Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice
1. The effect of Christ's preceding discourse on his hearers was wonder. "They marvelled."
2. The teachings and deeds of Christ were well calculated to produce this emotion in all.
3. Each manifestation of his power and glory was only introductory to something greater still. "Marvel not at this," etc. The two resurrections - the resurrection of life and that of judgment. Notice -
I. THEIR SIMILARITY.
1. In the physical condition supposed. The subjects of both are dead, and described as being in their graves. The good die as well as the bad. They lie down and sleep together; their graves are often in close proximity to each other, and their dust is mingled together. They are under the same physical condition, that of mortality and complete dissolution.
2. Both are similar in their wonderful effects. Both are resurrections. There wilt be a quickening into life, into full conscious existence. There will be a reunion of body and soul after a long separation; the physical effects will be similar in both. The good and the bad shall hear, and come forth.
3. Both are the result of the same Divine power.
(1) The Agent is the same in both. "The Son of God." To raise the dead is the prerogative of Divinity, and by the power of the Son of God shall the good and the bad be raised. As the resurrection forms a most important part of the great scheme of redemption, it most befittingly falls to the Redeemer's lot to do it. He has the right and the power; and it will be exercised on this occasion on all, irrespective of character.
(2) The process in both is the same. "Shall hear the voice of the Son," etc. There will be an outward manifestation - a voice - and there will be a response. The same voice can awake the good and the bad. They would sleep on forever unless called by him. The voice of angels would be ineffective. But all will hear and know his voice, and come forth. Even the Son of God never addressed such a vast congregation before at once, and never with such unexceptional success. How many of his sermons missed the mark! But this grand resurrection sermon will not fail in a single instance. All shall hear and come forth.
4. The subjects of both resurrections shall come forth in their own and true character. As good or evil. Neither the sleep of death nor the Divine process of the resurrection can produce any change in character. Whatever a man soweth that shall he reap. The resurrection will not change this law, but help to carry it out. Character will cling to us forever.
5. The subjects of both shall come forth in their true character - according to the character of their deeds. "They that have done good, and they that have done evil." Character in both cases is formed by actions; so that the resurrection will be the same in its process to both classes. It will be fair to both - a faithful reproduction, not merely of the physical and mental, but also of the moral and spiritual self. Identity will be preserved intact. No one will have any reason to complain.
6. Both are similar in their certainty. The resurrection of the good and bad is equally certain. "All that are in the graves shall hear," etc. There is an absolute necessity for both, and there is an adequate power. Divine physical power is irresistible; Divine moral power is not so. What is absolutely necessary must come to pass. The good must be raised for the purposes of grace, the bad for the purposes of justice.
II. IS THEIR DISSIMILARITY.
1. Dissimilar in the character of their subjects. The subjects of one are those who have done good, the subjects of the other are those who have done evil. And between good and evil there is an essential and an eternal difference - a difference which neither eternity nor omnipotence can efface. Good will be good and evil will be evil at the last day, and the difference will be more strikingly seen.
2. Dissimilar in their results.
(1) One is the resurrection of life, the other is that of judgment. Those who have done good will not be raised to judgment, for they have passed from death unto life. Therefore they must rise unto life; the highest, the truest life of the soul - a life like that of Christ himself. The other is the resurrection of judgment, of condemnation - the opposite of life.
(2) The one is a reward, the other is punishment. Life is the natural consequence of goodness and faith in Christ; still it is a reward and a Divine favour. The resurrection and its consequences will be a reward to the good, but punishment to the wicked. It would be mercy to them to let them sleep on; but justice demands their resurrection to receive the wages of sin, which is death.
(3) The one will be followed by a glorious ascension, the other by horrible descent. Those who have done good will come forth to rise forever in the ever-increasing enjoyment of a pure, happy, and endless life; while those who have done evil will rise to sink deeper in spiritual death. The reunion of body and soul to the good must intensify their happiness. To the wicked it must intensify their misery. What a difference there is between the good man being awaked to join his family at the breakfast table and at the mercy seat, and the culprit being awaked in the morning to undergo the terrible sentence of the law! This is but a faint illustration of the difference between the resurrection of life and that of judgment.
1. We have passed through many important crises, but the most important and marvellous one is yet in store. "The hour is coming," etc. A most important and wonderful hour! Time and eternity in an hour! We should live continually in that hour.
2. The inseparable connection between the present and the future. Our future is in our present, and our present will be reproduced in the future.
3. The importance of well doing in the present. Let us hear the voice of the Son of man, now that we may welcome the voice of the Son of God in that hour. The physical process of the resurrection is entirely future, with which we shall have nothing to do. The spiritual process is going on now, and by Divine help we can shape our own resurrection and determine whether it is to be one of life or of judgment. - B.T.
The hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear His voice.I. The RESURRECTION.
1. Its subjects. All who are in their graves.(1) The almost universal custom of preserving the remains of the departed bears witness to the truth of the text. No such custom obtains with reference to animals. The body was not formed to die, and men cherish the hope of its recovering its lost immortality.(2) Our text, therefore, gratifies the most sacred feelings of the human heart. Our separation from our loved ones is only temporary.(3) The same persons shall rise. Momentous changes, indeed, take place; but what changes take place between infancy and old age! Yet it is the same person in whom they transpire.(4) The analogy by which Scripture illustrates this mystery is that of grain sown in the earth, which dies in order to live again.
2. The power by which it is accomplished. Christ's voice.(1) Not the voice as heard through pastors, etc. The season for hearing, that for conversion, sanctification, comfort, etc., is over. This we can refuse to hear, but not that.(2) The voice of the archangel and the trump of God, terrible, irresistible, dead awakening.
3. The time.(1) It is determined in the counsels of God.(2) It will be at the winding up of the affairs of time, "the last day." The day of world's first judgment came; so did that of Sodom, and Babylon, and Jerusalem; and just as surely shalt this.
II. The JUDGMENT. All shall come forth.
1. The righteous.(1) They shall not taste of death.(2) Their bodies shall be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body.(3) They shall obtain everlasting blessedness.
2. They that have done evil.(1) The unbelievers who are condemned already to have their condemnation confirmed.(2) They shall rise to be everlastingly banished.
(A. Beith, D. D.)
I. The DIGNITY of this resurrection. Marvel not at this — at your spiritual resurrection, that a sermon should work, or sacrament comfort. Deem not this a miracle. But there are things which we may wonder at. Nil admirari is but the philosopher's wisdom; he thinks it a weakness that anything should be strange to him. But Christian philosophy tells us that the first step to faith is to wonder with holy admiration at the ways of God with man. Be content, then, to wonder at this, that God should so dignify as to associate to His presence the body of man. God is a spirit, every soul is a spirit, angels are spirits, and therefore proportioned to heaven; so no wonder they are there. But wonder that God, who is all spirit, and is served by spirits, should have a love for this body.
1. Behold this love even here.(1) The Father was pleased to breathe into this body at first, in the creation.(2) The Son assumed this body in the redemption.(3) The Holy Ghost consecrates this body and makes it His temple by His sanctification. So the whole Trinity is exercised upon the dignifying of the body.
2. This purpose of dignifying the body is opposed —(1) By those who violate and mangle the body which God made in inhuman persecutions.(2) By those who defile the garment Christ wore by licentiousness. Some of the Roman emperors made it treason to carry a ring that had their picture on it to any place in the house of low office. What name can we give that sin to make the body of Christ the body of a harlot? (1 Corinthians 6:15-18).(3) By those who sacrilegiously profane the temple of the Holy Ghost by neglecting the duties belonging to the dead bodies of God's saints.
3. Those exceed this purpose who —(1) Pamper with wanton delicacies or sadden and disfigure with lastings and disciplines His own workmanship.(2) Who dishonour or undervalue the body or forbear marriage.(3) Who keep any rag of a dead man's skin, or chips of their bones, or lock of their hair for a relic, amulet, or antidote against temporal or spiritual calamities.
II. The APPROACH of this resurrection. The former resurrection Christ said, "Now is"; of this He said, "It is coming." In a sense this applies to death. The resurrection being the coronation of man, his lying down in the grave is his sitting down on that throne where he is to receive his crown. To the child now born we may say, "The day is coming"; to him that is old, "The hour is come"; but to him that is dead, "The minute is come" — because to him there are no more minutes till it do come.
III. The GENERALITY of this resurrection. It reaches to all that are in the grave. God hath made the body as a house for the soul till He call her out; and He hath made the grave a house for the body till He call it up. Shall none, then, rise but those who have enjoyed a grave? It is a comfort for a dying man, an honour to his memory, the duty of his friends, a piece of the communion of saints, to have a consecrated grave; but the word here is in monumentis — i.e., in receptacles of bodies of whatever kind. Some nations burnt their dead, there the fire is their grave; some drowned them, there the sea; some hung them on trees, there the air. The whole mansion of the dead shall be emptied.
IV. The INSTRUMENT. The voice of the Son of Man. In the spiritual resurrection it is the voice of the Son of God, lest the human vehicle should be despised. Here it is that of the Son of Man, who has felt all our infirmities, lest we should be terrified at the presence of the offended God. The former we may hear if we choose; the latter we must hear whether we will or not. God whispers in the voice of the Spirit; He speaks a little louder in the voice of a man; but let the man be a Boanerges, yet no thunder is heard over all the world. But the voice at the resurrection shall be heard by the very dead, and all of them.
V. The DIVERSE END.
1. You have seen moral men, or impious men go in confidently enough; but they will "come forth" in another complexion. They never thought of what was after death. Even the best are shaken with a consideration of that. But when I begin this fear in this life, I end it in my death, and pass away cheerfully; but the wicked begin this fear when the trumpet sounds, and never shall end it.
2. Fix on the conditions "done good." To have known good, believed it, extended it, preached it, will not serve. They must be rooted in faith, and there bring forth fruit.Conclusion: Remember with thankfulness the several resurrections that God hath given you.
1. From superstition and ignorance, in which you in your fathers lay dead.
2. From sin and a love of it, in which you in your youth lay dead.
3. From sadness, in which you in your worldly crosses or spiritual temptations lay dead; and —
4. Assure yourselves that God, who loves to perfect His own work, will fulfil His promise in your resurrection to life.
(J. Donne, D. D.)
I. EXPOUND THE TEXT.
1. There is a forbidding to marvel at the renewing of natural life, as in the case of Lazarus, etc., and at the quickening of the spiritually dead — both of which are things which it is legitimate to wonder at by way of admiration, but not in the spirit of insulting unbelief. But the greater marvel is the general resurrection. Yet to you it is less than that of the marvel of saving dead souls. In the former there is no opposition to omnipotence, but in the latter the elements of death are so potent that regeneration is a complicated miracle of grace and power, Nevertheless, to the few the former is the greatest marvel. Let us be admonished by these marvelling Jews. Does it seem impossible for that ungodly man to be converted? That you should be supported in your trouble? That your corruptions should be cleansed? Doubt no more. Your Saviour will raise the dead.
2. The coming hour.(1) "An hour," because near to Him: since we do not begin to look for an hour that is remote. It may be a thousand years off, but with Him that is but as one day. Like Him, therefore, count it close, and act as though it would come to-morrow.(2) "Coming," therefore, certain. Dynasties may stand or wither; but the hour of resurrection is sure, whatever else may be contingent or doubtful. Every second brings it nearer. Look at it, then, as a thing that ever cometh —(3) the hour par excellence. We hear of hours which have been big with the fate of nations, crises in history; but here is the culminating crisis of all.
3. All "that are in their graves." Those before the flood, those after; from east, west, north, south; mighty empires, etc., and you.
4. "Shall hear His voice."(1) Why, the ear has gone! But the God who gives the ear to the new-born babe, shall renew yours.(2) That voice now sounding in this place is not heard by those who have ears; yet those who have no ears shall then hear it. How deaf must those be who are more deaf than the dead. You must hear the summons to judgment; God grant that you may hear the summons to mercy.
5. "Shall come forth." Not only emerge, but be manifested. Hypocrisy will be unmasked, and unobtrusive good acknowledged.
6. "Those who have done good and those who have done evil."(1) Death makes no change in character, and we .must expect no improvement after death..(2) Only two characters will rise. There are no mingled characters.(3) All will be judged according to their works which have evidenced their faith.(4) They will meet with different dooms.
II. DRAW LESSONS FROM THE TEXT.
1. Of adoring reverence. If the dead are to rise at the voice of Christ let us worship Him.
2. Of consolation to those who mourn departed friends. Weep not as if thou hadst cast thy treasure into the sea, thou hast only laid it in a casket whence thou shalt receive it brighter than before.
3. Of self-examination.(1) What shall be your position?(2) How shall you meet before God those whom you have sinned with before men?(3) How shall you meet Him as your Judge who would have been your Saviour?
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. THE EVIDENCE BY WHICH IT IS ESTABLISHED.
1. The express declarations of the commissioned servants of God (Hebrews 9:19; Job 19:25-27; Psalm 16:9-11; Isaiah 26:19; Hosea 13:14; Daniel 12:2; Matthew 27:52, 53; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 1 Corinthians 15:1).
2. Our Saviour's own resurrection. If Christ did not rise, our faith is vain; if He did, He can raise us, and His resurrection is a pledge of ours.
3. Let this evidence produce on your minds its legitimate impression, and banish all uncertainty.
4. The folly of scepticism will appear when we consider that this is in harmony with reason. For admitting God's infinite power, this is not impossible; and granting His infinite goodness, it is certain.
II. THE AGENCY BY WHICH IT SHALL BE ACCOMPLISHED.
1. By hearing Christ's voice. The archangel's trumpet is a symbol of that in its awakening power.
2. The mode is uncertain, but Christ has innumerable resources of which we have no knowledge.
III. THE IDENTITY OF THE BURIED WITH THE RAISED.
1. If new bodies were produced they could not be said to come out of their graves. The word "resurrection" suggests something different from a new creation. Besides, it would be contrary to equity that one body should do good or evil and another be rewarded or punished.
2. Still "we shall all be changed," but not so as to lose our identity. The glorified Christ is the same Jesus as "the Man of sorrows." We shall be like Him, yet the same persons that we are now.
IV. THE UNIVERSALITY OF THE ACT.
V. THE IMPROVEMENT. The subject suggests —
1. A powerful motive to seek an interest in the Christian salvation. We must all die; and if we have not been saved we shall rise to the resurrection of damnation.
2. Comfort under the loss of near and dear relatives.
3. Confidence in the prospect of our own dissolution.
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
(J. L. Nye.)πονμρός contemplates evil from the former point of view, and φᾶυλος from the latter. There are words in most languages which contemplate evil under this latter aspect, the impossibility of any true gain ever coming forth from it. Thus "nequam" (in strictness opposite to frugi), and "nequitia" in Latin, "vaurien" in French, "naughty" and "naughtiness" in English, taugenichts, "schlecht," schlechligkeit in German. This notion of worthlessness is the central notion of φαῦλος (by some idnetified with "faul," foul), which in Greek runs succesfylly through the following meanings: light, unstable, blown about by every wind, small, slight, mediocre, of no account, worthless, bad; but still bad predominantly in the sense of worthless. Φαῦλος, as used in the New Testament, has reached this latest stage of its meaning; and τα φαῦλα πραξαντας, are set over against τὰ ἀγαθὰ ποιήσαντες and condemned as such to the "resurrection of damnation."
(Archbishop Trench.)Wycliffe's corpse was burnt to ashes, and these ashes were cast into the river; carried into the sea, and thence dispersed in a thousand directions, can the particles ever again be reunited? The Christian philosopher sees no difficulty in the case. Did any of these changes happen to the Reformer's body irrespectively of those natural laws which God has ordained? And, if even so, is it not just as easy for Him to reverse their action as it was to give them that action originally? It is a well-known chemical law, that, by the use of proper agencies, bodies thoroughly dissolved may be recovered and restored to their pristine shape. A single illustration will suffice. If we throw a lump of solid camphor into a vessel of spirits of wine, it will soon be completely dissolved; nevertheless, by diluting the spirits of wine with water, we may recover the camphor in the form of a sediment; nay, with the loss of a few grains, we may restore it to its original shape. So, too, of a silver vase dissolved in aquafortis. Beyond all controversy, these experiments are, in the eyes of the philosopher, far less marvellous than the act of reconstituting a dispersed, disorganized body; and yet, bearing in mind the infinite power of Jehovah, we can conceive it just as easy for Him thus to restore originally as to create.me. If you turn to Matthew 25:46 you will find that the dispute is between you and the Lord Jesus Christ, and I advise you to go immediately and settle it with Him."
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