But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here! See the place where they laid Him.
I. THE PLACE WHERE CHRIST HAS BEEN' IS NOT ALWAYS THE PLACE WHERE CHRIST IS.
II. IT IS A LIVING AND NOT A DEAD CHRIST THAT CHRISTIANS ARE TO SEEK.
III. THEY THAT TRULY SEEK CHRIST WILL, EVEN THROUGH DISAPPOINTMENT, LEARN WHERE TO FIND HIM.
IV. THE DUTIES OF SORROWING LOVE ARE DISPLACED BY THE DUTIES OF REJOICING FAITH. - M.
He is risen; He is not here.
I. THE FIRST TITLE UNDER WHICH CHRIST WAS PROCLAIMED BY A MESSENGER FROM HEAVEN AFTER HIS CRUCIFIXION.
1. Jesus. The name given at the annunciation. Now it is fulfilled. He has saved His people from their sins. Henceforth this name shall be above every name. All through our life in time let us sing with Bernard, "This name is sweetness in the mouth, music in the ear, joy in the heart;" and all through our life in eternity let us expect to penetrate deeper and deeper into the soul of its beauty, and glory, and meaning.
2. Jesus of Nazareth. A lowly title, despised by men.
3. Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified. Words used among men to express contempt, an angel is proud to use; and the last phrase of degradation which His enemies flung at Him on earth was the first title under which He is proclaimed by a flaming prophet from heaven.
II. THE FIRST NOTICE OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION. Christ's resurrection is —
1. A mystery.
2. A miracle.
3. A victory over death.
4. A fulfilment of His promise.
(G. Stanford, D. D.)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.)
1. Their faith, it is true, was weak. They cherished no hope of finding Christ alive. They had forgotten His own express prediction.
2. Yet, if there be no faith to admire, there is great love to commend.
3. And then, what zeal was in their love. They well knew how carefully the grave had been closed; but they did not turn back at the prospect of a difficulty which they might justly have reasoned was too much for their strength. Theirs was the love which seems to itself able to break through rocks, though hope might have been perplexed had it been called upon for a reason.
4. And love had its reward. They came with the pious intent of anointing the dead, and themselves were anointed with the most fragrant tidings that ever fell on mortal ear.
I. THE INFORMATION GIVEN TO THE WOMEN.
1. Their fears are quieted. "Be not affrighted." They had no need to be terrified at the glories of an angel, who had not been alarmed at the indignities heaped upon their Lord. They who could come seeking the crucified Nazarene in the grave were not unworthy to hold converse with celestial beings themselves.
2. But the women needed more than the quieting of those fears which the apparition of the angel had naturally excited. They wanted information as to the disappearance of Christ's body, and this was quickly furnished. There is something remarkable in the reasoning of the angel. He calls upon the women to behold the place where their Lord's body had lain, as though its mere desertion were evidence enough of the fact of a resurrection. And so, in real truth, it was; to all, at least, who like the women, knew and considered the characters and circumstances of the disciples of Christ. The body was gone. Either, therefore, it had been raised from the dead, or it had been removed for the purpose of deception. If removed, it could only be by some of his immediate followers and adherents. But could they have stolen the body? The supposition is absurd. In believing that Christ was raised from the dead, I believe a miracle for which there was adequate power; but in believing that Christ's disciples stole away His body, I believe a miracle for which there was no power at all. Hence the simple fact, ascertainable by the senses, that Christ's body had disappeared, was, and should be still, sufficient evidence of the resurrection.
3. It may not, however, have been only as proving the fact of a resurrection, that the angel directed attention to the deserted grave; but yet further, because there would be high topics of meditation and comfort suggested by the fact that it had been hallowed by the body of the Lord. Pause awhile, that you may gaze on the consecrated spot, and gather in the wonders with which it is haunted. So interwoven is the fact of Christ's resurrection with the whole scheme of redemption — so dependent is the entire gospel, whether for its truth or its worth, upon its not being possible He should be holden of death, — that if we could but fix attention on that empty grave, we should give hope to the desponding, constancy to the wavering, warning to the careless, comfort to the sorrowing, courage to the dying. Oh, linger awhile at the tomb in holy meditation. Solemn thoughts may steal over you, and brilliant visions may pass before you. That empty vault is full of sublime, and stirring, and glorious things — things which escape the mere passer-by, but present themselves to the patient inspector.
II. THE COMMISSION WITH WHICH THE WOMEN WERE ENTRUSTED.
1. The glad tidings were not for them alone; and the angel directs them to hasten at once to give intelligence of the glorious fact. Were not these women highly honoured? Were they not well recompensed for their zeal and love? They became apostles to the apostles themselves; they first preached the resurrection to those who were to preach it to the farthest ends of the earth. As the first news of death came by woman, by woman came the first news of resurrection.
2. What a breaking forth of long-suffering and forgiving love is there in the fact, that the tidings were first sent to the disciples of the Lord. It seems to have been the first object of the risen Redeemer to quiet the apprehensions of His followers to assure them that so far from feeling sternly towards them on account of their desertion, He had returned to life for their comfort and welfare. Christ did not think little of having been deserted; but He knew how His disciples sorrowed for their fault; that they loved Him sincerely, notwithstanding their having been overcome by fear; and He gave a proof of His readiness to forgive and welcome the backslider, whensoever there is compunction of heart, in sending the first tidings of His resurrection to the men who had all forsaken Him and fled.
3. And this were but little. The disciples as a body had indeed played the coward; yet they had rather avoided standing forth in His defence, than shrunk from Him in open apostacy. One only had done that — denied his Lord — denied Him thrice, with all that was vehement and blasphemous in expression. Alas for Peter! But oh! the gracious consideration of Christi for indeed it is His voice which must be recognized in the voice of the angel: "Go your way; tell His disciples and Peter." Those two words — "and Peter" — thrown into the commission are, I might almost say, a gospel in themselves. To all repentant backsliders, Easter brings glad tidings of great joy.
III. THE PROMISE.
1. There was an appropriateness in the selection of Galilee for this meeting of our Lord with His apostles, forasmuch as he was likely to be known to numbers there, He having been brought up in Nazareth, a city of Galilee, having wrought His first miracle in Cana of Galilee, and having laboured most abundantly in Capernaum and the neighbouring coast.
2. Moreover, as Galilee was called "Galilee of the Gentiles," from its proximity to the territories of the heathen, this fixing the place of meeting on the confines of Judea might be intended to mark that all men had an interest in the fact of the resurrection, or that the blessings of the new dispensation were not to be restricted as had been those of the old.
3. And if it were only to the then living disciples that the promise pertained, of meeting their risen Lord in Galilee, assuredly some place there is of which it may be said to the Church in every age — "There shall ye see Him." "He goeth before you" is, and always will be, the message to the Church.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
(H. Melvill, B. D.)I. CONSIDER THE MANNER IN WHICH HE WAS COMMITTED THERE.
1. He was committed there by persons of remarkably interesting character. Joseph of Arimathea: Nicodemus.
2. He was committed there with many tokens of regard and affection.
3. He was committed there with unostentatious quietness and privacy.
II. CONSIDER THE ENDS WHICH, BY HIS COMMITTAL TO IT, WERE ACCOMPLISHED THERE.
1. His committal to that place confirmed the reality of His death.
2. His committal to that place fulfilled the declarations of ancient prophecies and types.
3. His committal there completed the abasement of His humiliation.
4. His committal has delightfully softened and mitigated the terrors of the grave for His people.
5. By His committal there He immediately and necessarily introduced His own mediatorial exaltation and empire. This was the last step towards His exaltation; it provided for and secured it.
III. LEARN THE LESSONS WHICH ARE INCULCATED THERE.
1. The tenderness and devotedness of His love.
2. The duty of unreserved devotedness to His will.
3. The abounding consolations we possess, in reflecting on the departure of our Christian friends, and in anticipating our own.
(Dr. Talmage.)I. IT IS FULL OF CONSOLATIONS.
1. It proclaims that life reigneth. The sorrow of earth is the seeming supremacy of death. The world's creed is a belief in death as the Lord God Almighty, the terror and destroyer of all things. But the empty grave of Christ teaches us that not death, but life, reigns.
2. It shows that love reigns. Death seems to suggest indifference on God's part to human woe. The resurrection tells a very different tale.
3. It restores hope to man. What Christ wins for Himself He wins for all.
4. It tells of redemption being perfected. It is accepted by God; or the great "Prisoner of Hope" would not have been discharged. And, accepted, Christ rises to reign, from a higher vantage ground and with new sovereignty. We have a Saviour now on the throne of all things.
II. LESSONS ON LIFE AND DUTY.
1. Self-sacrifice is the secret of goodness, success, and joy. The way of the cross always leads to some heaven. No love is ever lost, nor any sacrifice ever fruitless.
2. Nothing can by any means harm the good. By doing wrong we inflict the only thing worth calling injury upon ourselves.
(Canon Liddon.)1 Corinthians 15:14).
(Archdeacon Farrar.)is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept."
(W. M. Punshon, D. D.)
(C. M. Southgate.)not here!"
(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)new religion, even though its tenets and its efforts were obviously directed to promoting the social and personal improvement of mankind. "Surely," said Talleyrand, with a fine smile, "surely it cannot be so difficult as you think." "How so?" said his friend. "Why," he replied, "the matter is simple; you have only to get yourself crucified, or anyhow put to death, and then, at your own time to rise from the dead, and you will have no difficulty."
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