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affirmed, under every kind of penalty, that they had seen him alive, after his death and burial, we would have had such disproval or explanation from the men who were so anxious to give them. But as none has been given, we accept the resurrection of Christ as established by evidence so irresistible, that the laws of human action and the foundations of human history must all be destroyed, before we can suppose this evidence to be inconclusive or fallacious. Hence the fact announced by the angel is true the Lord is risen.
II. The Importance of the Resurrection of Christ is intimated by the urgency with which the women are sent to declare it to the disciples ; "go quickly," “lo! I have told you," and the divine title given to him by the angel, “ the Lord.”
The grand importance of the resurrection of Jesus is the fact, that it proves him to be the Christ, and thus the Saviour of the world..
This is the light in which it is constantly presented in Scripture. Paul dwells upon it with reiterating energy. “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins," 1 Cor. XV. 17. “The word of faith which we preach" is, " that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Rom. x. 8, 9. So important was it deemed, that the apostles were ordained as an ex
traordinary body of men, to be witnesses of this fact; and hence it was essential to the apostolic office, that he who bore it, should have seen the risen Redeemer. Acts i. 22; 1 Cor. ix. 1.
The reason for the fundamental position given to this fact is not obscure. Our Lord based his whole claim to be the Messiah on this issue. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again," was the challenge to rest the whole question of his Messiahship on his resurrection from the dead. Hence, if he had not risen from the dead, his claim must have been destroyed.
But there was a reason yet deeper, because of which these very challenges were made. It was the only fact that could authenticate such a claim as bis, to be the Saviour of the world. He declared himself to be the great sacrifice for sin, and the Redeemer, who had opened up a passage from man the sinner, to God the Sovereign; from an earth all dark with the curse of death, to a heaven all bright with the blessing of eternal life. But how shall we know that the sacrifice is accepted, and the way open ? How shall we know that he who died on the cross did not die, as all others die, for his own sin? How shall we know that he can carry us through the dark valley, and present us faultless before the throne, on the ground of his atoning work? Only by his returning from the presence of the Judge, and assuring us
that the debt of sin is cancelled; by his returning from behind the veil in the Holiest of all, and assuring us that the sacrifice is accepted; by his returning from the dark valley, and assuring us that the monster is slain which made it terrible. This, Christ did in his resurrection, and hence its fundamental importance as the central fact of the Gospel.
With our instinctive dread of that dark unknown that lies beyond death, we need a Saviour who is evidently stronger than death, and who has shown his power to conquer it. We want to know that he can carry us through those awful shades, and bring us safely to the bright land beyond. We stand shivering on the shore of a vast ocean, and shrink as we gaze on its silent and illimitable waters; and we need a voice that can assure us that He who invites us to enter the ark has himself made the perilous passage, and can bring us in safety to the distant and unseen isles of the blest. Hence, it was needful that He who is to be our trust in death, should come back from that unknown sea, and assure us that he was able to carry us to those blessed abodes, where the storm and the night never come. This made it needful that Christ should return from the dead.
But the resurrection of Christ also confirmed his claims to be a divine Saviour.
The angels do not speak of him to the women
as their Lord, but as “the Lord;" as the Lord of angels as well as of men, the one Lord, who can be nothing less than divine. Their reference to the place where he lay was a kind of exulting implication that he could not be held by the power of the grave, because of his supreme and divine Lordship. Hence, Paul alleges, that he was "declared to be the Son of God, with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." It is not meant that the fact of resurrection implied Divinity, for others had arisen from the dead who were not divine. Nor is it meant that the resurrection constituted Christ the Son of God, for he was that before he entered the world ; the angels being called to worship him, when as the first begotten Son he was brought into the world. Heb. i. 6. But he was “ declared" to be the Son by the resurrection, since God thus endorsed his claims to that effect, during his life, by raising him from a death to which he had been condemned for making these claims. Hence, his resurrection proves him to have been “God mani. fest in the flesh," the divine, incarnate Word.
The resurrection of Christ also confirms and connects the great doctrines of the Christian system.
Many of the types and shadows of the Old Testament receive their full significance only from their connection with this great fact. The new life of Noah from the ark and the deluge, the
wonderful offering and deliverance of Isaac, the living bird in the purification of the leper, the living goat on the great day of atonement, and other facts of the Old Testament—all receive their full illumination, only by connecting them with the resurrection of our Lord.
But equally does it illustrate and enforce the great doctrines of the New Testament.
Is justification enforced ? It is by the triumphant reference to this fact, as the evidence that this justification is now complete. “It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen againwho also maketh intercession for us," Rom. viii. 33. This justifying righteousness shall be “imputed” to us, “if we believe on him that raised up Jesus onr Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification,” Rom. iv. 24, 25.
Is regeneration taught? It is by linking it with this fact as its necessary antecedent, and its great type. “You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins,—together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” “Which is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead," Eph. ii. 1, 5; i. 19, 20.