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THE PERPLEXED DOUBTERS.
THE PERPLEXED DOUBTERS. 89 Moses and the prophets, concerning me and concerning you? Ought not: Christ's people to suffer such things and then to enter into glory? If the Captain of your salvation was made perfect through sufferings, must not you attain perfection by the same path ?” Thus as we begin with the suffering Abel, and come on down through the long cloud of witnesses, until we reach the “great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and kindreds, and people and tongues," "who have come out of great tribulation, and washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” we shall feel our hearts begin to burn within us, and be ready to say, not only, "the Lord's will be done,” but even, "I glory in tribulation, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience, experience, and experience, hope," and that hope will not make us ashamed. Then if the day grows dark to us, and shadows of sorrow or of death begin to fall, let us beseech the Master to “abide with us,” and soon we shall arise and go, not to the little company in the earthly Jerusalem, but to that innumerable company that is found in the heavenly Jerusalem, where there is no night for ever.
THE FIFTH APPEARANCE.—THE LORD'S DAY
The circumstances of this meeting—The physical properties of
Christ's risen body. I. Inauguration of the Lord's day-The Lord's day, the Christian Sabbath-Its beautiful significance. II. The blessings connected with the Lord's day, by the words of Jesus. (1) Fears relieved. Why do we dread a spirit?—“ Peace.” (2) Faith confirmed-Evidence of the resurrection—Transubstantiation. (3) Light cast on the objects of hope--The same body that dies, rises --The physical properties of the risen body-Recognition in heaven. (4) Errors corrected. (5) The Holy Ghost given. (6) Apostolio power. III. Thomas absent-Why ?-What he missed_Missing at the last.
“ Thine earthly Sabbaths, Lord, we love,
With ardent love, and strong desire." “ Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the woek, when the doors were shut, where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”—John xx. 19.
“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.”—John xx. 24.
It is a fact worthy of notice, that of the recorded appearances of our Lord, one half of them took place on the day of his resurrection. We have seen that each appearance had its own spe
cial significance. The one before us is in some respects more significant than any of the others, for it has a more solemn and official character. It is the first appearance of our Lord to the apostles as a body, and his first formal inauguration of any of the peculiar facts of the New Testament dispensation. Its grand significance is its formal inauguration of the Lord's day, as the Christian Sabbath, by his official meeting with the disciples for worship, his bestowal of Sabbatic blessings on that occasion, and his introduction thus of the great facts in the new dispensation, of which the day of holy rest was at once a type, and a channel of transmission.
This meeting is recorded by the evangelists, Mark, Luke, and John, in terms which, though varying, are not contradictory. The record of Mark is very brief, being but a single verse. "Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen," Mark xvi. 14. Luke records it more at length, ch. xxiv. 36–49, and seems to include the apostolic commission, which was given more formally afterwards on Olivet, but which was substantially given at that time. Both Mark and Luke have so much condensed their accounts of the forty days, that it is impossible to refer each
phrase to its exact chronological place. Some of the words spoken on Olivet may be combined with those spoken on the Lord's day evening, as all the sayings of our Lord are thrown by Luke into a continuous discourse. Hence we need not anxiously discriminate between what was uttered the first day, and what was uttered the last. The gospel of John gives the sayings and doings of these days with more detail than either of the others, but gives no fact that contradicts their accounts. It states that the substance of the apostolic commission was pronounced by our Lord on that evening, though the formal bestowal of it was on Olivet. Hence we shall notice at present only such statements as seem to have been made on that evening, designed rather as an official inauguration of the Lord's day, than as an official investiture of the apostles.
The disciples bad met in the evening with mingled emotions. Doubt, hope, joy, and fear were struggling for the mastery. But when Peter came and told them that Jesus had appeared to him, all doubt was then gone as to the fact of his resurrection. Many doubts might arise as to various matters connected with it, but the fact itself was then established. Whilst they pondered Peter's statement, a hurried knocking announced Cleopas and his friend from Emmaus, who related their wonderful walk. As they listened to this narration, there suddenly appeared to their asto, ished eyes the form of Jesus himself, who greeted them with the words of affectionate benediction, “Peace be unto you."
A question here arises as to the manner in which Jesus entered the room, which has some importance. It is, whether he entered it supernatu
rally, without opening the doors, or naturally, as .. the disciples did. Many of the expositors allege
that he entered it by opening the door, as the disciples did, and that there was nothing supernatural in the case. But the statements of the evangelists seem to favour the other opinion. It is expressly said that “the doors were closed for fear of the Jews," and of course fastened, and that in spite of this fastening, he suddenly appeared in the midst of them, implying that the doors were not opened. Luke also states that they were affrighted, supposing that they saw a spirit. Now as they already knew that he was risen from the dead, there must bave been something phantom-like in his mode of entrance, which would not have been the case had he come in at the door like the disciples. The fact that the two men of Emmaus did not know him, and that when known he vanished out of their sight, shows that there was something peculiar in the mode of his existence. This is still further corroborated by the fact that he is always said to have “appeared," "to have showed himself," &c.,