"The Lord Is Risen"
[This chapter is based on Matt. 28:2-4, 11-15.]
The night of the first day of the week had worn slowly away. The
darkest hour, just before daybreak, had come. Christ was still a
prisoner in His narrow tomb. The great stone was in its place; the Roman
seal was unbroken; the Roman guards were keeping their watch. And there
were unseen watchers. Hosts of evil angels were gathered about the
place. Had it been possible, the prince of darkness with his apostate
army would have kept forever sealed the tomb that held the Son of God.
But a heavenly host surrounded the sepulcher. Angels that excel in
strength were guarding the tomb, and waiting to welcome the Prince of
"And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the
Lord descended from heaven." Clothed with the panoply of God, this
angel left the heavenly courts. The bright beams of God's glory went
before him, and illuminated his pathway. "His countenance was like
lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the
keepers did shake, and became as dead men."
Now, priests and rulers, where is the power of your guard? Brave
soldiers that have never been afraid of human power are now as captives
taken without sword or spear. The face they look upon is not the face of
mortal warrior; it is the face of the mightiest of the Lord's host. This
messenger is he who fills the position from which Satan fell. It is he
who on the hills of Bethlehem proclaimed Christ's birth. The earth
trembles at his approach, the hosts of darkness flee, and as he rolls
away the stone, heaven seems to come down to the earth. The soldiers see
him removing the stone as he would a pebble, and hear him cry, Son of
God, come forth; Thy Father calls Thee. They see Jesus come forth from
the grave, and hear Him proclaim over the rent sepulcher, "I am the
resurrection, and the life." As He comes forth in majesty and
glory, the angel host bow low in adoration before the Redeemer, and
welcome Him with songs of praise.
An earthquake marked the hour when Christ laid down His life, and
another earthquake witnessed the moment when He took it up in triumph.
He who had vanquished death and the grave came forth from the tomb with
the tread of a conqueror, amid the reeling of the earth, the flashing of
lightning, and the roaring of thunder. When He shall come to the earth
again, He will shake "not the earth only, but also heaven."
"The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be
removed like a cottage." "The heavens shall be rolled together
as a scroll;" "the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the
earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." But
"the Lord will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the
children of Israel." Heb. 12:26; Isa. 24:20; 34:4; 2 Peter 3:10;
At the death of Jesus the soldiers had beheld the earth wrapped in
darkness at midday; but at the resurrection they saw the brightness of
the angels illuminate the night, and heard the inhabitants of heaven
singing with great joy and triumph: Thou hast vanquished Satan and the
powers of darkness; Thou hast swallowed up death in victory!
Christ came forth from the tomb glorified, and the Roman guard beheld
Him. Their eyes were riveted upon the face of Him whom they had so
recently mocked and derided. In this glorified Being they beheld the
prisoner whom they had seen in the judgment hall, the one for whom they
had plaited a crown of thorns. This was the One who had stood
unresisting before Pilate and Herod, His form lacerated by the cruel
scourge. This was He who had been nailed to the cross, at whom the
priests and rulers, full of self-satisfaction, had wagged their heads,
saying, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save." Matt.
27:42. This was He who had been laid in Joseph's new tomb. The decree of
heaven had loosed the captive. Mountains piled upon mountains over His
sepulcher could not have prevented Him from coming forth.
At sight of the angels and the glorified Saviour the Roman guard had
fainted and become as dead men. When the heavenly train was hidden from
their view, they arose to their feet, and as quickly as their trembling
limbs could carry them, made their way to the gate of the garden.
Staggering like drunken men, they hurried on to the city, telling those
whom they met the wonderful news. They were making their way to Pilate,
but their report had been carried to the Jewish authorities, and the
chief priests and rulers sent for them to be brought first into their
presence. A strange appearance those soldiers presented. Trembling with
fear, their faces colorless, they bore testimony to the resurrection of
Christ. The soldiers told all, just as they had seen it; they had not
had time to think or speak anything but the truth. With painful
utterance they said, It was the Son of God who was crucified; we have
heard an angel proclaiming Him as the Majesty of heaven, the King of
The faces of the priests were as those of the dead. Caiaphas tried to
speak. His lips moved, but they uttered no sound. The soldiers were
about to leave the council room, when a voice stayed them. Caiaphas had
at last found speech. Wait, wait, he said. Tell no one the things you
A lying report was then given to the soldiers. "Say ye,"
said the priests, "His disciples came by night, and stole Him away
while we slept." Here the priests overreached themselves. How could
the soldiers say that the disciples had stolen the body while they
slept? If they were asleep, how could they know? And if the disciples
had been proved guilty of stealing Christ's body, would not the priests
have been first to condemn them? Or if the sentinels had slept at the
tomb, would not the priests have been foremost in accusing them to
The soldiers were horrified at the thought of bringing upon
themselves the charge of sleeping at their post. This was an offense
punishable with death. Should they bear false witness, deceiving the
people, and placing their own lives in peril? Had they not kept their
weary watch with sleepless vigilance? How could they stand the trial,
even for the sake of money, if they perjured themselves?
In order to silence the testimony they feared, the priests promised
to secure the safety of the guard, saying that Pilate would not desire
to have such a report circulated any more than they did. The Roman
soldiers sold their integrity to the Jews for money. They came in before
the priests burdened with a most startling message of truth; they went
out with a burden of money, and on their tongues a lying report which
had been framed for them by the priests.
Meanwhile the report of Christ's resurrection had been carried to
Pilate. Though Pilate was responsible for having given Christ up to die,
he had been comparatively unconcerned. While he had condemned the
Saviour unwillingly, and with a feeling of pity, he had felt no real
compunction until now. In terror he now shut himself within his house,
determined to see no one. But the priests made their way into his
presence, told the story which they had invented, and urged him to
overlook the sentinels' neglect of duty. Before consenting to this, he
himself privately questioned the guard. They, fearing for their own
safety, dared not conceal anything, and Pilate drew from them an account
of all that had taken place. He did not prosecute the matter further,
but from that time there was no peace for him.
When Jesus was laid in the grave, Satan triumphed. He dared to hope
that the Saviour would not take up His life again. He claimed the Lord's
body, and set his guard about the tomb, seeking to hold Christ a
prisoner. He was bitterly angry when his angels fled at the approach of
the heavenly messenger. When he saw Christ come forth in triumph, he
knew that his kingdom would have an end, and that he must finally die.
The priests, in putting Christ to death, had made themselves the
tools of Satan. Now they were entirely in his power. They were entangled
in a snare from which they saw no escape but in continuing their warfare
against Christ. When they heard the report of His resurrection, they
feared the wrath of the people. They felt that their own lives were in
danger. The only hope for them was to prove Christ an impostor by
denying that He had risen. They bribed the soldiers, and secured
Pilate's silence. They spread their lying reports far and near. But
there were witnesses whom they could not silence. Many had heard of the
soldiers' testimony to Christ's resurrection. And certain of the dead
who came forth with Christ appeared to many, and declared that He had
risen. Reports were brought to the priests of persons who had seen these
risen ones, and heard their testimony. The priests and rulers were in
continual dread, lest in walking the streets, or within the privacy of
their own homes, they should come face to face with Christ. They felt
that there was no safety for them. Bolts and bars were but poor
protection against the Son of God. By day and by night that awful scene
in the judgment hall, when they had cried, "His blood be on us, and
on our children," was before them. Matt. 27:25. Nevermore would the
memory of that scene fade from their minds. Nevermore would peaceful
sleep come to their pillows.
When the voice of the mighty angel was heard at Christ's tomb,
saying, Thy Father calls Thee, the Saviour came forth from the grave by
the life that was in Himself. Now was proved the truth of His words,
"I lay down My life, that I might take it again. . . . I have power
to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." Now was
fulfilled the prophecy He had spoken to the priests and rulers,
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
John 10:17, 18; 2:19.
Over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, Christ had proclaimed in triumph,
"I am the resurrection, and the life." These words could be
spoken only by the Deity. All created beings live by the will and power
of God. They are dependent recipients of the life of God. From the
highest seraph to the humblest animate being, all are replenished from
the Source of life. Only He who is one with God could say, I have power
to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again. In His divinity,
Christ possessed the power to break the bonds of death.
Christ arose from the dead as the first fruits of those that slept.
He was the antitype of the wave sheaf, and His resurrection took place
on the very day when the wave sheaf was to be presented before the Lord.
For more than a thousand years this symbolic ceremony had been
performed. From the harvest fields the first heads of ripened grain were
gathered, and when the people went up to Jerusalem to the Passover, the
sheaf of first fruits was waved as a thank offering before the Lord. Not
until this was presented could the sickle be put to the grain, and it be
gathered into sheaves. The sheaf dedicated to God represented the
harvest. So Christ the first fruits represented the great spiritual
harvest to be gathered for the kingdom of God. His resurrection is the
type and pledge of the resurrection of all the righteous dead. "For
if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which
sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." 1 Thess. 4:14.
As Christ arose, He brought from the grave a multitude of captives.
The earthquake at His death had rent open their graves, and when He
arose, they came forth with Him. They were those who had been
co-laborers with God, and who at the cost of their lives had borne
testimony to the truth. Now they were to be witnesses for Him who had
raised them from the dead.
During His ministry, Jesus had raised the dead to life. He had raised
the son of the widow of Nain, and the ruler's daughter and Lazarus. But
these were not clothed with immortality. After they were raised, they
were still subject to death. But those who came forth from the grave at
Christ's resurrection were raised to everlasting life. They ascended
with Him as trophies of His victory over death and the grave. These,
said Christ, are no longer the captives of Satan; I have redeemed them.
I have brought them from the grave as the first fruits of My power, to
be with Me where I am, nevermore to see death or experience sorrow.
These went into the city, and appeared unto many, declaring, Christ
has risen from the dead, and we be risen with Him. Thus was immortalized
the sacred truth of the resurrection. The risen saints bore witness to
the truth of the words, "Thy dead men shall live, together with My
dead body shall they arise." Their resurrection was an illustration
of the fulfillment of the prophecy, "Awake and sing, ye that dwell
in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast
out the dead." Isa. 26:19.
To the believer, Christ is the resurrection and the life. In our
Saviour the life that was lost through sin is restored; for He has life
in Himself to quicken whom He will. He is invested with the right to
give immortality. The life that He laid down in humanity, He takes up
again, and gives to humanity. "I am come," He said, "that
they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
"Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never
thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of
water springing up into everlasting life." "Whoso eateth My
flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up
at the last day." John 10:10; 4:14; 6:54.
To the believer, death is but a small matter. Christ speaks of it as
if it were of little moment. "If a man keep My saying, he shall
never see death," "he shall never taste of death." To the
Christian, death is but a sleep, a moment of silence and darkness. The
life is hid with Christ in God, and "when Christ, who is our life,
shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." John
8:51, 52; Col. 3:4.
The voice that cried from the cross, "It is finished," was
heard among the dead. It pierced the walls of sepulchers, and summoned
the sleepers to arise. Thus will it be when the voice of Christ shall be
heard from heaven. That voice will penetrate the graves and unbar the
tombs, and the dead in Christ shall arise. At the Saviour's resurrection
a few graves were opened, but at His second coming all the precious dead
shall hear His voice, and shall come forth to glorious, immortal life.
The same power that raised Christ from the dead will raise His church,
and glorify it with Him, above all principalities, above all powers,
above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the
world to come.
[ Back ] [ Up ] [ Next ]