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The Lord Is Risen
THE night of the first day of the week had worn slowly away. The darkest hour, just before
daybreak, had come. Christ was still a prisoner in His narrow tomb. The great stone was in
its place; the Roman seal was unbroken; the Roman guards were keeping their watch. And
there were unseen watchers. Hosts of evil angels were gathered about the place. Had it
been possible, the prince of darkness with his apostate army would have kept forever
sealed the tomb that held the Son of God. But a heavenly host surrounded the sepulcher.
Angels that excel in strength were guarding the tomb, and waiting to welcome the Prince of
"And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from
heaven." Clothed with the panoply of God, this angel left the heavenly courts. The
bright beams of God's glory went before him, and illuminated his pathway. "His
countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the
keepers did shake, and became as dead men."
Now, priests and rulers, where is the power of your guard? Brave soldiers that have never
been afraid of human power are now as captives taken without sword or spear. The face they
look upon is not the face of mortal warrior; it is the face of the mightiest of the Lord's host. This messenger is
he who fills the position from which Satan fell. It is he who on the hills of Bethlehem
proclaimed Christ's birth. The earth trembles at his approach, the hosts of darkness flee,
and as he rolls away the stone, heaven seems to come down to the earth. The soldiers see
him removing the stone as he would a pebble, and hear him cry, Son of God, come forth; Thy
Father calls Thee. They see Jesus come forth from the grave, and hear Him proclaim over
the rent sepulcher, "I am the resurrection, and the life." As He comes forth in
majesty and glory, the angel host bow low in adoration before the Redeemer, and welcome
Him with songs of praise.
An earthquake marked the hour when Christ laid down His life, and another earthquake
witnessed the moment when He took it up in triumph. He who had vanquished death and the
grave came forth from the tomb with the tread of a conqueror, amid the reeling of the
earth, the flashing of lightning, and the roaring of thunder. When He shall come to the
earth again, He will shake "not the earth only, but also heaven." "The
earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage."
"The heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll;" "the elements shall
melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned
up." But "the Lord will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the
children of Israel." Heb. 12:26; Isa. 24:20; 34:4; 2 Peter 3:10; Joel 3:16.
At the death of Jesus the soldiers had beheld the earth wrapped in darkness at midday; but
at the resurrection they saw the brightness of the angels illuminate the night, and heard
the inhabitants of heaven singing with great joy and triumph: Thou hast vanquished Satan
and the powers of darkness; Thou hast swallowed up death in victory!
Christ came forth from the tomb glorified, and the Roman guard beheld Him. Their eyes were
riveted upon the face of Him whom they had so recently mocked and derided. In this
glorified Being they beheld the prisoner whom they had seen in the judgment hall, the one
for whom they had plaited a crown of thorns. This was the One who had stood unresisting
before Pilate and Herod, His form lacerated by the cruel scourge. This was He who had been
nailed to the cross, at whom the priests and rulers, full of self-satisfaction, had wagged
their heads, saying, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save." Matt. 27:42.
This was He who had been laid in Joseph's new tomb. The decree of heaven had
loosed the captive. Mountains piled upon mountains over His sepulcher could not have
prevented Him from coming forth.
At sight of the angels and the glorified Saviour the Roman guard had fainted and become as
dead men. When the heavenly train was hidden from their view, they arose to their feet,
and as quickly as their trembling limbs could carry them, made their way to the gate of
the garden. Staggering like drunken men, they hurried on to the city, telling those whom
they met the wonderful news. They were making their way to Pilate, but their report had
been carried to the Jewish authorities, and the chief priests and rulers sent for them to
be brought first into their presence. A strange appearance those soldiers presented.
Trembling with fear, their faces colorless, they bore testimony to the resurrection of
Christ. The soldiers told all, just as they had seen it; they had not had time to think or
speak anything but the truth. With painful utterance they said, It was the Son of God who
was crucified; we have heard an angel proclaiming Him as the Majesty of heaven, the King
The faces of the priests were as those of the dead. Caiaphas tried to speak. His lips
moved, but they uttered no sound. The soldiers were about to leave the council room, when
a voice stayed them. Caiaphas had at last found speech. Wait, wait, he said. Tell no one
the things you have seen.
A lying report was then given to the soldiers. "Say ye," said the priests,
"His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while we
slept." Here the priests overreached themselves. How could the soldiers say that the
disciples had stolen the body while they slept? If they were asleep, how could they know?
And if the disciples had been proved guilty of stealing Christ's body, would not the
priests have been first to condemn them? Or if the sentinels had slept at the tomb, would
not the priests have been foremost in accusing them to Pilate?
The soldiers were horrified at the thought of bringing upon themselves the charge of
sleeping at their post. This was an offense punishable with death. Should they bear false
witness, deceiving the people, and placing their own lives in peril? Had they not kept
their weary watch with sleepless vigilance? How could they stand the trial, even for the
sake of money, if they perjured themselves?
In order to silence the testimony they feared, the priests promised to secure the safety
of the guard, saying that Pilate would not desire to have such a report circulated any
more than they did. The Roman soldiers sold their integrity to the Jews for money. They
came in before the priests burdened with a most startling message of truth; they went out
with a burden of money, and on their tongues a lying report which had been framed for them
by the priests.
Meanwhile the report of Christ's resurrection had been carried to Pilate. Though Pilate
was responsible for having given Christ up to die, he had been comparatively unconcerned.
While he had condemned the Saviour unwillingly, and with a feeling of pity, he had felt no
real compunction until now. In terror he now shut himself within his house, determined to
see no one. But the priests made their way into his presence, told the story which they
had invented, and urged him to overlook the sentinels' neglect of duty. Before consenting
to this, he himself privately questioned the guard. They, fearing for their own safety,
dared not conceal anything, and Pilate drew from them an account of all that had taken
place. He did not prosecute the matter further, but from that time there was no peace for
When Jesus was laid in the grave, Satan triumphed. He dared to hope that the Saviour would
not take up His life again. He claimed the Lord's body, and set his guard about the tomb,
seeking to hold Christ a prisoner. He was bitterly angry when his angels fled at the
approach of the heavenly messenger. When he saw Christ come forth in triumph, he knew that
his kingdom would have an end, and that he must finally die.
The priests, in putting Christ to death, had made themselves the tools of Satan. Now they
were entirely in his power. They were entangled in a snare from which they saw no escape
but in continuing their warfare against Christ. When they heard the report of His
resurrection, they feared the wrath of the people. They felt that their own lives were in
danger. The only hope for them was to prove Christ an impostor by denying that He had
risen. They bribed the soldiers, and secured Pilate's silence. They spread their lying
reports far and near. But there were witnesses whom they could not silence. Many had heard
of the soldiers' testimony to Christ's resurrection. And certain of the dead who came
forth with Christ appeared to many, and declared that He had risen. Reports were brought
to the priests of persons who had seen these risen ones, and heard their testimony. The
priests and rulers were in continual dread, lest in walking the streets, or within the
privacy of their own homes, they should come face to face with Christ. They felt that
there was no safety for them. Bolts and bars were but poor protection against the Son of
God. By day and by night that awful scene in the judgment hall, when they had cried,
"His blood be on us, and on our children," was before them. Matt. 27:25.
Nevermore would the memory of that scene fade from their minds. Nevermore would peaceful
sleep come to their pillows.
When the voice of the mighty angel was heard at Christ's tomb, saying, Thy Father calls
Thee, the Saviour came forth from the grave by the life that was in Himself. Now was
proved the truth of His words, "I lay down My life, that I might take it again. . . .
I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." Now was fulfilled
the prophecy He had spoken to the priests and rulers, "Destroy this temple, and in
three days I will raise it up." John 10:17, 18; 2:19.
Over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, Christ had proclaimed in triumph, "I am the
resurrection, and the life." These words could be spoken only by the Deity. All
created beings live by the will and power of God. They are dependent recipients of the
life of God. From the highest seraph to the humblest animate being, all are replenished
from the Source of life. Only He who is one with God could say, I have power to lay down
My life, and I have power to take it again. In His divinity, Christ possessed the power to
break the bonds of death.
Christ arose from the dead as the first fruits of those that slept. He was the antitype of
the wave sheaf, and His resurrection took place on the very day when the wave sheaf was to be presented before the Lord. For more than a
thousand years this symbolic ceremony had been performed. From the harvest fields the
first heads of ripened grain were gathered, and when the people went up to Jerusalem to
the Passover, the sheaf of first fruits was waved as a thank offering before the Lord. Not
until this was presented could the sickle be put to the grain, and it be gathered into
sheaves. The sheaf dedicated to God represented the harvest. So Christ the first fruits
represented the great spiritual harvest to be gathered for the kingdom of God. His
resurrection is the type and pledge of the resurrection of all the righteous dead.
"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.
As Christ arose, He brought from the grave a multitude of captives. The earthquake at His
death had rent open their graves, and when He arose, they came forth with Him. They were
those who had been co-laborers with God, and who at the cost of their lives had borne
testimony to the truth. Now they were to be witnesses for Him who had raised them from the
During His ministry, Jesus had raised the dead to life. He had raised the son of the widow
of Nain, and the ruler's daughter and Lazarus. But these were not clothed with
immortality. After they were raised, they were still subject to death. But those who came
forth from the grave at Christ's resurrection were raised to everlasting life. They
ascended with Him as trophies of His victory over death and the grave. These, said Christ,
are no longer the captives of Satan; I have redeemed them. I have brought them from the
grave as the first fruits of My power, to be with Me where I am, nevermore to see death or
These went into the city, and appeared unto many, declaring, Christ has risen from the
dead, and we be risen with Him. Thus was immortalized the sacred truth of the
resurrection. The risen saints bore witness to the truth of the words, "Thy dead men
shall live, together with My dead body shall they arise." Their resurrection was an
illustration of the fulfillment of the prophecy, "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in
dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead."
To the believer, Christ is the resurrection and the life. In our Saviour the life that was
lost through sin is restored; for He has life in Himself to quicken whom He will. He is invested with the right to give immortality. The life that
He laid down in humanity, He takes up again, and gives to humanity. "I am come,"
He said, "that they might have life, and that they might have it more
abundantly." "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never
thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up
into everlasting life." "Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath
eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." John 10:10; 4:14; 6:54.
To the believer, death is but a small matter. Christ speaks of it as if it were of little
moment. "If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death," "he shall
never taste of death." To the Christian, death is but a sleep, a moment of silence
and darkness. The life is hid with Christ in God, and "when Christ, who is our life,
shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." John 8:51, 52; Col. 3:4.
The voice that cried from the cross, "It is finished," was heard among the dead.
It pierced the walls of sepulchers, and summoned the sleepers to arise. Thus will it be
when the voice of Christ shall be heard from heaven. That voice will penetrate the graves
and unbar the tombs, and the dead in Christ shall arise. At the Saviour's resurrection a
few graves were opened, but at His second coming all the precious dead shall hear His
voice, and shall come forth to glorious, immortal life. The same power that raised Christ
from the dead will raise His church, and glorify it with Him, above all principalities,
above all powers, above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the
world to come.
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