Sermon 3559. The Pierced Heart of Jesus
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 1917.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Then came the soldiers and broke the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with Him. But when they cameto Jesus and saw that He was dead already, they broke not His legs, but one ofthe soldiers with a spear pierced His side,and forthwith there came out blood and water. And he that saw it bares record that his record is true: and he knows that heis telling the truth, that you might believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled. A bone ofHim shall not be broken. And again another Scripture says, They shall look on Him whom they have pierced." John 19:32-37.
WHAT a wonderful conjunction of Prophecy and Providence! I want you to behold it, and admire it. Two texts of Scripture predict,the one in Exodus the other in Zechariah (such a long interval having occurred between the distinct records), the former thatnot a bone of the Paschal Lamb should be broken-the latter that He should be pierced. How were these two to be fulfilled inthe minuteness of one incident? The rough Roman soldier comes with the iron bar to break the bones of the three prisonerswho have been crucified. He has orders to break their legs. The well-disciplined soldier acts almost mechanically, accordingto orders. Roman discipline was of the very sternest kind. Will not the soldier, therefore, break the legs of Jesus? No! Movedby some strange impulse, he marks that one of the three, Jesus, who is called Christ, is already dead. Though commanded tobreak His legs, he forbears-but, most likely to clear himself of all doubt on that point, he pierces His side with a spear!The willfulness of the soldier, wavering though wanton, thus fulfilled both the prophecies of which he must have been, himself,totally ignorant! And this was brought about, first, by his not doing what he was ordered to do and, secondly, by doing whathe had not been ordered to do! Oh, how inscrutable the mystery of Providence! How marvelously does God rule the sons of menwhile He leaves them to their own free will! Did not this soldier act altogether as a free agent, whether following the dictatesof his reason or the impulse of his temper, when he thus unwittingly, by his singular conduct, verified to the letter thewords of Prophecy as precisely and entirely as if he had been a mere puppet moved with wires at the instigation of anothermind and another hand than his own? This was not an accidental circumstance, or a singular coincidence-it was Providence-asublime purpose of God brought to pass by simple means. Irregularities among men do not disorganize the ordained purposesof Heaven, and what we think to be chaos is a well-ordered system far beyond our imagination, into which we vainly attemptto peer.
I need not detain you with any speculations arising out of the piercing of our Savior by the spear. It has been, I think,very soberly argued that in all probability the physical cause of our Savior's death was a broken heart. In a scientific treatiseby one who had studied the anatomy of the subject, and investigated cases which appeared, after death, to bear some resemblanceto our Savior's case, it has been shown that when, on the heart being pierced, a small portion of blood and water has flowed,death has been traceable to a broken heart with intense grief. So, if we may assign a physical cause to the death of our Lord,it appears most probable to have been so occasioned. It was anguish that, in the first stage, produced a bloody sweat in Gethsemane,and in the last stage ruptured His heart. Not, however, that I am inclined to attach any importance to such arguments or speculations.For my part I do not see that there is any analogy, or that analogy need be sought between the case of the Savior and thecase of any common man. The anatomist would be baffled with an analysis! The body of any ordinary person would exhibit symptomsof corruption. From this, He that hung upon the Cross was exempt. When death comes, and the vital spark quits the human frame,the process of decomposition speedily begins. But our Lord saw no corruption! Overshadowed as was His virgin mother by theSpirit at her conception,
His birth was predicted as "that holy thingwhich shall be born of you." Through the entire course of His life on earth, theSpirit rested upon Him in a special manner. And even after His soul had left His body, the Spirit preserved and kept thatbody so that the prophecy was fulfilled, "Neither will You suffer Your Holy One to see corruption." Hence you search in vainfor a parallel. The disparity of any instances that might be sought for is so palpable that you really have not any data tostart with, or any premises to reason upon in the effort to judge of what happened in the anatomy of the sacred body of ourblessed Lord. Instead of following speculations which rather belong to the physician than the theologian, I desire the Spiritof God to conduct us into some spiritual reflections arising out of the piercing of the heart of Jesus Christ by the soldier'sspear. One observation, I think, lies upon the very surface of the narrative. I. EVEN AFTER OUR LORD'S DEATH, MEN RUDELY ASSAILEDHIM.
Was it not enough that they had scourged His back? Did it not suffice that they had put a crown of thorns on His head? Wasit not sufficient that they had nailed His feet and His hands to the Cross? And yet after they were satisfied that the lifehad been forfeited to the law, and the body was already dead, nothing could content human cruelty till His heart was piercedwith the lance! Say, now, was not this man who pierced Christ's heart a fair, though a foul, sample of our sinful race? Hisheartless act a type of our headstrong profanity? We, too, after the Savior's death, have pierced Him! Shall I show you how?The crime is so common that you come to condone it. His Godhead is His Glory. Deny His Deity and you not only detract fromHis dignity, but you make Him unworthy of our confidence! This is to thrust the spear into His very heart! Your tone is treacherouswhen you say, "He is but a Man. Though an admirable Teacher, I can only regard Him as a finite creature." Oh, how many peoplego up and down among us professing to be members of a Protestant Church and Believers in the Scripture, who yet will not acknowledgethe miracles of Christ to be authentic, worked in token of His own Personal authority, bearing the witness of His Father,and conveying a clear proof that He was the Son of God? The Lord have mercy upon those who in this respect pierce our dearRedeemer afresh! If any of us have been guilty of this sin, may we be converted from our dangerous error, and led to avowHim, like Thomas, "My Lord and my God."
They pierce Him, too, who attack the Doctrines which He taught, and the testimony which He delivered. The Truth of God wasin Christ's heart-it was written there. Whatever He preached with His lips, He sanctified with His life. His heart was a fountainwhence came all those Doctrines which reveal the Father to us. If men attack any Truth revealed to us by Christ, they do ineffect what the soldier did in fact-they do spiritually as this Roman soldier did literally-they thrust at His heart! If youdisparage the words that Jesus spoke, or call in question the Truth that He showed to His disciples and made manifest in theWord of God, what is there left of that mission in which He made known the will of God, the Father? To proclaim this TruthHe came! To bear witness to this Truth He died! He witnessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate. If you touch those Doctrines,you touch the apple of His eye-no, you pierce His heart again! How do they also thrust at His heart who persecute His people!And has He not often been wounded thus through all the centuries that have transpired since He ascended up on high to theFather's right hand? Saul of Tarsus pierced His heart, for Jesus said, "Why do you persecute Me?" The sufferings of the menand women, hauled to prison, and beaten in the synagogue, and compelled to blaspheme, were injuries wantonly and wickedlydone to Christ, Himself! And what shall we say of the martyrs, their groans in the prisons, their cries at the rack, theirpangs at the stake, their blood so cruelly shed-have not all these touched the Savior's heart?
So, too, every rude jeer and ribald jest, every hard word and bitter taunt aimed at a follower of Christ is a reproach ofthe dear Lord and Master for whose sake it is meekly borne. But on their part, "who whet their tongue like a sword," it isaimed at the heart of Jesus, on whom they cannot otherwise wreak their vengeance, now, for He cannot henceforth suffer, exceptin sympathy with the sufferings of His saints!
And there is yet another class of persons who, although Christ's sufferings are over, still continue to pierce Him. They aresuch us pretend to be His disciples, but they lie and practice a foul hypocrisy! Are there any such present? I tremble asI ask the question. As there were false apostles of yore, so there are foul apostates in these days! Their profession is onlythe prelude to their perfidy. They make solemn pledge to obey Him, but, like Judas, they only wait for a suited opportunityto betray Him. They will sell the Savior for silver-only let the price be high enough-their principle is low enough! Theirconscience will not hesitate to "crucify the Lord afresh, and put Him to an open shame." Oh, you inconsistent professors!Oh, you graceless men and women! How dare you come to the Table of His fellowship? Youhave a name to live, and yet you aredead! You are crucifying Him! You are piercing Him! The guilt of the Roman soldier clings to you!
I fear, too, there is another class that pierces His heart-it includes those who refuse to believe in His willingness to forgivethem. When under conviction of sin, it may be difficult to believe that one can be pardoned, but when the Grace of our LordJesus Christ is revealed to us and His infinite condescension that brought Him to suffer for us-it does seem unbelievablethat any should doubt Him! Yet there are some who link their chains, sit down in despair, and say, "He is not willing to forgive."So unkind, ungenerous a thought as that-that He is unwilling to forgive-pierces Him to the heart and cuts Him to the quick!I know some of you do not mean this. You are startled, now that you think what you are doing. I pray the Lord you may humblytrust Him! Oh, do not doubt Him-the Son of God, who suffered for His enemies, surrendering His life, even for the ungodly!Will you, can you still distrust Him? Will you doubt the testimony which God has given concerning His Son? Were it not farbetter that you honored Him by casting yourselves at His feet? Angels that sing His praises night and day unceasingly do nothonor Him more than you will do, if, all black and defiled as you are, you will come and trust Him that He can wash you andmake you whiter than snow! Oh, do this and pierce His heart no more!
Some men pierce the heart of Christ through their carelessness. They trifle and even scoff because they have not known Him,or sought by any means to learn what claims He has upon their homage. They disparage those Divine features of His ministrywhich they have never properly understood. So they pierce the heart of Christ out of ignorant prejudice! They are unacquaintedwith the Gospel. All that they have heard or read about it has been from the tongue or pen of opponent or satirist, and then,catching their temper, they have joined in reviling it! Alas, too, there are some who malign the Savior out of mere malice.Though they know better, yet they willfully blaspheme His name. Stop, oh, stop, and pierce Him no more, I pray you, lest Hethat has meekly endured so long as the Lamb of God, should suddenly stir Himself up as the lion of the tribe of Judah andmake you feel the terror of His Power, who will not feel the majesty of His love! So much for our first point. Even afterJesus' death, there are those who still pierce Him. Our second thought is such as I am charmed to give you.
II. THESE ATTACKS UPON THE SAVIOR ARE OVERRULED TO DISPLAY HIS GRACE THE BETTER.
His heart is pierced, it is true, but with what result, my Brothers and Sisters? Does there flash from it fire? Does the pealof thundering wrath roll over the sinner's head? Ah, no! It is like the sandal tree that perfumes the axe that wounds it.That spear, no sooner is it withdrawn from the wound, than there gushes a fountain of blood and water. The attacks that aremade upon Jesus Christ only display His virtues. Observe how this is brought about. If the Truth of God is attacked, and theGospel is assailed, what is the immediate consequence? Why, then, the saints search deeper into it, so they come to understandthe Doctrine better! They learn the arguments by which it is sustained and they love the Truth of God with fonder, as wellas stronger convictions, till they feel moved to sacrifice themselves for it! The heart of Christ was opened by the spear,and often the heart of the Truth of God is revealed by the opposition brought to bear against it. They think to confute ourDoctrines-they do but confirm our faith in their verity! Where they think they shall prove us fools, they help to make ussages! They drive us to the root of the matter and they rather establish us in the precious Truth! The March wind tears notup the oak, but roots it more firmly in its native soil. So shall it ever be with attacks made upon our Lord and Master! Weshall understand Him the better and discover more of the Scriptures that were fulfilled in Him!
Moreover, it often happens that when Christ is opposed by persecution, the Gospel is proclaimed with more zeal, and diffusedwith more rapidity. The saints who were, in early days, persecuted in Jerusalem, went everywhere preaching the Word of God.What if I say the spear of persecution does, as it were, set the atoning blood flowing more freely among the sons of men,and make the purifying water of the Savior's Sacrifice to be dispersed over a wider area, and among a larger population? ShallI compare the persecuted Church to an oppressed nation, and remind you that, like Israel in Egypt, the more they were oppressed,the more they multiplied and grew? The spear let loose the blood and water from the heart of Jesus, and the spear of persecutionlets loose the Gospel-and compels Christian men who might have rested in inglorious ease to go forward and laboriously dispensethe Gospel of salvation, telling the Grace of God to perishing men! So, too (but let no man turn this into evil), the verysin of men which does wound Christ becomes the means of magnifying God's Grace! Though it is a vile thing to say, "Let ussin that Grace may abound," yet is it a most glorious Truth of God that where sin abounds, Grace does much more abound! Thusthe cleansing power of the blood becomes more renowned by reason of the sin that made this wondrous Sacrifice necessary. Perhapswe had never known the Savior so well if we had not seen sin so clearly in the lives of the pardoned ones, who afterwardswere washed, cleansed and sanctified by His purifying energy. The very opposition that comes forth is overruled for His triumph!The stronger His foes, the louder the shout of victory when He returns from the strife!
And when the Church is assailed (which is one way of piercing Christ) she gets some immediate benefit from the grievous trial,for persecution acts like a great winnowing fan that drives the chaff away from the floor on which the pure grain is housed.It is to the Church like a refiner's fire. The mere dross is separated. The faithless, who are found among the faithful, soonapostatize, while the sterling gold and silver, the genuine lovers of Christ, are purged and purified by the ordeal throughwhich they are compelled to pass! Oh, blessed Savior, they do pierce You, and pierce You they may, but You are honored, fortheir bitter reviling elicits Your sweet virtue! They may thrust their spears into Your very heart, but by giving forth Yourown energy of love and mercy, and greeting them with salvation, You do conquer those who thought to conquer You! Put thesetwo things together Brothers and Sisters-man still continuing to wound the Savior-and the more redundant display of the Savior'sGrace as the consequence! Then find a total if you can.
Another thought, which diverges a little from the last, may help us to pursue our meditation. Since the soldier sent His spearinto the Savior's heart-
III. THE WAY TO THAT HEART IS OPEN.
It was always open, in fact, for He always loved the sons of men, but now you can see it open! It was no little wound thatwas made by the lance, for into it, we read, Thomas put His hand. What a gaping fissure must that have been into which theApostle might put his palm! "Reach here, your hand, and thrust it into My side." He still lives, as no one of us could live,with a passage to the heart always open! In His very flesh He testifies to us today that His heart is ready to receive anymessage that His children may choose to send-and equally ready to respond with the love that has its fountain there! Beholdthe open heart of Jesus! It is open that all the Divine Grace that is within it may freely flow to undeserving sinners. Thinknot, Sinner, that you have need to open Jesus' side. The blood has flown freely. Say now, will you come and wash in it? Youhave not to beg for cleansing, as though it were a gift hardly to be obtained by importunity- it flows, it still flows! Heis willing-as willing as He is able, and as able as He is willing-to cleanse you from your guilt! Whatever there may be inthe heart of Christ, it all flows out! The precious liquid is kept within, but set loose for every needy, thirsty soul. Hisheart is open!
It is open for the doubter t o put his hand into it now. Where are you, Thomas? Do you ask some hard thing and say, "ExceptI see this and that, I will not believe"? Oh, Trembler, weighed down by your sins and your weakness, do you not see Him thisday in Glory, with His heart still open towards you? Put your hand into the wound and say, "My Lord and my God." Accept yourSavior without hesitation or delay! Come and find rest in Him. His side is open for your hand to reach His heart. It is open-thatside is open-for those who pierced Him to look in to see what they have done, and lament it. But see how tender is His heart,and go to Him without fear. You pierced Him-look at Him and mourn because you did so. You sinners, though you did put yourLord to death, His heart is open to you! He invites you to come and receive His mercy that He has treasured up for you. Oh,come, come! He will receive you now. His heart is open to sympathize with the griefs and woes, the prayers and pleadings,the desires and longings of all His people!
You know we have to get to some men's hearts through their ears, and through their eyes. In not a few of our callous race,these passages are choked up. You show them sorrow, and they see it without emotion. You cannot reach their heart. If youtell them a pitiful tale of deep distress, they hear it with indifference, for somehow the story loses its way in the mazesof the ear-it does not reach the heart. Far otherwise is it with your Lord. His heart is so accessible that you need not fearHe will not hear you, or that He will not heed your faintest cry! You will feel that you can come close, straight, quick toHim, by a near passage you reach His very soul at once. Say not, then, that no one sympathizes with you! Jesus does! He cannotfail to pity, solace, or to cheer. His pierced heart sympathizes far more quickly than the most tender heart that ever livedbefore or after. His love passes the love of women, tender as that is. There is no love like that of Him with the open heart-thelove of Jesus with the opened heart-with the open side!
I cannot express to you what I see in this bare fact, this blessed Truth. I wish I could. But it would be still better ifyou could see the same. Oh, I can come to Him, now, and put my prayers into His side-can come and put my desires into
His side! Oh, Jesus, "all my desire is before You, and my groans are not hid from You. I have but five senses, You have anew one-You have a new way to Your heart such as we poor mortals have not. I and my Brothers and Sisters may be inattentive,but You never are. You are He of the wounded heart-forever sympathetic-forever full of gentleness!"
I might linger on this thought, but I prefer leaving it to your meditation, lest I should darken it with words. So let usfinish with a last reflection.
IV. A WOUND IN CHRIST'S SIDE REVEALS THE HEART OF JESUS IN ITS PRECIOUSNESS.
That spear did, as it were, break the alabaster box and let out the sweet perfume. What, then, was there in the Savior's heart?Men carry in their hearts that which is dearest. The true man is what he is at the heart's core. What was our blessed Redeemer'slife-thought-the compelling motive of His life-work? Upon what did He most of all concentrate the desires and affections ofHis heart? See you not that when pierced, there flowed forth blood and water? Those two things, then, must have been the nearestto the purpose of His heart. Hence I discern that in my Lord's heart, there was, first, a strong determination to purge sinnersfrom their guilt by His blood. The atoning Sacrifice is not merely the hand blood of the Savior's work, nor is it merely thefoot blood of the Savior's journeying through the vale of tears-it was His heart's blood, indicative of heart-work-it wasthe blood of Redemption shed for us. He loved that work. He was straitened till He could accomplish it. And let me tell youit is Christ's joy to wash you from your sin! Start not back because your conscience is troubled. He has opened a fountainfor your uncleanness-in the very midst of the house of David has He opened it. He delights to take away your guilt-
"Dear, dying Lamb, Your precious blood Shall never lose its power, Till all the ransomed Church of God Is saved to sin nomore."
It has not lost its power! Then let it plead for me! To me let it be precious! Let me feel its potent virtue. By it may Ihave boldness. Like the Apostle, may I say, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who justifies;who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died." Oh, to have the blood applied to the conscience! Rest not till you hearit speak peace through your whole nature, till you see the curse removed and are assured that there now is, therefore, nocondemnation for you because you are in Christ Jesus! It is Christ's heart-work to redeem His people by His blood. Oh, thatHe may now see of the travail of His soul in your redemption!
Moreover, Beloved, in Christ's heart there was the water as well as the blood. He would have His people sanctified as wellas pardoned. He would deliver them from the power as well as from the guilt of sin! I believe this is very near Christ's heart.That He may present His Church without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, is His design as well as His desire. His Spiritis working to this end. That He might not allow so much as a single stain to rest upon the nature of His people is alike thepleasure and the purpose of Christ! He has put their guilt away by the Sacrifice of Himself. This is done. Yet He continuesto demand their self-sacrifice, that He may put away their evil propensities, the fruit of their first father's fall. My Soul,glorify the pierced heart of Christ! Give Him to see in yourself the effect of the water that flowed from His heart! "Be youholy," He says, "as I am holy." "Be you perfect," He says again, "even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect." Denythe flesh with its affections and lusts! Separate yourselves from sinners! Avoid partaking of other men's sins! Like Christ,be you "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." This can only be effected by the Spirit's vital applicationof the Savior's atoning death. Stay at the foot of the Cross. Live under the influence of His Passion. Pray that you may riseout of this world's fading, failing vanity, into newness of life through His pierced heart! In other words, let us stand inpenitence before the Crucified One and mourn that we pierced Him. But let us stand in His Propitiation, rejoicing that Hispiercing has procured our pardon!
So let us go on our way, resolved, by His help, that we will glorify Him "in all manner of holy conversation and godliness."For, "He that saw it bares record, and his record is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth, that you might believe."May you believe, may you all believe the record is true! Believing, you shall have life through His name! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: MATTHEW27:50-66.
Verse 50. Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost Christ's strength was not exhausted-His lastword was uttered with a loud voice, like the shout of a conquering warrior! And what a word it was, "It is finished"! Thousandsof sermons have been preached upon that little sentence, but who can tell all the meaning that lies compacted within it? Itis a kind of infinite expression for breadth, and depth, and length, and height altogether immeasurable! Christ's life beingfinished, perfected, completed-He yielded up the ghost-willingly dying, laying down His life as He said He would! "I lay downMy life for the sheep. . .I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again."
51-53. And, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rockswere split, and the graves were opened; and many of the bodies which slept, arose and came out of the graves after His Resurrection,and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Christ's death was the end of Judaism- "The veil of the Temple was tornin two from the top to the bottom." As if shocked at the sacrilegious murder of her Lord, the Temple tore her garments, likeone stricken with horror at some stupendous crime. The body of Christ being rent, the veil of the Temple was torn in two fromthe top to the bottom. Now was there an entrance made into the Holiest of All by the blood of Jesus-and a way of access toGod was opened for every sinner who trusted in Christ's atoning Sacrifice!
See what marvels accompanied and followed the death of Christ-"The earth did quake, and the rocks were split, and the graveswere opened." Thus did the material world pay homage to Him whom man had rejected, while Nature's convulsions foretold whatwill happen when Christ's voice once more shakes not the earth only, but also Heaven! These first miracles worked in connectionwith the death of Christ were typical of spiritual wonders that will be continued till He comes again-rocky hearts are splitin two, graves of sin are opened, those who have been dead in trespasses and sins, and buried in sepulchers of lust and evil,are quickened and come out from among the dead, and go into the holy city, the New Jerusalem.
54. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done,they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.These Roman soldiers had never witnessed such scenes in connectionwith an execution, before, and they could only come to one conclusion about the illustrious Prisoner whom they had put todeath-"Truly this was the Son of God." It was strange that those men should confess what the chief priests and scribes andelders denied, yet since their day it has often happened that the most abandoned and profane have acknowledged Jesus as theSon of God, while their religious rulers have denied His Divinity.
55-56. And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto Him: Among whichwas Mary Magdalene, and Mary the Mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children. We have no record of anyunkindness to our Lord from any woman, though we have many narratives of the loving ministry of women at various periods inHis life. It was meet, therefore, that even at Calvary, "many women were there beholding afar off." The ribald crowd and therough soldiers would not permit these timid, yet brave souls, to come near. But we learn from John 19:25 that some of them edged their way through the throng till they "stood by the Cross of Jesus." Love will dare anything.
57, 58. When the evening was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, namedJoseph, who also, himself, was Jesus ' disciple.He went to Pilate, and begged for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. This rich man of Arimathaea,named Joseph, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrim, was Jesus' disciple, "but secretly for fear of the Jews" (John 19:38). Yet when his Lord was actually dead, extraordinary courage nerved his spirit and he boldly went to Pilate and begged forthe body of Jesus. Joseph and Nicodemus are types of many more who have been emboldened by the Cross of Christ to do what,without that mighty magnet, they would never have attempted! When night comes, the stars appear-so in the night of Christ'sdeath, these two bright stars shone forth with blessed radiance! Some flowers bloom only at night-such a blossom was the courageof Joseph and Nicodemus.
59, 60. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which hehad hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed.Our King, even in the grave,must have the best of the best-His body was "wrapped in a clean linen cloth, and laid in Joseph's own new tomb, thus completingthe fulfillment of Isaiah 53:9. Some see in this linen shroud an allusion to the garments inwhich priests were to be clothed. Joseph's was a virgin sepulcher,wherein up to that time no one had been buried, so that, when Jesus rose, none could say that another came forth from thetomb instead of Him.
That rock-hewn cell in the garden sanctified every part of God's acre where saints lie buried. Instead of longing to livetill Christ comes, as some do, we might rather pray to have fellowship with Jesus in His death and burial.
61. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulcher. Love and faith were both typifiedby these two Marys sitting over against the sepulcher. They will be the last to leave their Lord's resting place, and thefirst to return to it when the Sabbath is past! Can we cling to Christ when His cause seems to be dead and buried? When theTruth of God is fallen in the streets, or is even buried in the sepulcher of skepticism or superstition, can we still believein it and look forward to its resurrection? That is what some of us are doing at the present time. O Lord, keep us faithful!
62-64. Now the next day, that followed the day of 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 thereforethat the Sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night, and stealHim away, and say unto thepeople, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Those punctilious priests and Pharisees,who were so scrupulous about keeping the Sabbath, did not mind profaning the Day of Rest by holding a consultation with theRoman governor! They knew that Christ was dead and buried, but they still stood in dread of His power. They called Him a "deceiver,"and they even pretended to "remember" what "He said, while He was yet alive." At His trial, their false witnesses gave anothermeaning to His words, but they knew all the while that He was speaking of His Resurrection, not of the Temple on Mount Zion!Now they are afraid that, even in the sepulcher, He will bring to nothing all their plans for His destruction. They must haveknown that the disciples of Jesus would not steal Him away and say to the people, "He is risen from the dead"-so they probablyfeared that he really would come forth from the tomb! Whatever conscience they had, made great cowards of them, so they beggedPilate to do what he could to prevent the rising of their Victim.
65, 66. Pilate said unto them, You have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as you can. So they went and made the sepulchersure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch. The chief priests and Pharisees wanted Pilate to make the se-pulcher sure, buthe left them to secure it. There seems to have been a grim sort of irony about the governor's reply, "You have a watch; goyour way, make it as sure as you can." Whether he meant it as a taunt, or as a command to secure the sepulcher, they becameunconsciously witnesses that Christ's Resurrection was a supernatural act! The tomb in the rock could not be entered exceptby rolling away the stone, and they guarded that by sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
According to the absurd teaching of the Rabbis, rubbing ears of corn was a kind of threshing and, therefore, was unlawfulon the Sabbath-yet here were these men doing what, by similar reasoning, might be called furnace and foundry work, and callingout a guard of Roman legionaries to assist them in breaking the Sabbath! Unintentionally, they did honor to the sleeping Kingwhen they obtained the representatives of the Roman emperor to watch His resting place till the third morning, when He cameforth Victor over sin, and death, and the grave! Thus once more was the wrath of man made to praise the King of Glory, andthe remainder of that wrath was restrained.