It was the first day of the week, the day of our Lord’s resurrection from the tomb. The doors were shut, as the disciples assembled in fear of the Jews. Suddenly Jesus stood in their midst, saying, “Peace be unto you.” The voice of the Lord fills our hearts with peace and not fear. The faith of Christ’s disciples was moved by the Spirit to see their Lord, risen and alive, as He showed them His hands and side. It is recorded that they were “glad, when they saw the Lord.” Whether we are with the fellowship of believers, or in our private devotions in His Word, we know, by the Spirit who witnesses to our spirit, that Christ is near. His words are pleasing to our ears when we hear Him speaking, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
It is recorded, in the 27th chapter of Matthew’s gospel, that the body of Jesus was laid in a new tomb owned by “a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph.” The chief priests and Pharisees heard Jesus say when he was alive, “After three days I will rise again.” They asked Pilate to make sure that the disciples could not steal the body and claim that he had risen. Pilate told them to make it as sure as they could, and they “made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”
It was the first day of the week. While it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the sepulcher, and saw that the stone was taken away from the entrance. This is the Mary who had been healed by Jesus:
“And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him. And a certain woman, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils” (Luke 8:1–2).
Matthew Henry wrote that “Mary Magdalene, coming to the sepulchre, finds the stone taken away. This evangelist does not mention the other women that went with Mary Magdalene, but here only, because she was the most active and forward in this visit to the sepulchre, and in her appeared the most affection; and it was an affection kindled by a good cause, in consideration of the great things Christ had done for her. Much was forgiven her, therefore she loved much. She had shown her affection to him while he lived, attended his doctrine, ministered to him of her substance.”
Mary Magdalene, seeing that the stone was removed, runs and comes to “Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.” Peter and John came to the tomb and, seeing the stone removed, “they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulcher.” They would see something greater than the stone removed: “And he stooping down and looking in saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.”
The seed of faith is being nourished in the life of the apostles and friends of Christ. It began with wonderment and confusion, as the Spirit led them to see and remember that Christ had kept His promise that He would rise again. Calvin lifts our faith in these words: “the name of faith, because it was only by the doctrine of the Gospel that it was produced, and it had no tendency but towards Christ. From this seed there at length sprang a true and sincere faith, which, leaving the sepulcher, ascended to the heavenly glory of Christ.”
Let us not wonder if Christ is risen; for there is no question that He is our risen Lord: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:20–22).
Simon Peter follows John “and went into the sepulcher, and sees the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.” The Christ, who took upon himself our transgressions and the punishment we deserved, stood before God the Father on our behalf, during those dark hours upon the cross of Calvary. When the ransom was complete, God the Son cried, “It is finished.” Thus He went to the Divine Godhead: “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12). Early on that first day of the week, our Savior claimed His body as the God-man, setting apart the garments of death, that in His eternal providence revealed His resurrection glory; as He had said, “I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25–26).
The Gospel records: “Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the Scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away unto their own home.” As we read and study the Word of God, may our hearts be open to that Gospel truth that Christ Jesus did rise from the dead. For in His resurrection is the assurance that not only have our sins been forgiven, but an inheritance was guaranteed, by grace, kept for us in and by the Divine Godhead.
Scripture teaches us of God’s marvelous grace: “But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4–7). This hope is one of faith and rejoicing: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3–5). Note that, in these verses, the love of God the Father, the glory of our salvation in Christ, the Holy Spirit regenerating our souls, the new birth, and our eternal life are a blessed inheritance that no one can take away from us.
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