April 5 PDF Print E-mail
"He was buried" — 1 Corinthians 15:4.

The resurrection of our Saviour necessarily pre-supposes his death, but not his burial. His burial was an additional thing, and, as his flesh could not see corruption, seemed an unnecessary one. But it is worthy of our notice.

Who begged his body for interment? It was Joseph and Nicodemus. And here we cannot help remarking these petitioners themselves. Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called but these men were of distinguished rank and condition in life. A few of these there have been in every age of the Church; sufficient to show, not that the cause of God depends upon them, but to redeem religion from the prejudice, that it suits the vulgar only; and also to prove the power of divine grace, in counteracting temptation. Yet, down to this period, Joseph and Nicodemus had not been persons of much promise; so far from it, they were ashamed and afraid to have their regard to our Lord known, when his disciples were professing their resolution to follow him to prison and to death. Behold the change. The latter, in the hour of trial, forsake him, and flee: the former come, and openly acknowledge him. Let us all seek after more grace, but let none trust in themselves, or despise others. "The strong may be as tow," and "the feeble may be as David." The man of whom we now think nothing, may acquire confidence and zeal; and not only pass us in the road, but leave us very far behind in attainments and usefulness. "Who hath despised the day of small things? A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory."

Who attend as mourners? "The women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid." With us, some days elapse before interment; but here, only two hours were allowed between his execution and his burial. If, indeed, his body had not been implored by Joseph and Nicodemus, it would have been interred at Golgotha — thrown into a hole dug under the cross.

Who carried the sacred corpse, we know not; but they had not far to bear it, "for the sepulchre was nigh at hand." This was not a grave of earth, but of stone; hewn out of a rock. Thus there was only one avenue leading to it; no one, therefore, could approach it from the sides, or behind; and the entrance was watched, guarded, and sealed. It was also a new tomb, in which never man was laid. And here, again, we see the hand of God, for had there been other bodies, some would have pretended collusion, and the evidence could not have been so simple and complete as it now was, when the body lay alone there. Finally, it was not his own. His followers are mad after the honours and riches of the world; but, living and dying, he had not where to lay his head. He was born in another man's house, and buried in another man's grave.

But why was he buried at all? First, His burial was an additional confirmation of his death, upon which every thing depended. An examination was made while he was upon the cross; and finding him dead already, they brake not his legs; but a soldier pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. But now his mouth, and nostrils, and ears were all filled with the odours and spices; and who can question a man's death when he is buried? Secondly, it was the completion of his humiliation. "They have brought me into the dust of death." "Now that he ascended, what is it but that he descended first into the lowest parts of the earth?" Thirdly, by this he sanctified the grave, and prepared it for his people. They would have been afraid to go in, but he entered it before them. They can lie in his bed, after him. He has freed it from every horror. He has softened it, and made it easy for them.

"And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre." Let us sit by them, and contemplate. There lies in that rock, He who made it. There are sealed up, the lips which said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." There are closed, the eyes which always beamed compassion, and wept for human woe. There, cold, are the hands which were laid on little children, to bless them, and that delivered the widow's son to his mother. There lies, the life of the world, and the hope of Israel. He was fairer than the children of men; He was the image of the invisible God; He went about doing good; He was rich, and for our sakes, became poor.

"Come, saints, and drop a tear or two
For Him who groan'd beneath your load;
He shed a thousand drops for you,
A thousand drops of richer blood."

On the tombs of mortals, however illustrious, the humbling sentence is inscribed, "Here he lies." But I hear the angel saying, "Come, see the place where the Lord lay." He was dead, but is alive again; and because He lives, we shall live also.

"Break off your tears, ye saints, and tell
How high your great Deliv'rer reigns;
Sing how he spoil'd the hosts of hell,
And led the monster, Death, in chains.
Say, ‘Live for ever, wondrous King,
Born to redeem, and strong to save.’
Then ask the monster. Where’s thy sting?
And where’s thy victory, boasting Grave?"

Morning Exercises For Everyday In The Year
By Rev. William Jay

 
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