We have for our subject, this morning, the Resurrection. The Resurrection is spoken of forty-two times in the New Testament. It is, you might say, one of the chief corner-stones in 4he religion of Jesus Christ. You might say that there are two principal truths taught all through the New Testament; the death, and resurrection, of Jesus Christ. You touch one, and you touch them both. In fact, you take that out of the New Testament, and you take cut the key to the whole gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let me call your attention to « bat Christ said about his own resurrection. Matthew 16 and 21: "From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day," Then, while he was talking with his disciples after the transfiguration, we find in Matthew 17 and 9, that he said to the disciples, as they came down from the mountain: "Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of Ma* be risen again from the dead." Then in Mark 9th and 31st: u For he taught his disciples and said unto them: The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day."
Over and over again, he told the disciples that he was going to rise; and one very singular thing about it is that his enemies seemed to remember what he said about the resurrection, while his disciple* seemed to have forgotten it; because, after he was dead, they went to Pilate and asked him to make the sepulchre secure, because they said, "While this deceiver was alive, he said he should rise asrain;" and we cannot find any place where the disciples remembered the words of the Lord Jesus that he should rise again. And when they laid him away Friday night, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus and those few women of Galilee followed him to his last resting place. There is not one solitary passage of Scripture that tells us that they had any hope of his resurrection. It seeped to have passed from their minds; or else they never received it when Christ told them, and he told them plainly.
In the 12th of Matthew we read that they wanted a sign: "Then certain of the Scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of the prophet Jonah." And then he went on and told them that that should be the sign of his death and resurrection. Now, what was the sight? I was very much interested, some time ago, in hearing a Welchman tell me that he was preaohing once on that subject of Jonah being the sign; and he said that he could just imagine when the news got to Nineveh about this man being sent from the Lord to Nineveh with this message, and how, when the captain got ashore, he reported about this man being on board, and at his own request being thrown overboard, and then they saw the whale swallow Jonah; and, of course, Nineveh was greatly stirred up, at the idea of a man being sent from the Lord to Nineveh with a message, and being slain on the way because he had refused to go, and so had been swallowed up by the whale. There is death. But what must have been the stir in Nineveh when this very resurrected man came through the streets of Nineveh, preaching that they must repent or all perish. That was resurrection. And now Christ says that was the sign.
There are a great many people, even at this present time, who don't believe Christ has risen; they say his Spirit is still in the world, but his body never came up out of the grave. But then the Word of God teaches nothing of the kind. Earth and hell did all they could to keep that body in the grave; but they could not do it. He laid there Friday night, and all through the Jewish Sabbath; and his disciples were mourning and weeping. As I said before, they had given up all hope of ever seeing him again; but you can see those hands that were cold in death Friday night, and see Death hovering over that sepulchre, laughing and saying: "I hold my victim in my own embrace; he has to pay tribute to me. He said he was the resurrection and the life; and yet he has not escaped me." But the hour had come for Christ to conquer Death, for that was what he went into the grave for. Death didn't take him into the grave; he followed Death into his own dominion and took the whole territory and bound him hand and foot, and came up victorious, and brought up a few captives to show his mighty power.
Yes, my friend, Christ went down into the grave for you and me; and it seems to me that one of the most precious truths in the whole Word of God is that our Christ is not dead. He don't lay there in Joseph's sepulchre; but he is risen. And now just see the proof that we have of it. Men and angels, bear in mind, guarded that
sepulchre; they were going to make sure that his body should not come up, that he should not rise; they had pone to Pilate and got him to put soldiers to' watch the sepulchre, and they rolled a great stone over it and put the Roman seal on it, and there they had that body secure, perfectly safe. And early in the morning, we are told by the Evangelists, these same women started to go to the sepulchre to anoint his body, and found out that he was risen. Why, do you think if they had thought he was going to rise that they would have left that sepulchre? They would have lingered around it; it would have taken more than a hundred Roman soldiera to keep those disciples away from the sepulchre, if they thought he was going to riseNow, early in the gray of the morning, you could see these women going toward the sepulchre. They had got their spices all ready to anoint that body again, and they were greatly troubled, because they did not know who was going to roll away the stone. And you see them as they draw near to the sepulchre; and the sun has just driven away the darkness of the night and that beautiful morning is bursting upon the earth, the best morning this world had ever seen. And one says to another, "Who shall roll away the stone?" But a messenger came from yon world of light; he flew faster than the morning tight, and arrived first. And he rolle4 away the stone; and those men that had been sent there by Pilate, to watch and guard that sepufchre, began to tremble, and fell as dead men; they nadn't any power. One angel was enough to roll away that stone; not to let him out, but to let you and I look in to see that the sepulchre was empty, to let the morning light into that sepulchre to light it up that we might know that he had risen, "the first fruits of them that slept." Yes, thank God, he has conquered Death and the grave; and you can shout now, "O grave, where is thy victory!" He went down into the grave and conquered it, and came up out of it; and now he says, "Because I live, ye shall live also."
The news spread. These women soon found out that the sepulchre was empty, and they ran back and told the disciples; and Peter and John rushed off to the sepulchre and found that the body was not there. They lingered around the sepulchre, and then went home, saying, "It is no use; his enemies have got his body." And all the Roman government and all the leading men of the Jewish nation were opposed to these few weak disciples; and what could they do? Ah, there was one that loved him; she could not leave that empty sepulchre; she wanted to stay around, in the hope that she might get some news of what they had done with the body. While she was there, a man observed her and said, "Woman, why weepest thou?" And she said, "They have taken away my Lori anil I know not where they have laid him."* And then he spoke to her, in that old familiar voice, and says, "Mary;" and she recognized him and said, "Rabboni, Master!" Oh, how her heart leaped within her for joy. He that was dead was alive! There was her Savior, standing right before her, and he said, "Go back and tell my brethren that I have risen." He had got on resurrection ground, and he could call them "brethren," and put them on a level with himself.
What joyful news for her to take; what a blessed privilege to go and bear the tidings of the resurrection, the first one that pot the blessed news. He out of that very one cast out seven devils, and now she was to take the tidings back to Jerusalem that the Lord had risen. She had seen him with her own eyes; he had spoken to her; it was a living body; it was not his spirit, but his own body that had come out of that sepulchre, although the disciples would not believe it. And while she was spreading the news, some others took it up to spread the story; and all at once Christ stood before them. That was his second appearing; and he told John to tell them to go back to Jerusalem and tell that he had risen. And I think if you would look through your Bibles carefully, you will find that ten different times he appeared to his disciples, not in the Spirit, but in the body, in person. I want to get this thing established in all our minds, that Christ has come out of the grave personally, that his body has gone back to heaven. The same body they crucified; the same body they laid in Joseph's sepulchre has come out of the jaws of death and out of the sepulchre; and he has passed through the heavens and gone back on high. We are told he had an interview with Peter, who is alluded to as Simon and as Cephas. We can imagine what took place at that interview, and that Peter's old difficulty was settled. Peter denied him, but at that interview Christ forgave him. What a Sabbath it must have been for Peter! What a blessed day for that poor backslider! And if there is some backslider here to-day, who will have an interview with the Son of God, he -will forgive you this Easter morning, and blot out all your wanderings and all your sins, if you will come back; and it will be a joyful day for you.
Late in the afternoon, that same day, Jesus appeared to the two men who were walking back to Emmaus, a village about eight miles from Jerusalem; and they constrained him to go in and take tea with them. After he vanished from their sight, they walked back to Jerusalem, and told the joyful news to the disciples that the Lord had risen; but Thomas was absent on that occasion. And while they were telling the good news, Jesus stood in their midst. They turned pale; and he said, "Don't be frightened. It is me, only me. Put your finger in these wounds that were made on Calvary; thrust your hand in my side if you like; it is only me; it is not a spirit." He wanted those men to be convinced that the body had come up out of the grave. He asked for something to eat, and they gave him some fish; and he ate before them and said, "Peace be unto you," and breathed on them the Holy Ghost, and said "Receive ve the Holy Ghost." That makes five times that he appeared to tlie disciples when he arose that blessed'Easter Sunday.
Now Thomas was absent, and the news soon reached him. but he •would not believe what was told him. When the next Lord's day came the eleven were assembled in that room, with the windows fastened and the doors bolted, the Lord stood there again; and he spoke to Thomas, and he told him to put his finger into the wounds, and to thrust his hand into his side; and Thomas cried out, "My Lord and my God." He didn't have to put his hand there; he knew it; he heUrd his voice; his infidelity and unbelief was scattered to the four winds; he believed then and there. And then the Lord said, "Blessed are those that have not seen, but yet believe." He pronounced a benediction upon you and I here, if we will only believe on him. "Blessed are those that have not seen, but yet believe."
The next time we hear of Christ, he appears to John and James and Peter and Nathaniel, and two other disciples, while fishing. They were out all night and had caught nothing; and about davbreak there was a man seen on shore, and he said, "Children, have you any meat?" "No, we haven't got anything." He told them to cast the net on the right side, and they got a haul of 143 large fishes and the net didn't break. And John said, " Peter, that is the Lord;" they knew him. Success is always with those the Lord is with. They cast that net at his word; they knew it was his power, and Peter was so anxious to get to him—ah, Peter loved the Lord, if he did deny him once—that he leaped right into the water and swam ashore, and got there first to meet him. And he had a fire made, and they had some bread, and took a resurrection breakfast.
Oh, may every one hear his voice this morning, saying, "Come and eat;" and then we can go out and feed others! I hope every Christian this morning will get some food.
And then Paul tells us, over in Corinthiant, that he appeared to over five hundred at one time; but where it took place, we don't know. It is supposed by a great many to have been over in one of the mountains of Galilee; and he talked with them, and it might have been at that time that he told them to "Go and preach the gospel to everv creature;" and carry the tidings around the world. "Lo, I am with you, I will not leave you; if I go away I will send the Holy Ghost to comfort you, and greater works he shall do." Some one says a good many reformations die out with the reformer; but this reformer has gone upon high, to carry out his own reformation. He is at the right hand of God; and where can he be to carry on his work any better than up yonder? We are told by Paul that he appeared once to James; but we have no glimpse of that interview.
The last interview he had with them was in Jerusalem; and he took the little band of believers out of the city, down through the Eastern gate, down through the valley of Jehosaphat, over the brook Kedron, past that garden where he sweated drops of blood, past Calvary, over the brow of the hill, and went out past Bethany, where Martha and Mary and Lazarus (the resurrected man) lived; and perhaps right there, under a cluster of little olive trees, he met his disciples for the last time to bid them farewell, and gave them his parting message. Now he says: "I go home; I go back to the throne; (he had been out of the grave forty days); now I ascend to God." And while he was blessing them—for you know he came blessing, the first thing he said on that memorable mountain when he preached that wonderful sermon, there were nine blessinps right out of his heart, he could not go on until he got them out: "Blessed are the poor;" Blessed are the peacemakers;" Blessed, blessed; and he recited those wondrous things and blessed them. And while he was blessing them, he began to ascend; and he rose higher and higher; and his voice grew fainter and fainter, and at last it died away int he clouds; and the clouds received him out of their sight.
I can imagine up in the clouds there was a chariot from the throne, to take him bagk home; his work was finished; he rides like Elijah in that golden chariot, and sweeps away through the heavens to the throne. Look at him on his way to that world where all honor him, and all love him! And as he went sweeping upon his way home, he did not forget his little church; he could see them, but they could not see him; and I can see Peter and John looking up, in hopes that there will be a break in the clouds so that they may see him once more. And while they stand there, gazing up into heaven, you can see tears trickling down their cheeks, their hearts have almost gone out of their body; and he looks back and sees them; and he says to two of the angels who were conveying him home, "Goback, and tell those men that I will come back again." I don't know but they were the two Mary saw in the sepulcre; and they said: "Ye men of Gallilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall Bo come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Thank God, he is coming back! It is only a question of time. And in such a day and hour as we think not, he will rend the heavens and come back. Lift up your hearts, for the time of your redemption draweth near. We don't worship a dead Savior! He has passed through the heavens, gone up on high, led captivity captive and taken his seat at the right hand of God.
Paul saw him, and Stephen saw him, standing at the right hand of God. He is there, my friends. Thanks be to God, he is not here. They laid him in Joseph's sepulchre; he is risen and up yonder, and, not only that, "If I go, I will send the Holy Ghost." And after he had been gone ten days, the Holy Ghost came, and just fulfilled his word. Do you think this audience would have been here thia morning, if it had not been for the Holy Ghost? Do you believe preaching the gospel for 1800 years would have kept the people, if it h&d not have been for the Holy Ghost coming? Ah, my friends, it is th« Holy Ghost he sent when he went into heaven. And Dow, mj friends, let me say, in closing, if we will just preach more about the resurrected Savior, and if we live more about him and try and realize the power that we get in him and through him, we will accomplish more this last month of our labors than we have accomplished in all the rest of our lives.
Oh, may God help us to realize what a precious truth we have to preach; that we are not worshiping a dead Savior; that he is a resurrected Savior, and in such a day and hour as we think not he will return. And although we do not know when that will be, there is one thing we do know, and that is that he has promised to come; and that day is not far distant; we haven't but a little while to work. As Christine Evans says: "The songs of these bursting sepulchres, when Christ shall come, will be sweeter than the song of the morning star." We shall come up from the grave, by and by, with a shout. "He is the first fruits;" he has gon«» into the vale, and will call u» by and by. The voice of the Son of God shall wake up the slumbering dead! Jacob will leave his lameness, and Paul will leave his thorn in the flesh; and we shall come up resurrected bodies, and be forever with the Lord. I pity those people who know nothing about the resurrection of Christ, and think Christ does not live, and was merely a man, and perished in the grave of Joseph of Arimathea. What hope have they got?
Oh, what gloom and darkness settles down upon this world, if it was not for the glorious day of resurrection. And those that hare been sown in dishonor and corruption shall be raised, by and by, in glory and honor; they shall come up out of their graves, and we shall be forever with them. Oh, may this blessed truth take bold of all our hearts, and may we go out from this Tabernacle and spread the news that the Lord has risen. He has gone up on high, and he will bleu the sons of men, if they will receive a blessing from him.