The Lord is Risen Indeed!
“The Lord is risen indeed!” – there is not the shadow of the shade of a doubt about it.
Jesus Christ, clothed in our nature, is in the heavens of God.
The chapter (Luke 24) opens thus: “Now upon the first day of the week.”
That “first day of the week” was a day from the beginning to end of joyful surprises. There were never so many surprises on this earth as there were on that day. To Mary Magdalene in the garden our risen Lord first appeared, enquiring into the cause of her sorrow, and eliciting from her the enquiry, “Tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him
Here is Mary’s mistake, and here too is Mary’s love. O for love like that of Mary! One woman, weakly indeed, but possessing a love that could vaporise the heaviest burden and think the hardest labour light. She felt as if she could just – weak as she was – take it up in her arms and go on performing those offices which the dawn of the Sabbath prevented them from continuing, as recorded in a preceding chapter. All her difficulties were solved by one word, “Mary,” and her soul was filled with joyful surprise.
“Confirmed by one soft secret word,
We seek no further light;
But walk, depending on our Lord,
By faith, and not by sight.”
Then comes the second appearance, the second joyful surprise on that day to the little company of women – the advance company, if I may so speak, of the church of the living God. The words of our blessed Lord to that little band of women were, “All hail!” equivalent to “rejoice” – our risen Lord’s first word to His church.
His first word to the woman: “Why weepest thou?”
His first word to the little company representing His church: “Rejoice, for Christ is risen.”
Then comes the interview with Cephas, or Peter, an interview so important, so special, so sacred, that the Apostle Paul, in that glorious fifteenth chapter of the first Letter to the Corinthians, adduces the interview with Cephas as the first of the infallible proofs by which he establishes the truth of the resurrection of our Lord. But no disclosure was permitted to be made of the sacred transactions between our Lord and poor, once-backsliding, blaspheming, erring Peter.
O our mercy is that our secrets are locked up in the heart of Eternal Love!
He shows us His secret, we give Him ours.
Then comes the appearance to the two travellers on the way to Emmaus.
How beautifully nature and grace harmonised at this time!
They travelled through the fresh, scented air. The palm trees were bursting into flower. In the spring of the year every leaf was sparkling with delight. And the Lord joined Himself to them, opened up to them the Scriptures, turned their simple meal into – I do not much like the word, yet it conveys what I mean – He turned their simple meal into one of Divine love, and vanished out of their sight.
And then, pursuing their way to Jerusalem again, they met with the ten disciples (the word “twelve” simply refers to the disciples considered as a band).
The first greeting which they received from them was, “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon.”
I am sure that when they said that, if we could have seen Simon, it would have been as he sat with weeping eyes, and a heart full of love, for the Lord had kissed all his fears away.
Here then are five joyful surprises unfolded one after another on the first day of the week, and whilst they were saying to one another, “The Lord is risen,” He stood in their midst with the words, “Peace be unto you.”
His body which had been dead was alive again; as Peter on the Day of Pentecost declared by the Holy Ghost, the cords, or pains, of death could not hold Him; it was impossible that He should remain in the grave. No grave could hold the body of the Lord Jesus Christ when the third morning dawned. No stone wall could shut it in; no iron bar could keep it out; it had been sown in weakness and raised in power; it had been sown a natural body and raised a spiritual body.
But to show the complete identity between the risen and the crucified body of our Lord, He was pleased to condescend to take food in the presence of His disciples, to show that as a Man He had the capacity to assimilate food, although there was no necessity in Himself to partake of it. Food was not necessary after His resurrection to the Lord of life and glory to support life, but He took it to convince them and us that He who rose from the dead was no phantom, no apparition, but “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”
Then again, as certain proof that our Lord’s body before them was the same that they had seen upon the cross, and the same that had accompanied them during the three-and-a-half years of His ministry, His voice charmed their ears. “Grace is poured into His lips.” Most sweet and heavenly were the words that fell therefrom. They saw Him; the nail-prints were visible; His features were the same. Their eyes were holden from time to time for a season that they should not know Him, but when they looked upon Him they beheld the Lamb as it had been slain, and the signs of the Son of Man were visible in hands and feet and side.
Hence the Apostle John in his first Letter says, “Which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life.”
Our Lord possessed and possesses the substantial elements of a bodily frame. “Handle Me and see” – prove and test for yourselves.
Now what was the message which He sent on three separate occasions to His disciples?
“Go to My brethren and tell them to meet Me in Galilee.”
It was not, “Go and tell denying Peter, and dull Philip, and doubting Thomas, and cautious Nathanael, and timid Andrew, and John, who also was among the fugitives.” Not, “Go and tell these that I am risen from the dead and am going to call them to account,” but, “Go, tell My brethren.”
Not one word of reproach or one word of rebuke in and of itself.
“Still He calls them brethren, friends;
And to all their wants attends.”
Our blessed Lord by His death had made a clean settlement with regard to sin, and on that blessed resurrection morning, with its five surprises, He came not to reproach, but to convey the message of peace and of blessing which constitutes the essence of the everlasting gospel.
By John E. Hazelton