To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days…
There is a strong disposition to reverence that which has been connected with the great and good. If the wood of the true Cross had been preserved, few could look upon it but with the deepest interest. It is remarkable, however, that we have few relics of Christ's days; while the museums of all civilised lands are filled with well-authenticated fragments from Greece, Rome, Babylon, Egypt. God has wisely ordered this to check the tendency to superstition and idolatry. But can no good use be made of this law of our nature? Our Church has judged that there can, and she teaches us not to seek for relics, but to remember events in Christ's life, and then leads our thoughts to the instruction they convey.
I. HOW, OR IN WHAT FORM, DID OUR LORD "SHOW HIMSELF AFTER HIS PASSION"? There was evidently some change in His body and some difference in His manner of appearing. He ate, indeed, with His disciples, yet not as one who needed food, but only to convince them of His corporeal existence. He does not seem to have lived with them familiarly as He bad before done, but came to them occasionally; and the forms of expression intimate something miraculous. "He showed Himself" as one was invisibly present, but, at will revealing Himself, like the sun shining from a cloud. Then, "He vanished out of their sight." At other times He would come when "the doors were bolted." The disciples regarded Him far otherwise than in His former state. Their accustomed free intercourse was changed for the deepest reverence. All questions concerning the nature of Christ's body must remain unanswered till we know for ourselves what a spiritual and glorified body is.
II. WHERE? Chiefly in Galilee. There had been the favoured scene of His earthly ministry, and there His followers were most numerous. With what intense interest must those lowly followers have flocked together when the summons was to meet their risen Lord! He offers to meet us in His sacraments, house, word, prayer, yet how carelessly we regard the summons I He has carried the same loving, compassionate spirit with Him to heaven, and we may share with His disciples in His Divine consolations, if we seek them aright.
III. FOR WHAT PURPOSE. To speak "of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God," i.e., His Church. They had been hitherto very dull, and Christ in these meetings gave them fuller instructions. It is probable that we have the substance of our Lord's conversations in the Acts and Epistles, for in these they would naturally embody and carry out their Master's directions. It is also very likely that many of the customs of the primitive Church were nothing more than our Lord's instructions reduced to practice. Hence we see the importance of appealing, for our own guidance, to primitive usage. If, for instance, we find immediately after the apostles' times, that infants were baptised, and nothing to oppose this in the New Testament, we might be strengthened in our conclusions, that this was a practice settled by our Lord Himself. How many points there are in civil law which are decided by such an appeal to established usage, and are not found in any written code! Many points, however, upon which our Lord dwelt in these interviews, are recorded. He promised to send them the Comforter, etc.
IV. ITS CERTAINTY. "By many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days." Our faith and hopes rest then on infallible proofs. And the certainty of the gospel increases the guilt and danger of those who neglect it. Are you living as if you believed it true?
(W. H. Lewis, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: