The Joy of the Resurrection.


Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. S. JOH xx. 20. HOW could they be other than glad ? They loved the Lord, and therefore they must be glad to have Him with them. It is the very nature of love to rejoice in the Beloved s presence; he does not love to whom that presence is not a joy, and the absence of it a sorrow. So the Lord said to His Disciples three days ago, when He was going away from them, Ye now therefore have sorrow ; but I will see you again, and your hearts shall rejoice ; and your joy no man taketh from you. For these two days the Apostles had been left in sorrow sorrow all the greater in proportion as their love to 131

EASTER DAY the Lord was greater, for He whom they loved was lost to them lost, so far as they could tell, hopelessly. For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that He must rise from the dead ; as yet they under stood not, perhaps remembered not, His own words, wherein He had plainly foretold His death as it had come to pass, and had as plainly foretold the Resurrection that was to follow that death. These tilings the disciples did not yet know nor believe ; and for want of this fresh, this exalted faith, the faith that they had had before in their Lord had died. They had believed in Him with a faith im planted, not by flesh and blood, but by His Father who is in heaven, but now that faith was cut down. They had known that He was not merely a righteous Man, not merely a prophet or one of the prophets, but He of whom Moses and the prophets did write, the Christ, the Son of the living God. And the Christ they looked for was one who was to abide for ever, one who was to set up the Kingdom of God gloriously and mightily upon earth ; He was to re deem Israel first of all, and then to bring the whole world, like Israel, into obedience to God. Such had been their faith, such their hope, of what Jesus was to do ; now, how were their hopes cut off, since Thursday and Friday last ! He who was to have appeared who on Sunday almost had appeared as a king, and as God s king too riding on prosperously in His majesty, conquering and to conquer had now failed hopelessly, had died a slave s death. Faith and hope perished with Him ; they could only speak of their belief and their

hopes as of things that were past. f We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel but He is dead, has died with out having redeemed them. Jesus was a prophet, mighty in deed and word before God and all the people that, there could be no doubt of; the loss of their faith did not tempt them to deny that, or to doubt that what they had seen in Jesus was indeed the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of God. But He had been rejected by the people like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and many others of the old pro phets. He had been not only rejected but slain. He was like the old prophets, He was one of them, perhaps the greatest ; but He could be nothing more not the Redeemer of Israel, not He who was to be brought near to the Ancient of Days, and to receive a kingdom which shall not pass away. I. So it seemed to be when the Lord died ; so it must have been it the Lord had been indeed under the power of death. But while the faith of the disciples thus vanished at the death of the Lord, their love did not. They loved Him still; whatever He was, His hold upon their hearts was too strong to be broken. Whatever the agony of doubt they might feel, when the promises of God seemed to be broken, still the goodness of God that had shone forth in Jesus had 132

OUTLI ES O VARIOUS PASSAGES not lost its hold upon their hearts; they still clung together, one with another, their common love to Jesus making them all one. Their love was only a sorrow now, but a sorrow better than any other joy ; they felt it better to love Jesus and to have lost Him, than to love any other and to enjoy his presence. And then behold, the Jesus whom they had lost was with them ! Their love was turned from a sorrow into a well-spring of delight ; and their faith, which had been dead, started into life again at the touch of this blessed love. ow Jesus was with them again Jesus who had been with them, and had seemed lost to them for ever. They had loved Him before, had rejoiced to have Him with them, but their love was all the greater and their joy all the greater now. For now they had learned to feel how necessary His love was to their life ; they had been without Him for three days, and knew what crushing sorrow that was ; now, when they had Him again, they knew better how to value His love than they ever had before. And to value love more is the same thing as to love more, so that since the Lord died the Apostles loved Him more than ever, and mourned for

His death more than they had before rejoiced in His presence. But now His restored presence made them love Him most of all ; now their new joy was greater than their old joy, greater than even their recent sorrow. II. So it was, naturally and necessarily, to the Apostles ; so it is to all who love the Lord as they loved Him. They were glad when they saw the Lord ; but not because they saw Him only, but because they knew He was with them. Their sight was an assurance of His pre sence, and so brought them joy ; but it was not the only possible assurance, not even the best ; as He said, Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. We, who have not seen the Lord, have at least as good cause as the disciples to share the joy they had when they saw Him ; for He is with us as truly, as effectually, as He was with them, or even more so. For the presence of Christ that is discerned by faith only is closer than the presence that brought the sight of His bodily form, and brings greater blessings. So He said to His disciples before He left them, It is expedient for you that I go away. 1 * If ye loved Me, ye would rejoice because I said, I go to the Father ; and when He was come again from the dead, He said to Mary Magdalene, Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to My Father. 1 ow He is gone away, now He is ascended to His Father ; but He has not left us desolate, He has come to us in a better way than when He could be seen. Jesus dwells with us now, not as a Man with men, but by His Spirit, and His Spirit does more than dwell among us with us yet outside us it makes its abode within us. Jesus is not before the believer s eyes, but in his heart. It i& 1S3

EASTER DAY much for the lover of Jesus to have His beloved before his eyes to know that He was near him, close to him, ready to help and comfort him in any need, and always manifesting to him His love and His loveliness ; but it is more for the lover of Jesus now to have Jesus in his soul, to be joined to the Lord and made one spirit ; for that is the perfect end, the highest prize and consummation of love, and the most perfect blessedness to the lover. And this is what Jesus gives now to those who believe in the merits of His death, and in the power of His life ; this He has offered to us to-day, in sacramental union with Him ; this He offers to us always, if we keep always invio late the faith and love whereby this union is to be attained. And yet, though the joy and blessedness of love that recognises

Christ s presence by faith is greater than the joy and blessedness of love in those that saw the Lord, it is not the highest joy or blessed ness of all. It is joyful to know that Jesus is with us by bodily sight ; it is greater joy to know by faith that He is with us more closely, more effectually. But what will it be to see Him, not with the bodily eye only, but in immediate spiritual communion to see Him spirit to spirit, as the Apostles saw Him face to face ? If we hold fast our faith now, if we love now heartily and steadily, then the joy our faith gives us, great as it is, will be the least part of our blessedness. This joy in Christ s presence is variable and uncertain ; it depends on ourselves ; our faith is weak, and it may be lost ; though Jesus has graciously come to us, we may forfeit His presence, we may still more easily lose our right to be sure of it, and our power to rejoice in it. But let us only maintain our faith for a little while, as by His grace we can maintain it ; and then the trials of faith, and the need of faith, will come to an end. Then we shall pass into a presence of Christ that cannot be doubted, that cannot be forfeited ; we shall ever be with the Lord, knowing as we are known, and find ing in His presence the fulness of joy. W. H. SIMCOX.



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