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Matthew 28:6. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
AMIDST all the indignities offered to our blessed Lord by the Jewish nation at large, some friends there were who sympathized with him, and desired to manifest towards him all the respect and love which their circumstances would admit of. He had now been put to death, and was committed to the tomb without any of those distinctions which were customarily attendant on an honourable interment. Some women, therefore, to whom he was dear, brought, very early after the Sabbath, spices, wherewith to embalm his sacred body. They knew not, indeed, how they should be able to execute their intentions; seeing that a great stone had been placed at the door of his sepulchre, to prevent any one from getting access to the body, to remove it. They came, however, to the sepulcher; and, to their great surprise, “saw the stone rolled away from the sepulchre, and an angel sitting upon it. The angel’s countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.” At this sight, they were greatly alarmed: but the angel speedily composed their minds; saying, “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, but is risen. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
Now, believing that you all desire to testify your respect to the Saviour this day [Note: Easter-Day.], I would say to you, Come to the sepulchre, where he was deposited, and from whence he rose; “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Come, I say, and see there,
A witness for him—
Behold, that empty tomb witnesses to you, in most decisive terms,
The truth of his mission—
[On his resurrection had our blessed Lord rested the whole of his claims to credibility as the appointed Messiah. At the very commencement of his ministry, he said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again [Note: John 2:19.].” This was not understood at the time: but, by his enemies, it was brought against him as a charge at the close of his life; and, after his resurrection, it was recollected by his friends as a prediction of the event which had actually taken place. At another time, when urged by the unbelieving Pharisees to give them some greater sign than they had already seen, he told them, that “no other sign should be given them than that of the Prophet Jonas; for, as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so should the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth [Note: Matthew 12:38-40.].” On several other occasions, also, he spake of his resurrection as the destined evidence of his Messiahship [Note: Luke 24:6-8.]: and this was the foundation of all the precautions that were used against an imposition which might be practised by his Disciples. It was feared that they might come by night and steal away the corpse, and then say that he was risen from the dead: and, to prevent it, the tomb was sealed with Pilate’s seal, and guarded by a band of soldiers. This was a wise precaution: for, if the third day should pass away, and he be found in the grave, he would be proved an impostor at once; and all his influence would die away. But he rose at the appointed time, and thereby demonstrated that he was indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. This is what St. Paul has plainly affirmed: “He was declared to be the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead [Note: Romans 1:4.].”
Come then, I say, and inspect the tomb; and learn from that, that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.]
The sufficiency of his mediation—
[The Lord Jesus undertook to expiate the guilt of a ruined world, and to redeem them to God by his blood. Under the sins of men he died. But who could be sure that his atonement had prevailed for the end for which it had been offered? He had mediated, it is true: but who could tell that his mediation had been accepted? How could that point be satisfactorily ascertained? His resurrection proved it beyond a doubt. If a man, who has undertaken, as a surety, to pay a debt, be liberated from prison, you conclude, of course, that he has fulfilled his engagement: his discharge is an evidence that the creditor has no further claim upon him. So, when we see him raised from the grave, to which he had been committed for the sins of men, no doubt can remain upon our minds but that he satisfied all the claims of law and justice in our behalf. The two goats which were offered on the day of atonement, and the two birds that were offered at the cleansing of the leper, exhibited this mystery in a striking point of view [Note: Leviticus 16:15-22; Leviticus 14:4-7.]. The dying goat represented his death; and the scape-goat, which bore away the sins of all Israel, his resurrection. The living bird, too, that was dipped in the blood of the slain bird, and was let loose into the air, for the perfect cleansing of the leper, suggested the same blessed truth; that “Christ should die for our offences; but that he should rise again for our justification. [Note: Romans 4:25.]” Had he not risen, we had been yet in our sins [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:17.];” but, seeing that “he hath both died and risen,” we may defy all our enemies; and say with confidence, “Who is he that shall condemn me [Note: Romans 8:34.]?”]
In this tomb, also, you may see,
A pledge to us—
Yes, verily, it is a pledge,
Of Christ’s power to raise us to a spiritual life—
[The resurrection of Christ is set forth in the Scriptures as a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers; and by the very same power too, that effected that. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul draws the parallel with a minuteness and accuracy that are truly astonishing. He prays for them, that they may know what is the exceeding greatness of God’s power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places [Note: Ephesians 1:19-20.].” And then he says, concerning them, “God, who is rich in mercy, of his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus [Note: Ephesians 2:4-5.].” Here, I say, you see Christ dead, quickened, raised, and seated in glory; and his believing people quickened from their death in sins, and raised with him, and seated too with him in the highest heavens. The same thing is stated also, and the same parallel is drawn in the Epistle to the Romans; where it is said, “We are buried with Christ by baptism into death; that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life [Note: Romans 6:4.]. But can this be effected in us? I answer, Behold the tomb! Who raised the Lord Jesus? He himself said, “I have power to lay down my life, and power to take it up again [Note: John 10:18.]:” and he has further said, “Because I live, ye shall live also [Note: John 12:32.].” We may be assured, therefore, that, “if we bear about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus, the life also of Jesus shall be made manifest in our body [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:10.]:” if “we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: for as, in that he died, he died unto sin once; but, in that he liveth, he liveth unto God; so may we confidently reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord [Note: Romans 6:8-11.].” “Being planted in the likeness of his death, we are perfectly assured, that we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection [Note: Romans 6:5.].”]
Of his determination to raise us to eternal life—
[Frequently did our Lord say, respecting his believing people, “I will raise them up at the last day [Note: John 6:40; John 6:54.].” And, in raising up himself, he has given us a pledge that he will do so. For he did not rise as an individual person merely, but as the Head and Representative of all his people; as it is written, “Now is Christ risen from the dead, and is become the first-fruits of them that slept [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:20.].” The first-fruits, you know, sanctified and assured the whole harvest: and precisely so does his resurrection assure ours: for, “if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in us, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken our mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in us [Note: Rom 8:11 and 2 Corinthians 10:14.]. Indeed this shall be effected by our Lord Jesus Christ himself: for, whilst he was yet upon earth, he declared, that “all who were in the graves should hear the voice of the Son of God, and should come forth; they that have done good, unto a resurrection of life: and they that have done evil to a resurrection of damnation [Note: Joh 5:28-29].”]
The unbelieving rejecter of the Gospel salvation—
[Thou dost not believe in Jesus, except as a prophet, a man like unto thyself; who died, indeed, as an example, to confirm his word; but never rose to carry on his work; nor is a Saviour to us any more than Moses himself was. Come, then, and inspect the tomb where he was interred: “Come, and see the place where the Lord lay.” Tell me, Who removed him thence? Wilt thou adopt the story which the priests invented, and the soldiers were bribed to circulate, that the Disciples came by night and stole him away? What! were all the soldiers asleep, when the penalty of sleeping at their posts was death? And if they were asleep, how could they tell what was done? And how came it that Jesus, for the space of forty days appeared to various Disciples, and at last ascended to heaven in the presence of five hundred brethren at once? Some of his Disciples, at least, were incredulous enough: Thomas would not believe unless he should put his hand into the print of the nails in his hands and in his feet, and thrust his hand into his side: How came he and all the rest to be persuaded? and how came they to attest the resurrection of Jesus at the peril of their lives, yea, and to lay down their lives in support of that testimony? If thou canst believe that these things were done in support of a direct falsehood, from which they themselves could derive no imaginary benefit, thou believest what is infinitely more incredible than the very fact which thou deniest. Thou mayest condemn credulity in others: but thou thyself art the most credulous of all thy fellows. Inspect the tomb of Jesus, and view it with any measure of candour, and thou canst no more doubt his resurrection than any other fact in the Bible: and, believing that, thou must believe all which either Prophets or Apostles have said concerning him.]
The humble seeker of a crucified Saviour—
[To thee I will say, as the angel did to the women, “Fear not thou, for thou seekest Jesus who was crucified.” The Roman soldiers, who guarded the tomb, had ground enough to fear. The earthquake might well appal them: and the bright angel strike them dead with terror. But nothing hast thou to fear: for the Saviour, even that “LORD, who lay” in the grave and is risen, is thy Friend, thy Forerunner, thine Advocate and Intercessor. He is gone “to appear in the presence of God for thee [Note: Hebrews 9:24.]:” and has thereby given thee an assurance, that “he is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him [Note: Hebrews 7:25.]” — — —
Moreover, when thou reflectest on the state to which he is risen, thou mayest well have comfort in the prospect of thine own death; for thou thyself shalt rise, like him, and partake of that very glory which he himself possesses. “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him [Note: 1 Thessalonians 4:14.].” To thee, even the most violent death is but a sleep [Note: Acts 7:60.]: and in the morning of the resurrection thou shalt awake, and “be caught up to meet thy Lord in the air: and then shalt thou be ever with the Lord.” Ye drooping saints, who are either lamenting the departure of others, or trembling at the prospect of your own, dry up your tears, and “comfort one another with these words [Note: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.]”—]
THE APOSTLES’ COMMISSION
Matthew 28:18-20. And Jesus came, and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
THE Apostles spoke and wrote in a most authoritative manner. They issued commands, promises, and threats, in the name of God. We therefore naturally inquire, by what authority they acted. The passage before us gives a most satisfactory account.
In unfolding to yon these words of our Lord, we will consider,
The commission which he gave to his Apostles—
This commission was very plain and express—
[Jesus, as God, possessed all power equally with the Father; hut, as Mediator, he received his power from the Father. He received it, partly, that by means of it he might execute his mediatorial office [Note: John 17:2.]; and, partly, as a reward for executing it [Note: Philippians 2:8-11.]. This power extended over heaven and earth. Less than this would not have sufficed for the ends for which it was given; but by this he is enabled to overrule every thing for the accomplishment of his own purpose. Nor is it at all diminished by the lapse of ages. It shall indeed cease to act at the last day [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:28.]; there will not then be any occasion for the exercise of it. But till all the members of the Church be glorified, Jesus will exert this power for their good; and his authority will be the hope and consolation of them all.
It was upon this that he founded the commission he gave to his Apostles. He had formerly sent them to instruct the Jews; he now extends their commission to the Gentiles.
They were to teach all nations. As they were to baptize men in the name of the sacred THREE, no doubt they were first to make known the persons and offices of the holy Trinity. They were to declare “the Father, as our offended, but reconciled, God and Father; they were to make known “the Son,” as the sinner’s advocate and propitiation; they were to set forth “the Holy Ghost,” as the enlightener, comforter, and sanctifier of God’s elect.
They were to baptize their converts in the name of the sacred Three. Having proselyted men to the Christian faith, they were to initiate them into covenant with God by baptism. But though they first taught adults, and then baptized them, they reversed this order with respect to infants. They took care, however, that in all cases the doctrine they preached should be recorded in the baptismal rite; and that every Christian should either expressly or virtually acknowledge it.
They were also to instruct their hearers in practical religion. It is evident they were not to be merely moral preachers. They must of necessity insist much on the offices of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; but they were also to inculcate every moral duty, and to enforce every obligation, whether toward God or man.]
This commission being so arduous, he added a promise for their encouragement—
[The Apostles might well have been discouraged from attempting to execute so difficult a service. They were, in themselves, poor, mean, and illiterate: they had to propagate principles new, strange, detested: they had to oppose the lusts and prejudices of mankind: they bad to bring men from sin to a life of holiness and self-denial; and this, not only without human aid, but in opposition to all the power and policy of the world. They could not therefore but feel themselves unfit for such a task: but our Lord gave them a most encouraging promise. When Moses declined the service to which he was called, God promised to be with him [Note: Exodus 4:15.]: thus Christ engaged to succour his Disciples in their work. He assured them of his presence to direct, assist, and uphold them; and to give effect to their labours. To this promise he called their particular attention, “lo!” nor will he fail to accomplish it to the end of the world. Nor was the affirmation added to it without, peculiar energy. “Amen” may be considered as an affirmation or a petition: in either view it should not be overlooked. The promise it confirms, was the solace of all the Apostles; and has been the support of all succeeding pastors. Let every one then add “Amen,” as importing both his wish and affiance.]
Let us now mark,
The bearing which this commission has on us at the present day—
The Apostles were inspired of God to declare what no uninspired man could know; and were empowered by God to work miracles in confirmation of their word. In these respects ministers of the present day cannot for a moment be considered as on a par with them. But, so far as regards the message which we are to deliver,
We have the very same commission with them—
[The Lord Jesus Christ has had, in uninterrupted succession, servants to make known his name to all the different generations from the apostolic age to the present day: and all who have been called by him to the work of the ministry, have had the same message to deliver [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.] — — — In particular, we are to make known the offices of the sacred Three in the economy of redemption; setting forth the Father as the Fountain from whence it flows: (for it was from the love he bare to man that he gave us his only dear Son to save us [Note: John 3:16.]:) and exhibiting his Son, his co-equal, co-eternal Son, as our Mediator, through whose obedience unto death our peace with God is obtained: and setting forth the Holy Ghost as the Agent, who applies to our souls all the blessings which Christ has purchased for us. This mystery, I say, we are to unfold with all possible clearness and energy: and we must insist upon it as the only foundation of a sinner’s hope — — — At the same time we must require of men to obey the commands of God, and must admit of no other standard of holiness than that which God has given us in his word — — —
To address ourselves to this work in our own strength were folly and madness. But,]
We have also the very same encouragement as they—
[The Lord Jesus Christ will be with his Church and people “even to the end of the world:” and every faithful minister may expect from him all needful direction and support. He will “give testimony to the word of Ins grace [Note: Acts 14:3.],” and will clothe it with power divine, that it may effect that for which he has sent it [Note: Isaiah 55:11.]. However weak in itself, it shall in his hands “be quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword [Note: Hebrews 4:12.].” It shall be as “a hammer or a fire that breaketh the rock in pieces [Note: Jeremiah 23:29.].” In dependence on him therefore we go forth, expecting assuredly, that, notwithstanding the weakness of those who deliver it, “it shall be the power of God to the salvation of those who hear it [Note: Romans 1:16.].”
Were it not for this encouragement, no man, possessed of reason, would presume to undertake the office of a minister: but depending on Christ’s promised aid, we do hope that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:58.].”] [Note: The Application of this subject must be suited to the occasion on which it is delivered. If it be an Ordination or Visitation Sermon, the Address should be adapted to ministers. If it be on a young minister’s first entrance on his labours, his hearers should be respectfully told what they are to expect throughout the whole of his ministrations; and be entreated both for his sake and their own to implore the Divine presence, without which he must preach in vain, and they hear in vain. If it be to persons recently confirmed, their “baptismal” vows must be particularly enforced, seeing that they have been baptized into these principles, and these engagements.] END OF VOL. XI.
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Matthew 28". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29