Christ is Risen. By Rev.
** He is risen." — Mark xvi. 6. 'T^HERE is a triumphant scorn, amounting" almost to sarcasm, in the way in which that " young" man, sitting" on the right side, clothed in a long white garment," addressed the three women that came early to the holy sepulchre at the rising of the sun, — "Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of azareth, which was crucified: He is risen ; He is not here : behold the place where they laid Him." Would any words convey more contempt of the puny attempts of wicked men to hurt and confine his Master ? What a satire, intended or unintended, mingles with the joy, — "Jesus of azareth, which was crucified: He is risen ; He is not here : behold the place where they laid Him." It reminds us of that second Psalm, — " The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel tog"ether; against the Lord, and against His anointed :" — there is the crucifixion; — " He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn ; the Lord shall have them in derision; " — that is the resurrection; all the plots of the Jews and Romans turning to their own utter shame and confusion ; — "Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure. Yet have I set my King
Christ is Risen. iii upon my holy hill of Zion;" — that is the ascension, 'and the veng-eance, and the destruction of Jerusalem, and the scattering of the nation. We can easily imagine with what righteous indignation angels must have looked on, at the Lord of life and glory being put into a tomb; and with what satisfaction, and how jubilantly, they would sing, " He is risen, He is risen."
We are certainly led to suppose that it was not without the ministration of angels that Jesus rose. We know that angels bear the spirits of good men home, and angels defended the tomb of Christ. Do angels now watch over our graves, as they did over the grave of Jesus, till the morning comes ? Will angels roll away the sod ? Will they be there to help the body to rise ? Will it be by the dispensation of angels that the great transactions of the resurrection will be carried out, — the trumpet, — the waking, — the opening, — the robing, — the gathering, — the song? Will they sing it over us, "He is risen. He is risen ? '* Only, brethren, when I speak of angelic services at the tomb, do not forget that the whole Three Persons in the ever blessed Trinity combined to make Christ's resurrection. The Father, — "Him God raised up the third day ;" — the Son, — " Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up," "This power have I received of my Father, I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again;" — the Holy Ghost,— "put to death in the flesh, quickened by the Spirit." It is remarkable how all the greatest events in the Bible, are enshrined in some bright manifestations of the Holy Trinity. Probably the first burst upon the mind of saints at their rising will be the glories of the Trinity.
112 Christ is Risen. It would be a pure Easter joy, very like the joy of angels, if we could rejoice this morning that "Christ is risen" simply from the thought that He is happy. His troubles are all over. He has conquered, His words have all come true, and He is at rest ; there will be no more conflict now, no shame, no dying, — not even in the forty days : " He is risen." Should not Easter gladness try to be less selfish? Would not it be truer and more generous if we delighted more irrespective of ourselves, — "My Master is happy ? " I suppose that to an angeFs mind " He is risen " would
not express more wonder than the assertion of any of the processes of nature. It could not (and the angel knew it) it could not be otherwise ; for Christ could not but rise. " It was not possible," St. Peter says, " that He should be holden of it." ow remember, that is not spoken about the soul ; of that it would be obvious ; but it is said of the body, — it could not chpose but rise. The whole doctrine of the resurrection is a doctrine of the body. The future and eternal life of the soul, was known, almost universally, before Christ. The heathen knew and talked of it. But with very few exceptions indeed, neither Jew nor Gentile knew anything of the coming to life again of the body, till Christ rose. He Wcis the first-fruit of that science. It is to-day's great teaching, and I must follow it. There was a necessity, then, laid on the body of Christ, to rise again. Was it laid on His body only by virtue of the Deity that is in it ? I think not. On His, indeed, with a rapidity and a marvel which can attend no other; but Christ rose as a man, — as He did everjrthing else,— as a
Christ is Risen. 113 man, — according to the proportions and the properties of the human body. For is not it in the nature, and constitution, and obligation of every human body that it must rise ? Surely it is, — as much as it is in the nature of any seed to come up again; for it is God's own account of the matter. When you bury a body, you simply and you literally sow a seed. It is true there are hidden mysteries in . it which we cannot explain ; but so there are in the springing up of the wheat, or of any other grain which you sow in the ground. You cannot trace the series of the decomposition, and the revival, and the fructification. But they have their laws, from which they cannot depart. And your body has its laws, from which it cannot depart. It was made to rise. You were bom to rise, — as much made to rise as any seed which you ever put into the ground. Resurrection is not properly a miracle. It is a grand loving provision of the counsel of God; it is a
mighty work of God ; but it is not a miracle, it is not out of the common course of nature, it strictly obeys it. And when we say of Christ, or say of any man, " He is risen," we only assert the necessary consequence of human being. The wonder, then, is, — not that a Christian's body should rise, — of that, the principle is inherent in a man, and we carry it about with us all our life,— but the wonder is, where does it rise ? whither does it go ? And here we arrive at what is strictly gospel. In the sight of God, every believer is so united with Jesus Christ that His whole being, — His body, squI, and spirit, — is a member of the body of Christ. In Christ, his Head, he died and suffered punishment upon the cross. In Christ his Head, he is buried. In Christ his Head, he
114 Christ is Risen. rises again at the last day. Therefore, where Christ goes, he goes; whither Christ ascends, he ascends; wha:^ Christ is, he is. So that in that *' He is risen," the whole Church is risen. And if so be you are a real living member in the mystical body of Christ, your resurrection and eternal life is so sure, that actually, in the mind of God, it was done that day when the angels said of you, — of you as you were then in the mystical body of Christ, — " He is risen." It is an absolute, historical past. With what dignity does an Easter-day invest the body I Some persons seem to think it spiritual to exalt the spirit, and to despise the body. Why? Why? Is not the body redeemed ? Is not the body eternal ? — I do not say immortal, for that is not immortal which ever dies ; in that sense, the soul is immortal, but the body is not immortal : but then, in that sense, Christ Himself was not immortal, for He died. But Christ, and soul, and body, are all
eternal. And we are to believe that the body, after the resurrection, will be as much the body which it was before death, as Christ's body, after His resurrection, was the same body which He carried through His life, — spiritual, but not subject to the same limitations, — always capable of being identified, — and always, and materially, and really the same. Yes, brethren, it will be the same dear body that we shall see in that day, which once was so very pleasant in our eyes. But of this I wish to speak very practically. This ought to be a day of physical victory. It ought to be a day for laying down strict rules about the body, — not to misuse it, never again, — not to be careless about it, but to keep it quite pure, to respect it, to consecrate it. Remember you
Christ is Risen. 115 are to wear that body for ever. Christ's body had its scars. Will ours? Will the resurrection-body have traces of its earthly history ? The rising of Christ was not identical with His entrance into heaven. either will ours. After the first resurrection, we shall be for a season on this eau-th, where Christ will be walking again, and reigning in it personally. And then, after what interval I do not know, — then we shall ascend to our final glory. I do not think that the interval between Christ's resurrection and His ascension is sufficiently considered as the type and the allegory of that arrangement respecting the future destinies of the Church of Christ. But far above all, the characterizing feature of this day should be elevation. We have reason to believe that Christ's own resurrection was not so much a solitar}' act ; but that rather, as a Mem, He was always rising,
throughout His whole life, to a perfect obedience. The resurrection itself put the crown upon multitudes of risings. So it must be with us. If you would be found worthy to be a pcirtaker of the resurrection of the just, there must be daily resurrections now. What will you do? How can you rise ? You have been growing cold and dead, — you must rise to more than the lost energy. You are conscious that there is an effort wanted, — you must make it. You know there is a grace deficient, — you must cultivate it. There is a sin in you which long since ought to have been conquered. There is a duty which has long been waiting to be done. There is an act of kindness to be performed. There is a reconciliation with a member of your own family. There is a deed of charity. There is an attainment in the divine
ii6 Christ is Risen. life, a little above you, which you know you could compass. Do it ; do it now, this Easter. Let there be a rise towairds a better thing to-day ; settle with yourself some step which you will take to a higher life, — some movement heavenward, some one, distinct, practical thing, by which you will commemorate this festival. Do not let it pass without some one definite act upward. For it is he whose life has the most frequent Easters, who is always getting up to new affections, and a loftier standard, and a purer tone, and a clearer atmosphere, — who has the best justification for his hope that in that great day when Jesus shall come, he shall take his part in the heavenly celebrations, and mingle his love and joys with "the whole family" of the saints, in those blessed meetings of the resurrection-morning.
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