1 Corinthians 15:5-8
And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:…
I. WHAT LIFE MAY BECOME TO THOSE WHO SEE THE RISEN CHRIST. The word "remain'' not only tells us that the survivors were living, but the kind of life they lived. It is the same expression as "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" Now, "that saying went abroad amongst the brethren," and it may have been floating in Paul's memory, and have determined his selection of this expression. So, then, the sight of a risen Christ —
1. Will make life calm and tranquil. Fancy one of these after that vision going home. How small and unworthy to disturb the heart in which the memory of that vision was burning would seem the things that otherwise would have been important and distracting! Our faith in the risen Christ ought to do the same thing for us. If we build our nests amidst the tossing branches of the world's trees, they will sway with every wind, and perhaps be blown away from their hold altogether. But we may build our nests in the clefts of the rock, like the doves, and be quiet, as they are. They who see Christ need not be troubled. The ship that is empty is tossed upon the ocean, that which is well laden is steady. The heart that has Christ for a passenger need not fear being rocked by any storm. Make Him your scale of importance, and nothing will be too small to demand and be worthy of the best efforts of your work, but nothing will be too great to sweep you away from the serenity of your faith.
2. Will lead to patient persistence in duty. The risen Christ is —
(1) The Pattern for the men who will not be turned aside from the path of duty by any obstacles, dangers, or threats.
(2) The example of glory following upon faithfulness.
(3) The helper of them that put their trust in Him. By patient continuance in well-doing let us commit the keeping of our souls to Him and abide in the calling wherewith we are called.
3. Leads to a life of calm expectancy. That vision sent these five hundred men home to make all the rest of their lives one patient expectation of the return of the Lord. These primitive Christians expected that Jesus Christ would come speedily. That expectation was disappointed in so far as the date was concerned, but after nineteen centuries it still remains true that all vigorous and vital Christian life must have in it the onward look. He has come, He will come; He has gone, He will come back. And for us life ought to be a confident expectance that when Be shall be manifested we also shall be manifested with Him in glory.
II. WHAT DEATH BECOMES TO THOSE WHO HAVE SEEN CHRIST RISEN FROM THE DEAD. The Christian reason for calling death a sleep embraces a great deal more than the heathen reason for doing so, inasmuch as to most others who have used the word, death has been a sleep that knew no waking, whereas the Christian reason for employing the symbol is that it makes our waking sure. The New Testament scarcely ever employs the words dying and death for the act or for the state. it keeps those grim words for the reality, the separation of the soul from God. But the reason why Christianity uses metaphors for death, is the opposite of the reason why the world uses them. The world is so afraid of dying that it durst not name the grim, ugly thing. The Christian faith is so little afraid of death, that it, does not think such a trivial matter worth calling by the name, but only names it "falling asleep." Even when the circumstances of that dropping off to slumber are painful and violent, the Bible still employs the term. Is it not striking that the first martyr dying a bloody death should have been said to fall asleep? If that be true of such a death, no physical pains of any kind make the sweet word inappropriate for any. We have here not only the designation of the act of dying, but that of the condition of the dead. They are fallen asleep, and they continue asleep. There lies in the figure the idea of —
1. Repose. "They rest from their labours." In that sleep there are folded round the sleepers the arms of the Christ on whose bosom they rest, as an infant does on its first and happiest home, its mother's breast.
2. Continuous and conscious existence. It has been argued from this metaphor that the space between death and the resurrection is a period of unconsciousness, but the analogies seem to me to be in the opposite direction. A sleeping man does not cease to know himself to be, or to be himself. That consciousness of personal identity survives dreams sufficiently show us. And therefore they that sleep know themselves to be, and know where they rest.
3. Waking. Sleep is a parenthesis. If the night comes, the morning comes. They shall be satisfied when they awake with His likeness. Conclusion: Now, then, the risen Christ is the only ground of such hope, and faith in Him is the only state of mind which is entitled to cherish it. Nothing proves immortality except that open grave. Every other foundation is too weak to bear the weight of such a superstructure. The old Greek architects were often careless of the solidity of the soil on which they built their temple, and so many of them have fallen in ruins. The temple of immortality can be built only upon the rock of that proclamation, Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.
(A. Maclaren, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: