Matt. 27:57-66, Matt. 28:1-20.
CHAPTER 12 — THE LORD JESUS' FORTY DAYS.
RESURRECTION SCENES: MARY'S FRIENDS AND THEIR MESSAGE.
I have no doubt that the second company of individuals who saw the Lord in resurrection were the women who are named in this twenty-eighth chapter of Matthew. We saw last week that Mary is a type, if you will, of the heavenly saint. That is the saint who knows Christ where He now is. He had said to her, you remember, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father: and to my God, and your God." And she went and told the brethren the truth of the present moment, i.e., that our position, our portion, and our relationship to God are identical with that which the blessed Lord now occupies. We are in union with Him and in association with Him where He now is, in the Father's presence, the Father's house on high. In fact it is heavenly ground. Whether we have touched it or enjoyed it, is another question altogether.
Now you would notice as I read the twenty-eighth of Matthew just now, that when the Lord met this company of women, and said, "All hail," that "they came and held him by the feet and worshipped him" (Matt. 28:9). Now, why should He say to one woman, "Touch me not," and permit another company to touch Him and hold Him by the feet, while they worship Him? Well, beloved friends, I think the reason is very simple. Mary was to introduce the heavenly side of the truth, and is herself a figure of the heavenly company, who by faith know the Lord where He now is in heaven. Such is the blessed privilege which belongs to you and me now, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. But the heavenly side of Christ's reign in the hearts of men is not everything. He is coming back again to head up all things by-and-by in heaven and on earth.
Our portion is heavenly, but there will yet be an earthly company and earthly blessing, for the Old Testament Scriptures speak largely of promises and blessings for earth and an earthly people. I grant you that everything is gone into ruin and failure on the earth for the time being, and Satan's power is only too manifest, but, thank God, the earth will yet own the sway and delight in the presence of Jesus; and there will be a redeemed and renewed Israel on earth, who will have Him in their midst as their King, and who will own Him and delight in Him, just as those women do here.
Old Testament Scripture is full of the fact that the glory of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. But then His glory cannot fill the earth till He Himself takes possession of the earth, nor until He puts the earth right. These "times of the restitution of all things," as Peter calls them (Acts 3:21), will be connected with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ upon earth by-and-by. His feet will yet stand on the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4), and there will be an earthly people delighted to welcome Him.
Now I make these remarks just at the beginning, because they will help us to understand the way in which this truth comes out in the last chapter of Matthew's Gospel. What we have in the closing chapter of Matthew is exactly what I should expect. You know that Jesus had come as the King of the Jews, and Messiah; but He had been refused the throne; He had been ignominiously rejected. Nothing therefore could be more suitable or beautiful than to see the way Matthew's Gospel closes. It presents the King in the midst of a company upon earth who have Him and hold Him, who know Him, and worship Him. If we had only got the Gospel of Matthew, we should suppose the Lord to be upon earth just now, because there is no account of His ascension in Matthew.
It is beautiful to see the way in which Matthew's Gospel closes, with the blessed Lord having round Him upon earth those that delight in Him. The instruction that is connected with this fact is by no means unimportant. I daresay you know, that there are many who have thought the Gospel of Matthew incomplete, just because you have no account of the ascension of the Lord therein. One noted Anglican divine has gone so far as to say that he believed there would yet be found a manuscript of this Gospel containing an account of the Lord passing up to heaven. Now to have the ascension in Matthew's Gospel would be to spoil it entirely, and I trust I shall be able to show to you the reason for that statement. Among my hearers I know that there are many young Christians, and if they get the outline of this Gospel, they will see why we have not the ascension here, and how this falls in with what has gone before.
Now just go back and see how we have the Lord Jesus presented in this Gospel. The four Gospels present the Lord Jesus in four different aspects. Matthew presents Him as the King of the Jews, the Messiah, but as the rejected King. Mark gives Him as the Servant. Luke delineates Him as the Son of man. John presents Him as the Son of God.
Matthew opens most beautifully with the genealogy of the King, because if it be a question of a throne and kingdom, the One who claims that throne and that kingdom must give the most incontestable evidence as to His right to it. Now that is just the way in which the Gospel opens. The genealogy of the Lord Jesus furnishes the most irrefragable proof of His claim to the throne of David.
Just turn back to the first chapter for a moment. "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matt. 1:1). And then we read, "And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias" (Matt. 1:6). So you have there, in the middle of the genealogy, what I call the keynote of the Gospel struck. It is the genealogy of the King. I do not go into the detail of it, but there you have the Lord's title to the throne of David, proved in the most unmistakable way.
I must just point out in passing the wonderful way in which the grace of God comes out, dear friends, in this genealogy. There are here introduced the names of four women, that any one but God would have kept out of the genealogy. Who, of set purpose, in preparing a genealogical tree to prove a title, would have brought in the story of Rahab the harlot, or Bathsheba, or Ruth, or Tamar? Ah, none but God. You see God wrote this Book and not man. Man would have carefully excluded the names of Tamar, and Rahab, Bathsheba, and Ruth. Not that Ruth's name was foul, yet she was a Moabitess, and as such forbidden to enter the congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation for ever (Deut. 23:3), but the other three had the foulest tarnish on their names that a woman could have. Man would have carefully omitted all reference to such palpable blots on his family scutcheon. Not so God. When He is about to narrate the genealogy of His Son, become a man to bless man, God brings them in. That is to say, in these four women you have the most beautiful illustration of how the grace of God can rise above the sin of man, and even permit that which is the outcome of man's weakness and sin to be the very occasion for the introduction into this scene of His own blessed Son, who was to be the Saviour of the world, as well as the King of the Jews.
Matthew 2 gives you the birth of the King, and the first question in the New Testament, as the Magi say, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" (Matt. 2:2). Thereafter comes His flight into Egypt, that Scripture might be fulfilled (Matt. 2:15), as regards that, and also His later dwelling in Nazareth (Matt. 2:23).
Matthew 3 introduces John the Baptist, proclaiming the fact that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. In plain language he announces the advent of the King, and then he baptizes the One who is the King. The King comes upon the scene, not in display, might, and glory, but lowly, and taking His place among the remnant of Israel, the godly.
Then Matthew 4 gives you the story of the temptation in the wilderness. Looked at from the Lord's side it is the lovely display of His moral beauties as a dependent man, but, I think, viewed from another point, it is to bring to light the actual deposition of the usurper. It is Satan beaten. The true King morally defeats and overturns the one who, so to speak, filled the throne of the world. And that is Satan.
When you come to Matthew 5, 6, and 7, you find one continuous subject. All the instructions there found may not have been spoken by the blessed Lord at one moment, but they are taken up by the Spirit of God, put together consecutively, and you have before you there what is often called "the sermon on the mount." Those chapters give you in detail the laws of the kingdom, the principles that are to rule the kingdom which is to be introduced by the blessed One who comes as the King. Only notice, He never says He is the King. It is most beautiful to see that there is only one instance in the whole of the pathway of the Lord Jesus, in which He says He is the King (see Matt. 25:34, 40). When describing the future judgment which will mark His kingdom, He twice calls Himself the King. But He never claimed kingship. I fancy that had it been you or I we should have claimed our rights. That was not Christ's way. He could not take the kingdom in its then condition of sin and rebellion. He will get it by-and-by, according to God, and on the ground of redemption.
In Matthew 8 and 9 you will find grouped together all the powers which mark the introduction of the kingdom of Messiah, as foretold in Isaiah 35, which you should study. You have the miracles of the Lord condensed and brought together. There are twelve miracles in these two chapters, and they are brought together, I have no doubt, to form a dispensational picture, and show in the most incontestable way that He, who was the Messiah that should come, was here. And He was here doing that which Jehovah alone could do. That is the point of chapters 8 and 9.
Then, when you come to Matthew 10, you will find the Lord calls His twelve disciples, whom He names apostles, and bids them go out and preach the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is announced by His authority, and the apostles are sent out to preach it. Now you would have thought that, this being so, the King would have been accepted, and the kingdom would have been set up. But, alas! what you find is this, in Matthew 11, John the Baptist doubts Him, and the Pharisees and everybody disbelieve Him. In plain language His testimony is not received. When you come to Matthew 12 the spirit of opposition to Him is deeper, and though "the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the Son of David?" the religious leaders of the moment — the Pharisees — reply, "This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils" (Matt. 12:23, 24). His mighty power to heal and bless they ascribe to Satan, and not to the power of the Holy Ghost. In plain language they absolutely refuse Christ altogether, and as a consequence, in the close of chapter 12, He refuses to own the nation as God's people any more. The link is broken, and the Jews are cast off for the time being. Every thought of setting up the kingdom on earth is abandoned, for if the King be rejected, how can the kingdom be established?
Coming to Matthew 13, you there get the similitudes of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom is now in mystery, and you get the truth relating to the Church of God — the new work of Christ — unfolded. But, as far as the kingdom in manifestation on earth is concerned, it is abandoned. The next thing is this, the leaders of the nation begin to plot for Messiah's death. Judas becomes the tool in Satan's hands to deliver Him to His enemies, and the end is soon reached. They nail Him to the cross, and, above His head, the inscription, "This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" (Matt. 27:37). That was His crime nailed up over His head. As you know, when the Romans condemned a man to death, they always placed the crime for which he was to die over his head. Now what was His crime? That He was what He said He was. And what was He? He was Jesus of Nazareth, Jehovah the Saviour, and King of the Jews. Then the chief priests come and say to Pilate, "Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am the King of the Jews" (John 19:21). "Pilate answered and said, What I have written I have written" (John 19:22). He had the sense that what he had written was true. Thus the King died, crucified by His own subjects, and the Scripture was fulfilled, "And after the three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, and have nothing" (Dan. 9:26). It is very interesting to see the way, particularly in Matthew, in which God records the facts concerning the death of the Lord Jesus, as also His burial, and His resurrection.
The careful reader of Scripture cannot but be struck with the great number of times the expression "That the Scriptures might be fulfilled," occurs in Matthew's Gospel, far more frequently than in any of the other Gospels. Not infrequently you get," As it is written," in each Gospel, but Matthew goes further, and twelve times says, "That the Scriptures might be fulfilled" (see Matt. 1:22, Matt. 2:15, 17, 23, Matt. 8:17, Matt. 12:17, Matt. 13:35, Matt. 21:4, Matt. 26:54, Matt. 27:9, 35).
Now let us notice what occurred after the Lord was dead. "When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: he went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed" (Matt. 27:57-60). You must understand of course that a Jewish tomb was not like our graves, a hole dug in the earth. In this instance Scripture is careful to tell us it was hewn out in the rock, and it was a new tomb. And why a new tomb? Because Christ must ever have the first of everything. He will not take the second ride on an ass (Mark 11:2), the second place in a tomb (Matt. 27:60; John 19:41), or the second place in your heart or mine.
The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah had predicted what you have here. just go back and look at it. "He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death," or more truly, "And his grave was appointed with the wicked, but he was with the rich in his death." What is the meaning of that? The Jews had designed undoubtedly to put the blessed holy body of the Son of God, along with both the bodies of the criminals, who died by His side, into the common pit. Satan's malice not only suggested that He should be betrayed by a familiar friend, but that after He was dead His body should be cast into the common pit. God's answer to this insult to His Son was already recorded. "His grave was appointed with the wicked, but he was with the rich in his death." This is beautiful, and the reason yet more so. "Because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth" (Isa 53:9). In that terrible hour when everything seemed over, and when His own had all lost hope, and Satan thought he had then everything in his hand, God remembered that "he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth," and the rich man of Arimathea, Joseph, stepped in and secured His body.
What Jesus had been in all His pathway suited God absolutely, and here we see that the very care of God for His body in death was connected with the beauty of His life. Do not let us forget it. It was not loosely penned by the Spirit of God that, "with the rich man was his tomb, because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth" (ver. 9). I do not think that could be said of anybody else. Christ was absolutely transparent in everything, and therefore, the rich man turns up. That is to say, the death of Christ produced what His life had never produced. Joseph had previously been "a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews"; but now you notice he comes boldly out, claims, gets, and then buries the body of Jesus in his own new tomb,
Now we read in another Gospel, "Wherein was never man yet laid" (John 19:41). Why is God so careful to say that? The answer to that question is found in the Old Testament, and its perusal will help you to observe how carefully God guards everything connected with the person of His blessed Son. Go back to the Second Book of Kings, where we read: "And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men: and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet" (2 Kings 13:20, 21). I think it is easy to see now why it was said to be a new tomb "wherein was never man yet laid." If the Spirit of God had not been careful to record this, Satan and the Jews would soon have had the story in circulation that Jesus was risen from the dead, but that was nothing new. That was what happened in Old Testament times. He had been put into a tomb where the bones of some prophet lay, and consequently He had revived again. God foresaw that lie, and has taken great care to tell us it was a new tomb.
And there they laid Jesus, "And there was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre" (Matt. 27:61). That took place on what we call the Friday afternoon. "Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can" (Matt. 27:62-65). I have no doubt, from the way in which Pilate speaks, that he had a deep sense that the Lord would arise from the dead. Could any power keep that blessed One in the grave? Impossible. And I think Pilate knew it in the bottom of his heart. "So they went and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch" (Matt. 27:66). It is a most awful thing, when you come to think of it, that the religious world did its very best to keep Christ out of the scene. Fancy sealing in a dead Man, and then setting a lot of soldiers with drawn swords round Him. The fact is this, they issued the finest testimony possible that He had risen, when the time came (Matt. 28:11). Satan always defeats himself
Now we read, "In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre" (Matt. 28:1). You must bear in mind that the Jewish day began at six o'clock in the evening, so the Sabbath had gone by, and the first day of the week begun when those women at eventide came out. Elsewhere we are told that they "rested on the Sabbath day according to the commandment" (Luke 23:56). They obeyed the law. They had prepared spices, "that they might come and anoint him" on the Friday evening, and then rested on the Saturday. That was the Sabbath. The Lord's Day has nothing at all to do with the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the last day of the week. There is no such thing as the Christian Sabbath, although men often so speak. There is the Lord's Day. The first of the week is the day that belongs to the Lord. And I claim a greater sanctity for the Lord's Day than the Jew does for the Sabbath. You and I give the Lord the first day of the week.
The point here is, that on the Sabbath Day they were obedient, and rested. Now apparently they go out in the twilight, free from legal restrictions, for really the first day of the week had begun. Out go these two in the gloaming to see the sepulchre. What took place then? We are not told. Did they spend the night there? I do not know, for we are not told. But what I want to show you is this, that you must not read into Matthew 28:1, 2, what is not there, and come to the false conclusion that they were present when the Lord rose, and present when the angel rolled away the stone. That cannot be so; because, if you will turn to Mark 16, which gives us another account, you read this, "And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him" (Mark 16:1).
They evidently thought of Him only as dead. "And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun" (Mark 16:2). Here Mark gives us a little bit of light. They were there at the rising of the sun. They must then have been there twice. I do not doubt it. Whether they went back overnight is not the question. They came out at the rising of the sun, but then, ere they got there, and ere the sun was risen, the blessed Lord had risen. "And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great" (Mark 16:3, 4).
The same story is given to us by the evangelist Luke. "Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them" (Luke 24:1). When they get there, an angel meets them, and having heard his communication, we are told they go back. I have little doubt that it was Mary's lingering behind her friends, which became the occasion for her to see the Lord as we considered last week. Evidently her female companions were going towards Jerusalem when the Lord met them, as recorded in Matthew 28:9. I have said, and I think you will find it is correct, that verses 1 and 2 of that chapter are not immediately consecutive in point of time. There is an interval of some hours between them. Verse 1 stands by itself.
The women went out in the evening to see the sepulchre, and I conclude, and am pretty sure I am right from other scriptures, that they were not there, because they had gone back to the city before verse 2 was enacted. Read it: "And, behold, there had been a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow" (Matt. 28:2 and 3). Verses 2, 3, and 4 are brought in to show what had taken place. There was an earthquake when the Lord died, and there was an earthquake when He rose. Man, the creature, was insensible to the wonderful work of Calvary. The earth, created by the Son of God, shook to its very centre when He, who had been its Creator, died, and thereafter was buried, completely ending the history and life-page of the first man. And then, when He arose, again to its very centre it was shaken. What had happened? The most wonderful thing that ever took place, because infinitely greater in its issue than creation, was the resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God.
But you may tell me that creation was a wonderful thing. I know it. Something far more wonderful was the death of Him who was the Creator, and all that was effected by that atoning death, when He bare sins, met all the claims of God, glorified God in death, and then passed into the tomb. On this resurrection morning He rises out of death, and leaves every trace of it behind for ever. Scripture says, "Christ was raised up from among the dead by the glory of the Father" (Rom. 6:4); and again, that He "was quickened by the Spirit" (1 Peter 3:18); and again it says He raised Himself, for it is written, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 11. 19), for "I lay down my life that I might take it again" (John 10:17). But the point is this, He rose, and I have no manner of doubt that He rose before the stone was rolled away.
It was not rolled away to let the Lord Jesus out of the tomb, but to let you and me look in and see the wonderful proofs of that which had taken place. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the evidence that death was annulled, the power of Satan broken, God perfectly glorified about sin, and that sin for ever put away. He defeated Satan morally in the wilderness first, then came out and spoiled his palace, but now He goes right down into the very centre of his kingdom, meets him in the citadel of his strength — death — and overcomes him absolutely. By death He destroys death, and him who had the power thereof (Heb. 2:14). And then He rises from the dead, the mighty Victor, and hastens to bring others into all the blessed fruits of His glorious victory.
Now you will find how this works out in this chapter. As has been often said, there is no singing here. Why? The reason is very simple. Redemption was not for angels. It was for sinners like you and me. Ah, friends, we have good title to sing. And we have ground for singing too. And if we do not sing, I want to know why? I tell you what it is, whenever a saint is downright happy he always sings. "Is any merry? let him sing" (James 5:13). joy in the Holy Ghost is that which marks the soul now that has the sense of what it is to be quickened with Christ and associated with Him where He is now before God, alive from the dead.
And now the angel addresses the women, who again appear upon the scene, and says, "Fear not ye." The first words you get from the lips of the Lord in resurrection, that we are told of, were, "Woman, why weepest thou?" The first word He said to the company of His disciples was, "Peace unto you." But I think the first testimony of the angel here is very beautiful. "Fear not ye." Now what is the great thought in resurrection? The dispelling of everything that would bring in fear. Fear must go, for "fear hath torment" (1 John 4:18). Have you any fear? You do not know Christ in resurrection. We find an angel saying, first to the women, "Fear not," but what does Jesus say to them when He meets them? "All hail." An angelic note sweetly falls upon their ears to begin with, but how beautifully is it confirmed by the Lord Himself Beloved friend, if you have learnt the value of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, you are brought into an atmosphere where fear does not exist. People think it is almost right to fear, and they are afraid of this, that, and the other ill. Ah, my friend, I wish you would listen to the opening testimony in resurrection — "Fear not."
We come now into an atmosphere where everything is redolent of Christ and His victory, hence the believer in Him is to have power and victory. On the cross He was the Victim. And what is He now? He is the Victor. Get these two things in your soul. When I see Him dying, He is the Victim. When I see Him risen, He is the Victor. All power is in His hand. What room is there for fear and doubt? "Perfect love casteth out fear" (1 John 4:11). Oh, beloved friends, it is a wonderful reality this. It is like letting in light where darkness has reigned. If only believers got in their souls the sense of what it is to be in association with Christ in resurrection, their experience would be wonderful. He brings us into a new place and sphere altogether. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). I do not say they touched it all that day. If you, fellow-believer, have not touched it, you have missed God's mind for you. Thank God, I can say I have touched enough to make my heart rejoice. Year in and year out, heaven is commenced already for the heart that is in the joy of resurrection, and in association with Christ
And now notice what the angel says to these women, "For I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified" (Matt. 28:5). It is a fine thing for those who look on to say, "We know ye seek Jesus." What do you think the world says about you and me behind our backs? Do you seek Jesus? It is a fine thing that. What you want is Jesus. You are all right if you are seeking Jesus. The angel then adds, "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay" (Matt. 28:6). I suppose the angel took them by the hand and led them to the door of the sepulchre. They are to face not death but an empty tomb, the witness of resurrection. How people shrink from this! I have seen saint after saint, who when death came in view, was quite upset. Why? Because they have not been in this chapter, and really heard the words, "Come, see the place where the Lord lay." And what is to be seen? Death annulled. That is the point. A risen Christ is to fill the horizon of our souls with peace.
And now the angel says, "Go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead." If you have this blessed knowledge yourself, go and tell somebody else. Tell it to others. Further, "And behold, he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you" (Matt. 28:7). Why Galilee? Ah, He was "Jesus of Nazareth," that despised place down in Galilee. He was not to be seen in Jerusalem, the centre of the world's system religiously. He was absolutely outside all that. And so it is today. If you are going to have the joy of Christ, you will have to take an outside place. "Inside the veil" (Heb. 10:20) and "outside the camp" (Heb. 13:13) go together. They are like the two blades of a pair of scissors. They must be pinned together; one is no use without the other.
You cannot get on in Jerusalem, so to speak; if you really want Christ, you will have to go where He is to be found. And where is that? In Galilee, then despised of Israel, and the symbol now of our outside place as followers of Christ.
Another evangelist tells us that the angel says, "Go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee" (Mark 16:7). I think it very instructive to see that the very servant — John whose surname was Mark — who broke down in his own service, and for a while — turned back from the Lord's work (see Acts 13:13), should be used of God to record the sentence, "Go, tell his disciples and Peter," a message of deep comfort to another servant who had also broken down. Unless we have ourselves been broken down, we are not really able to help those who are broken down. There is wonderful grace in the words, "Go, tell his disciples and Peter." His Lord had not forgotten him. He had not cast him off, and, blessed be His name, He does not drop us because we have been feeble and failing.
"And they departed from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, and did run to bring his disciples word" (Matt. 28:8). There is a wonderful mingling of feelings there, "Fear and great joy." There was fear on the one hand, and great joy on the other. "And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "All hail." Here is the second interview. What is the meaning of "All hail"? I could not put it into words exactly; but for these lovers of Christ, whose hearts had been broken with the thought they had lost their blessed Lord, all of a sudden to hear His gracious voice thus saluting them, was joy indeed. To them surely it was "Welcome." That is the idea. It said in effect to them: Every difficulty is over: the darkness has gone by, all is bright and clear. "And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him" (Matt. 28:9).
Why does He not bid them not touch Him? Because He is here the risen King alive from the dead, standing on earth in the midst of an earthly people who love Him, and worship Him. It is a miniature picture of His coming earthly kingdom. And if it be no joy to your hearts, it is to mine, that the Lord Jesus will yet stand on earth, that His head shall be crowned, and that He will be surrounded by a people who will own Him, delight in Him, and worship Him. The Psalmist says, "Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion" (Ps. 65:1). That is true, because Zion's voice is silent now. But it is going to break forth in praise by-and-by.
In the meantime what has happened? The Holy Ghost has come down, and while the Jew has been cast off, the Church is brought in, and she takes Israel's place, but a much better place than Israel ever had. And we worship Jesus now. The blessing of the Church is of a double character. Christ is the Object of the worship of our souls now, and we have also the privilege of testimony for Him, as we pass through this scene, while awaiting His coming again.
Having accepted their homage, the Lord said to those who held Him by the feet, "Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me" (Matt. 28:10). He confirms to them the word the angel had given to them before, that Galilee was to be the meeting place. This all beautifully falls in with the scope of the Gospel. It is an earthly company here who are to have the King in their midst, and they go down and meet Him. To His own, so assembled, He says, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:18). Let us never forget that.
Well, beloved friends, their Jesus is the blessed One that you and I know through infinite grace, not upon earth now, for He has gone on high, is there crowned with glory and honour, and we delight in the thought of the place where the Lord is now. If Mary Magdalene gives you, in figure, the heavenly portion of the saints now, it is well to see that these Galilean women, the second to whom Jesus showed Himself, bring out the earthly side of His kingdom. The heavenly portion is the first, and then comes the earthly. The order is just what we have in the Old Testament. Isaac's seed was to be as the stars of heaven, and Jacob's as the sand of the sea. That is the heavenly and the earthly. And Christ is the centre of both. One loves to think that an earthly people will yet receive, believe, and love Him, and He will say, "All hail," in a day to come, to the repentant remnant of the nation that rejected Him when He came as Messiah the first time.