The Resurrection Of Christ
After reading the account of the resurrection of Christ found in the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel by St. Mark, Mr. Moody said:
A good many people seem to think that Christ’s resurrection was only a spiritual matter, and that His body laid in the grave and became food for worms, just like any other dead body. But the Gospels are very full and plain on this point. Not less than forty-two times is this blessed doctrine spoken of by Christ Himself before His death, as well as by His disciples afterward. In Matthew 16:21, we find, “From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” In Matthew 17:9, Jesus charged His disciples saying, “Tell the vision (that is, the vision of the transfiguration) to no man, until the Son of Man be risen again from the dead.” In Mark 9: 9, 10, the same thing is repeated. These are only a few of the many places where Christ and His disciples declare the fact of His resurrection from the dead. The disciples seemed to have two chief texts to preach from: the death of Christ and the resurrection of Christ. These were the two hinges of the door leading into God’s kingdom. These were the two foundation-stones on which that kingdom was built.
In Matthew 12:39, the Jews come to Christ and ask Him to give them a sign, and He tells them that no sign shall be given them but the sign of Jonah the prophet. What was that sign? The sign of the resurrection.
No doubt the captain of that ship on which Jonah took passage came to Nineveh, and told the story of the man whom they had been obliged to cast overboard, and that the last they saw of him was his heels as he went into the belly of that whale. Some people say that a whale’s throat isn’t big enough to swallow a man, but the Scripture puts that all right. It says, “The Lord prepared a great fish,” and He could do that as well as any thing else.
A few days after whom should those Ninevite sailors see but Jonah, whom they knew had been swallowed. What could it mean? Here is a man come back from death! Surely, his message must be important.
“You want a sign, do you?” says Christ. “Well, you shall have one: as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly: so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” There was death and there was resurrection.
Did you ever stop to think what darkness would settle down upon the world if it were not for this doctrine of the resurrection? How I pity those men who try to deny it. They are like Samson, pulling the house down upon their own heads.
In the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, Christ tells His disciples three or four times, “I will raise him up at the last day.”
There is, then, a resurrection for us also.
But let us keep to the resurrection of Christ. You remember that in a previous sermon we left Him lying in the sepulcher in the garden of Joseph of Arimathea, where He had received a kingly burial, being embalmed with a hundred pounds of sweet spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. If you could have seen Death on his throne just then, you would have seen him exulting over the Son of God, and you might have heard him say, “Ah, yes, Jesus pays his tribute to me. Only two, Enoch and Elijah, ever escaped me.” But even then His hands begin to grow warm—those same hands that had been nailed to the cross—life comes back into that body which had been pierced by the soldier’s spear; He burst the bands of death; He broke the bars of the grave, and came forth according to His word, conquering death and hell for us as well as for Himself.
Mr. Moody then, in his scenic and effective style, pictured the events of the resurrection morning, and of the eleven times when the risen Saviour was seen by His friends and disciples after His resurrection. The first of these was His appearance to Mary Magdalene; the second, as we find in 1 Corinthians 15:5, 6, was to Cephas or Peter; the third, to the two disciples at Emmaus; the fourth, to the ten disciples as they sat at meat together; the fifth, about a week afterward to the eleven, Thomas, who was absent before, this time being with them; the sixth, to the disciples as they were sitting in their boats near the shore, having toiled all night and taken nothing, and then at his command they let down their nets once more and “made a great haul;” the seventh, His appearance to about five hundred brethren at once somewhere among the mountains of Galilee; the eighth, His appearance to James, mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:7; the ninth, the time when He appeared to His disciples and led them out as far as Bethany, where He ascended, and a cloud received Him out of their sight; the tenth, His appearance to the martyr Stephen, who, when he was about to die, saw Him standing at the right hand of God; and last, His appearance to Saul of Tarsus on his way to Damascus. He closed by advising more study of the subject of the resurrection of Christ.