LAST Friday morning I spoke to you about the third verse of this chapter: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” and now His resurrection is before us. It is impossible to over-estimate or exaggerate the importance of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; it is of infinite importance, both to Himself, and also to His Church. The Corinthians were quickened, brought to repentance, and received forgiveness through the mighty preaching of the resurrection of Christ by the Apostle Paul. In preaching on the day of Pentecost, Peter said of Christ “Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain; Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it.” (Acts 2:23,24) The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the life and the comfort of His people; it is the key-stone of the arch, the corner-stone of the building. It is the reason for which His people are led by the Holy Spirit, to seek the Face and the favor of God. The gospels attach infinite importance to this doctrine; but the Scriptures quoted in these two verses do specially relate to the Old Testament. The Old Testament treats of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, treats of those mighty subjects in singularly beautiful ways; condescending to certain particulars respecting Christ’s death: “A bone of Him shall not be broken;” (John 19:36) and respecting the certainty of His death, we read: “They shall look on Him Whom they have pierced.” (Zech. 12:10) In reference to these two circumstances the Scripture says in the Gospel of John: “For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken.” (John 19:36) It is intensely interesting, and it might be profitable—if we are led to look at these things by the Holy Spirit—to see how that the Word of God is one organic whole, treating of the same Person, and the same circumstances of that Person. 0, but we need more than that! We need the Holy Spirit to take of the things of Christ, and show them unto us. Now I said just a moment ago, that the resurrection of Christ is of infinite importance to Himself; and I will, as enabled, show you what I mean. To Himself it was important that there should be fulfilled in Himself prophecies, promises, and types. And if He had not realized in Himself these prophecies, promises, and types, what an awful, solemn lack there would have been in Him! He fulfilled and realized them all in His death,—”The Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.” He descended into the lower parts of the earth; His life was taken away, He freely yielded it. It is written that “He made His grave with the wicked,” after the travail of His soul. What a solemn and beautiful realization in Himself the Lord Jesus had respecting His dying! Now, with respect to His resurrection, it is equally true, and equally beautiful, that He realized in Himself the Old Testament prophecies concerning Himself. Thy dead men shall live, together with My dead body shall they arise.” (Isa. 26:19) This is a word concerning Christ and His Church. In the Psalms, Christ speaks through the Psalmist thus: “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:8—10) Jesus is there; Jesus was buried, but He saw no corruption. His Father showed Him, through the way of death, the path of life, and the river of pleasures at His right hand for evermore. The joy of Christ began at once after His resurrection. All His trials, grief, and pain ended when He said: “It is finished!” and next is the infinite joy when He rose again to live “after the power of an endless life,” to see death no more. This is infinitely important, as you may see, to Himself; He must rise from the dead. His Deity and His Sonship were determined, fixed as it were, by His resurrection, This we are taught in the Romans: He was “declared (determined) to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Rom. 1:4) And see the importance of this to Himself. He said when on earth, teaching His disciples “Before Abraham was, I am.” He said, “Destroy this temple (this body), and in three days I will raise it up.” He said to His enemies, as Matthew records it: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. For as Jonas 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.” (Matt. 12:39,40) Now this must be true, this is true Jesus did rise from the dead. The affectionate, anxious women who ministered to Him in the days of His flesh, went early to the sepulchre; they were not expecting to find it empty, but the way—one may say the ignorance—of the disciples who had been taught by Him that He was to rise again the third day, is very strange. And it enters in a way, incidentally, into the proof of His resurrection, that it was no vision which they saw or imagined, but the real resurrection. These women went to the sepulchre and found it empty; an angel was there, and said; “He is not here; He is risen, as He said” No longer in the heart of the earth, seeing no corruption, He rose from the dead a living, wonderful Savior. He realized in His resurrection all that had gone before concerning Himself; even as He realized in His death all that had been said about His death in Holy Scripture. Now I have made these remarks on this point, because it may be, possibly, that we have not dwelt upon this great point; but it is, as I judge, profitable that we should dwell upon it. The Scriptures of the Old Testament were fulfilled in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
In the next place, it is of infinite importance respecting His Church. He bought her with His blood, the blood of God. When men make foolish and improper distinctions in the Person of Christ, they may say that His blood was that of His human nature; but that is a foolish and an injurious remark. The proper word is, as you have it in the Acts of the Apostles: “Feed the Church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28) Never forget it, God purchased the Church thus. Now, in the first place, the resurrection of Christ enters into the regeneration of the people of God, who are “quickened together with Him;” every one born again is quickened together with a living Christ. Had Christ remained in the grave there would have been this, in all the terrible meaning of it,—His people would have remained in their grave of death and alienation from God. No risen Head, no rising body. Being “quickened together with Him” means that His everlasting life is convoyed to them in the act of regeneration by the Holy Ghost. And this has a singular beauty in it, namely,—he that thus lives is one Spirit with Christ. If you are quickened into eternal life, you are one Spirit with Him Who is your Life, your Head. “He is risen,” said they, “He has left His grave.” And Paul in the Romans says: “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; . . . likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God.” (Rom. 6:9,11) Your life is the life of a risen Savior; and in this way, in the very beginning of it, the Lord’s people know the power of His resurrection; not in the experimental way in which they long for it afterwards, but in reality, they have, when they are born again, the power of His resurrection in their souls. And that explains, beautifully explains their hunger and thirst for God; for they have the nature of Christ. It is called, being “partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (1 Pet. 1:4) Spiritual hunger is not a vamped-up thing of a religious nature; but it is purely the result of having a Divine life, the life of the Lord Jesus conveyed to the soul. “Christ is our life,” says the Apostle. “Christ is our life.” This puts spiritual religion on a very high and blessed plane, exalting it above all that is natural which men have of religion and religious works; it just puts a sinner on this blessed ground: he is one with Him Who has given His Own life for the soul. Therefore, on this ground, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is of infinite importance to the Church.
And next, it is of infinite importance to the Church because there is now in heaven an Intercessor, Mediator, Advocate, Who is full of compassion, Who is able to succor the tempted: “In that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.” And He presents to His Father the infinite merit of His death, and His ascension into heaven; which becomes the ground, the reason and the power of the prayers that are offered and presented to God in the golden censer, with much incense. A wonderful thing this; that the Lord Jesus Who sighed, and groaned, and wept, and sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground; Who yielded His holy human will to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Who suffered the pains of death and of hell on the cross, and endured for His people the terrible curse of the law—that this same Lord Jesus, with the same human heart, and the same wonderful compassion, pity, and power to succor the tempted, is at the right hand of God. My brethren, if God should give us this day a sight of this truth, it would wonderfully strengthen faith; and draw out a needy heart in fervent supplications that the need may be supplied out of Him Who has all this fullness of merit, this fullness of life, this fullness of power, and the exaltation above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion. Go, hungry, tempted, weak, tried sinner, go to this Savior; and if you are full of revenge against yourself, so much the better. Go to this risen Savior, He will not despise you; “He receiveth sinners and eateth with them” He knows all the temptations that come to His people, for He Himself hath suffered being tempted. Think of it, meditate upon it; and God enable you to take all the sacred encouragement that it can afford you in the hours of temptation, and in the things that press upon you; look to Him Who, having suffered, is able to succor you who suffer.
Another remark I would make is this: that the resurrection of the Lord Jesus proclaimed His victory over all enemies. “What has that to do with a tempted person?” you may ask. Why, the enemies of His people are His enemies. Take one of these, take the law, your enemy because you have broken it. What did He do? He magnified the law, and made it honorable; and His resurrection proved this, for He could have been holden of death if He had not satisfied the law which He undertook to satisfy. The grand reason that the Lord Jesus Christ could not be holden of death was not found in His omnipotence as He is God; but rather in the full satisfaction which He had rendered. 0, if God give us faith to see this, we shall see that the mighty enemy, the law, can have no claim on us, cannot curse us, cannot separate us from God, because He magnified it and made it honorable. Take another enemy, the devil. Ever since he conquered Adam, he has been conquering poor people; killing, slaying, and driving into perdition myriads of sinners. But some people he will never finally overcome. Jesus, being now in heaven, will bruise Satan under the feet of His people. Why? Because He bruised the devil’s head. Said God, “It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.” (Gen. 3:15) He destroyed the old serpent, the devil, the dragon that is in the sea; He destroyed him that had the power of death, and He is now in heaven to deliver them “who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” This victory of Christ was demonstrated and eternally fixed by His resurrection. No reverse can come to Him, no future assault of any enemies shall bring defeat to Him. What a mercy to see, and in some degree to be able to realize this.
The resurrection of Christ involves this, in the next place: the communication by Him, through the Spirit, of life to revive, grace to help, and power to be perfected in all His Own people. Paul had the sentence of death, he had the thorn in the flesh; thrice he besought the Lord to take it away, but he had that which to him was better than the removal of the thorn. Said Christ to him in answer to his thrice repeated prayer for its removal: “My grace is sufficient, for thee for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9) And this, as it was received by faith, so strengthened Paul as to enable him, not only to bear patiently and resignedly the pain and mortification of the cross, but to glory in it. All his infirmities were perceived by him to be subservient, and made for his good. All he bore would end in the glory of Christ; so now he said: “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” You get mortifying days, pains, piercing thorns, grievous sorrows, disappointments,—well, they are all to make way for Christ, they are to make way for His grace. He is risen, He is in heaven; and His eye never sleeps, and His eyelids never slumber. He looks after His people, Ha sends succor, He sends salvation to them out of Zion; and again and again He says to them: “My grace is sufficient for thee” — quite enough. Perhaps some here have said under certain mortifying trials, that they cannot possibly glorify God; they have said it again and again “I cannot glorify Thee with this trial it irritates me, it brings the worst out of my nature.” You will have to die, my friends; dying, in this case, is taking up your cross and following Christ. “But how can I do it?” This will help you, nothing else will: My grace is sufficient for thee; My grace will help thee to resist thy corruptions; My grace will prevent from saying that thy corruptions are evidences of being dead in trespasses and sins; My grace wilt prevent despair, when you are tempted to it on account of your sinfulness: My grace will enable you to resist the devil who, being resisted, will flee from you; My grace will enable you to say, The will of the Lord be done. What grace has Jesus Christ! These things are the happy result of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
A point I would bring before you is this: “I have given Him,” says the Father, “. . . a Leader and Commander to the people” (Isa. 55:4) And this means that they do not go to a warfare at their own charges; having before them their Savior, He leads them, leads them in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. He leads them into green pastures, and beside the still waters; commands them, so that they take up their cross and follow Him; commands them in a way of grace, which is comfortable, sweet, and happy. 0 what a Leader He is in the paths of righteousness! “I lead in the way of righteousness.” “Riches and honour are with Me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.” (Prov. 8:16) “And what I have is for you.” Is it not wonderful that there should be at this moment real Man in heaven, to intercede for and send help to His people? It is a beautiful hymn which we sometimes sing, and which some of us love:
"A Man there is, a real Man,
With wounds still gaping wide,
From which rich streams of blood once ran,
In hands and feet and side.”
He is in heaven, and He leads His people in the way of righteousness that He may bring them there. Now, there are many things one might say, if enabled, on this point of spiritually, the communications of life, love, grace, truth, and promises; but I leave the point here, just making two other remarks before closing.
The first is this: that the resurrection of Christ insures the resurrection of the people of God. This is one wonderfully beautiful result of the resurrection. If there had been no redemption, resurrection would have been unnecessary. All the wicked must rise for this great reason, that God’s law, which man has broken, must deal with a person; not half a person, not his soul only, but his body-To the Corinthians Paul wrote this: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10 . The wicked must rise, because the law of God claims them. 0 wicked man, if you have no Redeemer, your body will rise and be again joined to your immortal soul; and you, an immortal sinner, will suffer eternal pain and banishment in hell. God make you think of it, if it please Him. Resurrection is necessary on the ground of the law; hence Daniel says: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Dan. 12:2) The righteous shall rise to joy and happiness; this is the crown of their resurrection, the resurrection of their Head, their Lord, their Savior, because they must be like Him. He is a Man in heaven, and He will have men with Him; saved, sanctified, justified men will be with Him in heaven. What a prospect is this for the saint! And what a joy it is to find it made known in your heart! “Because I live,” says the Savior, “ye shall live also; because I go to heaven, you must go there; I will come again and receive you unto Myself; because I am with My Father, you shall be with Him.” Great importance attaches to the word Christ sent to His disciples: “Go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father, and to My God, and your God.” (John 20:17) That could not be entirely fulfilled if the bodies of the saints were not to rise again;” For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.” (1 Thess. 4:14) 0 lift up your head, poor child of God; this awaits you, this happy destination awaits you; and see what is said by the Holy Spirit respecting the bodies of the saints: “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.“ (1 John 3:2) We must experience the indignity, the humiliation of the grave. The thought of the grave cannot be other than abhorrent to a living person; for a body sensitive to pain, a body honored in many ways, the very body of the child of God, must experience the indignity and the humiliation of the grave; go to dust, out of which it came. But that is not the end; no, the end is this: “Who shall change our vile body (the body of our humiliation), 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.” (Phil 3:21) Here is a poor sickly body, doomed to death; and yet it is destined to become like the glorious body of the Lord Jesus now in heaven. If God the Holy Ghost should say this to any of His people here to-day, it would be very difficult for them to repress the wish that the day of resurrection might be near; they would want their souls to be transported from earth to heaven.
And lastly, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ has this result, this ultimate result He will present His Church, His people, to His Father; He will say, leading and presenting them “Behold I and the children which God hath given Me.” (Heb. 2:13) Have we a hope that we shall be among the presented ones? It would be a great thing if the King—our King—should take a beggar, a vagabond out of the gutter, and order that he should be so treated and clothed that he might one day be presented to him at court. Oh! but what is that to this?—that the beggar, the vagabond sinner, the enemy, the vile wretch, eaten up of sin here below, should be born again, washed in the Redeemer’s blood, clothed in His beauteous robe of righteousness, sanctified by His grace and Spirit; and ultimately taken to heaven, and presented to a holy, holy, holy God: “not; having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing ... holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:27)
I delivered unto you, first of all, that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” May this Divine truth be fixed on your hearts, and on mine; so that we may find what Paul calls, “the power of Christ’s resurrection,” and believe that the day is coming when we shall be raised and made like unto Him.