Saturday, June 23, 2007
“But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept.”
- Paul the Apostle
(1 Corinthians 15:20)
THE fact of Christ’s resurrection is exceedingly well attested. It was necessary that it should be beyond dispute, since it lies at the very basis of our holy faith. It is consoling to think that it is so. For thus our foundation stands most secure. Our Lord was careful to show Himself after His resurrection to those who, having known Him before His decease, would be able to answer for the identity of His Person. Had He merely showed Himself to strangers who had not known Him before, they might have been able to say that they had seen such an one, but they could not have affirmed that He was the same person who had been buried.
...Dear Friends, ought not this view of death as a sleep, prevent our looking upon it in so repulsive a light? I know we like not to look at dead bodies—we are afraid to touch them. Some foolish people do not like to remain in the same house with a corpse, at least alone, or at night. There is a certain horror connected with the ruins of our earthly house. Did you ever feel horror at a sleeping child? Do you feel any sort of dread of your sleeping mother, or your slumbering husband or wife? Have you felt anything dreadful to draw back the curtain of the little cot and to gaze upon the sweet young face when the eyes are closed in happy sleep? Oh, why, then, should you think it dreadful to look upon the sleeping Believer’s brow?
True, there are marks of decay which are not pleasant to nature. But are they not the footprints of the retreating enemy and signs that the corruptible is passing away to make room for incorruption? Do not those very marks which mar the form indicate that the ragged smoke-blacked tent of Kedar is being pulled down so that the curtains of Solomon may glitter in their place, and that the soul may dwell there as in a fair pavilion? Oh, look not upon the departed as though they were dead, but speak of them as Christ did of His friend—“Our friend Lazarus sleeps.” Let the ears of your faith hear the Master say, “And I come that I may awake him out of his sleep.” Let not the grave seem more abhorrent to you than your bedchamber.
Let there be, by no means, such a view of the death of the redeemed as to wish them back again. Would you wish, when your friend has long been in excruciating pain, and at last falls into sleep, to shake him in his bed, to awake him, to tell him some idle tale? No. You have been watching for hours and you have said, “Oh, that he could have a little sleep! Doctor! Can you not give some sleep to this poor tortured frame?” And at last you have said, “Thank God, his eyelids drop. Speak softly. Tread lightly. He sleeps!” And you have been afraid even to let your foot fall upon the ground, lest you should awaken him.
And what? After all the pain, the suffering, the temptation and the trial of your friends, do you wish to awake them? Rather I think you should say, “I charge you, O you daughters of Jerusalem, that you ask not that he should be stirred up or awakened until Jesus please. Let him sleep on while the night lasts, and then, at the trump of the archangel, and the voice of God, he shall wake in the morning when the sun has risen upon the earth!
- C. H. Spurgeon