But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.'"
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.
Tell His disciples and Peter.him be wanting to our glad meeting again."
I. NOTICE THE LOVING MESSAGE WITH WHICH HE BECKONS THE WANDERER BACK.
1. A revelation of love stronger than death.
2. A revelation of a love that is not turned away by our sinful changes. Whilst we forget Him, He remembers us. We cannot get away from the sweep of His love, wander we ever so far.
3. A love which sends a special message because of special sin. The depth of our need determines the strength of the restorative power put forth. The more we have sinned, the less can we believe in Christ's love; and so, the more we have sinned, the more marvellous and convincing does He make the testimony and operations of His love to us.
4. A love which singles out a sinful man by name. Christ deals with us not in the mass but soul by soul. He has a clear individualizing knowledge of each. He loves every single soul with a distinct love. He calls to thee by thy name — as truly as He singled out Peter here, as truly as when His voice from heaven said, "Saul, Saul." To thee forgiveness, help, purity, life eternal are offered.
II. THE SECRET MEETING BETWEEN CHRIST AND PETER (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5). This is the second stage in the victorious conflict of Divine love with human sin. What tender consideration there is in meeting Peter alone, before seeing him in the company of others! How painful would have been the rush of the first emotions of shame awakened by Christ's presence, if their course had been checked by any eye but His own beholding them! The act of faith is the meeting of the soul with Christ alone. Do you know anything of that personal communion? Have you, your own very self, by your own penitence for your own sin, and your own thankful faith in the love which thereby becomes truly yours, isolated yourself from all companionship, and joined yourself to Christ? Then, through that narrow passage where we can only walk singly, you will come into a large place. The act of faith which separates us from all men, unites us for the first time in real brotherhood, Hebrews 12:22-24.
III. THE GRADUAL CURE OF THE PARDONED APOSTLE (John 21:15-19). "Lovest thou Me?" includes everything. Hast thou learned the lesson of My mercy? Hast thou responded to My love? Then thou art fit for My work, and beginning to be perfected. So the third stage in the triumph of Christ's love over man's sin is when we, beholding that love flowing towards us, and accepting it by faith, respond to it with our own, and are able to say, "Thou knowest that I love Thee." And when we love, we can follow. With love to Christ for motive, and Christ Himself for pattern, and following him for our one duty, all things are possible, and the utter defeat of sin in us is but a question of time. The love of Christ, received into the heart, triumphs gradually but surely over all sin, transforms character, turning even its weakness into strength, and so, from the depths of transgression and very gates of hell, raises men to God.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)I. Tell Peter, although he has sinned so grievously. It was heartless, repeated, public, wilful.
II. Tell Peter, for he has wept. God's anger against His children ceases with the commencement of their penitence.
III. Tell Peter, for he has suffered. His thoughts were God's chastening rod.
IV. Tell Peter he is dear to Christ. Sin can grieve Christ, cause Him to withdraw, wound and disfigure us; but it cannot alter His love.
V. Tell Peter, for he is your brother. They had sinned. Have not we denied our Lord?
(Stems and Twigs.)
I. TO WHOM WAS THIS MESSAGE PARTICULARLY SENT? To Peter, who was then distinguished from the other disciples, not in merit, but in guilt. He was not thus honoured, however, because of his guilt, but because he was now penitent and sorrowful. It was not his cursing and oaths which brought this mercy to him, but his penitence and tears. There is no comfort here for the hardened or careless sinner, or for the self-righteous, or for the man who, in the midst of his iniquity, feels no self-abhorrence, no deep contrition, for his guilt. But for the broken-hearted sinner, there is the sweetest comfort.
II. THE GRACIOUS BEING WHO SENT THIS MESSAGE.
1. Christ had just the same compassionate heart after His resurrection that he had before it. Death changed the nature of His body, but not the nature of His heart or the disposition of His soul. He still looks on those who seek Him, with the same tenderness, sympathy, and love.
2. The risen Jesus looks more on the graces than on the sins of the penitent Christian. He seems to have thought more of Peter's sorrow than of his curses, more of his tears than of his oaths. He sees so much of the desperate wickedness of our hearts, as to make Him contemplate with pleasure the least good His grace enables us to bring forth. Who would not value a flower which he should find blooming on a rock, or throwing its fragrance over the sands of a desert? Not that in giving His grace and pardon, He overlooks the sin; to Peter's everlasting shame the treachery which he committed is recorded against him in God's Holy Word. The sin is forgiven, but the remembrance and shame of it still remain.
3. Christ sometimes vouchsafes to the believer, when bowed down with extraordinary sorrow, more than ordinary comfort It is not a light thing that will quiet the conscience of the Christian, after he had been overcome by temptation. The storm which sin occasions in his soul, cannot easily be soothed into a calm. The mourning Christian needs some special interposition of grace and mercy, before he can again cherish in his heart a hope of pardon and acceptance. In the mysterious riches of His goodness, the Lord sometimes vouchsafes to His Saints, in these seasons, peculiar consolations. He recalls their soul, "tossed with tempest and not comforted," from the contemplation of its own depravity, and tells it to look again with the eye of faith on the cross of His Son.
4. The contrite sinner may draw much comfort and hope from Christ's resurrection. What a ground for rejoicing have we in the fact that "Christ is risen!" Let us seek to know the power of His resurrection.
III. THE MESSENGERS EMPLOYED.
1. An angel. Why?(1) To do honour to Christ.(2) To teach us, that the breach between us and the angels is healed. They again regard us as friends and love us as brethren. They are made our ministering servants, and do not disdain the office.(3) The contrite sinner is peculiarly an object of love to the heavenly hosts. The angel of the Lord has compassion on the weeping Peter, and rejoices to take to him a cup of consolation. What a lesson for ministers, what a lesson for every Christian, is here! It is a heavenly work to comfort the sorrowful.
2. Three poor women receive the message from the lips of this heavenly herald, and carry it to the mourning penitent. Why? They had been first in love, affection, service; it was but right that they should be first in honour and reward. And note the manner in which these women were sent. "Go quickly" (Matthew 28:7). Why such haste? There was nothing sinful in the feelings which a view of their Lord's tomb was likely to excite; but they were not suffered to stay there to indulge them, that we might be taught that pious feeling must lead to pious actions. It is good and sweet to think of Christ; but it is better to act for Christ. He is the best servant, not who delights to stand in his master's presence, but who carefully minds and diligently goes about his master's business.
(Charles Bradley, M. A.)
(John Donne, D. D.)
1. One might lie in that very fact of the distance and the difficulty. For it is a universal law that God always requires efforts, and always blesses the efforts He requires. You will not find your best privileges close to your hand. You must be content to go far for them. You must exercise self-denial and labour to get at them.
2. There is no doubt also that Jesus did it partly because Galilee was despised. He had lived in Galilee as a child and youth; He had taken most of His apostles from thence; and now that He was risen and almost glorified, He was not going to pass by the place He loved in humble life. That would not be the Jesus with whom we have to do.
3. Underlying this feeling, there can be little question that there was a great principle upon which Christ acted, — of extending the proofs of His resurrection as widely as possible. Therefore He manifested His risen body in the two extremes of the land to which that dispensation was confined.
4. Christ was true to all the finer sympathies of our nature, and amongst those sympathies is the love of old, and especially early, associations.
(James Vaughan, M. A.)
I. A GREAT SUFFERER HEALED BY CHRIST.
III. A FAITHFUL ADHERENT TO CHRIST.
V. AN HONOURED MESSENGER OF CHRIST (John 20:17, 18; ch. 16:10).
(T. S. Dickson, M. A.)
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