Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,…
What Christ AVOWS and affirms is that He is the Son of God, and that is the first thing that was ever done in heaven — the eternal generation of the Son: that by which He proves this is that there shall be a resurrection of the body; and that is the last thing that shall be done in heaven.
I. The DIGNITY of this resurrection. Marvel not at this — at your spiritual resurrection, that a sermon should work, or sacrament comfort. Deem not this a miracle. But there are things which we may wonder at. Nil admirari is but the philosopher's wisdom; he thinks it a weakness that anything should be strange to him. But Christian philosophy tells us that the first step to faith is to wonder with holy admiration at the ways of God with man. Be content, then, to wonder at this, that God should so dignify as to associate to His presence the body of man. God is a spirit, every soul is a spirit, angels are spirits, and therefore proportioned to heaven; so no wonder they are there. But wonder that God, who is all spirit, and is served by spirits, should have a love for this body.
1. Behold this love even here.
(1) The Father was pleased to breathe into this body at first, in the creation.
(2) The Son assumed this body in the redemption.
(3) The Holy Ghost consecrates this body and makes it His temple by His sanctification. So the whole Trinity is exercised upon the dignifying of the body.
2. This purpose of dignifying the body is opposed —
(1) By those who violate and mangle the body which God made in inhuman persecutions.
(2) By those who defile the garment Christ wore by licentiousness. Some of the Roman emperors made it treason to carry a ring that had their picture on it to any place in the house of low office. What name can we give that sin to make the body of Christ the body of a harlot? (1 Corinthians 6:15-18).
(3) By those who sacrilegiously profane the temple of the Holy Ghost by neglecting the duties belonging to the dead bodies of God's saints.
3. Those exceed this purpose who —
(1) Pamper with wanton delicacies or sadden and disfigure with lastings and disciplines His own workmanship.
(2) Who dishonour or undervalue the body or forbear marriage.
(3) Who keep any rag of a dead man's skin, or chips of their bones, or lock of their hair for a relic, amulet, or antidote against temporal or spiritual calamities.
II. The APPROACH of this resurrection. The former resurrection Christ said, "Now is"; of this He said, "It is coming." In a sense this applies to death. The resurrection being the coronation of man, his lying down in the grave is his sitting down on that throne where he is to receive his crown. To the child now born we may say, "The day is coming"; to him that is old, "The hour is come"; but to him that is dead, "The minute is come" — because to him there are no more minutes till it do come.
III. The GENERALITY of this resurrection. It reaches to all that are in the grave. God hath made the body as a house for the soul till He call her out; and He hath made the grave a house for the body till He call it up. Shall none, then, rise but those who have enjoyed a grave? It is a comfort for a dying man, an honour to his memory, the duty of his friends, a piece of the communion of saints, to have a consecrated grave; but the word here is in monumentis — i.e., in receptacles of bodies of whatever kind. Some nations burnt their dead, there the fire is their grave; some drowned them, there the sea; some hung them on trees, there the air. The whole mansion of the dead shall be emptied.
IV. The INSTRUMENT. The voice of the Son of Man. In the spiritual resurrection it is the voice of the Son of God, lest the human vehicle should be despised. Here it is that of the Son of Man, who has felt all our infirmities, lest we should be terrified at the presence of the offended God. The former we may hear if we choose; the latter we must hear whether we will or not. God whispers in the voice of the Spirit; He speaks a little louder in the voice of a man; but let the man be a Boanerges, yet no thunder is heard over all the world. But the voice at the resurrection shall be heard by the very dead, and all of them.
V. The DIVERSE END.
1. You have seen moral men, or impious men go in confidently enough; but they will "come forth" in another complexion. They never thought of what was after death. Even the best are shaken with a consideration of that. But when I begin this fear in this life, I end it in my death, and pass away cheerfully; but the wicked begin this fear when the trumpet sounds, and never shall end it.
2. Fix on the conditions "done good." To have known good, believed it, extended it, preached it, will not serve. They must be rooted in faith, and there bring forth fruit.Conclusion: Remember with thankfulness the several resurrections that God hath given you.
1. From superstition and ignorance, in which you in your fathers lay dead.
2. From sin and a love of it, in which you in your youth lay dead.
3. From sadness, in which you in your worldly crosses or spiritual temptations lay dead; and —
4. Assure yourselves that God, who loves to perfect His own work, will fulfil His promise in your resurrection to life.
(J. Donne, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,