The Fact of Christ’s Resurrection

 •  34 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Matthew 28:1-171In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. 2And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. 5And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 8And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. 9And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. 11Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. 12And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, 13Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. 15So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. 16Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. (Matthew 28:1‑17)
It is pressed, beloved brethren, upon my heart to bring before you this evening and on the other evenings that one may be permitted to speak here, the great truth of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in its various aspects, because we may look at it from many sides, and it speaks to us in many ways. This evening I would go no further than to call your attention to the fact of the resurrection itself, the bare, simple, naked fact of it; next time, if the Lord permit, we will speak of the fruits of it, but it is the fact of it I want to bring very simply before you this evening. And in whatever light you may regard it (for I am speaking now for a moment abstractedly of resurrection, because Christ’s was pre-eminently the great divine manifestation of resurrection) but whatever way you look at it, it would be impossible for any heart to conceive or any tongue to give expression to words that could exaggerate the importance of it. There is no subject in scripture more deeply momentous than resurrection, and there is no fact that the world, as such, has more cordially detested than resurrection. It has been to a great extent refused by the world. I am now speaking, remember, of the world in its widest and most general sense. You remember that even with the Corinthians, who were far from being the world, though they were permeated and leavened by worldly principles and by worldly habits and lusts, the enemy had so far succeeded as to lead some of them to deny that there was any resurrection of the dead; so much so that the apostle devotes that magnificent chapter, 1 Cor. 15, to the demonstration of the great fact of resurrection, and asserts the resurrection of the saints from the fact of Christ’s resurrection. Christ’s resurrection established not merely the great principle of resurrection itself, but established and secured the truth of the resurrection of all that are Christ’s. Given His resurrection, and we have secured our resurrection. Take away resurrection in the abstract, Christ is then not raised; and if Christ is not raised, then there is nothing.
Now it will be well, beloved friends, that we should look at that for a moment. Why is it that science and philosophy so called, and education in all the various ages of the world have been skeptical as to this great truth? Observe, it has been called in question; men of science and men of education in the world have universally shrunk from it—why? I am assured that for the simplest believer here tonight, my calling your attention to this one fact is of the greatest moment. It is for this reason: resurrection cannot be accounted for by any natural law; indeed I might go further, and say that it is directly outside and beyond all natural law; there is no natural law known that can account for resurrection. It is the divine sovereign power of God in His own intervention according to His own will; and mark you, beloved friends, more than that, it is the intervention of the sovereign power of God into that domain which was the fruit of man’s sin and ruin before God. “Man sinned, and death reigned,” is the simple history of man. Put into the simplest language, the whole history of men in this world is summed up in that, “man sinned, and death reigned.” And it was not the nature, the character of the sin. Hence the apostle says, “Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those which had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,” that is to say, although there were those that had not sinned by the transgression of a positive known precept, still they had sinned, and it was not a question as I have said of the character or the way in which they had sinned; they had sinned, and so there was death. Death came in as the just judgment of God in consequence of man’s sin. And so resurrection, beloved friends, is the fruit of the power of God, sin having been atoned for. It was witnessed in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself when He was down here in this world, for He put forth His power as the quickener of the dead, the Son of God and quickener of the dead; now and again He did so. But when He Himself, as man, went into that place, when He allowed the shroud of death and judgment which belonged to us in virtue of what we were, and where we were, to be wrapped around Himself in grace, when He went into that dark chamber, what came out then was this, the power of God intervened to take the Man who had perfectly glorified Him, and who had bowed to death as the judgment of God due to sin and to man’s sin (carried out too by Satan, who had that power), to take, I say, out of death, the Lord Jesus Christ who as man went down into that death, and lay too in the grave, the power of God was there displayed in His own quickening might, the surpassingness of the power of God towards Christ as man, taking that blessed One out of that place where in grace He descended for God’s glory and our eternal blessing; and further, mark, that power was thus displayed in right, yea, Christ was raised out from among the dead by the glory of the Father, and in wondrous right too, and He is now seated at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.
Now there is no natural law in this, it is divine power, it is God’s power. Who could quicken from the dead but God? And that is why the world dislikes it, and why men of science hate it, and philosophers sneer at it. It does not come within the range of natural law, and the world as such, and men of the world as such, know nothing and will accept nothing beyond natural law. Natural law bounds their ken. That is why resurrection is disliked; it is of God, it is the mighty power of God. Faith accepts it, bows to it, delights and glories in it. It is connected with the very things that are called the prerogatives of God; for God “quickens the dead, and calls the things that be not as though they were.” And the simplest believer here tonight delights in the sovereignty of God and the power of God that is far away beyond all that man by his poor, wretched, puny comprehension seeks to bring within his range.
Now there is another reason why the fact of resurrection is detested by the world, and that is because it was the great public testimony to the truth of Christianity, which was founded in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was God’s great public manifestation in the world of the truth of Christianity, which was to be and which was an entirely new thing in the ways of God down here in this world. You cannot blend Christianity with Judaism, though that is the attempt which has been made in the world. Christianity is a completely new system of God, introduced entirely when the old system was set aside for the time being. The Jewish system was God’s system up to the cross, and what was connected with that system as such will no doubt find its place again in a new way, in connection with the earthly circumstances of God’s earthly people; but Christianity was totally, completely distinct from all that went before. Eternal life was presented perfectly in that blessed Person Himself here; look at that blessed One down here in this world, the blessed Son of God who came down to be a man, and look at the eternal life there in His own Person. Mark what it says in 1 John 1, “That which was from the beginning”; from what beginning? from the moment of His manifestation on earth in time as man; there He was, the eternal life. And mark, beloved friends, when we speak of Christianity, you cannot separate from Christianity the eternal life, the Father and the Son. You get all these connected with it, they are especially and peculiarly belonging to Christianity as such. There I get the Son, here as man, come down in manifestation upon this earth; I have the Father, the Father’s voice greeting Him when He was here; the Holy Ghost descending upon Him as a dependent man when He was here; I find Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; I get the eternal life presented in Christ’s own blessed Person, the eternal life that was promised before the world began manifested in His own Person here in time. But observe this, not a single individual could have a place in that Christianity until after His death and resurrection from amongst the dead. Our place in it, our portion in connection with it, our title to it, awaited his death and resurrection, awaited the cross as the great upholder and vindicator of all God’s holy attributes and righteous claims, and the resur- rection of the Lord Jesus Christ out from amongst the dead, to take a new place as man, mark you, to be set as man in that new place, as the risen man who was to take relations as such with others brought into that place by virtue of His victory and triumphs—all that is connected with Christianity.
It was as this great public vindication of the victories of redemption and of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, that resurrection became the great means of spreading this wonderful new order of things that God was about to introduce. And further observe what makes it of such deep interest is this, that in the chapter we have read, and also in the close of the previous chapter, there you see all the malignity and hatred of the nation combined to thwart His resurrection. See how well they knew, and how well the devil knew what was involved in it. Look at the close of Matt. 28, if you have the smallest doubt of it; “Sir, we remember”—the disciples might forget, but the Pharisees did not, their memories were quicker than the disciples’—“Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead; so the last error shall be worse than the first.”
Observe what resurrection was to the enemies of the truth. It was more—I may say—to the enemies of the truth than it really was to the lovers of the truth. It was of more significance and greater importance in the eyes of the haters and opposers of the truth than it was in those who really loved the truth. And so even afterwards; as soon as ever the resurrection is positively vindicated and established, look at this Matt. 28, where in the face of a sepulcher that was empty, and of a victory that was complete, and of a triumph that was unquestionable, so that no doubts could possibly be raised and thrown upon it, it was so palpable and plain that He had come up and gone out of death; yet in the face of it all, they plot and lie. Think of the value they put on resurrection, think of what resurrection was to them, look at their appraisement of it—anything to hinder it; and all for this very reason that I am speaking to you about, it was the display, first of all, of God’s sovereign power, the intervention of God in power beyond and outside every known natural law, and it was that which gave the impetus to the spread of this entirely new order of things which was about to be introduced in connection with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is one other thing I should like to give utterance to before I look at this chapter. The apostle says, in Rom. 1: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, a called apostle, separated unto the gospel of God (which he had promised before by his prophets in holy writings) concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.”
There He is connected with the promises; that is one thing; but mark more—“And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection out from among the dead” {Rom. 1:44And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (Romans 1:4)}.
Now look at those two things a moment, because they are exceedingly blessed for the establishment of our faith in God. You get promise in connection with His Person. Promise carries you back to what went before. But now you have more than promise, even power, promise was in connection with what God had spoken to David and to David’s house; but you have power, and the power of God, mark you, in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, demonstrating this fact—for that is what it was here—viz., that His resurrection out from among dead people, by the power of God, was the public manifestation of that power by which He walked down here in unsullied and spotless holiness; a manifestation of His being the Son of God in power. This is what comes out. The resurrection was the great declaration by God to the glory of the Person of Him who was the display, in His own blessed Person, of true Christianity. Because if you have not a Christ that has got all the glory, all the perfections, all the magnificence, around His Person that scripture gives to Him, you have got no system worthy of the name of Christian. He is the display of it, His work is the basis of it, and so you see here in connection with resurrection how it comes out. He was declared to be Son of God with power—How? By resurrection out from among the dead. The resurrection from amongst the dead was the great manifestation and demonstration on God’s part that He was all that we (thank God!) know He was: it was declared; there was the manifestation. But it was the manifestation of that power by which He walked down here in this world, spotlessly perfect and pure, in the midst of a scene and people that were both corruption and corrupting. There He was, unique in all His spotless, holy walk down here by the Spirit of holiness, and the resurrection demonstrated the power.
Well, now, that is most important, because it attaches itself at once to His Person. I feel almost unable to give expression to it as my heart apprehends it, and as I desire you should apprehend it; but I want to show you what importance God attaches to resurrection. I am not speaking of the fruits of it, that is an easier part of the subject; but I am speaking of the fact of it. And I assure you, beloved friends, increasingly the heart delights more and more every day in the great unalterable facts of Christianity. For the moment you come here, you are outside the region of debate. You may call in question consequences, you may say, I do not exactly see such a conclusion from such a premise, such a result flowing from such a ground; but you cannot debate facts that God records. You may refuse them—that do at your peril but they are past debate.
We are not debating it at all: here is the fact, attested in the presence of angels, of devils, of heaven, of the enemies of Christ, the naked solemn fact of His resurrection. And here is the great proof, the great demonstration of that fact, that He was all that was witnessed in His Person down here in this world, He was the Son of God. He became a man, perfectly true! and He was declared to be the Son of God according to the Spirit of holiness, by that power that took Him out from amongst the dead. And that relates to His Person. And I could not exaggerate the importance of that to our souls.
The resurrection out from among dead people—I will speak of that again another evening when we come to the character of it, though it is hard to pass by the character of it now, for the character of the resurrection is of deep moment to us now, because it was not merely resurrection abstractedly, it was a certain kind of resurrection, it was a resurrection out from among the dead. And it was that, I may say in passing, that provoked all the hatred and dislike of the leaders amongst the Jews. And I believe it would provoke the hatred and dislike of a great many Christians to-day, who would own resurrection abstractedly, but who would dislike the character of Christ’s resurrection. Why? Because God begins in that resurrection a totally, and completely, and perfectly new order of things altogether. That is why people shrink from it now, and that is connected with the character of it. There is the fact of it, and there is the character of it; the fact of it indisputable, the character of it beyond all expression magnificent, a resurrection out from among the dead, and defining for us, through God’s grace, the character of our resurrection, for we shall be raised and others left in their graves. I need not say, that the saints’ resurrection will be after the pattern and according to the character of Christ’s resurrection.
Now there is another scripture in John 2:18, “Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing thou doest these things?” Now, mark, He had purged the temple, His Father’s house, which they had turned into a scene of merchandise, He had asserted His right to clear that house, His Father’s house, He turned out of it every defiling thing, and He was challenged at once by those money-making, wretched Jews in these terms, What sign do you show us if you do these things? He could not do it in any other character except as the Son of God. As the Son, His zeal vindicated His right to cleanse that house from all defilement, and they challenged Him at once, What authority have you to do that? Now mark His answer, “He said unto them, Destroy this temple,” that is, His body, “and in three days I will raise it up.” There He is a divine Person. And there is the proof, observe, of the divinity of His Person, that He was the Son of God. Just as the Epistle to the Romans shows that He was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection from amongst the dead, so in John 2, when He took that place as the Son of God to cleanse His Father’s house of all the defilement that was there, and He is challenged as to His title and right to it, He says, Here is this temple—His own body—destroy it, lay your hands upon it, and in three days I will raise it up again. “He spake of the temple of his body.”
His disciples remembered, when He was risen from the dead, they connected that with the resurrection. He Himself gives the fact, that He would rise again from amongst the dead as the great demonstration to it, when challenged as to His title, that He was a divine Person. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
Now that will explain to you a little fact that you may have often been struck with, in reading the scriptures about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will find constantly in scripture that it is said that He rose; and, indeed, the testimony after He rose went out, “The Lord is risen,” that is to say, the fact is connected with His own Person, which is perfectly true, beloved friends, and very blessed. And I will tell you why. Whenever the word of God sets Him before us in His divine glory, though He had become a man, His resurrection is His own act of power. His divinity is the great starting-point of the Holy Ghost in testimony (for though He became Man, He never ceased to be God; He became man because He was not that before; He was God, distinct in His Person, He was with the Father, equal with God because He was God) well, when the Spirit of God points to His divinity, His Godhead, even though He is speaking of His death, and what He underwent as man, He always sets forth His resurrection as by His own power; and hence He says, He rose; and hence the testimony was, “he is risen.”
And what divine joy it sends into one’s heart: just by faith to go back to that first morning, the like of which never was seen upon this earth before; for there never was such a day upon this earth as that first resurrection morning; and is it not like the outshining of the sun after a long, dreary night? I can well understand how the hearts of His own, fearing, trembling, clung to Him—ignorant and weak no doubt, yet they clung to Him, as it was His Person that attracted them—and they did cling to Him, oftentimes contrary to the poor, wretched, feeble convictions of their own poor hearts. Yes, I can well understand that, when the fact that He was risen was established among the disciples, how they went about to each other that morning, “the Lord is risen indeed”—What a greeting! What a word to meet each other with on that first morning, after that long, dreary night of winter, so to speak, that had settled down upon this whole world of mankind, with that long and monotonous inscription that is recorded upon every great man in the Old Testament times: “he died.” Not a single star to relieve the blackness of it, “he died.”
You will find in the Old Testament everything is made of death, and burial, and funerals. Look at the patriarchs. Death was more important to them than life; death brought them into Canaan. And it was the belief of the Jews that they should be raised in Canaan, and therefore death was far more important to them than life. Because resurrection had not come out as a manifested reality; resurrection was not brought to light. As the apostle says, Neither life nor incorruptibility, had come to light before the glad tidings. It was not that they were not in existence, but God had not brought them out. But now we can understand, and our hearts can enter into the reality of the thing, that they should go about to one another and say, “The Lord is risen indeed.” And what always is a delight to the heart is, that they connect with the fact of His resurrection the grace of His unchanged heart, for they say, “and hath appeared unto Simon”; poor Peter that denied Him—even though he had been warned—the man that trusted his own heart like a fool, in face of the remonstrance of Jesus; still, there was His heart unchanged, and connected with that blessed new testimony of His resurrection, was the testimony of the unchanged, unaltered heart of Christ.
Oh, beloved friends, there is nothing more precious than to see that, on the most blessed morning that ever beamed upon this sinful earth, the morning of resurrection, the testimony to the completeness of the glory of His Person, as well as the perfections of His triumph, there should go out that testimony in connection with the risen Christ that He was unchanged, His heart was the same; Peter might forsake Him and deny Him, but He was the same. Nothing could be more precious and more blessed for our hearts.
Again, have you observed how scripture always keeps two things together; and it is so good to keep in our souls the associations that God places together. And you will find that a risen Christ always in scripture is connected with those that are asleep. Blessed for those of us who have laid the bodies of our loved friends down in the ground to think that the sleeping ones, those who have passed out of their bodies and gone to be with the Lord, are connected with the risen One. That is always so in scripture. It is a risen Christ and those who are asleep. Oh what a comfort for the mourner! What company they are put into!—a risen Christ and those that are asleep. I do not more than touch upon it now.
There is another testimony concerning resurrection, that wilt bring us to the chapter I have read, and that is not merely that it established the glory of His Person, but it was the great public manifestation of the completeness of His work. Now, beloved friends, if you think of it in that way for a moment, if you think of the Lord Jesus Christ having undergone death, submitted Himself to the sentence of death, it was in that, peace was made, it was upon the cross that the great work was finished which set our peace upon a basis that never can be disturbed. On that cross, the whole question of the believer’s peace with God was once and for ever settled. And if it were a question of making it now, beloved friends, there would be and could be no hope. If it is not made, it never can be made, because Christ is never coming to die again. “He made peace by the blood of his cross,” and when the scripture speaks of the blood of His cross, that is the expression of His own death. The fulness of that work, the completeness of it, the perfect satisfaction of God, in all that He accomplished, the perfect satisfaction of the nature of God in all that was rendered to Him, and the perfect expression of the completeness of what He gave to God, were all proclaimed in resurrection; His resurrection out from among the dead was the proof of it all That is why you find all this opposition, both of Jews and of Satan; all that were opposed to the truth were amalgamated and confederated together against it.
Now that will bring us to our chapter, and in it you can see the first verse is not connected at all with the second; they are not consecutive at all. It is so blessed and comforting for our hearts to mark this. In Matt. 28:11In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. (Matthew 28:1) we read, “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week.” The fact is, it was the dusk of the Jewish Sabbath. The Jewish Sabbath was running, so to speak, the last sands out of its hour-glass. It was not the first day of the week, it was the end of the Sabbath, the twilight of the Sabbath. You will find in the chapter before, these women were found looking at the sepulcher. Joseph took the body down by the permission of Pilate, and he placed it in his own sepulcher that had never covered man’s corruption, a blessed testimony to the perfection of that blessed One whose body was laid in the grave. That sepulcher never had entombed man’s corruption; and that was the spot that was prepared for the spotless body of Jesus; there it was laid. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, that is, the wife of Cleopas, were sitting over against the sepulcher, they saw it, the affections of their heart to Jesus detained them there, their eyes, their hearts, all their interest and powers, were riveted where they saw that blessed one.
In Matt. 28:11In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. (Matthew 28:1) they visit the sepulcher again. The Sabbath had nearly run its course out; it was on the twilight of that Saturday, it was not yet the early morning of the first day of the week; it was not the day dawn of the eighth day, the resurrection day, but it was the twilight of the Saturday. They come—and it is blessedly interesting and most precious for our hearts, because it shows the love and devotedness of their hearts to Jesus—they come again in the dusk; they see the precious remains put in; they could not stay away: it is hard for the heart to stay away from the spot where the heart’s object is. The heart was there, and therefore the feet were found there, for the feet follow the heart. They came, but they did no more. The next verse is not connected with it at all. That is the interference of God to call attention to a fact that had taken place; but the women did not see it, the disciples did not see it, no one saw it except the soldiers and the watch. Some time—God does not say when—some time after Jesus had risen, not to open that sepulcher to let the Lord of glory out, not such a thought! Jesus had risen, He had come up by His own power as well as by God’s power; when He had risen, “Behold, there was a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat upon it.” Jesus was out of the tomb; He had risen, and to call attention to this great fact of His resurrection, to the great fact that God had intervened in power and taken Him out, and He had risen by His own power as well, for there was both, the angel comes.
How blessed to think that that sealed stone and that set watch could not keep Him! The seal of that stone had an inscription, I suppose, of Caesar’s upon it; the king’s head, I suppose, was upon the seal, as much as to say, That cannot be reversed; with that signet, who dare touch that stone? No man could, but at the cost of his life. But oh! beloved friends, the Lord triumphed over the grave; God who sits in heaven laughs to scorn all such puerile, puny attempts on man’s part. The angel comes down, and, in the dignity of triumph, sits upon the stone which was rolled back, and brought the sentence of death upon the keepers of that sepulcher. The keepers trembled, “his countenance was like lightning and his raiment white as snow,” the keepers shook, and were as dead men.
But when you come to Matt. 28:55And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. (Matthew 28:5), you come to another visit of these dear women. They come again now, and when they come look how different! and these words are most precious in connection with resurrection. The angel says, “Fear not ye”; it is just the very thing that God connects with resurrection; fear is gone, banished, disposed of—“Fear not ye”; it is just the very testimony that the Spirit of God brings out to dry up the fears of the heart, banish all misgivings from your heart; “I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.” I know where your hearts’ affections are, I know the one you are looking after, you have no cause to be afraid, “Ye seek Jesus, which was crucified; He is not here, for He is risen, as He said; come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Oh what a testimony! Think of the consolation that is connected with that, think of the drying up of their fears, think of the assurance of their hearts, think how that declared that everything was done, that the ransom was paid, that justice was satisfied, that the believer was free. Every fear, every misgiving, every question that Satan could agitate and disturb the poor heart with, was all silenced and settled for ever now. “He is risen,” that was the testimony; you are seeking Jesus, who was crucified—they do not speak of Him now as crucified—He “was crucified.” And, beloved friends, is it not strange to think that there are so many who positively prefer to wear what I consider to be a denial of the truth of the gospel, than to have thoughts of the resurrection of Christ beaming on their hearts? Why, if I see, as alas, I do see, many wearing a crucifix, what is it but a denial of the great truth of the gospel? Do you inquire how? Because it is presenting what is not true now. “Christ is risen.” This is the truth: He “was crucified.” More than that, it is presenting the instrument of shame and torture which the world that hated Him had nailed Him upon. The cross is the testimony to the world’s hatred of God’s Christ, and it was the Roman instrument of torture upon which that precious One was nailed.
What is the truth that should fill our hearts? Resurrection: the risen One who was crucified. Thank God, He is neither on the cross nor in the tomb; thank God, He was on the cross and was in the tomb. Thank God, He is not down there, but He is risen, He is on the Father’s throne. And that is why I read Matthew’s Gospel, because it does not go beyond resurrection; I purposely abstained from the Gospels which speak of ascension. It is the Gospel which presents Him risen and on earth again with the poor of the flock, that sets forth resurrection simply and purely. We know He is exalted and glorified at God’s right hand, but here is the testimony to His resurrection.
I now recapitulate, for a moment, all the testimonies that are connected with it. First of all, it establishes the intervention of God in divine power. Secondly, it gave the start to the proclamation of the wonderful new order of things that was to come out in connection with Christianity. And thirdly, it was a great testimony of God to the glory of the Person of His Son to take that blessed, glorious Man out of death, and to give Him as Man a new place which He was surely entitled to in virtue of the glory of His Person, but which He took as man, who had finished the work which God gave Him to do. How well I remember when I first read a blessed old tract which some of my brethren here tonight will recollect, “The Resurrection the Fundamental Truth of the Gospel,” how well I remember the comfort my soul got in its relationships to God. Oh, beloved friends, time would fail to set forth the magnificence of all the truths that are allied with that marvelous intervention of God. It is the establishment of the great fundamental truth of the resurrection, which is closely connected with Christ’s death; in this His Person is proclaimed as well as the perfection of His work.
Am I speaking to a soul here who has doubts, or fears, or misgiving? Have you a doubt? I know very well that people say, I am thinking of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. My beloved brother or sister, let me tell you this, if you talk about looking to the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, you are looking at Him where He is not. There is no such thing as the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross; how can you see Him where He is not? If you say to me, I look back by faith, I understand that, that is plain enough, I look back by faith and remember that He was on the cross, but you could not look back by faith and see Him on the cross, though you can look back by faith to see what He bore, and what He was and endured on the cross. Do you want to see Him? You must look up to see Him alive. He was dead, He is alive, He is risen. I see Him in His new place as man, victorious, triumphant man, the whole power of death and of Satan broken, the whole power of the enemy dashed in pieces by that magnificent victory of His; every hostile power put down, every enemy that had triumphed, triumphed over by Him in His death and in His resurrection. What fear can you have now? What are you afraid of? I am speaking perhaps to a trembling believer tonight, to some one who is not established in the truth of the gospel, who says, I am afraid of death. Oh, beloved friends, look here. He was the death of death, “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Death has been vanquished; death has lost its sting; death has been spoiled of its victory, its power is broken, you need not be afraid of death. Sin? He came to bear away His people’s sins; He bore them. Thank God, however feeble you may be, you belong to Christ, and I can tell you every one of your sins were laid by God on that blessed One on the cross. Perhaps you have sung the hymn,
“I lay my sins on Jesus.”
Ah, no, you could not lay your sins on Jesus, God laid them on Him, God who knew them, the God against whom you had sinned, the God upon whose holy, righteous character those sins were an outrage, God laid all your sins, my dear trembling brother or sister, on that blessed One, and He rose again triumphant without them. God as God forsook Him as man on the cross when He bore them, but He is triumphant without your sins. What a comfort! Thank God, my sins are all gone; death is passed. I remember when I was afraid of death myself. I knew I should not go to hell, I knew my sins were forgiven, but I was afraid of death. I did not like to look at a corpse; I could not bear to come into the presence of death; death made me tremble; I was afraid of it, though I was not afraid of hell. Why? Because I had not seen the magnificent triumph of Christ over death. Now, thank God, you can see it, and you can rejoice in it. You can take up the song of victory. You can put your foot down on this unalterable platform that has been secured through His death and by His resurrection, and you can say, under the shadow of Christ’s victory, that victory won by Himself alone, but for us, you can lift your voice and say, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” That is what I read in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord grant that every heart here who has never read these magnificent precious realities may by faith in the simplest way look at that resurrection as a fact, and find the comfort and sustainment of it for their souls this night and for ever, through Jesus Christ.