"I am the resurrection, and the life." — John 11:25
There is a spiritual resurrection and life, which all the subjects of divine grace derived from him. But here the sense is determined by the connexion. "Thy brother," said he to Martha, "shall rise again." But as he did not specify the time, she feared to apply the assurance to her present distress, or supposed that the consolation was to be drawn from the general resurrection. "Martha said unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." To excite her immediate hope, he reminds her of his own character and resources, and says, "I am the resurrection and the life." There must be a very peculiar relation between him and the resurrection of life, to justify the strength of this language. It may be exemplified in various illustrations.
He is the resurrection and the life, as he is the announcer of the doctrine. For it is a truth of pure revelation. Reason could never have discovered it. The men of wisdom at Athens, the Stoical and the Epicurean philosophers, however widely they differed from each other, agreed in deriding this sentiment, and deemed Paul a babbler for preaching it. How inexplicable the reunion, and reanimation of our scattered dust! Where now are the bodies that trod the earth before the Flood? But even these bodies, through whatever changes they have passed, shall be restored and revived. Even Adam and Eve in their flesh shall see God, and be clothed in higher perfection than Eden ever knew. But who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel? It is true that David, and even Job, rejoiced in the expectation of this glorious event; and many allusions and expressions in the Old Testament show, that the Jewish Church not only believed in a future state, but in the redemption of the body from the grave. But the Book in which they are contained, is called, "the Word of Christ;" and the Spirit that testifieth these things, is called, "the Spirit of Christ." For as the sun scatters some light before his rising, so the Saviour commenced his discoveries before his incarnation; he rejoiced in the habitable parts of the earth, and his delights were with the sons of men. But by-and-by he came in person and preached the kingdom of heaven. How simple and divine were his discourses. And with what an awful motive did he commend his doctrine to every man's conscience in the sight of God. He drew back the veil that hid the future, and presented the elements on fire, the opening tombs, and the dead rising to meet their Judge. "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." He also ordered his apostles to go forth and publish, and also record it; and they did so, the Lord working with them, and confirming their word with signs following.
He is the resurrection and the life, as he affords the pledge. Under each of the three distinguished periods of the world, the body, as well as the soul, had been received up into glory. Before the Flood, Enoch was translated, that he should not see death; and he was not, for God took him. The Law beheld Elijah elevated to heaven in a chariot of fire. In the days of the gospel, Jesus Christ passed through the regions of the dead, and reached the crown that he now wears. And there is a union between him and his people. He is the head, and they are the members; and because he lives, they shall live also. Yea, says the apostle, "God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved,) and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
He is the resurrection and the life, as he procures the privilege. To him we meritoriously owe all the blessings we possess. Are we justified and sanctified? In the Lord we have righteousness and strength. And are we raised from the dead? "Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." He has redeemed our whole nature; and the body being ransomed, as well as the spirit, by no less a price than his own blood, shall be equally claimed, and renewed, and glorified.
He is the resurrection and the life, as he is the pattern. For we shall rise, not like Adam, but like Him. "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." In his rising from the dead, we see the model of our own resurrection, and the grandeur of our own destiny. We imagine, says Paul, whatever is admirable and splendid in his glorified humanity; and we look for nothing less in ourselves. "We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." At present the body is vile — not as the workmanship of God, but as defiled by sin, as degraded by disease, and especially as the spoil of worms, in the corruption of the grave. What a hinderance, what a burden, what a loathsomeness is the body of this death! But then, by a change the most marvellous, it will have the same excellences as the body of God. "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown in a natural body, it is raised in a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."
He is the resurrection and the life, as he achieves the work. Hence he said to his hearers. "This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life and I will raise him up at the last day." What a power will this require! But nothing is too hard for him. His almighty fiat will, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, pervade the depths of the sea, penetrate the recesses of the earth, and gather the remnants of death, and give them organization, and life, and sight, and voice for ever.
Happy they who are the children of the resurrection, and who will be able to welcome the Restorer of all things. "Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him; we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation."
For though, as an event, the resurrection will be universal, as a privilege, it will be limited. Every eye will see him. But how many will wail because of him!
Morning Exercises For Everyday In The Year
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