After He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
I. THE REASONS FOR THE GLADNESS WHICH THE DISCIPLES EXPERIENCED WHEN THEY SAW THE CHRIST.
1. The gloomy feelings of doubt and foreboding experienced by them during many hours past now gave way to the contrasting emotions of relief, satisfaction, and joy. The disciples had been disappointed and cast down by the blow which fell upon them when their Lord was slain. Their hopes had been all but extinguished. They had been bewildered and sad. Now their suspense was at an end, their fears were dispelled, their doubts were removed. The reaction was great. The cloud which had overshadowed them had been black; the more welcome was the burst of sunshine which now illumined their hearts.
2. Their gladness was increased by the resumption of Christ's fellowship and friendship. When they saw the Lord, and heard his well-known and well-loved voice, they appreciated his forwardness to show his interest and affection. He was still their Friend, and they could not tell for what period they might be permitted to enjoy his companionship and counsel.
3. The disciples must have been growingly glad, as they gained through the Resurrection a fuller view of the Lord's nature, character, and office. They experienced the fulfillment of Christ's words, "A little while, and ye shall see me;" "On the third day I shall rise again," etc. Their hope that he would prove to be the Messiah revived. Who must this be whom death itself is powerless to hold?
II. THE BROADER REASONS FOR OUR GLADNESS BECAUSE OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.
1. Our faith is thus confirmed in the Divinity and authority of our Savior himself.
2. As a consequence of this, our natural and distressing doubts concerning the interest and benevolence of God are effectually removed.
3. A glorious aim in life is thus presented before us; the Church becomes the living witness to the Resurrection and to the gospel, which is based upon this stupendous fact.
4. A welcome and sacred light is thus cast upon the immortal prospects of Christ's people. They who saw him after the Resurrection, and who had heard him say, "Where I am, ye shall be also," could not but cherish the hope of a deathless fellowship with the Lord of life, who has the keys of death and of the unseen world. - T.
When He had so said, He shewed them His hands and His side.: — I want to point out the significance of Christ's action in showing to these men His hands and His feet; and what we learn from it is this.
I. CHRIST'S DESIRE THAT HIS DISCIPLES' BELIEF IN HIS RESURRECTION SHOULD BE RATIONAL. His first purpose was to reduce the agitation of their minds so that they might be able to receive evidence of certain great and essential truths of which they were to be the future preachers. They were to go forth into the world and establish His kingdom amongst men, but the foundations of that kingdom were to be distinct historical facts; the chief among them being these two — that He had died and that He had risen again. Christ purposed to gain rule over human hearts, but no dead man can do that. When, therefore, He stands among them on this memorable evening He invites them carefully to examine Him. He possesses a physical body, and is not a phantom. Their senses are to testify to that. The more closely you consider it, from whatever side you look upon it, you will see how supremely important this fact of the resurrection is, and how essentially necessary it was that the evidence for it should be rational and unquestionable.
II. CHRIST'S DESIRE THAT HIS DISCIPLES SHOULD BELIEVE THAT THOUGH HE WAS RISEN HE WAS ESSENTIALLY UNCHANGED. Perhaps you will mark that I use the words "essentially unchanged." Essentially — and I do so because there seem to be indications throughout all the incidents of the forty days that though our Lord possessed the same body as He had before the Resurrection, yet there were differences in it. Whatever may have been the effects of the Resurrection upon the outward structure, Christ could say, "It is I, Myself." For the real personality of a man is not his body. That may change; it has changed many times from childhood up to the years of mature manhood; it is perpetually changing. It is so that we think of death and the resurrection. They will not affect our personal identity, though we may be introduced into a new sphere, and possess God's gift of a glorified body. The man, the woman, the child in essential characteristics will remain, however sublime and marvellous may be the changes in the form of their manifestation. Christ states this fact, and appeals to it — appeals to it as a reason why these alarmed men should be calmed. "It is I, Myself." Fear may be banished, because Christ is unchanged. This fact is to be the source of perpetual comfort and strength to those who call Christ Lord. "He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." He fearlessly asserts this fact, and bases on it an appeal for the most perfect confidence. Do you not see how that appeal to His personality rests on their former experience of His character? Ah! we can think of some passed away, whose reappearance with such words on their lips would be a signal for alarm and terror to those who were familiar with them in the earthly life. They were cruel, mean, selfish, tyrannical; their career was marked by all the vices and follies which can stain human character. What an awful thing it would be for us to meet them as they step out of the invisible into our midst and hear them say, "It is I, myself, unchanged by the experience of death."
III. CHRIST'S DESIRE THAT HIS DISCIPLES SHOULD RECOGNIZE HIM AS THE CRUCIFIED ONE. "He showed them His hands and His feet," says Luke; "He showed them His hands and His side," says John; not contradicting, but supplementing, one another's accounts, for evidently He showed them all three — hands, feet, and side. The disciples knew Him by the marks of His suffering. It is thus He would be recognized by all men everywhere — as the once crucified, though now risen and ascended, Prince and Lord. Not because He received cruel wounds and endured a fulness of agony, but because by that pain and sorrow redemption for mankind has been wrought out. We are at first brought into relationship with Him by this fact. We may know Him afterwards as the Mediator, Intercessor, King, Friend; but all possibility of intercourse with Him must begin at the Cross; must begin through those tokens of His suffering love by which He has ever been known. Offer me a Christ who has no wounds received on behalf of sinners, and I do not know Him; I dare not recognize Him. Tell me that He lived a noble life, that He taught grand truths to men, that He did many a work of mercy and compassion amongst the poor and sorrowing, that He was bitterly and shamefully persecuted by His unresting enemies, that He expired at last with fortitude and heroism, a martyr to His principles — and I say: "Yes, all that is well; but answer me — answer the impassioned yearning of my heart — did He die the just for the unjust? did He bear our sins in His own body on the tree?"
I. THE HANDS OF A WORKMAN. He has no sympathy with the idler, but honours toil.
II. HEALING HANDS. There was no limit to the beneficence of Christ's touch. Deafness, dumbness, fever, blindness, leprosy fled from it.
III. PLACED IN BENEDICTION ON THE HEADS OF LITTLE CHILDREN. None are too young to enjoy the Shepherd's care, none too old to need it.
IV. SAVING HANDS. They grasped the sinking Peter. They will hold us to the end.
V. AN EVIDENCE OF HIS HAVING SUFFERED FOR US. In six days they made the world, now they are pierced for the sins of the world.
VI. A PROOF OF THE RESURRECTION. The wounds are healed, but the sears remain.
VII. USED IN INTERCESSORY PRAYER FOR US. A Roman soldier returned from the wars found his brother on trial for his life. He held up the stumps of his arms, and turned the tide in the court, and saved his brother's life. Here was sacrifice turned into intercessory prayer.
VIII. THE DIVIDING LINE OF THE DAY OF JUDGMENT. On which hand wilt thou stand? Conclusion: Let the hands of Jesus lead and support you.
(T. L. Cuyler.)1. By these tokens Christ made Himself known. He might have taken other steps to bring about a recognition-recalled incidents known to Himself and to them only; or wrought some mighty miracle.
2. It may appear strange that Christ should have risen in this condition.(1) It would seem to impair the completeness of His triumph. When the three Hebrews came forth from the furnace, no trace remained upon them of the fire. And when Christ emerged from fiercer flames, we might expect Him equally unaffected.(2) Allowing that such evidences existed, their concealment would seem most natural. His sufferings and death had been attended with the utmost ignominy and disgrace.(3) It would seem to give an unpleasing character to the future life. He bears in Himself, on the other side of the grave, the signs and the results of His shame and agony here. Viewing Him as the Pattern, we are led to ask: Will it be so with ourselves? If men had been left to themselves to form their own conception of the risen Christ, they would never have thus represented Him. Note —
I. THE PERFECT IDENTITY OF THE SAVIOUR'S PERSON.
1. He is the same Jesus as they had parted from a few days before. A change had taken place, but not such as to affect His identity.
2. This identity exists to-day. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday," &c., must be the watchword of our faith. How the person of Christ has been altered by men! What "developments" has He undergone! As we look around us to-day, we see men setting up Christs after their own fancies, utterly unlike the Christ of the Gospels. Let us cling to His abiding identity.
II. THE PERMANENT CHARACTER OF HIS REDEEMING WORK. His sufferings still continue, not as to their actual agony, but as to their results. They remain for ever, graven upon the form of the Redeemer. The cross itself stood but for a few hours; the actual sufferings lasted but for a little while. But their influence can never cease. Had He risen with no memorials of His passion upon Him, men might have doubted, and the doubt would have grown stronger with the ages. But as we look upon Jesus, and see His hands and His side, we learn that He still retains His sacrificial character, and that our faith may rest upon Him as surely as though the Cross and resurrection were events of today.
III. THE SAVIOUR'S ESTIMATE OF HIS SUFFERINGS.
1. Men looked upon them as shameful, but to Himself they were glorious. Nothing can minister such joy to His heart as these marks received in that fierce conflict, now crowned with victory, into which He threw Himself for man's deliverance.
2. There shall be something like this with ourselves. Life is a battle from which we do not escape without wounds. Yet the things that are most terrible now may yield hereafter our greatest joy. The darkest things here may be the brightest there.
IV. THE TRUE METHOD OF PRESENTING CHRIST TO MEN. Show them "His hands and His side." Insist upon His sacrificial character, upon His death as an atonement for sin.
1. There are those who present Christ to men, but do not show them "His hands and His side." They point to the mystery of His incarnation, His moral perfection, &c. But all this, necessary and good as it is, fails to meet man's case as a sinner. Tell them all this, but tell them especially that, being all this, He died for sinners as an atonement for their sins.
2. This method of presenting Christ is the mightiest for overcoming unbelief. You may reason with men on the evidences of Christianity, and they may remain in their unbelief. "Show them His hands and His side;" put Christ before them in His sufferings and self-sacrifice, and minds that had only become stronger in their opposition through argument and embittered by controversy, have yielded.
3. This method is the mightiest for conquering the pride and selfishness of the human heart. Nothing can equal the force of His appeal when He thus presents Himself to man. A legend has come down to us to the effect that Satan once appeared to one of the mediaeval saints in the form of the risen Saviour, but that the saint discovered and repelled him by asking for the print of the wounds.
V. THE METHOD OF HIS REVELATION HEREAFTER. Amidst the countless multitudes of heaven's inhabitants, we may recognize the Man of Calvary by these signs.
Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.
Family Churchman.The disciples were glad because —
I. THEIR SUSPENSE WAS AT AN END. It had been prolonged for two days, and must have been peculiarly distressing. Now light broke in upon their darkness.
II. THEIR FEARS WERE DISPELLED. They doubted and were sad, for they had an awful dread lest all their convictions concerning Jesus were groundless. This was now dissipated.
III. THEIR HOPES WERE REALIZED. Fear and hope had alternately taken possession of them. They hoped against hope; in the hearts of some hope had vanished. But now it dawned again brightly on their sight.
IV. THEIR RELIEF AND CONFIDENCE WERE NOW ESTABLISHED. Now they recollected what they had all but forgotten, that all happened as He had foretold. He would now be to them all that they had ventured to anticipate.
V. THEIR PLEASURE IN HIS SOCIETY WAS RENEWED. He was very dear to them, and had called them "friends." The sight of Him who was to them "the altogether lovely" brought gladness to their hearts. As they had grieved because they saw Him not, so now when they saw Him, their sorrow was turned into joy.
VI. THEIR EYES WERE OPENED TO THE MEANING OF THEIR EARTHLY LIFE, AND TO THE PROSPECT OF IMMORTAL FELLOWSHIP WITH THEIR DIVINE LORD. Soon they saw that it was to be their vocation to be witnesses of His resurrection, and ambassadors and heralds of His gospel. So honourable an office might well be contemplated with gratification. And they must have felt if His death were no barrier to this Divine fellowship, so theirs could never sever them from Jesus, but must bring them into a nearer and eternal communion.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Homiletic Monthly.I. ITS NATURE.
1. It differs from physical delights, intellectual or social, in depth, purity, and permanency.
2. It is the repose of a soul on an infinite, personal Being.
3. Our Redeemer, Advocate, and Friend.
4. Whose presence assures all needed grace, here and hereafter.
II. METHOD OF SECURING IT.
1. Self-renunciation, cordial reliance on Christ.
2. Prayerful meditation on what He is and has done.
3. Doing the duties of the Christian life.
1. Fortifies against sin and inspires in life's work.
2. Makes religion attractive.
3. Takes away the fear of death.Conclusion:
1. We see why some do not have this joy; inadequate views of their privilege, absorbed in the world, or indulging in sin.
2. It is practicable and so a duty.
3. Appearance of Christ a joy to the believer and a cause of alarm to the sinner, so a test of character.
I. IT GAVE PROOF THAT HE HAD ESCAPED THE FURY OF HIS FOES. They had lately looked on Him as lost. Now they saw Him completely exempt from danger; and their joy was proportioned to their intense love. Could He have given them salvation at the expense of His own destruction, it would have yielded them no satisfaction. In proportion as we love our Saviour, we shall rejoice that He is now at the right hand of God.
II. IT AFFORDED AN EVIDENCE OF HIS CHARACTER, AND A CONFIRMATION OF HIS MISSION AND DOCTRINE. God has shown His complacency in virtue by crowning it with glory in the exaltation of His Son. The signature of the Divine hand was thus put upon it: and they were enabled to go abroad and establish Christianity on the basis of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Had He not risen, they must have been utterly ashamed and confounded. Who could pretend that the Divine Being would by this stupendous miracle give sanction to imposture. How thankful to God should we be for having placed our religion on such a basis of evidence!
III. IT PROVED THE ACCEPTANCE OF HIS SACRIFICE and the completion of His obedience in behalf of His believing followers. Without this His death is like that of an ordinary man; but this proves the merit and power of His death. "Who is he that condemneth? when it is Christ that died; yea rather, that is risen." Hence there remains no bar to the salvation of every penitent sinner. This is the source of a joy as extensive as the Church of God.
IV. IT WAS A PROOF OF THEIR PARTICIPATION IN THE BLESSINGS WHICH HE HAS PROCURED BEYOND THE PRESENT STATE; a pledge of their entrance into heaven. He rose as the Head of His body the Church; He entered into the holiest as the Forerunner of His people: it was His prayer "that they all may be with Me, and behold My glory." His desire will be fulfilled that their joy may be full.
V. THEY HAD THUS A PLEDGE OF HIS PROTECTION OF HIS CHURCH FROM ITS ENEMIES, AND OF ITS FINAL TRIUMPH OVER ALL. They were now assured that greater is He that is in the Church than he that is in the world.
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