that our bodies can sustain.
IV. How did Jesus come to have this spiritual power? It is easy to say that God gave it to him; but there must be some good reason why God gave it to him, and to no one but him. And it seems that God's giving was really this - sealing to him the power which Jesus himself had won; and putting Jesus in the place or office where his power could have free, full exercise. Christ's life on the earth was the moral discipline, the varied testing, the range of experiences, which prepared him for the trust of power to save which he now holds. Moral forces on moral beings are gained only through moral experiences. He who would save man must be man, must know man, must go at least a representative round of human experiences. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.