A Risen Savior's Challenge

The period during which our blessed Lord lay in the tomb must needs
have proved a dark and bewildering moment to many of those who looked
for redemption in Israel. It would demand a calm, clear and vigorous
faith to raise the heart above the heavy clouds which gathered just
then upon the horizon of God’s people, and it does not appear that many
possessed such a faith at that trying moment.

We may doubtless look upon the two disciples who travelled together to
Emmaus as illustrating the condition of many, if not all, the beloved
saints of God during the three days and three nights that our beloved
Lord lay in the heart of the earth. They were thoroughly bewildered and
at their wits’ end. “They talked together of all these things which had
happened. And it came to pass that, while they communed together and
reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes
were holden (restrained) that they should not know Him.”  (Lk

Their minds were full of surrounding circumstances. All hope seemed
gone. Their fondly cherished expectations were blasted, apparently. The
whole scene was overcast by the dark shadow of death, and their poor
hearts were sad.

But mark how the risen Savior’s challenge falls upon their drooping
spirits! “And He said unto them, What manner of communications are
these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?” (verse 17)

Surely this was a reasonable and weighty question for those dear
disciples – a question eminently calculated to recall them, as we say,
to their senses. It was precisely what they wanted at the moment,
occupied as they were with circumstances instead of resting in the
eternal and immutable truth of God. Scripture was clear and plain
enough had they only hearkened to its voice. But instead of listening
only to the distinct testimony of the eternal Spirit in the Word they
had allowed their minds to get thoroughly down under the action and
influences of outward circumstances. Instead of standing with firm foot
on the everlasting rock of divine revelation, they were struggling amid
the billows of life’s stormy ocean. In a word, they had for a moment
fallen under the power of death so far as their minds were concerned,
and no marvel if their hearts were sad and their communications gloomy.

And does it not sometimes happen that you and I in like manner get down
under the power  of things seen and temporal, instead of living by
faith in the light of things unseen and eternal? Yes, even we who
profess to know and believe in a risen Savior –  who believe that
we are dead and risen with Him – who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in
us, do not we at times sink and cower? Has not that precious, loving
Savior offtimes occasion to put the question to our hearts, “What
manner of communications are these that ye have one to another?”

Does it not often happen that when we come together or when we walk by
the way our “communications” are anything but what they ought to be? It
may be gloomily moping together over the depressing circumstances which
surround us – the weather – the prospects of the country – the state of
trade – our poor health – the difficulty of making both ends meet –
anything and everything, in short, but the right thing.

Yes, and so occupied do we become with such things that our spiritual
eyes are holden (restrained), and we do not take knowledge of the
blessed One who in His tender faithful love is at our side, and He has
to challenge our vagrant hearts with His pointed and powerful question,
“What manner of communications are these that ye have?”

Let us think of this. It really demands our consideration. We are all
far too apt to allow our minds to fall under the power and pressure of
circumstances, instead of living in the power of faith. We get occupied
with our surroundings instead of dwelling upon “things above” – those
bright and blessed realities which are ours in Christ.

And what is the result? Do we better our circumstances, or brighten our
prospects by gloomily moping over them? Not in the smallest degree.
What then? We simply make ourselves miserable and our communications
depressing; and, worst of all, we bring dishonor on the cause of Christ.

Christians forget how much is involved in their temper, manner, look,
and deportment in daily life. We forget that the Lord’s glory is
intimately bound up with our daily deportments. We all know that, in
social life, we judge the character of the head of a household by what
we see of his children and servants. If we observed the children
looking miserable and downcast, we should be disposed to pronounce
their father morose, severe and arbitrary. If we see the servants
crushed and overwrought, we consider the master hard–hearted and
grinding. In short, as a rule, you can form a tolerably fair estimate
of the head of a house by the tone, spirit, style and manner of the
members of his household.

How earnestly, then, should we seek, as members of the household of
God,  to give a right impression of what He is by our temper,
spirit, style and manner! If men of the world – those with whom we come
in contact from day to day in the practical details of life – if they
see us looking sour, morose, downcast – if they hear us giving
utterance to doleful complaints about this, that and the other – if
they see us occupied about our own things – grasping, griping, and
driving hard bargains like others – if they see us grinding our
servants with heavy work, low wages, and poor fare – what estimate can
they form of Him whom we call our Father and our Master in Heaven?

Let us not despise and turn away from such homely words. Depend upon
it, there is need of such in this day of much profession. There is a
vast amount of intellectual traffic in truth which leaves the
conscience unreached, the heart untouched, the life unaffected. We know
we are dead and risen; but when anything occurs to touch us, 
either in our persons, in our relations, or in our interests, we
speedily show how little power that precious truth has upon us.

May the Lord give us grace to apply our hearts very seriously and
earnestly to these things, so that there may be, in our daily course, a
more faithful exhibition of a genuine Christianity – such an exhibition
as shall glorify our own most gracious God and Father, and our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ – and such, too, as shall afford to those who come
in contact with us a fair specimen of what pure religion really is in
its action upon the entire course and character.

May we all realize more a risen Savior’s presence, and find therein a
triumphant answer to all the dark suggestions of the enemy, the
depressing reasonings of our own hearts, and the deadening influence of
surrounding circumstances. God, in His infinite mercy, grant it, for
Jesus’ sake.

It is impossible to read this charming section of inspiration (Luke 24)
and not be struck with what we may venture to call the rallying power
of a risen Savior’s voice and presence. We see the dear disciples
scattered hither and thither in doubt and perplexity, fear and
despondency – some running to the sepulchre; some coming from it; some
going to Emmaus, and some crowded together at Jerusalem, in various
states and conditions.

But the voice and realized presence of Jesus rallied, reassured, and
encouraged them all, and brought all together around His own blessed
Person in worship, love, and praise. There was an indescribable power
in His presence to meet every condition of heart and mind. Thus it was;
thus it is; thus it ever must be, blessed and praised be His precious
name! There is power in the presence of a risen Savior to solve our
difficulties, remove our perplexities, calm our fears, ease our
burdens, dry our tears, meet our every need, tranquilize our minds and
satisfy every craving of our hearts.

Jesus! Thou are enough,

The mind and heart to fill;

Thy life – to calm the anxious soul,

Thy love – its fear dispel.

The two disciples going to Emmaus proved something of this, if we are
to judge from their own glowing words to one another. “Did not our
heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He
opened to us the Scriptures?” (verse 32)  Yes, here lay the deep
and precious secret: “He  talked with us” – and “He  opened
to us the Scriptures!”  What seraphic moments! what high
communion! what loving ministry! A risen Savior rallying their hearts
by His marvelous words and mighty exposition of the Scriptures.

What was the effect – what the necessary result? The two travellers
instantly returned to Jerusalem to seek their brethren. It could not be
otherwise. If we lose sight of a risen Savior we are sure to get away
from our brethren, sure to get occupied with our own things; to pursue
our own way – to get into coldness, deadness, darkness, and
selfishness. But, on the other hand, the moment we get really into the
presence of Christ, when we hear His voice and feel the sweetness and
power of His love, when our hearts are brought under the mighty moral
influence of His most precious loving ministry, then we are led out in
true affection and interest after all our brethren and in earnest
desire to find our place in their midst in order that we may
communicate to them the deep joy that is filling our own souls.

We may lay it down as a fixed principle – a spiritual axiom – that it
is utterly impossible to breathe the atmosphere of a risen Savior’s
presence and remain in an isolated, independent, or fragmentary
condition. The necessary effect of His dear presence is to melt the
heart and cause it to flow out in streams of tender affection toward
all that belong to Him.

But let us pursue our chapter.

“And they rose up the same hour” of the night (verse 33) – thus proving
they had but little business at Emmaus, or how paramount was the
blessed object now before them, “and returned to Jerusalem, and found
the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The
Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what
things were done in the way, and how He was known of them in breaking
of bread. And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of
them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified
and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.” (verses

They, too, needed a risen Savior’s challenge to bring them to their
senses – to calm their fears and raise their drooping spirits. They
needed to realize the power of His presence as the risen One. They had
just declared to their two brethren from Emmaus that “The Lord is risen
indeed”; but yet when their risen Lord appeared to them they did not
know Him, and He had to challenge their hearts with His stirring words,
“Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold
My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me, and see; for a
spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have. And when He had
thus spoken, He showed them His hands and His feet. And while they yet
believed not for joy, and wondered, He said unto them, Have ye here any
meat? And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
And He took it, and did eat before them.” (verses 38–43)

What tender love! What gracious condescension to their weakness and
need! What compassionate entrance into all their feelings, in spite of
their folly and unbelief! Gracious Savior! Who would not love Thee? Who
would not trust Thee? May the whole  heart be absorbed with Thee!
May the whole life be cordially devoted to Thy blessed service! May Thy
cause command all our energies! May all we have and all we love be laid
on Thine altar as a reasonable service! May the eternal Spirit work in
us for the accomplishment of these grand and longed for objects!

But before closing this brief article there is one point  of
special interest and value to which we must call attention, and that
is, the way in which the risen Savior puts honor upon the written Word.
He rebuked the two travellers for their slowness of heart to believe
the Scriptures. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He
expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning
Himself.” (verse 27)

So also in His interview with the eleven and the rest at Jerusalem. No
sooner had He satisfied them as to His identity than He sought to
conduct their souls to the same divine authority – the Holy Scriptures.
“And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you,
while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were
written  in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the
Psalms, concerning Me. Then opened He their understanding that they
might understand the Scriptures,  and said unto them, Thus it is
written,  and thus it behoved (was necessary for) Christ to
suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance
and remission of sins would be preached in His name among all nations,
beginning at Jerusalem.” (verses 44–47)

All this is of the deepest possible importance at the present moment.
We feel persuaded that professing Christians everywhere need to have
their hearts stirred up in reference to the paramount claims of the
Word of God, its absolute authority over the conscience, its formative
power, its complete sway over the entire course, character and conduct.

It is to be feared, greatly feared, that Holy Scripture is fast losing
its divine place in the hearts of those who profess to take it as the
divine rule of faith and morals. We have often heard that watchword
sounded in our ears, “The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the religion
of Protestants.” Alas! if this motto were ever really true we fear that
its truth at this moment is more than questionable.

Very few, comparatively, even of those who occupy the very highest
platform of profession seem to admit, and still fewer actually
acknowledge practically, that in all things,  whether of faith or
morals, in all the practical details of life, in the Church, in the
family, in the business, and in our private walk from day to day – we
are to be governed absolutely by that commanding, that mighty, that
morally glorious sentence, “It is written” –  a sentence enhanced
exceedingly in value and heightened in its moral glory by the telling
fact that it was used thrice by our adorable Lord at the opening of His
public career, in His conflict with the adversary, and sounded in the
ears of His loved ones just as He was about to ascend into the heavens.

Yes, “It is written” was a favorite sentence with our divine Master and
Lord. He ever obeyed the Word. He yielded a hearty and unqualified
submission to its holy authority in all things. He lived on it and by
it from first to last. He walked according to it  and never acted
without it. He did not reason or question, imply or infer. He did not
add or diminish, or qualify in any one way – He obeyed.  Yes; He,
the eternal Son of the Father – Himself God over all blessed forever –
having become a man, lived on the Holy Scriptures and walked by their
rule continually. He made them the food of His soul, the material and
the basis of His marvelous ministry – the divine authority of His
perfect path.

In all this He was our great Exemplar. Oh, may we follow His blessed
footsteps! May we bring ourselves, our ways, our habits, our
associations, our surroundings, to the test of Holy Scripture, and
reject with whole–hearted decision everything, no matter what or by
whom propounded, that will not bear that searching light.

We are most thoroughly persuaded that in hundreds of thousands of cases
the first grand point to be gained is to recall the heart to that
delightful attitude in which the Word of God is fully owned and
submitted to as an absolute authority. It is positively labor lost to
be arguing and disputing with a man who does not give Scripture the
self–same place that our Lord Jesus Christ gave it. And when a man does
this there is no need of argument. What is really needed is to make the
Word of God the basis of our individual peace and authority of our
individual path. May we all do so!