According to the Scriptures
Active in serving the Lord while employed for over 30 years in Argentina, Mr. Ritchie was recently transferred to the head office of his bank in Montreal, where already the Lord’s people have come to appreciate his Christ-exalting ministry of God’s Word.
“Christ died for our sins… He was buried … He rose again the third
day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).
The Resurrection of our Lord is indeed the corner stone of the gospel. One of the best attested facts of all history, it is discussed throughout the Scriptures.
A moment’s reflection will bring to mind the place it receives in the entire New Testament and in the apostles’ ministry. It is the essence and climax of the four Gospels. The apostles revelled in the preaching of a resurrected Lord. Indeed, the Apostle Paul saw the Lord in resurrection glory and never forgot the experience. Eliminate the glorious fact of the resurrection, and then reflect on the hopeless void that remains: a faith which is vain, leaving us miserable and perishing in our sins (1 Cor. 15:1-19).
The importance of the resurrection is even more pronounced when we reflect on the fact that a consideration of the resurrection of our Lord necessarily involves us in a consideration of His atoning death; for to speak of His resurrection is to point directly to His death. If we fail to realize this, we fail to understand the deep and beautiful significance of His resurrection; and our study will be barren and void if it leads our hearts to anything short of a humble worship of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
As we consider our Lord in death upon the cross, we must bow our hearts in deepest humility, and prostrate our souls in the dust. Our proud fleshly hearts are brought to nought when we behold God’s Holy One baring His bosom to the overwhelming billows of God’s wrath — not upon His sin, but upon ours, upon mine. And the marvel and mystery of it all is that “it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief” (Isa. 53:10). Small wonder that Peter exclaims in triumph, “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it” (Acts 2:24).
Consequently, while we rightly bow our hearts in humiliation before His cross, nevertheless a song of praise and worship wells up within us, and we praise God for His unspeakable gift; for His wonderful salvation through the blood of His Son; for the glorious and triumphant assurance He has given us in the resurrection of His Son from the dead; and for the eternal blessings covenanted to us as a consequence. He Who once was dead is alive for evermore. Well might we exclaim with worshipful hearts, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)!
Again, the resurrection of our Lord constitutes the basis of all our service for Him. What brought thousands into a personal knowledge of the Lord as Saviour in the days of the apostles? Was it not the mighty preaching of the resurrected Christ? To preach Christ in resurrection is to preach the wonder of His death and all that the death of the Son of God signifies. Never let us overlook the Holy Spirit’s record of the thousands added to the Church by such preaching.
The Resurrection in the Old Testament
On the first page of man’s history, we are brought face to face with his need of a Saviour and God’s abundant provision of One Who was to be not only a Saviour, but also an all-powerful and triumphant Saviour.
Genesis three records the story of man’s fall and the reaction of a loving seeking God. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it (or He) shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruide His heel” (Gen. 3:15). Here we have a complete statement from God Himself as to His benevolent purposes for sinful man: the keynote is not only a Saviour, but a resurrected Saviour in power.
Satan has ever directed his power towards the destruction of the “seed royal”; and strangely enough, he was allowed to do his worst through man when the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross; but this was the sacrifice required by the holy justice of God as a basis for man’s salvation.
A beautiful type of the Lord in His humble submission to death is seen in Isaac. Abraham received his son again as one risen from the dead, “accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence he received him in a figure” (Heb. 11:19).
In Psalm 22, we see our Lord in the depths of His physical, mental, and spiritual sufferings on the cross; forsaken of God as He hung there in the darkness and anguish of the pit of our iniquities. Yet the fruit of such a sacrifice is surely the song of resurrection in Psalm 23, which finishes with the words, “and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
This, in turn, gives place to the still nobler heights of Psalm 24: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle” (Ps. 24:7-8).
And is not the essence of such mighty words found in the depths of Psalm 22? Indeed, neither the blessings of Psalm 23 nor the glories of Psalm 24 are possible apart from the suffering depicted in Psalm 22. If we pause too soon in the latter Psalm, dismay and consternation fill the soul. Read on and rejoice: “I will declare Thy Name unto My brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee” (Ps. 22:22). This is resurrection language indeed; with praise and power and strength on resurrection ground.
The Resurrection in the New Testament
In spite of the Old Testament references and the Lord’s own teaching, His death and resurrection were a mystery to His disciples. Every indication points to the fact that they were much more preoccupied with the establishment of His kingdom and their position therein. They were very similar to disciples today: not sufficiently occupied with the King and His Person; hence their dismay at the events of the night of the last passover.
Recall those awful days and nights when their Lord was seized and mocked and crucified: what could the disciples have thought as they witnessed such proceedings? They saw Him struggling under the weight of a cross, literally hounded to Calvary’s hill, as if the forces of hell itself were bent upon destroying for ever the “royal seed” from which was to spring salvation and hope.
Bewildered and sorrowful, they made their way homeward with the cry which rent the heavens still ringing in their ears, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:36). Their Master was gone, an apparent failure, and they were left alone.
But came the dawn of the third day, “the first day of the week.” And with the dawn, came the astounding report that the stone was rolled away, the tomb was empty. An angel had declared that Jesus was alive, intending to see His disciples in Galilee.
Peter and John ran to the sepulchre and verified the women’s report. John entered the tomb; he saw, and believed. He realized the stupendous truth which the Lord had often taught them: He had indeed risen from the dead the third day according to the Scriptures. From that moment, John was a changed man.
The news spread rapidly; terror was dispelled from the disciples’ breasts; they could speak of no one but their risen Lord. The Jews did all they could to frustrate the power of such glad tidings. The city was agog with the news, never heard of before or since.
And the Lord appeared often to His own, and to them alone; comforting and confirming their hearts with His message of peace.
Now we, as disciples of the Lord, require above all else to be more occupied with His Person and the power of His resurrection. It is essential for us first to get to know God, His presence, His holiness and majesty, His power and glory. This is possible, for through Jesus Christ our Lord, we have the unspeakable privilege of knowing the eternal God as our heavenly Father. And these experiences will have a most sobering effect upon our hearts and lives, even as they did in the service of the disciples.
Fearlessly, faithfully, and unceasingly, they proclaimed their message — the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the only basis of eternal salvation.
What a wonderful message! What a wonderful Saviour! He is the only gleam of hope in the world today. Let us adjust our pattern of service to the example set by the apostles. Then, differences and difficulties will fade in the light of a common purpose, and we will experience the same kind of rich and bountiful harvest.
Let us gather around His glorious Person, with the sole purpose of heeding His teaching concerning Himself.
Let us attribute to Him all glory, praise, and honour, for He alone is worthy.
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Faith says not, “I see that it is good for me, so God must have sent it,” but, “God sent it, and so it must be good for me.”