Suddenly there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, rolled away the stone, and sat on it.
service. Here in our text the angel is no mere figure; he has something to do; he waits upon the rising Lord, rolls back the stone from the door, and sits upon it. Summarizing the work of the angels, it is said, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"
I. THE RIGHEST DIGNITY IN THE OTHER WORLD. Angels are beings that belong to the other world; and if we can get to know about them, we get to know something of the occupations, interests, and sentiments of the other world. And this is the thing which the angels more especially teach us - in that other world their highest and noblest idea is "serving one another in love." There is one characteristic of the eternal state. It is even so characteristic as to seem to be the only characteristic worth mentioning - it is ministry. Heaven is heaven because every member can say, "I am among you as he that serveth." They learn this of Christ.
II. THE HIGHEST DIGNITY IN THIS WORLD. The angels illustrate it, and the Lord Jesus taught it. "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your servant." Instances may be taken from the several ages, pre-Christian and Christian; and it may be shown that we never have an angel exhibiting himself or getting for himself; they are always doing two things - obeying and serving. Then show what an impression of the grandeur of angels we have. But what is our notion of them? Do we think of them as having extraordinary privileges? That is not their dignity. This is it - they have risen into the full joy of ministering. The circle is complete: God, Christ, the Spirit, beings of the other world, redeemed men and women in this world, are one in this - all are ministering. - R.T.
And behold, there was a great earthquake.
(Bishop Hacket.)I. It makes us conceit that there was a great struggling, and a combat between Christ and death.
II. It betokens what noise and tumult there shall be in all the elements at the last and great resurrection.
III. It signifies that the majesty of the Lord was upon the earth to defend His people.
IV. The anger of the Lord did roar out of the earth against those Jews who thought to prevail that death should devour him, against Pilate that allowed his seal to this conspiracy, and against the soldiers that watched the sepulchre.
V. Because the consciences of these evil men were only wounded, and no other harm done by the earthquake, therefore, some say, the place round about did rather dance for joy than quake for trembling.
VI. Is allegorical, and thus in brief, that our hearts must be shaken and inwardly troubled with compunction and repentance before we believe steadfastly in the resurrection of Jesus.
(Charles Stanford, D. D.)
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