Mark 16:2

The last days of the manifestation of God in Christ were signalized by a great deprivation and a great recovery. A life beyond the dread confines of the grave completed the cycle of wonders associated with the earth-life of Jesus. This, although not sufficiently realized ere it actually occurred, is a part of a continuative development. It is no awkward and hasty fragment joined on to another and more legitimate narrative. To intelligent students of the life, it appears the sublimely consistent outcome of all that preceded the death. The evangelists, from the very beginning of their histories, prepare one almost unconsciously for such a denouement. It is in a sense the necessary conclusion towards which they move, and It throws into new relations and proportions all the preceding events. The earthly actions and experiences of Christ are sufficiently verified, but in describing them evangelists do not seem to think of having to furnish proof. It is only when they begin to tell us of the resurrection that all is alertness, and that conscious collation of evidence takes place. This is the arcanum of the faith which must be preserved from all uncertainty; this fact must be certified that all else may be made intelligible and morally effectual. And the moral significance of the Resurrection is even more insisted on than its physical wonder. It is the defeat of evil machinations, and a triumph over every precaution of his enemies.

I. SOME IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF EVIDENCE FOR THE RESURRECTION, The number and variety of Christ's appearances have been noted by the evangelists. The spiritual nature perceives the supplementary effect and educative efficiency of his resurrection fellowship. There is also a marked absence of all appearance of collusion.

1. Conspirators would have striven to keep the grave sealed until its emptiness should be discovered.

2. The Roman watch was all but inviolable.

3. Those who might be expected to conspire remained at a distance, and were informed of the event.

4. Many of them at first refused to believe the news.

5. From the Emmaus and embalming incidents, we see that most of the disciples did not look for his (at all events immediate) reappearance.

II. THE NATURE OF THE RESURRECTION. The question of those who deny the physical, yet emphasize the ideal and spiritual resurrection - "What can a few pounds more or less of dust and ashes matter?" - is shallow and impertinent.

1. The senses were appealed to: sight, hearing, touch; physical results were produced; fellowship was realized with him under physical conditions (the fish and honeycomb).

2. was not recognized at first. A great change had, therefore, been produced. And such a thing might be looked for. Mary, Emmaus, Thomas and the stigmata.

3. The manner of disappearance as described is suggestive of a real body (Acts 1:9; Luke 24:50, 51).

III. THE BEARINGS OF THIS FACT UPON CHRISTIAN FAITH AND LIFE. In considering these, we see how the foregoing question betrays an incapacity for discussing the highest practical problems.

1. Christ came to save the entire nature - body, soul, and spirit. He is, therefore, himself the Firstfruits and the Type. There is, in his resurrection state, a hint as. to the possibilities of our material nature when completely purified and redeemed.

2. The bodily resurrection of Christ is a more signal marvel than the spiritual alone would have been, and was at the same time more susceptible of sensible demonstration.

3. It was in harmony with the method of his miracles, and the grand key to them. How the moral element in this life grew and expanded into ever more powerful effects and general relations! At last, when earnestly and carefully regarded, doubt is overwhelmed by it. How it appeals to our sense of the highest fitness, and answers the unconscious longings of the spiritual life! - M.

They came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
Consider their sedulity — sedulity that admits no intermission, no interruption, no discontinuance, no indifference in religious offices. Consider we therefore their sedulity, if we can. I say, if we can; because if a man should sit down at a beehive or an ant hill, and determine to watch such an ant or such a bee in its work, he would find that bee or that ant so sedulous, so serious, so various, so concurrent with others, so contributory to others, as that he would quickly lose his marks and his sight of that ant or that bee. So, if we fix our consideration upon these devout women, and the sedulity of their devotion, as the several evangelists present it to us, we may easily lose our sight, and hardly know which was which, or at what time she or she came to the sepulchre. "They came, in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week," says St. Matthew; "they came very early in the morning, the first day of the week, at the rising of the sun," says St. Mark; "they prepared their spices, and rested the Sabbath, and came early the next day," says St. Luke; "they came the first day when it was yet dark," says St. John. From Friday evening till Sunday morning they were sedulous, busy upon this service; so sedulous, that thinks these women came four several times to the sepulchre, and that the four evangelists have relation to their four comings, and argues that this variety is no sign of untruthfulness in the evangelists, but testifies the sedulity of the women they speak of, going and coming, and unwilling to be far distant or long absent from their devout exercise. Beloved, true devotion is a serious, a sedulous, an impatient thing. He who said, "I fast twice in the week," was but a Pharisee; he who can reckon his devout actions is no better; he who can tell how often he has thought upon God today, has not thought upon Him often enough. It is St. 's holy circle, "to pray that we may hear sermons profitably, and to hear sermons that we may learn to pray acceptably." Devotion is no marginal note, no interlineary gloss, no parenthesis that may be left out; it is no occasional thing, no conditional thing: "I will go if I like the preacher, the place, the company, the weather;" but it is of the body of the text, and lays upon us an obligation of fervour and continuance.

(John Donne, D. D.)

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