FAITH’S FIRM FOUNDATION
"He is not here, for He is risen, even as He said. Come see the place where the Lord lay." Matt. 28:6
Let the facts as recorded in the Gospels be accepted as true. An appreciation of the value thereof will be discovered, by suggesting the questions arising in the mind of man, seeking redemption, as he stands outside the grave in which Christ has been laid to rest; and secondly, by noticing how such questions are perfectly answered as the grave is opened, and the Man of Nazareth comes forth.
Having reverently attempted to trace in order the work of Jesus in fulfillment of the mission of redemption, the mind is now fixed upon His GRAVE. Against the entrance of that tomb a STONE is laid. Upon that stone is the SEAL of the Roman governor. Within the tomb there lies the DEAD BODY of the Man of Nazareth. The questions arising, are questions of reverence, and yet are questions honestly forced upon the mind. These are two, which may thus be simply stated.
1. His life in its perfection was forever lived with the culminating fact of death upon His consciousness. This has been seen in the study of the approach to the Cross.
2. In the process of the death, the declared intention has been that of dealing with sin, and creating a new moral value to be placed at the disposal of such as are enslaved by sin. Has the Man of Nazareth succeeded in this great work?
Closely allied is the second question. In looking forward to His death this Man has spoken of it as the pathway to something infinitely more. Having declared that He had come that men might have life, He moreover claimed that though He laid down His life, He would take it again, in order that it might be communicated to those who needed life. Is He equal to this declared purpose? With great reverence the mind has contemplated the passing of the King into the darkened way where lay the enemies of the race with the avowed purpose of gaining victory over them and accomplishing an exodus. IN THE DEATH GRAPPLE IN THE DARKNESS HAS HE WON, OR HAVE THEY? Is He merged beneath the swelling waters of the unfathomable sea, or are they? Standing before the sealed tomb of the Man of Nazareth, man asks in the deep consciousness of his heart's need and anguish whether there has been accomplished in the mystery of the Passion, that which will issue in the loosing of man from his sin? He asks moreover whether the infinite promises of individual life, which will enable him to overcome the things that have overcome him, can be fulfilled. A question concerning PARDON and a question concerning POWER surge upon the mind in the presence of the entombed Jesus.
The contemplation of His life and death have kindled within the heart a sense of love towards Him, and even though He have failed, He must forever hold His place for what He was, in the love of those who have beheld the vision. He meant well, He strove towards redemption, yea, so mightily, that none other can ever repeat the process. Has He FAILED, or has He SUCCEEDED? He is in the grave, and there is no answer so long as He abides there.
It would seem as though the very statement of these questions is all that is necessary to an unfolding of the infinite value of the glorious fact of His RESURRECTION. How precious it is to stand in imagination in the tender light of the first day of the week, in the company of the women who are first at the tomb, and to listen to the first uttering of the evangel of hope, as sounding from the empty grave, its music breaks upon the heart, "He is not here, for He is risen, even as He said. Come see the place where the Lord lay." (Matt. 28:6) What tenderness is in the message, what glad exultant joy, and yet what a touch of quiet irony. And yet again, what gentle rebuke, "He is risen even as He said." These women and these apostles He had told again and yet again that He would rise, and yet they had come bringing spices to anoint Him dead. The angel revealed heaven's rebuke in the phrase “even as He said." And then what quiet majestic irony, all sin and all malice had united to put Him within the silent tomb. And now the angel quietly says “Behold the place where the Lord lay." The grave is there, but it is empty. He is not here, for He has risen superior to all the forces that united to silence and entomb Him. That resurrection is indeed the CENTER OF THE CENTER, and all the questions of the seeking heart are answered, in the radiant splendor of the light that streams from the vanquished grave.
THE EXODUS IS COMPLETE; THE FOES MET IN THE DARKNESS ARE MASTERED. The waters have not overwhelmed the King. In their unfathomable deeps, only the enemies have perished.
Almost with trembling, and yet reverently let this fact be stated from the other side. If the mighty work attempted had failed of accomplishment, the grave would have held Him. Unless He had vanquished sin, there could have been no resurrection. Unless He had still retained in the mystery of laying down His life the authority to take it again, there could have been no impartation of these values of His death, and the virtues of His life. His own perfect confidence in victory was declared when out of the darkness of the experience of the Cross He cried, “It is finished." (John 19:30) The absolute vindication of that cry is to be found in the resurrection, in which God answered declaring also “It is finished."
Here then indeed is FAITH'S FIRM FOUNDATION, its assured anchorage. By that empty grave man knows that sin is put away, AND THE INFINITE VALUE OF THE ATONEMENT IS AT HIS DISPOSAL. By that grave man is assured of the fulfillment of the promises made, and he knows indeed that the life taken again is at his disposal. Glad unutterable peace possesses all the soul, as faith takes reasonable action upon the testimony RESURRECTION, and trusts without question of controversy, the accomplished work of the Redeemer.