« AnteriorContinuar »
to his disciples, as if visibility and the ordinary properties of a body were assumed by him at will, and did not belong to his body in the same way after the resurrection as before it. We would not dogmatize on a doubtful point, but these facts seem to indicate, that the resurrection-body of our Lord possessed material properties very different from its former condition, that it was naturally invisible and intangible, though material, and became visible and tangible as before, only by a posi. tive volition. This condition of matter is not only not impossible, but is very conceivable, with the knowledge we have now of the various forms in which matter is found to exist. If our conjecture is correct, we have some light thrown on the physical nature of the resurrection-body of believers, the "spiritual body," of which Paul speaks in 1 Cor. xv. 44. It shall be material, and yet with properties that we have hitherto attributed to spirit, rather than matter, though erroneously ; because we now know that there are forms of matter that are neither visible, tangible, nor limitable, in the ordinary sense of these terms. This question theu becomes one of some interest, in view of its connection with these great problems and facts of our future life.
There are three facts that present themselves in this interview. I. The inauguration of the Lord's day. II. The blessings connected with it by the words of Jesus. III. The absence of Thomas.
I. The inauguration of the Lord's day. This was the first Christian Sabbath. It is a significant fact, that one half of the recorded appearances of our Lord took place on this day, thus bestowing upon it a special honour, which this fact of its being the Christian Sabbath will tend to explain. But as the first four of these appearances were to individuals, it is in the fifth appearance that we find the special significance. The disciples were met for worship. It was their first meeting doubtless after the resurrection, and the significant fact is, that it was at that meeting that he made his first appearance to them collectively. As soon as they met for worship, he met with them, thus hallowing the day as a day of worship. He gave them on that day the evidence of his resurrection, as a great fact to be transmitted to all nations, thus ordaining the day itself as a memorial of this resurrection. He assured them of their apostolic authority, and gave them the Holy Ghost in part, thus linking the great blessings of the New Testament with this day. The facts, that the next meeting of Christ with them was on this first day of the week, that it was observed as a day of worship afterwards, that John mentions it as the day on which he was in the Spirit, as if it were the regular day of worship, and the day when the blessings of the Spirit were given, and that the primitive church adopted it with such
unanimity as the day of Sabbatic privilege and duty, prove that our Lord designed this day to be the Christian Sabbath.
The Lord's day is therefore the memorial day of the resurrection of Christ. It comes to us, not merely as a memorial of the rest that was lost in the past, but also as a pledge and foretaste of the rest that has been purchased and provided in the future. It comes to us like a portion of the risen life of Jesus, to tell us of that better life that awaits those who are found in him. It bids the rush of commerce, the din of trade, and the eager chase of life to pause; it closes the doors of the shop, the manufactory, and the warehouse, and wiping the dust from the brow of the soiled artizan, it lifts from the weary frame of man and beast the burden of the primeval curse, and thus assures us that there comes a time when this curse shall be taken away entirely, and we shall enter upon the rest that remaineth for the people of God. It opens the house of God, and fills the air with the sweet melodies of Sabbath bells and Sabbath hymns; it unfolds to us from the sacred desk the glorious hopes of the future, thus letting down weekly an episode of heaven into our earthly life, fitting us for the duties of the one by the hopes of the other. It is thus a blessed fragment of the resurrection life of our Lord, designed to keep alive the memory of that great fact in the past, and the hope of those great facts in the future, with which it is connected, and comes to us, just as our Lord came to his disciples, with the sweet greeting, Peace be unto you. And it is a sad thing that when this day is thus let down like a sheet, pure and clean from heaven, filled with angels' food, that men should, in their brutal blindness, trample it under foot as an upholy thing, and make the day that lifts up the curse from our heads to fall back upon them in a heavier curse by its wicked violation.
II. Blessings connected with the Lord's day, by the words of Jesus.
1. Fears relieved. It is a striking proof of a consciousness of sin, that men always tremble before what seems to be a disembodied spirit. Were they conscious of innocence, they need not dread a messenger from the upseen world, but might rather welcome one with delight. Why is it otherwise? Why do they shiver with dread ? Why does the hair of Eliphaz's flesh rise with terror, and the knees of Belshazzar smite together, at the sight of a phantom ? Is it not because the feeling of guilt suggests, anterior to the utterance of a word, that any message from the unseen world to us, must be a message of wrath ? Is it not a consciousness of sin, anticipating that punishment that is felt to be deserved ?
Thus it was with the disciples when they saw
suddenly before them what seemed to be a spectre, so strangely and silently did it appear. They were affrighted. The words of Jesus were the very words that they needed to quell their fears, "Peace be unto you." He assured them that peace was made with God, that the burden of guilt had been borne by him, that he had now returned from the eternal throne with a message of mercy and peace to their souls. Hence he linked with the Lord's day the proclamation of peace to the guilty conscience, pardon to the penitent sinner, and salvation to the uttermost of all that come to God by him. This day that the Lord hath made, therefore, still comes to us with messages of grace, and speaks peace to the guilty conscience, through the blood of Christ, and thus relieves its fears.
2. Faith confirmed. Fear can only be removed by confirming faith. Hence, after he had assured them that they need not fear, he gave them the grounds of this assurance by establishing their faith on a sure basis of evidence. “And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled ? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts ? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet,” Luke xxiv. 38–40. Mark states “ that he upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they