Acts 2:22
Men of Israel, listen to this message: Jesus of Nazareth was a man certified by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know.
Sermons
The Divine HumanityR.A. Redford Acts 2:22
The Day of Pentecost, and its Immediate GiftsP.C. Barker Acts 2:1-41
The Spirit Speaking Through the Voice of an ApostleR.A. Redford Acts 2:14-36
Truths from Peter's SermonW. Clarkson Acts 2:14-36
A New Style of Religious MinistryD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 2:14-40
A Sermon to Prick the ConscienceJ. C. Jones.Acts 2:14-40
A Varied Ministry Blessed by the Holy SpiritC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 2:14-40
Different Styles of PreachingW. Arthur, M. A.Acts 2:14-40
Elements of Power in Peter's SermonHomiletic MonthlyActs 2:14-40
Peter's Impulsiveness Useful Because Wisely DirectedW. H. Blake.Acts 2:14-40
Plain PreachingActs 2:14-40
Preaching on the Day of PentecostJ. Thompson, A. M.Acts 2:14-40
St. Peter to the MultitudeD. Fraser, D. D.Acts 2:14-40
St. Peter's First SermonG. T. Stokes, D. D.Acts 2:14-40
The First Apostolic Appeal to the MultitudeW. Hudson.Acts 2:14-40
The First SermonDean Vaughan.Acts 2:14-40
The Power of the Human VoiceJ. Parker.Acts 2:14-40
The SceneW. Arthur, M. A.Acts 2:14-40
The First Facts of Gospel PreachingR. Tuck Acts 2:22-28
Bonds Which Could not HoldActs 2:22-36
Christ Crucified According to the Determinate Counsel and Foreknowledge of GodJ. Beaumont, D. D.Acts 2:22-36
Christ Still Escaping from EntombmentC. H. Parkhurst, D. D.Acts 2:22-36
MiraclesPrincipal J. W. Dawson.Acts 2:22-36
Personal PreachingActs 2:22-36
The Connection of the Christian EventsE. Johnson Acts 2:22-36
The Effect of Pentecost Upon PeterJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 2:22-36
The First Christian ApologyJ. O. Dykes, D. D.Acts 2:22-36
The Gospel in its SimplicityW. Hudson.Acts 2:22-36
The Inevitableness of Christ's ResurrectionJ. Jowett, M. A.Acts 2:22-36
The Miracles of Christ Appealed to on the Day of PentecostExpository OutlinesActs 2:22-36
The Nature and Quality of the Death Christ Died Upon the CrossJ. Flavel.Acts 2:22-36
The Necessity of Christ's ResurrectionW. Gladden, D. D.Acts 2:22-36
The ResurrectionR. South, D. D.Acts 2:22-36
The Resurrection InevitableCanon Liddon.Acts 2:22-36
All history has an inner logic and meaning, contained in the person and the love of God. The secret links of events may be in part traced by us.

I. THE LIFE OF JESUS.

1. His simple and homely humanity. "Jesus of Nazareth," a name of scorn to many, of unpretentious lowliness to all.

2. His gracious, divinely attested career. Though poor and despised of men, the favor of God was upon him. And the proof was in the energy which went forth from Jesus. Again we come upon the note of power. "Mighty works" or "powers," "wonders" which called attention to will introducing change, and "signs," or all-significant acts which pointed to an unusual meaning, attested that Jesus was the Organ of Divine power and will.

3. This career was public, led in the light of day. The evidence was not only of the highest quality, but of the most unquestioned universality: "as you all know."

II. THE DESTINY OF JESUS TO DIE. To the superficial observer, or one knowing the facts only from the outside - a Jewish or Roman historian of the time - it might appear that Jesus perished as Judas the Gaulonite had done, the victim of the conflicts of the time. Jewish and Roman interest and passion seemed to unite against him, and he perished, the Victim of hate and misconception. But this was but a small part of the truth. To one instructed in the Divine logic of history, the death of Jesus was no accident; it lay in the laws of the moral order, in the "definite counsel and foreknowledge of God." Yet it was an act of wickedness to put him to death. Possibly we cannot solve in thought the seeming contradiction of the foreknowledge of God and the freedom of man. Enough that we can recognize separately the perfect truth of each.

III. THE UPRAISING OF JESUS. God's hand released him from the grasp of death. Here, again, was the operation of necessary law. It was impossible that he should be mastered by death - he who is the very affirmation of life. The absolute life cannot live beneath its negative. And here, again, the past furnishes its hints to the solution of the truth of the present. Spiritual life is imperishable; he who possesses it has an immediate consciousness of immortality, and can find parables of the victory of life over death everywhere. - J.







Ye men of Israel, hear these words.
One of the old English worthies said that a great many sermons were like carefully written letters dropped into the post-office without any address written upon them. They were not intended for any one in particular, and they never reached anybody.

If we see the effect upon Peter, we shall have a true idea of the effect of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon the entire Church. Fix your minds, therefore, upon Peter. We know what he has been up to this time, ardent, impulsive, unbalanced, enthusiastic, cowardly. Since we last saw him he has been the subject of Pentecostal influence. We have therefore to look on that picture and on this; and upon the change discoverable between the two pictures you may found your estimate of the value of spiritual inspiration. Notice —

I. HIS HEROIC ELOQUENCE. It is not enough to speak — you may teach an automaton to speak. This man is not only speaking words, he is speaking them with unction, with fire, with emphasis, never heard in his tone before. You have not the whole speech in the words. You must be enabled, by a kind of semi-inspiration of your own, to read between the lines, in order to get hold of all the force and weight of this burning oration: there are palpitations which cannot be reported, and tones which have no typal representation. It carries everything before it like a fire marching through dry stubble.

II. Not only was he transformed into an orator, but into A PROFOUND EXPOSITOR OF THE DIVINE PURPOSE IN THE CREATION AND EDUCATION OF THE CHURCH. He speaks like a philosopher. He sees that the ages are not unrelated days, broken and incohesive nights, but that the ages are one, as the day is one, from its grey dawn to the time of the lighting of the evening star. This always follows deep acquaintance with the mysteries of God and high fellowship with the Spirit of the living One; we are delivered from the vexation and torment of daily details, and are set in the great currents and movements of the Divine purpose, and thereby do we acquire the balance which gives us rest and serenity, which often glows into courageous joy.

III. PETER SHOWS US HOW PROPHECY IS FULFILLED. The fulfilment of prophecy is not something which God has been arduously trying to do and has at last barely accomplished; it is a natural process, and it comes to express a natural end. Prophecy is not to God a mere hope, it is a clear vision of what must be, and of what He Himself will bring to pass. It is prophesied that the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. It is not a mere hope, it is the sure outcome of the Divine way of doing things. Christ must, by the necessity of righteousness and light and truth, reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. Prophecy is God's note of hand that He will yet give His Son the heathen for an inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession, signed in every ink in the universe, signed in heaven before the earth was formed, signed on Calvary by the blood-ink of the Cross. We must rest in this assurance; the word of the Lord will prevail, not by means of education, eloquence, or mechanical efforts on the part of the Church, but the world will be converted unto Christ because God has said it will be so, and when His word has gone forth it cannot return to Him void.

IV. PETER STARTLED THE CHURCH BY BECOMING ITS MOST SOLID AND CONVINCING REASONER. Observe where and how Peter begins his address. "Jesus of Nazareth, a man," there is no appeal to theological bias or prejudice. Had he begun by saying, "Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnate God," he would have lost his audience in his first sentence. He began where his hearers could begin, and he who begins otherwise than at the point of sympathy, how eloquent soever, will lose the reins ere he has time to put one sentence to another. Already, therefore, this inspiration is beginning to tell in the mental force and astuteness of this unlettered fisherman. He gives up the Deity of Christ, does he? Note the argumentative skill. Had Peter broken off his speech in the first sentence, the coldest Socinian could have endorsed his utterance, but Peter makes way through Scriptural quotations and through inspired exposition, until he concludes with this burning breath, "God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ." Notice, too, how Peter stands without equivocation upon the historical fact of the resurrection. He was not talking to people who lived a century after the reported rising again of Christ: he was talking to men who knew perfectly well what had happened. Does he put any gloss upon the matter — does he seek to make it a parable, a typal instance, a quasi resurrection? He talks with the absolute frankness of a man who is relating facts, which every child in the assembly knew to be such, and could instantly have contradicted the statements which he made, had they been false. Does Peter separate Christ from the wonderful manifestation of the Spirit which had been granted? On the contrary, he connects the Pentecost with the risen and glorified Son of God. This enables him to use another "therefore." I refer to these "therefores" in this connection because we are trying to show how inspiritedly argumentative the apostle had become. "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted," etc. This is His last miracle, the spiritualisation of all the miracles, the marvel to which all signs and wonders were leading up, the capital without which the column would have been unfinished, the revelation of the purpose which moved His heart when He came to save the world and found His Church.

V. IT WAS ALSO A GREAT EVANGELICAL SPEECH WHICH PETER MADE. He gave the house of Israel a new chance. "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly" — it is as if Peter would say, "Now you have the opportunity of escaping all the past and beginning a new and glorious future." This is the continual speech of Christianity. Every morning Christianity says, "You can make to-day better than yesterday." Conclusion.

1. We have in Peter a standard whereby to measure ourselves. When the Holy Ghost falls upon us we shall go to the Bible with a new reading power, and we shall see wonders where before we saw nothing because of our spiritual blindness. Under the enlightenment of the Spirit we shall see that everything grand in thought, thrilling in poetry, tragic in experience, noble in heroism, is in the Bible. There is nothing in literature whose root is not to be found in the inspired volume. This is the Book out of which all other books are made, as the earth is the quarry out of which all its palaces have been dug, and as there are grander palaces in the rocks and woods than have yet been built, so there are more glorious visions in the Bible than we have yet beheld.

2. As the earth owes nothing to any other world but her light, so God has made men that we carry everything in us but our own inspiration. He does not make us new men in the sense of losing our old identity, He makes us new by His inspiration in the sense of lifting us up to the full expression of His own holy purpose in our original creation. We cannot inspire ourselves. The Holy Ghost is the gift of God. We have wondrous faculties as the earth has wondrous treasures — all these are the gift of God, all these we hold in stewardship for God. But these will be in us so many weights and burdens, curses rather than blessings, unless there fall upon us the mighty Pentecostal Holy Spirit. Then shall we be our true selves, eloquent, wise, argumentative, strong, evangelical, sympathetic, new creatures in Christ Jesus, through whom the Holy Ghost has been shed abroad in our hearts.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

1. The present confusion of theological opinion is not wholly to be regretted. It is sad enough, no doubt, if you look at it on one side, that men should still be asking the question, "What is Christianity?" and giving to that question the most contrary answers. Grave and able men tell us that the virtue of Christianity lies in an order of men, is transmitted by one man putting his hand on another man's head, and reaches the rest of the world through water, wine, and bread. Other men as grave and able assure us there is in the system no supernatural virtue at all, only certain religious instincts which long ago attached themselves crudely to a few more or less mythical facts, the real value of which we can hardly now make out. Betwixt them an infinite variety of not less inconsistent opinions finds room, and for each of them intelligent and honest advocates may be heard to plead.

2. But sad as this bewilderment is in some aspects, it surely betrays at least a desire to get at the heart of Christianity, and to do so by disentangling its essentials from its accretions. No one can pretend that such disentangling is unnecessary. Christianity, in the course of her nineteen centuries, has had her own central and proper truths so sorely overlaid by external forms of Church life; has seen her simple doctrines pressed into shapes determined by changing fashions of thought, speculated on, debated over, worked up into systems, and deduced into syllogisms; has entered also into alliance with so many other influences, with art, with politics, with social systems; that in no land of Christendom does she offer to us to-day the features she wore when she began her mission, or speak in the voice with which she first spoke when she won the world. To get at the kernel of our faith, and know it as it is, there is need for some unwrapping. And if the critical tendency which has thrown the theology of educated men into such confusion has any raison d'etre at all, it is this, that it is bent on getting at the kernel of what we call Christianity.

3. It would be a blunder for the Church to suppose that criticism has only a hostile tendency. Men who hate our holy faith are to be found in this as in every age; and they take advantage of the prevailing uncertainty, as they would do of anything else, to create a prejudice against religion. But there are multitudes of inquirers who mean no ill to Christianity, and numbers more who revere and trust it as their only hope or guide in the perplexities of our present condition.

4. In these circumstances a timid distrustful clinging to traditional forms of truth, with a nervous desire to defend the farthest and most doubtful outposts of orthodoxy is an utterly mistaken policy. It is so, whether the criticisms we are called to face be hostile or friendly.(1) If it be hostile, it seems unwise tactics to spend our strength in defending outworks, which are either barely defensible or of inferior moment, when the enemy we fear is already thundering at the central citadel of the faith. The question which the Church must gird herself to answer is, whether there is any living Christ at all. For strategic reasons, therefore, the field to be defended needs to be contracted, that the strength of all gallant advocates of the faith may be concentrated on those main positions which are as a key to the whole situation.(2) Nor is a narrow dogmatism any better policy if our critics are friendly. It is better, surely, and hopefuller, to meet the new spirit with the frank admission that where human reason has manipulated things of God, and forms of words, beaten out in hot controversy, have been forged to set forth infinite truth, there something may need correction.

5. In what shape the religious faith of Christendom shall emerge after this time of doubt shall have worked itself out, no man can foretell. Yet the creed of the future is not likely to be very different in substance from the creeds of the past. There is, if any one care to look for it, a solid body of Christian verity which has been, with hardly any change, the possession and life of the Church at every period of her history, and the secret nutriment of her true life through her impurest periods — the "faith once delivered to the saints."

6. Whatever may be the issue within the Church of such revision of her ancient belief, in our contest with outside scepticism we find ourselves thrust back upon our centre, and driven to do battle there for the first principles of our faith, just as the apologists of the earliest age of Christianity had to do. Not against the same sort of doubters, nor altogether with the same arguments, yet the essentials of the Gospel we must make good as they did. In this first Christian apology, and in all other reported addresses of St. Peter in the Acts, I find the gospel defended in its germ. Back to this earliest kernel of gospel fact and truth the controversy of our day is again pressing us. We may borrow a lesson, therefore, from the apologist of Pentecost. How does he conduct his defence? In this and the other sermons of that first period, the Christian cause is made to rest on two pillars of supernatural historical fact bearing on its Founder's life. These are not two isolated facts, however, but two periods of supernatural history. The first is His earthly life of ministry and passion, the supernaturalness of which was sealed mainly by the fact of resurrection after death. The second is the later celestial life of Jesus, the supernatural relation of which to human experience is proved by a series of spiritual facts which began at Pentecost and have not yet ceased. Of course, when the Church asserts this double claim for a continuous Divine history from her Master's birth, she is met by a denial from those who hold any direct intercourse betwixt highest God and us earthly men to be, on philosophical grounds, a thing impossible. But she has no right to be so met by the inductive science of our day. It is the boast of modern science to have no prejudices, but to accept without misgiving whatever is established on its proper evidence. It therefore cannot bar Christianity in her attempt to prove her facts. For the Christian apologist in the Acts, and all wise Christian apologists since, profess to establish the two supernatural facts on the self-same sort of evidence on which the most ordinary facts of a like order are established.(1) The audience whom St. Peter addressed were familiar with the main outlines of Jesus' life as recent and notorious events. We assume them also. We owe it to the historical criticism of late years that no one now doubts the existence of Jesus and the leading features at least of that biography which we have in the holy Gospels. It is when we try to look behind the external events, and to explain their spiritual value, that the Church's faith and the unfaith of our age part company. That the Jewish teacher of Nazareth whom the Romans crucified was in very literal deed, God, a Divine Person, come among us to do a Divine work; that on His life and death rest the hopes of every man to be redeemed from sin and recovered to the favour and likeness of our heavenly Father: this is the Christian theory for the explanation of such historical facts as all admit. For the truth of this theory the Church offers one test-proof — the resurrection. Virtually, St. Peter does so in these early sermons of his. Expressly, St. Paul, the ablest of all her defenders, does so in his second letter to Corinth. If God did raise Jesus from the dead, as no other man ever was raised, then Jesus was the Son of God as He claimed to be, His life as Divine as it professed to he. But if God did not raise this Man, the Christian advocate throws up his case, our faith is false, our fancied Saviour an impostor, and we are in our sins like other men. So the case stood when Peter preached and Paul wrote. So it stands still. But the question, whether a given man was dead and became alive again, is one which nothing can help us to answer but the witness of such as saw what happened. It is a question of evidence, and it has pleased God that this crowning seal put to His Son's life should be sustained and guarded by an amount of proof such as no other fact in history can boast; so that no honest searcher for truth might be left in doubt that Jesus of Nazareth has been declared to be the Son of God with power, has risen the first fruits of an innumerable harvest of Christian sleepers, and by His resurrection has begotten us also unto a living hope.(2) Even a Christ who became alive is not enough, if He has so withdrawn Himself that in His absence He cannot help us. Our Christ is not out of reach. We believe with St. Peter that the re-ascended Son has been exalted by God's right hand to receive of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, and that by the special mission of this second Paraclete, He maintains a closer, mere equal, and more effective contact with human souls now than ever. Say that there is no Holy Ghost, or say that He is not otherwise present in Christian men than we know He is in all natural human life; and the Church is a delusion, and the word we preach as powerless for the spiritual cure of men as any socialistic or other earth-born scheme for the improvement of mankind. But how is it to be proved that through Christian agencies there does work a veritable Divine Agent? We have here the advantage over an apologist so early as St. Peter. In proof that his newly-departed Master had sent down the Holy Ghost, Peter had nothing to appeal to but one unique and startling phenomenon just happening in his hearers' presence. We have the gathered spiritual experience of eighteen centuries. Not an age has passed since without leaving somewhere tokens that to the gospel belongs a heavenly power. It is quite true that infinite discredit has been over and over again done to the Church's claims. But enough remains to us. Christianity is not now so new or so small a thing that it should be hard, for any man who tries, to track its working in detail on innumerable men and gather up even its secret fruits. Whoever honestly does this will satisfy himself, I think, of such facts as these: That where the gospel of Christ has been made known with tolerable correctness to numbers of men, it has been always followed, in the case of individuals, by spiritual and moral changes of a uniform type. Conclusion: To this ever-gathering evidence, each Christian must contribute. And you, who can bear no witness for Christ, because you have never let His Spirit in within your heart to change and cleanse you, be sure there is a risen living Christ who saves; be sure there is a present Holy Ghost who changes us; be sure the kingdom of God is come upon you.

(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among you
We have here —

I. A DISTINCT AFFIRMATION OF THE PROPER HUMANITY OF JESUS. "Jesus of Nazareth, a Man." Under this name He had been "among" them. They had not to think of Him as a recluse, but as one who had frequented the common walks of life. This would prepare the audience to think of His sympathy and compassion. But they knew that He had not been aa ordinary man. Around His person had gathered most remarkable circumstances that had to be accounted for. Accordingly we find in the text —

II. A DISTINCT ASSERTION OF THE EXTRAORDINARY CREDENTIALS OF JESUS. He had been "approved of God by miracles" etc. These had demonstrated Him to be what He professed to be. Such things revealed the mind of God, and Peter now affirmed that the life of Jesus was full of God. This was a new thought to some who heard it. It followed that certain impressions of Jesus had to be corrected. For the present it was enough to make the hearer feel that Jesus was God's messenger. More would follow.

III. Peter declares THAT EVEN THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST WERE INCLUDED IN THE DIVINE PLAN. He had been apprehended and nailed to the Cross by the lawless, the representatives of Roman power; but in delivering Him up the Jews had been the greatest criminals, and this charge was now urged home upon them. Yet, as Peter explains, this was only in accordance with the Divine decree. Observe, then, that men are held accountable though they do not act with uncontrolled power, and that there is no excuse for sin in the mysterious blending of the Divine and the human in the working out of God's decrees. If we could adequately survey all the facts, we might be able to remove the apparent disagreement between Divine sovereignty and human freedom: but we are ignorant.

IV. PETER AFFIRMS THAT IN SPITE OF APPEARANCES JESUS HAS GAINED A COMPLETE VICTORY. "Whom God raised up."

(W. Hudson.)

Miracles and wonders and signs
The first of these words, as more correctly rendered in the Revised Version, means "powers," or "mighty works." By Peter, therefore, the "miracles" recorded in the Gospels are referred to the three heads of "powers, wonders, and signs," and the same terms are used by Luke to represent those wrought by the apostles and early Christians in the name of Christ. The word "powers" intimates to us the source of miraculous gifts, and the superhuman power manifested in their exercise. The second term, "wonders," which corresponds more nearly with our word "miracles," intimates their effect in producing wonder or astonishment, leading to conviction and belief; and the third term "signs," indicates their value as proofs of a Divine mission. All these aspects may be more or less presented in different miracles, or may appear in different degrees in the same miracle, and in considering the relations of miracles to nature they should all be kept in view. More especially we should bear in mind that our word "miracle," derived from the Latin, and meaning merely something wonderful, does not express the whole nature of the Biblical miracles, nor indeed, perhaps, 'their most important feature. There may be great miracles which excite but little wonder or astonishment, though they may produce important effects, as, for instance, some of those miracles of deliverance wrought for the apostles, and little known or thought of among their contemporaries. On the other hand, there are many wonderful phenomena which are not miracles. A more important aspect is that of powers, or mighty works, which indicate the presence of superhuman power, capable of controlling natural agencies, and of modifying or rearranging the laws of the universe. In this respect miracles bring us face to face with God as the only true miracle-worker. But, perhaps, the most important aspect of all, more especially in connection with the apostolic history, is that signs, or proofs, of the Divine character or mission of those who possess such powers, or to whom they are given. It is this aspect that they are most frequently referred to, and in which they approach most nearly to those moral and spiritual characters on which I am not to enter, any further than to say generally that miracles must conform in their natural relations to the higher moral and spiritual character of the message which, as signs, they authenticate.

(Principal J. W. Dawson.)

Expository Outlines.
These words contain —

I. AN IMPORTANT APPEAL. It was addressed to the Jews, and its subject is the promised Messiah.

1. The name by which He is designated. "Jesus of Nazareth."

2. The character under which He is set forth. "A Man approved of God."

3. The conclusive manner in which His claims were established. "By miracles and wonders and signs."

II. A SOLEMN CHARGE. "Him being delivered," etc.

1. The unparalleled crime of which they were guilty.

2. It was no extenuation of their conduct that what they had done accomplished the Divine purposes.

III. A BLESSED ANNOUNCEMENT. It referred to the resurrection of Christ.

1. To whom this great event is here ascribed. "Whom God hath raised up."

2. The manner in which it was performed. "Having loosed the pains (or bonds) of death."

3. The necessity of its accomplishment. "Not possible that He should be holden of it."

IV. A STRIKING QUOTATION. "For David speaketh concerning Him," etc.

1. The feelings evinced. Those of confidence and joy.

2. The grounds on which they rested. Because Jesus died and rose again.

(Expository Outlines.)

Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of Nod, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. —
I. WHO WAS DELIVERED?

I. Jesus of Nazareth had at once a name of ignominy, and a name of renown. He was called a Nazarene by the Jews because He was brought up at Nazareth; and they availed themselves of that fact to fasten upon Him what they thought would be an indelible stigma. Jesus is a name of glory. It was, indeed, a human, a common name, borne by many before; but when it was once put on Him it never was put on any other. You do not hesitate to call your children by the names of the apostles, but no father dares to call his son Jesus, because God has called His Son Jesus. "This is the name to sinners dear, the name to sinners given," the name above every name.

2. The particular feature of His character here developed is the power of working miracles. A miracle has been defined — "a suspension or counteraction of the laws of nature." And what are the laws of nature? They are the agencies of God, by which He employs certain causes to the production of certain effects. What philosophers signify by the essential, inflexible, eternal laws of nature, is nothing but the will of God acting in a definite way; and these laws Jesus of Nazareth broke in upon, disturbed them when He pleased. He showed that He was the Author of nature, and that all these laws were of His own making; and, therefore, as He produced the effects apart from the usual associated causes He was the God of nature. His miracles are called wonders, because they filled the spectators with wonder; and signs, because they were indexes of the properties, and prerogatives, and character of Him that wrought them.

II. TO WHAT WAS HE DELIVERED? To a death the most extraordinary in its nature, and the most dolorous in its circumstances, if you consider: —

1. The place where He died. We all hope to die in our own homes and beds. But your Lord and Master died at Calvary, a place putrid with blood and bones — the atmosphere of which was impregnated with a blasphemous breath.

2. Among whom He died. He was crucified between two malefactors; He had the middle place as though He was worse than either of them.

3. The death itself. Crucifixion was the most lingering and painful mode of death, and the most infamous. "Cursed is he that hangeth on a tree." What part of His body was exempt from anguish? Was it His hands and His feet? — they were pierced with nails. Was it His temples? — they were punctured with thorns. Was it His back? — that was lacerated with scourges. Was it His side? — that was broken by the hostile spear. Was it His bones? — they were all as it were out of joint. Was it His muscles? — they were stretched upon the gibbet. Was it His veins? — they were deprived of their purple fluid. Was it His nerves, those canals of feeling, those rivers of sensation? — they were wrung with anguish. And all this was as nothing compared with the sorrows of His soul. Though He had been a man of sorrows and a child of grief, yet, when He came to be delivered up, He said, "Now, now is My soul exceeding sorrowful." The weight of mental anguish may be alleviated by three sources.(1) The sympathies of affectionate friends. But when Christ died, His disciples forsook Him and fled; He was surrounded with grim guard-by hostile bands.(2) By the holy angels, who are ministering spirits sent forth to minister' unto them who are heirs of salvation; and perhaps the most important part of their ministration is rendered to us just when the immortal spirit is on the confines of eternity. Our Saviour had Himself, during His life, been ministered to by angels; but when delivered up to death, the angels afforded Him no sympathy. He drank the wine-press alone, with Him was none, neither man nor angel could sympathise with Him in His suffering.(3) By the consolations of our heavenly Father. But Jesus of Nazareth when delivered up to death was without these. The Father that had honoured His birth by a new star, and His baptism by the sound of a more than mortal voice from the excellent glory, that had honoured Him when He performed the miracles to which I have alluded, forsook Him upon the Cross.

III. BY WHOM WAS HE DELIVERED? I notice —

1. The human agents. It was the Jews that did it; their high priest had said it was expedient for Christ to die; it was their Pontius Pilate that condemned Him; it was their Judas that betrayed Him; their priests that plotted it; their Scribes and Pharisees that hailed it; their populace that shouted for it. But let not the Jews imagine that their guilt is at all diminished by the fact of the death of Christ being "according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." Their actions were not at all influenced by the determinate counsel of Jehovah; the apostle tells them they were not; he says, "Ye have done it."

2. But there is another agency in this "transaction (a God appears in this amazing scene). Lift up the eyes of your mind to the throne of the heavens, to the Majesty on high, and see God delivering up His own Son to this accursed death. They could have had no power against the Son of Man except it had been given to them from above. The death of Christ was not casual, it was not accidental, it was according to the certain councils entered into between the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the abyss of a past eternity. In these counsels it was agreed that one of the persons of the Trinity should become incarnate for lost human nature; that one should die for our guilty world. According to the contract entered into, Jesus of Nazareth was delivered up unto death. How amazing that such deliberations should be followed by such results I Hear the declaration of the apostle on the subject, "He spared not His only Son, but freely gave Him up for us all."

IV. THE DESIGN ON ACCOUNT OF, AND THE END FOR WHICH, JESUS OF NAZARETH WAS DELIVERED. He was delivered up for what? for whom? Not for His own iniquity, for He had none; not for Himself, for He was no transgressor. He could challenge the bitterest of His enemies and say — "Which of you convinces Me of sin?" Now, we are only acquainted with the iniquity of angels and men, and the question is narrowed to this: If Jesus were not delivered for His own iniquity — having none at all — He was delivered for the iniquity of angels that sinned, or for ours. Now then, for which was it? He passed by the angels, He took not hold of their nature, He never was found in fashion as an angel. I love the angels, because, among other reasons, they do not envy man the grandeur and glory of his being redeemed by the Son of God, while part of their own species was not taken hold of by the Son of God. When Jesus of Nazareth was born the angels sang — "Glory to God in the highest" — and in hell peace? No; and because they could not sing in hell peace, did they refuse to sing on earth peace? They could not say, and they did net say, "Good will to devils," to our lost brethren; but could say, and they did say, "Good will to man." Jesus of Nazareth took hold of our nature and was delivered, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. Why He felt for us, rather than for angels that sinned, I know not. It is enough for me to know that He loves me, and loves you, and that He loves all our apostate race. Here comes in the old, good-for-nothing objection to the innocent suffering for the guilty. Why, then, did Christ suffer? Oh, they say, He suffered to give us an example of magnanimity and patience under suffering. And they talk about justice. Why, if there is injustice in His dying to save a world from the curse of God, there is a million times more monstrous injustice in His dying merely to teach us how to suffer. He died by His own consent. What bound Him to the Cross? Was it the nails? If He had never been fastened by anything but nails, He had never been fastened at all. It was love that led Him to go to the high altar, and it was love to us that fastened Him to that altar. Conclusion: It is not enough to hear of this Saviour, and of this salvation, and the love that prompted it; there must be a personal appropriation of the benefit of the death of Christ.

(J. Beaumont, D. D.)

I. THE KIND OR NATURE OF HIS DEATH.

1. It was a violent death in itself, though voluntary on His part (Isaiah 53:8; John 10:17). And indeed He must either die a violent death or not at all, partly because there was no sin in Him to open a door to natural death, partly because His death had not been a sacrifice satisfactory to God for us. That which died of itself was never offered up to God, but that which was slain when it was in its full strength and health.

2. A most painful death. Indeed in this death were many deaths contrived in one. The Cross was a rack as well as a gibbet.

3. A shameful death. One appointed for the vilest of men.

4. A cursed death (Galatians 3:13; Deuteronomy 21:23).

5. A very slow and lingering death.

6. A helpless death.

II. THE REASONS WHY CHRIST DIED THIS, rather than any other kind of death.

1. Because Christ must bear the curse, and a curse by law was affixed to no other kind of death as it was to this.

2. To fulfil the types. All the sacrifices were lifted up from the earth upon the altar. But especially the brazen serpent prefigured this death (Numbers 21:9; John 3:14).

3. Because it was predicted of Him (Psalm 22:16, 17; Zechariah 12:10). Inferences: Did Christ die the death of the Cross? Then —

1. There is forgiveness with God, and plenteous redemption for the greatest of sinners, that by faith apply the blood of the Cross to their poor guilty souls (Colossians 1:14; 1 John 1:7). Two things this will make demonstrable.(1) That there is sufficient efficacy in the blood of the Cross to expiate and wash away the greatest sins (1 Peter 1:18; Acts 20:28). On the account of its invaluable preciousness, it becomes satisfying and reconciling blood to God (Colossians 1:20), and having enough in it to satisfy God. it must needs have enough in it to satisfy conscience (Hebrews 10:22).(2) As there is sufficient efficacy in this blood to expiate the greatest guilt, so it is as manifest that the virtue of it is intended by God for the use of believing sinners (Acts 13:39).

2. Though there be much of pain there is nothing, of curse in the death of the saints. Death poured out all its poison and lost its sting in Christ's side when He became a curse for us.

3. How cheerfully should we submit to, and bear any cross for Jesus Christ. What feathers are ours compared with His!

(1)We shall carry it but a little way.

(2)Christ bears the heaviest end of it.

(3)Innumerable blessings and mercies grow upon it.

(J. Flavel.)

Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death
I. ITS CAUSE. It was such an action as proclaimed an omnipotent agent. Death is a disease which art cannot cure: and the grave a prison which delivers back its captives upon no human summons. To restore life is only the prerogative of Him who gives it. Physic may repair and piece up nature, but not create it. Neither is it in the power of a spirit or demon to inspire a new life; for it is a creation, and to create is the incommunicable prerogative of a power infinite and unlimited. But; I suppose nobody will be very importunate for any further proof of this, that; if Christ was raised, it must be by God who raised Him. The angel might roll away the stone from the sepulchre, but not turn it into a son of Abraham; .and a less power than that which could do so could not effect the resurrection.

II. THE MANNER BY WHICH GOD WROUGHT IT. With what propriety can God be said to "loose the pains of death," when those pains continued not till the resurrection, but expired in the death of His body?

1. Some have affirmed that Christ descended into the place of the damned and suffered the pains of hell. But this could not be; for if Christ suffered any of those pains it was either in His Divine nature, or in His soul, or in His body. But the Divine nature could not suffer as being wholly impassible: nor yet could He suffer in His soul; forasmuch as in the very same day of His death that passed into paradise; nor in His body, for that being dead, and consequently for the time bereaved of all sense, could not be capable of any torment.

2. Now can we make out the reason of this expression upon some other or better ground. The word rendered "pains," in the Hebrew signifies also a cord or band; according to which it is very easy and proper to conceive that the resurrection discharged Christ from the bands of death; besides "having loosed," is properly applicable to bands and not to pains. But —(1) The words contain in them a Hebraism, viz., the pains of death, for a painful death; as it is said (Matthew 24:15), the abomination of desolation, for an abominable desolation; and so the resurrection loosed Christ from a painful death, not as if it were so at the time of His release from it, but in a divided sense it loosed Him from a continuance under that death; which, relating to the time of His suffering it, was so painful.(2) But though the pains of death ceased long before the resurrection, so that this could not in strictness of sense be said to remove them; yet, taken in a metonymy of the cause for the effect, the pains of death might be properly said to have been loosed in the resurrection, because that estate of death into which Christ was brought by those foregoing pains was then completely triumphed over. Captivity under death and the grave was the effect and consequent of those pains, and therefore the same deliverance which discharged Christ from the one, might not improperly be said to loose Him from the other.

III. ITS GROUNDS, which was its absolute necessity.

1. The hypostatical union of Christ's human nature to His Divine rendered a perpetual duration under death absolutely impossible. For how could that which was united to the great source and principle of life be finally prevailed over by death, and pass into an estate of perpetual darkness and oblivion? It was possible, indeed, that the Divine nature might for a while suspend its supporting influence, and so deliver over the human nature to pain and death, but it was impossible for it to let go the relation it bore to it. A man may suffer his child to fall to the ground, and yet not wholly quit his hold of him, but still keep it in his power to recover and lift him up at his pleasure. Thus the Divine nature of Christ did for a while hide itself from His humanity, but not desert it; put it into the chambers of death, but not lock the everlasting doors upon it. The sun may be clouded and yet not eclipsed, and eclipsed but not stopped in his course, and much less forced out of its orb. Surely that nature which diffusing itself throughout the universe communicates an enlivening influence to every part of it, and quickens the least spire of grass, would not wholly leave a nature assumed into its bosom, and, what is more, into the very unity of the Divine person, dismantled of its prime and noblest perfection.

2. God's immutability. Christ's resurrection was founded upon the same bottom with the consolation and salvation of believers, expressed in that full declaration made by God of Himself (Malachi 3:6). Now, the immutability of God, as it had an influence upon Christ's resurrection, was twofold.(1) In respect of His decree or purpose. God had from all eternity designed this, and sealed it by an irreversible purpose. For can we imagine that Christ's resurrection was not decreed, as well as His death and sufferings? and these in the 23rd verse of this chapter are expressly said to have been determined by God. It is a known rule in divinity, that whatsoever God does in time, that He purposed to do from eternity; for there can be no new purposes of God, since he who takes up a new purpose does so because he sees some ground to induce him to such a purpose, which he did not see before; but this can have no place in an infinite knowledge, which by one comprehensive intuition sees all things at present, before ever they come to pass: so that there can be no new emergency that can alter the Divine resolutions.(2) In respect of His word and promise, for these also were engaged in this affair (Psalm 16:10). And Christ also had frequently foretold the same of Himself. Now when God says a thing He gives His veracity in pawn to see it fully performed. Heaven or earth may pass away sooner than one iota of a Divine promise fall to the ground.

3. God's justice. God in the whole procedure of Christ's sufferings must be considered as a judge exacting, and Christ as a person paying down a recompense or satisfaction for sin. The punishment due to sin was death, which being paid by Christ, Divine justice could not any longer detain Him in His grave. For what had this been else but to keep Him in prison after the debt was paid? Satisfaction disarms justice, and payment cancels the bond. Christ's release proceeded not upon terms of courtesy but of claim. The gates of death flew open before Him out of duty.

4. The necessity of His being believed in as a Saviour, and the impossibility of His being so without rising from the dead. As Christ by His death paid down a satisfaction for sin, so it was necessary that it should be declared to the world by such arguments as might found a rational belief of it; so that men's unbelief should be rendered inexcusable. But how could the world believe that He fully had satisfied for sin, so long as they saw death, the known wages of sin, maintain its full force and power over Him? Had not the resurrection followed the crucifixion, that scoff of the Jews had stood as an unanswerable argument against Him (Mark 15:31, 32). To save is the effect of power, and of such a power as prevails to a complete victory and a triumph.

5. The nature of the priesthood which He had taken upon Him. The apostle (Hebrews 8:4) says, that "if He were upon earth He should not be a priest." Certainly then much less could He be so, should He continue under the earth. The two great works of His priesthood were to offer sacrifice, and then to make intercession for sinners, correspondent to the two works of the Mosaical priesthood. Christ, therefore, after that He had offered Himself upon the Cross, was to enter, into heaven, and there presenting Himself to the Father to make that sacrifice effectual to all the intents and purposes of it (Hebrews 7:25). Had not Christ risen again, His blood indeed might have cried for vengeance upon His murderers, but not for mercy upon believers. Ever since Christ ascended into heaven He has been pursuing the great work begun by Him upon the Cross, and applying The virtue of His sacrifice to those for whom it was offered.

(R. South, D. D.)

It was not possible that death should hold our Divine Lord and Saviour. Why?

I. WAS IT SIMPLY BECAUSE OF HIS POWER? Is the victory that He gained when He came forth from the grave only the prevalence of a stronger force over a weaker? The love of power, the delight in wielding it and in witnessing its exercise, the joy of battle, the elation of victory — how much of human energy finds vent in these great passions! Is this spectacle of the triumphing of Christ over death only another exhibition of strength? Doubtless we must see in the resurrection a proof of superhuman energy. "No man taketh My life from Me," etc., said our Lord. Here is the sign of a strength superior to nature; of an energy that is not confined by the uniformities of physical law; of a force that is stronger than the strongest of the forces with which our science deals. But is this all? No; this is the least of the truths disclosed to us upon the Easter day. Men had faith enough in physical power before Christ rose from the dead. Worshippers of power most of them were. Men believed quite enough in the power of God; as a revelation of the fact that there is a Will behind nature superior to nature, the resurrection was not needed.

II. WAS IT LOGICAL? Does the apostle mean that Christ could not have been left in the grave, because the Divine plan and purpose made His resurrection necessary? Doubtless this is true. The success of His mission required Him to rise from the grave. It was necessary as a practical measure, for the confirmation of His claims, and the verification of His gospel. But is this all? No.

III. THE IMPOSSIBILITY WAS MORAL. It was not might nor policy but love and right that conquered.

1. The apostle expresses in .this phrase one of the strongest and most persistent of the instinctive moral feelings of man, viz., that virtuous being ought to continue. It is sometimes said that man has an instinctive faith in immortality, and it is doubtless true. But the feeling to which I refer is much deeper and more dominant than this. I am not speaking now of the testimony of revelation concerning future existence, but of the conclusions to which our own instinct and judgment would lead us. And I think that if we had to depend wholly on these for our light upon this great question, while each one might hope for life beyond the grave as his own inheritance, we should hesitate to affirm it confidently respecting all our neighbours. Here, for example, is one whose life has steadily gravitated downward; who has grown more sordid, sour, brutish, with every passing year. So he lives, and so living he goes down to death. If we had no other guide than our own reason and moral instincts, should we confidently affirm of such a man that there would be life for him beyond the grave? I do not think so. I think we should be more likely to say of him, pityingly and mournfully: "If there were any prospect that his character could be mended, then we would hope that he might have life beyond; but if his life is to go on in this strain, there is no reason why his existence should be prolonged. If this universe is built on righteousness, the continuance of such lives is illogical and inexplicable." That is what the moral reason would say about it. But here is another of different quality. His life has been full of faithful and loving service of his kind; the contact of his spirit made every man more manly and every woman more womanly. Steadily as the years have gone by his character has been ripening, and now in the midst of his years he suddenly falls, and among men no more is seen. Is not our feeling about such a man's departure quite different from that with which we noted the passing out of life of the other? Do we not say at once, that if this universe means righteousness such a man ought not to cease to be; that the discontinuance of such a life would be as illogical and inexplicable as the continuance of the other would be? Death has seized upon our friend, we say, but it is not possible that death should hold him fast.

2. In cases of many that we have known we have felt that this impossibility was strong, almost invincible; but how much stronger should it have been in the minds of those who had been the companions and disciples of Jesus Christ all their lives! Might they not have said, with far clearer emphasis, when the hand of death was laid on Him, "It is not possible that He should be holden of it"? Recall some faint outline of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Remember the clear truthfulness of His speech, His courage, His friendship for the outcasts and the despised, the grand independence with which He brushed aside the conventional estimates, the tireless beneficence and boundless sympathy of His life. And now suddenly this life terminates. By wicked hands this Prince of Life is crucified and slain! Is it possible that such a life, so pure and perfect and benignant, should end like this? You could not affirm that it would reappear on this earth; on that point experience could give you no encouragement; but you could say that there ought to be and must be given to that life, somewhere, glory and immortality.

3. The force of this conclusion respecting all highest and noblest life it is hard to evade. The expectation of future existence in the abstract may be more or less shadowy; but the expectation that virtuous life will continue rests on the very foundation of our moral nature. And there is a great word of science that reaffirms this verdict of our moral sense. It is the fittest that survive, we are told. And, in a moral universe, it is the righteous, surely, who are fit to survive. You stand upon some elevated spot, where you can see, far down the valley, a railway train approaching. The pennant of smoke is lifted by the wind as the train draws nearer and nearer, bending round the curves, speeding swiftly along the straight alignments, its first faint murmur deepening into an audible roar, until it rushes past you swift, majestic, resistless, the very incarnation of motion and of might. Quickly, almost before your nerves have ceased to thrill with the onset of its power, it is out of sight behind an embankment, and out of hearing beyond a hill; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, it is gone. Would it be easy for you now to believe that that wonderful power has vanished out of being; that when it passed beyond your sight it suddenly ceased to be; that all which you saw and felt but for a moment ago is now nothing but a memory? No; that would not be possible. You are sure that the glory of going on still belongs to that wonderful mechanism, though it is now beyond your sight. And it seems to me that the reasons for believing in the persistence of a great moral force after it has disappeared from these scenes of earth are far stronger. Of such a power we say, more confidently than of any physical energy, "It cannot be blotted out; it must continue to be."

4. It was to strengthen this conviction, to demonstrate its truth and its reason, to give the world, in a great object lesson, the proof that virtue does not die, that our Lord came back to earth. It was not only to show His own Divinity; it was also to show that virtue and holiness are immortal. And as it was not possible that He should be holden of death, so neither is it possible that any of those who have His life in them should be detained in that prison-house. This is no arbitrary decree by which a future life is assured to the disciples of Christ; it is the law of the universe. Over such characters as His death has no power; and they who by faith in Him are brought into harmony with Him in this life can never be the prey of the spoiler. "He that believeth in Me," said the Master, "hath everlasting life." He who is one with Christ, who has the spirit of Christ, hath eternal life. What, to him, are all the vicissitudes and perils of our mortal state, all the sullen and ominous noises of the flood of years whose tides steadily gather round the narrow neck of land whereon he calmly waits? There is a hope within him that many waters cannot quench. His life is hid with Christ in God.

(W. Gladden, D. D.)

St. Peter's way of accounting for Christ's resurrection is the first apostolic statement on the subject. And certainly, even if the point were only one of antiquarian interest, it would be full of attraction to know how the first Christians thought about the chief truths of their faith; considering the influence which that faith has had and still has on the development of the human race. But for us, Christians, concern in this matter is more exacting. Our hopes or fears, our depressions or enthusiasms, our improvement or deterioration, are bound up with it. "If Christ be not risen, our preaching is vain, your faith is also vain."

I. St. PETER STATES THE FACT THAT CHRIST HAD RISEN FROM THE DEAD. "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death." He is preaching in Jerusalem, the scene of the death and resurrection, and to some who had taken part in the scenes of the crucifixion. Not more than seven weeks have passed. And in Jerusalem, we may be sure, men did not live as fast as they do in an European capital, in this age of telegraphs and railroads. An event like the crucifixion, in a town of that size, would have occupied general attention for a considerable period. It was then to persons keenly interested in the subject, and who had opportunities of testing its truth, that St. Peter states so calmly and unhesitatingly the fact of the resurrection. He states it as just as much a fact of history as the crucifixion, in which his hearers had taken part. Some twenty-six years later, when St. Paul wrote his first letter to Corinth, there were, he says, more than two hundred and fifty still alive who had seen Jesus Christ after His resurrection. The number of witnesses to the fact, to whom St. Peter could appeal, and whom his hearers might cross-question if they liked, will account for the simplicity and confidence of his assertion. In those days men had not learnt to think more of abstract theories than of well-attested facts. Nobody, it may be added, who professed to believe in an Almighty God, thought it reverent or reasonable to say that He could not for sufficient reasons modify His ordinary rules of working, if He chose to do so. St. Peter then preached the resurrection as a fact, and, as we know, with great and immediate results. But how did he account for it?

II. HE SAYS THAT CHRIST WAS RAISED BECAUSE "IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE THAT HE SHOULD BE HOLDEN OF" DEATH. Thus St. Peter's first thought about this matter is the very opposite to that of many persons in our day. They say that no evidence will convince them that Christ has risen, because they hold it to be antecedently impossible that He should rise. St. Peter, on the other hand, almost speaks as if he could dispense with any evidence. In point of fact, he had his own experience to fall back upon (Luke 24:34). But this evidence only fell in with the anticipations which he had now formed on other and independent grounds. It will do us good to consider the reasons of this Divine impossibility.

1. It was not possible, "for David speaketh concerning Him." Prophecy forbade Christ to remain in His grave. As to the principle of this argument there would have been no controversy, between St. Peter and the Jews. When once God had thus spoken, His word, it was felt by Jews and. Christians, stood sure. It could not return empty; it must accomplish the work for which God had sent it forth; since it bound Him to an engagement with those who uttered and with those who heard His message. Obviously enough, the true drift of a prophecy may easily be mistaken. God is not responsible for eccentric guesses as to His meaning. But where a prediction is clear, it does bind Him who is its real Author to some fulfilment, which, in the event, will be recognised as such. And such a prediction of the resurrection St. Peter finds in Psalm 16., where David — as more completely in Psalm 22. — loses the sense of his own personal circumstances in the impetus and ecstasy of the prophetic spirit, and describes a Personality of which indeed he was a type, but which altogether transcends him. The meaning of the Psalm was so clear to some Jewish doctors, that, unable as they were to reconcile it with David's history, they invented the fable that his body was miraculously preserved from corruption. David, however, was really speaking in the person of Messiah. And his language created the necessity that Messiah should rise from the dead. Observe, here, that St. Peter had not always felt and thought thus. He had known this Psalm all his life. But long after he had followed Jesus, he had been ignorant of its true meaning. Only little by little do any of us learn God's truth and will. And so lately as the morning of the resurrection, the apostles "knew not the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead." Since then the Holy Spirit had come down, and had poured a flood of light into their minds and over the sacred pages of the Old Testament. And thus a necessity for the resurrection, which even Jews ought to recognise, was now abundantly plain.

2. A second reason lay in the character of Christ. Now, of that a leading feature was its simple truthfulness. He was too wise to predict the impossible. He was too sincere to promise what He did not mean. But Christ had again and again said that He would be put to a violent death, and that after dying He would rise again (John 2:19; Matthew 12:40; Matthew 16:21; Mark 9:31; Mark 10:32-34). Thus He was pledged to this particular act — pledged to the Jewish people, and especially to His own followers. He could not have remained in His grave — I will not say without dishonour, but — without causing in others a revulsion of feeling such as is provoked by the exposure of baseless pretensions. It may indeed be urged that the resurrection foretold by Christ was not a literal resurrection of His dead body, but only a recovery of His credit, His authority; obscured as these had been for a while by the crucifixion. The word "resurrection," according to this supposition, is in His mouth a purely metaphorical expression. Socrates had had to drink the fatal hemlock; and the body of Socrates had long since mingled with the dust. But Socrates, it might be said, had risen, in the intellectual triumphs of his pupils, and in the enthusiastic admiration of succeeding ages; the method and words of Socrates had been preserved for all time in a literature that will never die. If Christ was to be put to death by crucifixion, He would triumph, even after a death so shameful and degrading, as Socrates and others had triumphed before Him. To imagine for Him an actual exit from His tomb is said to be a crude literalism, natural to uncultivated ages, but impossible when the finer suggestiveness of human language has been felt to transcend the letter. An obvious reply to this explanation is, that it arbitrarily makes our Lord use literal and metaphorical language in two successive clauses of a single sentence. He is literal, it seems, when He predicts His crucifixion; but why is He to be thought metaphorical when He foretells His resurrection? Why should not His resurrection be preceded by a metaphorical crucifixion; a crucifixion of thought, or will, or reputation — not the literal nailing of a human body to a wooden cross? Surely He meant that the one event would be just as much or just as little a matter of fact as the other. Those who cling to His human character, yet deny His resurrection, would do well to consider that they must choose between, their moral enthusiasm and their unbelief; since it is the character of Christ, even more than the language of prophecy, which made the idea that He would not rise after death impossible for His first disciples.

3. Not that we have yet exhausted St. Peter's reasons. In the sermon which he preached after the healing of the lame man, he told his hearers that they had "killed the Prince of Life, whom God raised from the dead." Remark that striking title. Not merely does it show how high above all earthly royalties was the crucified Saviour in the heart and faith of His apostle. It connects his thought with the language of his Master on the one side, and that of His apostles St. Paul and St. John upon the other (John 14:6; John 5:26, 40; John 1:4; Colossians 3:4). What is life? We do not know what it is in itself. We only register its symptoms. We see growth, movement; and we say, "Here is life." It exists in one degree in the tree; in a higher in the animal; in a higher still in man. In beings above man, we cannot doubt, it is to be found in some yet grander form. But in all these cases it is a gift from another: and having been given, it might be modified or withdrawn. Only the Self-Existent lives of right. He lives because He cannot but live. This is true of the Eternal Three, who yet are One. Hence our Lord says, "As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." Thus, with the Eternal Giver, the Eternal Receiver is the Fountain and Source of life. With reference to all created beings, He is the Life — their Creator, their Upholder, their End (Colossians 1:16, 17). This then is the full sense of St. Peter's expression, "The Prince of Life." How could the very Lord and ,Source of life be subdued by death? If, for reasons of wisdom and mercy, He subjected the nature which He had made His own to the king of terrors, this was surely not in the course of nature; it was a violence to nature that this should be. And therefore when the object had been achieved, He would rise, St. Peter implies, by an inevitable rebound, by the force of things, by the inherent energy of His irrepressible life. From St. Peter's point of view, the real wonder would be if such a Being were not to rise. The pains of death were loosed — not by an extraordinary effort, as in your case or mine — but because it was impossible that He, the Prince of Life, should be holden of it.

III. THIS NECESSITY, WHILE IN ITS ORIGINAL FORM STRICTLY PROPER TO HIS CASE, POINTS TO KINDRED NECESSITIES WHICH AFFECT HIS SERVANTS AND HIS CHURCH. Note —

1. The impossibility, for us Christians too, of being buried for ever in the tomb in which we shall each be laid at death. In this, as in other matters, "as He is, so are we in this world." To us as to Him, although in a different way, God has pledged Himself. In Him an internal vital force made resurrection from death necessary; in us there is no such intrinsic force, only a power guaranteed to us from without. He could say of the temple of His body, "I will raise it up in three days": we can only say that God will raise us up, we know not when. But this we do know (Romans 8:11). The law of justice and the law of love combine to create a necessity which requires "a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust." Death is not an eternal sleep; the tomb is not the final resting-place of the bodies of those whom we have loved. The empty sepulchre at Jerusalem on Easter morning is the warrant of a new life, strictly continuous with this, and, if we are faithful, much more glorious.

2. The principle of moral resurrections in the Church. As with the bodies of the faithful so it is with the Church. The Church is, according to St. Paul's teaching, Christ Himself in history (1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 1:22, 23). But the force of this language is limited by the fact, equally warranted by Scripture — that the Church has in it a human element, which, unlike the humanity of Christ, is weak and sinful. Again and again in the course of her history large portions of the Christian Church have seemed to be dead and buried. But suddenly the tomb has opened; there has been a moral movement, a new spirit of devotion, social stir, literary activity, conspicuous self-sacrifice; and, lo! the world awakes to an uneasy suspicion that "John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that mighty works do show forth themselves in him." The truth is that Christ has again burst His tomb and is abroad among men. So it was after the moral degradation of the Papacy in the tenth century; so it was after the recrudescence of Paganism by the Renaissance in the fifteenth; so it was after the triumph of misbelief and profanity in the seventeenth, and of indifference to vital religion in the eighteenth.

3. What is or ought to be the governing principle of our own personal life? If we have been laid in the tomb of sin, it ought to be impossible that we should be holden of sin. I say "ought to be," because, as a matter of fact, it is not impossible. God only is responsible for the resurrection of the Christian's body, and for the perpetuity of the Christian Church; and therefore it is impossible that either the Church or our bodies should permanently succumb to the empire of death. But God, who raises our bodies whether we will or not, does not raise our souls from sin, unless we correspond with His grace; and it is quite in our power to refuse this correspondence. That we should rise then from sin is a moral, not a physical, necessity; but surely we ought to make it as real a necessity as if it were physical (Romans 6:4).

4. A real resurrection with Christ will make and leave some definite traces upon life. Let us resolve this day to do or leave undone some one thing which will mark a new beginning: conscience will instruct us, if we allow it to do so.

(Canon Liddon.)

I. THE FACT HERE STATED. "Him hath God raised up," etc. Note —

1. That Jesus did experience everything which death is able to inflict upon mortal man. It was not, as some ancient heretics pretended, the mere appearance of death, but the reality, which He underwent. He felt "the pains of death." And so fearful and rapid was the operation of His sufferings, that, of the three who were crucified together, He alone was dead, when the hour arrived for removing the bodies. And death had then full dominion over Him.

2. That He was set free from the power of death by being raised to life again. To all human appearance the hopes of His cause were for ever buried with Him. But at this point the power of death was broken, and the grave is robbed of its victory. "Death has no more dominion over Him." He is raised — not as the widow's son at Nain or Lazarus, again to die — but to wear for ever that scarred body which He has brought with Him out of the sepulchre.

3. That this event was effected by Divine power: "Him hath God raised up." This circumstance may excite no wonder in your minds; for who can raise the dead but God only? Unquestionably, He alone, who first "breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life," can restore it after He hath taken it away. Call to mind, however, what He Himself had openly declared long before His death, "No man taketh My life from Me," etc. Scripture teaches us that each Person in the blessed Trinity took His share in effecting this glorious resurrection.

(1)The Father (Hebrews 13:20).

(2)The Son (John 2:19).

(3)The Holy Ghost (Romans 1:4; 1 Peter 3:18).These would be contradictory statements were it not for that mysterious doctrine, that our God is one God in three Persons. That doctrine reconciles all; while it still calls upon us to wonder and adore.

II. THE REASON ASSIGNED FOR IT. Had Jesus so willed, death could not have taken hold of Him; nor could it keep its hold one moment; longer when God commanded, "Loose Him and let Him go." The impossibility here dwelt upon, however, seems to mean something more than that arising from God's irresistible power. It could not be, because —

1. Prophecy had long ago foretold that it should not be; "and the Scripture cannot be broken."

2. No good end would have been answered by the continuance of Christ under the power of death. All that He had suffered was in order to His being "the propitiation for our sins." Now those agonies needed not to be eternal, although they were an equivalent to that eternal punishment which is our desert. The Sufferer being infinite, the merit of His sufferings was so likewise. And for the same reason, the humiliation of the grave once submitted to was enough, since it was the infinitely glorious Son of God who condescended to endure it. Just as "one offering" sufficed for "the sins of many," so one short sojourn in the tomb of dishonour was sufficient to earn its infinite reward. More was not required — and God does nothing unnecessarily.

3. Satan's apparent triumph would then have been a real one. The chief end of Christ's coming was to "destroy the works of the devil." Of this, Satan himself was fully aware; and to prevent his own defeat left no effort untried. He assailed the mind of Jesus with temptations: he stirred up enemies against His life. Defeated in the former by Christ's holy nature, he appeared to succeed in the latter, and possibly began to boast that he had now triumphed over the only Redeemer of men. And had Jesus still lain in the corruption of the grave, who could have gainsaid this boast? St. Paul himself allows that it would have been the ruin of our hopes (1 Corinthians 15:17). Jesus, therefore, must needs rise again.

4. He had still one perpetual work to perform on behalf of His people, which required His entire presence as perfect Man before God. As our Priest He had offered the sacrifice for sins; in the same character He had now to make continual "intercession for us." "He might have done this," you say, "in His Divine Person, or by His human soul in glory." Why not as well say He might have made atonement without a human body? No — the presence of that living body is indispensable, as an evidence of His merit, as the pledge of His claims.

(J. Jowett, M. A.)

Dead, and yet not able to continue dead. A stone sepulchre, and yet not equal to the strain of the strange body that was entombed in it. "Not possible" that He should be holden of it. It is just that "not possible" that we are going to think about. The world has never made a great deal of the resurrection of Lazarus, or of the widow's son of Nain, or the ruler's daughter, or the Shunammite's son. There are two kinds of resurrection: there is a natural resurrection and there is an artificial resurrection. Something roused Lazarus. Elisha roused the Shunammite's son. Jesus has had His death-sleep out. Artifice versus: nature. It never could have been said of the ruler's daughter that God raised her up, loosing the pains of death because it was not possible that she should be holden of it. It was possible, most possible. In the rending of the Lord's sepulchre we are dealing with a distinct matter. It is an event on another plane. At any rate, people have never pinned their hope of immortality to Lazarus' resurrection, and they have to the Lord's. And something of the core of the case lies in this particular clause we are upon: "Because it was not possible that He should be holden of it." We gain from Christ's instance a sense Of resurrection power working from within outward; in other instances, the sense of resurrection power working from without inward. Here it is something indigenous. Here it is like the wheat-grain growing up out of the ground because there is intrinsic impulse making it grow up; resurrection inheres in its nature; it is not possible that it should be holden; rising is a part of its genius. The Lord's life was somehow in His own hands. His life was such a thing that limitations did not limit it; obstructions were no embarrassment to it; death was not fatal to it. Life under any circumstances, life of any kind is a wonderful thing, spiritual life, animal life, yea, even vegetable life. We cannot say much about it, only wonder at it. An acorn lying, for months, still, brown and insensible, with a slight change of environment, begins to become dimly conscious of itself; and waking up into a mighty tree that fills the air, greens and withers, and greens and withers while children grow old and generations pass away. It is a long way from the buried acorn cracking in the dark to the rending of the tomb of the Son of God in the morning twilight of the world's first Easter; and yet our thought to-day is upon the same feature in the two instances — the life element, vegetable in one, Divine in the other, but working out with an easy expanse, shattering confinement by the native tension of its own energy; with facile sufficiency disrupting its own confinement and crushing its own bonds. "It was not possible that He should be holden of it." It seems to me we can almost see the very steps of the transaction, Divine life in the grave unnerving the clasp of death and striving to fracture the meshes of fatality; and all of that, not by virtue of extrinsic reinforcement, but out of the abundance of its own easy sufficiency, the exuberance of its irresistible fulness of Divine life. Now all of that brings almost to our very senses the event of Divine resurrection which the great Church catholic on earth celebrates. But not only is there a great historic meaning in this resurrection emergence of Christ from the sepulchre, but it seems to me there is a picture in small of what Divine life on earth is everywhere and always doing.

1. That is the. grand meaning of history, slow resurrection of the Divine life float is buried in it, and that every day strains a little more the gritty sepulchre; not because you and I try to drive into the enshrouding rock the wedges of our holy endeavour, not because liberating power is borne in upon it from any outward source; but because of the strengthening tension and growing push of its own resistless life that is eternally destined to break loose from the confinement of death because it is not possible that it should be holden of it. All the sin that is in the world, and the apathy and the obstinacy, and the ignorance and the hopelessness, what is it but so much vast, cold granite tomb in which the immanent buried life of God is working itself forth day and night, century after century, as the dawn slowly reddens toward the perfect glory of the full day and the ushered kingdom for whose coming we reverently pray. Oh, in how many ways the Divine Spirit of all truth has been working through all the ages of the world and giving even pagan minds a presentiment and suspicion of the deep things of man and history of God! As geologists delight to lay bare the rocks and track the pathway upon them worn by the archaic forces of fire and flood, so it seems to me there is no grander effort of which human mind in the range of immaterial things is capable, than to trace the movements of human history, considering those movements always as being steadily marshalled by the generalship of God's ordering Spirit, and every advance toward freer living, truer thinking, sweeter acting, and holier worshipping as being one more blow with which the rising Lord of Life strikes the grim casing of His tomb, and shatters Himself a pathway out into the light and splendour of the world's final Easter.

2. Think again of this same confined Spirit of God, as struggling in quiet resurrection against the barriers of sin, ignorance, and prejudice that hinder the evangelisation of the world. Remembering how the claims of the gospel cut directly athwart the stalwart passions of every human heart, I cannot understand how any man, with a mind that is appreciative, and that has a grasp upon the history of the victories achieved by the Cross, can escape the conclusion of a God-Spirit striving in the midst of it all, and rending its way out like an entombed Jesus breaking forth into the light and liberty of full resurrection. There is no argument for the Divineness of Christianity like the steady, irresistible, onward march of Christianity. It is the same thing over again, a sepulchre entombing a waking Divine Lord, and it was not possible that He should be holden of it; antagonism compacted to granitic hardness; sin rolled as a stone against the door of the sepulchre and sealed with malignity and cruelty: cunning posted as a watch upon it. But the night is going by, it is a Divine presence that is straining at the grave clothes and struggling out from entombment, and every new tribe that has the gospel brought to it, every new island out in mid-ocean that is vocal to-day with Easter praises, every new dialect that this April spells out "resurrection" to the wondering eye of the untaught pagan, is one more blow with which the rising Lord of Life strikes the grim casing of His tomb and shatters Himself a pathway out into the light and splendour of the great world's Easter.

3. And then, again, an imprisoned Divine Lord is struggling to full resurrection within the entombing religion of the world. One of the unappreciated marvels of our very Bible is the way in which, from the beginning of it to the end, it marks the steady rise of that current of Divine truth which it channels. There is not a greater mistake made, nor a sadder one, than the habit of treating the Bible as a dead level of Divine revelation. Its first lessons are but the seed-corn out of which, through the successive seasons of four thousand years, the primary germ has been unfolding into to-day's blossomed and fruited Tree of Life. It was a Divine thing then; Divine in its inception as it is in its finish; just as the confined germ is as live a thing as the great air-filling elm after a growth of two hundred years. But away back there it was a Divine thing perpetually striving and struggling forth into unsepulchred life against the constraints and confinements that human small-mindedness and false-heartedness put upon it. Divine, but Divineness bandaged! Eternal Spirit, but Eternal Spirit in a vault. Four thousand years of resurrection in the domain of truth! The Word which in the beginning was with God and was God, breaking off year by year and century by century the coarse integuments of human stupidity and carnality with which, forsooth, even Divineness requires to come into the world encased.

4. The Lord, too, is sepulchred, and has always been most gloomily sepulchred, in the theology of His Church. To disparage theology is to forget the Divine Spirit of truth which the pettiness and faultiness of human conception encases; and to ignore or lightly to pass over the history of theologic thought for the past forty centuries is to be oblivious of the slow, steady process of resurrection through which the confined Spirit of God is straining and crushing, age by age, the tough integument by which He is so jealously guarded, the tomb of petrified opinion around which His lovers keep tearful vigil, and to which in the grey light of the early morning they gather with linen bandages and spices "as the manner of the Jews is to bury." Theological controversy thus, so far as it is the cracking away of archaeological deposit and dogmatic stratification is but the emergence of the God-Spirit into freer air and wider liberty, and therefore can no more be stamped out or whistled down by a dogmatic constabulary than you could stop the growth of a California pine by girdling its trunk with cotton yarn, or than the resurrection of the Son of God at Jerusalem could have been delayed by piling more granite upon the roof of the sepulchre or posting more Roman police at its door.

5. And then, just in a word, the irrepressible Lord of Life is immured and struggling inside the ethics of the world. There is nothing in the history of the human race more calculated to amaze us than its improvement in morals; especially when you remember that every step of such improvement is taken in the teeth of every man's native tendency and original passion. No man ever becomes better except as he has Divine power given him to trample on himself. And to deny that there has been moral improvement is to be ignorant of history or to give the lie to history. As I say, it is all of it a growth; and the hindered, entombed, struggling life of the Lord is the Divine sap that permeates that growth. History, from the beginning of it to the end of it, is all resurrection; the straining, tenser and tenser straining, of the immured life of God in the world. Here is our hope. We praise God for the irrepressible and irresistible life that is in His Son Jesus Christ. We celebrate the empty grave with songs of loud acclaim. But while in this we are memorially celebrating the past, we would also, O God, by the same act anticipate and celebrate that greater coming Eastertide, when every bandage that human pettiness and ignorance wind about our risen Lord shall be sundered, when the whole sepulchre of world-sin in which He is yet entombed shall be rent, and the Lord of Life move forth a free Lord over a free earth — a glorified Lord in the midst of a redeemed world.

(C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

1. Our Lord felt the pains of death truly and really. His body was in very deed dead, yet there was no corruption.

(1)It was not needful: it could have borne no relation to our redemption.

(2)It would not have been seemly.

(3)It was not demanded by the law of nature; for He was sinless, and sin is the worm which causes corruption.

2. But from the pains of death His body was loosed by resurrection.

I. IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE THAT THE BANDS OF DEATH SHOULD HOLD OUR LORD. He derived His superiority to the bondage of death —

1. From the command of the Father that He should have power to take His life again (John 10:18).

2. From the dignity of His human person.

(1)As in union with Godhead.

(2)As being in itself absolutely perfect.

3. From the completion of His propitiation. The debt was discharged: He must be freed.

4. From the plan and purpose of grace which involved the life of the Head as well as that of the members (John 14:19).

5. From the perpetuity of His offices.

(1)Priest (Hebrews 6:20).

(2)King (Psalm 45:61.

(3)Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20).

6. From the nature of things, since without it we should have —

(1)No assurance of our resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:17).

(2)No certainty of justification (Romans 4:25).

(3)No representative possession of heaven (Hebrews 9:24).

(4)No crowning of man with glory and honour, and exaltation of him over the works of God's hands.

II. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE THAT ANY OTHER BANDS SHOULD HOLD HIS KINGDOM.

1. The firm establishment of error shall not prevent the victory of truth. The colossal systems of Greek philosophy and Roman priestcraft have passed away; and so shall other evil powers.

2. The scholarship of His foes shall not resist His wisdom. He baffled the wise in His life on earth; much more will He do it by His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 1:20).

3. The ignorance of mankind shall not darken His light. "The poor have the gospel preached to them" (Matthew 11:5). Degraded races receive the truth (Matthew 4:16).

4. The power, wealth, fashion, and prestige of falsehood shall not crush His kingdom (chap. Acts 4:26).

5. The evil influence of the world upon the Church shall not quench the Divine flame (John 16:33).

6. The rampant power of unbelief shall not destroy His dominion. Though at this hour it seems to bind the Church in the bands of death, those fetters shall melt away (Matthew 16:18).

III. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO HOLD IN BONDAGE ANYTHING THAT IS HIS.

1. The poor struggling sinner shall escape the bonds of his guilt, his depravity, his doubts, Satan, and the world (Psalm 124:7).

2. The bondaged child of God shall not be held captive by tribulation, temptation, or depression (Psalm 34:19; Psalm 116:7).

3. The bodies of His saints shall not be held in the grave (1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Peter 1:3-5).

4. The groaning creation shall yet burst into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:21). Conclusion. Here is a true Easter hymn for all who are in Christ. The Lord is risen indeed, and the happiest consequences must follow. Let us rise in His rising, and walk at large in His loosing.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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