Notes of an address on John 20:1-8: and Zechariah 13:7.

(Notes of an address from an old manuscript.)

The first Scripture gives an account of Christ's resurrection; of His being sought by His disciples and found by Mary; the second is a key to Christ in resurrection, much overlooked, although quoted by the blessed Lord Himself. You remember how He told the disciples in Matthew that He must be left alone: "I will smite the Shepherd and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. He only quoted what referred to His humiliation. There are three outstanding things to be noted in this verse in Zechariah; the divine glory of Christ, His death and the scattering of the sheep, His gathering of the sheep in resurrection.

Who was the Man, the fellow of Jehovah? Only Jesus could be spoken of thus; He who had been in the highest glory, who Himself was God, but here as the Shepherd. The Shepherd had been smitten; the sword had been sheathed in Him before He cried, "It is finished; "all the penal wrath had come down upon Him before He gave up the Ghost. He was laid in the grave; the stone was sealed; but He arose, for the time had come to make good Jehovah's word concerning the little ones. Ah! the only One that God could trust was that selfsame Shepherd, who turned His hands to the little ones. Remark in John 20 Christ's meeting with Thomas and with Mary, restoring their souls. What is so peculiarly beautiful is Christ's dealings in resurrection then, just as now. He knows the peculiar state and character of each one, and we see in His dealings with Mary, Peter and John, the perfection of His ways. See how He meets the reasonings of Thomas, the ignorance and devotion of Mary, and the doubting of Peter.

Without a doubt, it was in His heart that Mary should be at the sepulchre. If woman was first in the transgression in another garden, woman is chosen to be the first witness of Christ's resurrection. But the personal love of Mary for the Lord drew her to where His body was laid. Joseph had courageously asked for His body, and Nicodemus had at length come out boldly on Christ's side; but the women, their hearts responding to the love of Christ, were watching at the sepulchre. But Mary, outstanding in her devotion, is at the tomb while yet it is dark. Ignorant she may be, desiring to embalm His body, but she is attracted to Christ, He is precious to her, and the impulse of her heart is to be near where His body lies. When Mary sees the stone taken away, it brings agony to her soul, and she thinks how grieved the disciples will be to hear it. Was it not love to Christ that made her heart quick to feel who would have sympathy with her in her agony and grief? She seems to say, I know who will have fellowship with me, and she runs to Peter and John to tell them. She was right; they valued Christ and when they hear that His body is gone, they are off in a moment, running one against another to reach the sepulchre. John arrives first but does not go in: Peter comes up, and goes straight in, and John follows. They see the clothes lying, and believe that He has gone.

But what was it that kept Mary riveted to the spot? The Person of the Lord! The disciples say, He is gone, and they go home, not knowing that their Lord is risen from the dead. One thought governs Mary; she had seen the Lord's body laid there, and there was something attractive to her about that spot; and so she remains where she had last seen HIM. Now she sees the two angels, but seems to pay little attention to them, being absorbed with the body of the Lord. Is not this remarkable? If in going home tonight, we saw an angel, would it not fix our attention? How struck Cornelius was when he saw the angel! They say to her, "Why weepest thou?" she answers, "They have taken away my Lord." Having given her answer, being engrossed by the thought of His body, she has no more to say to the angels. Turning she sees Jesus, thinking Him to be the gardener. He asks, "Whom seekest thou?" Her answer, "Tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away," shows how absorbed she is with the Lord's body, which had hung upon the cross. Who was the HIM of whom she was speaking to this stranger? It was One who had cast the demons out of her, and was inexpressively precious to her heart. Like Joseph, before making Himself known to his brethren, the Lord allows Mary to fully tell out the feelings of her heart, to give her the opportunity of knowing Him Personally. What a sweet thing for Mary afterward to say, He allowed me to express all the desires and feelings of my heart before He revealed Himself to me!

His dealings with Thomas were very different. When He appeared to them in the room, He seemed to say, I heard you just now saying, you would not believe without tangible proof: now stretch forth the hand and feel for yourself. But in both cases, Christ is turning His hand upon the little ones, each according to their state. Mary could not recognise Him till He spoke that familiar word, "Mary." How must she have felt: what thoughts must have passed rapidly through her mind: "He is not carried off by the gardener; He is not to be embalmed." Now she knows Him in resurrection, and falls at His feet: but His words tell her that the old relationships have gone for ever: she cannot know Christ after the flesh. He was ascending to His Father, and those associated with Him would know Him in a new way, a much more blessed and intimate way than hitherto. This was contained in the message she bore to the disciples; "Go to my brethren, and say unto them. I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." Here was the meaning of the word, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone," etc. He had gone into death, and in resurrection was going to present to God the handful of ears; a Man, glorified in heaven, preparing a place to bring the whole family there.

There is something very sweet in the Lord using Mary as a messenger, chosen with the pre-eminence of love in her heart, to tell the disciples of the new associations with Himself and the new relationships with God the Father, into which He had now brought them. He had never called them brethren before: now the Sanctifier and the sanctified are all of one, and He is not ashamed to call them brethren. And so He makes known to His brethren the Father's Name, and they can say, "Abba, Father," from hearts which know a Father's love.

It is very blessed to know the forgiveness of sins, and to know that Christ is up there making intercession for us, and to know that through the Son we have liberty by the Spirit to say "Abba, Father." He has brought us into the family to which He belongs, of which He is the Centre; and He is the One there who occupies the Father's eye, but the eye that rests with deepest delight on Him rests with pleasure upon us, for we are in Him before the Father's face. How blessed it is to know God's delight in Christ! Knowing this we know God's delight in us. Do you know that the affections of the Father to the Son have flowed down, right down to us? When Christ comes again He will not take us to a suburb of the Father's House, but He will bring us right inside to share His own place.

God has determined to bring many sons to glory: and we are His sons by adoption: sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. The feeblest believer is as much a son as the greatest apostle: this portion is ours by the sovereign choice of God, it is God's free gift: we are recipients from first to last. So that we not only know the Father as our Father. but we know God as our God. The worldly man may say "My God:" but in saying it he would not have any sense of relationship. When the apostle Paul said "But MY GOD shall supply all your need," he was speaking of One he had long known in the riches of His grace. The relationship between God and the world is a broken one; but how real the relationship of the many sons to God, who know what it is to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Mary may not have had the intelligence to know all that Christ meant in the wonderful message given to her to deliver to the disciples, but she knew that He was alive and full of grace. Unable, at that time to enter into the reality of the position that message held for her with the rest of His loved ones, the little ones, to whom He had turned His hand in blessing, she had her heart gladdened by a living Christ. Love had carried Mary through all her difficulties and troubles, for love is strong as death. We may have greater knowledge than poor Mary had, but can we match her affection and devotion for Christ? Knowledge abounds now: there is considerable light, but where is the fervency of heart towards the Person of the Lord? We must not allow light or knowledge to take the place of personal love to Christ. Soon the Son will leave the Father's House to take us there; already He shows Himself to faith; and in view of His coming forth, shall we not take our course through this world in communion with Him, our living Lord in heaven.