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"Buried with him in baptism," (the baptism of the Spirit, which is regeneration,)" wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead," Col. ii. 12. The apostle argues our new life from the resurrection of Christ, in Rom. vi. 2—12, showing that as we have died with him, by our spiritual connection with his death, so we must live with him spiritually, as he rose from the dead; since the same Holy Spirit that quickened his body, is granted to regenerate our souls.
Is holiness of heart and life enjoined? It is by appealing to the same fact. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.— Set your affections on things above," Col. iii. 1, 2. The loftiest aspiration that the apostle could breathe for himself and others was that they might know Christ, and "the power of his resurrection," Phil. iii. 10; and the climax that he gives to a most impressive exhibition of his Christian life is, "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." 2 Cor. iv. 10.
Is comfort offered? It is rested on this great fact. To the trembling apostle in Patmos, the word of cheer that Christ himself uttered was, "Fear not!—I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive evermore," Rev. i. 18. To the bereaved mourner, the word of comfort to assuage sorrow is, "If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him," 1 Thess. iv. 14. And when He who spake as never man spake, would give comfort to the weeping sisters of Bethany, it was with the sublime words, "I am the resurrection and the life."
These words of Christ suggest another aspect of great importance in the resurrection of our Lord. It secures and illustrates our own resurrection.
The apostle Paul in that magnificent argument for the resurrection, contained in 1 Cor. xv., makes the resurrection of Christ the first fruits and guaranty of the resurrection of his people. This fact settles the questions that have been raised in regard to the nature of the resurrection body, its identity with the body that died, and kindred speculations. If the resurrection of Christ is the example, then the same body that was put into the grave, shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and come forth from the grave; all apparent difficulties notwithstanding. We know not how the dead are raised or with exactly what body they come; but we know that as the same body which was laid in the grave arose from it, in Christ's case, so "He that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you," Rom. viii. 11. We can therefore safely leave all questions of this kind to be solved by the "power of God."
It will thus be seen how vitally important this great fact is in the Christian system. It lies at the very foundation of that system, and runs through all its parts. It is the great fact that assures a dying world, that there is one who has conquered death, and brought life and immortality to light in the Gospel. It is the great demonstration to a perishing race, that Christ is mighty to save, and may be trusted by every creature. It is the precious fact that has hallowed the grave, and made it but a couch of repose to the slumbering dust, that shall awake on the great morning that is one day to dawn on the earth; just as the body of Christ did, when the angel descended from heaven, and the earthquake shook the grave. Hence it whispers comfort to the mourner, for it tells him that the parted shall meet again, and the form that has been laid down in corruption, shall come forth in incorruption, like to Christ's glorious body. Hence, also, it disarms death of its terror to the believer, and transforms the grave into a quiet garner where the precious dust shall be safely treasured, until the trumpet shall sound, and the dead be raised incorruptible. We, therefore, can readily see why the angels urged the women to go quickly and tell this glad tidings, that the Lord was risen.
THE FIRST APPEARANCE.—LOVE WEEPING AT THE SEPULCHRE.
The first appearance, why to Mary Magdalene—The order of events —The unspoken name—The two words—" Touch me not"—The brother's message. The two mourners: I . The spiritual mourner— The cause of spiritual gloom—The cure—The test—Babboni. II . The natural mourner — The bereaved — The disappointed — The fearful—The cure of all earthly sorrow.
"Why art thou cast down? Oh my soul!
"Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he cast seven devils." —Mark xvi. 9.
"But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping : and as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white, sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Babboni : which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her."—John xx. 11—18.
The first appearance of our Lord was to Mary Magdalene. The reason for this distinguishing favour was probably because of the deeper intensity of her love. The first honour was to be placed on the first grace; that love, which is the crowning grace of the Christian life. As far as we can judge from outward expressions of affection, the love of Mary Magdalene was of a peculiar intensity. That she was an abandoned woman, as is commonly supposed, does not appear from Scripture, and is not probable. She had seven devils cast out of her; but demoniacal possession was not a state of vice, but of disease. She may have been only a diseased woman, relieved by our Lord, who had suffered much, and hence loved much. The intensity of her love is proved by her conduct.
The order of events connected with this first appearance seems to be as follows:—The women, including Mary Magdalene, came to the sepulchre and found it empty. Mary Magdalene, in the first shock of her disappointment at finding the grave empty, did not wait for any thing more, but ran back to the city to tell Peter and John, that the body of Jesus was not there. Whilst she was