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§ 294. Did Christ predict his Resurrection?

BEFORE describing the Resurrection, we must examine the question whether Christ foresaw and predicted that event as well as his sufferings.

It is true, we cannot prove, à priori, that he must necessarily have foreknown the Resurrection. If he had had only a confident certainty that the Holy Spirit would continue to work in his disciples, unfolding the truth He had taught them, and completing the training He had commenced, he might have left behind him his work on earth with calm assurance of the future; He need not necessarily have concluded that his corporeal reappearance to his followers in so short a time must form the link of connexion between his departure and the renewal of spiritual communion with them. Notwithstanding all this, however, the close connexion of Christ’s resurrection with his whole work as Redeemer must, in the outset, make it appear altogether improbable that he should not have foreknown it.

“But if he looked forward to his resurrection with full confidence, how can we account for his conflicts at the approach of death?” Here is the same enigma of the union of Divinity and Humanity which pervade the whole life of Christ, and is especially prominent at particular moments. Phenomena somewhat analogous appear in the coexisting emotions of the Divine and the natural life in believers imbued with the Spirit of Christ. The consciousness, in Him, that death was but a passage to his glorification did not prevent the strivings of nature with sufferings; nor could the assurance of speedy resurrection save him from the struggle. All that we can do is to distinguish the separate moments of his consciousness; remembering that faith is not one with 423intuition.792792   Christ is represented, Heb., xii., 2, as leading the way for believers, by himself reaching his glory through a perfectly tried faith. The sacrifice of Christ lost as little of its moral import by the assurance of resurrection as does the self-sacrifice of the believer who submits to the death-struggle in faith of a blissful life beyond.

But can it be proved that Christ predicted his resurrection to the disciples? May they not, at a later period, have attributed such an import to figurative expressions of his, like those in John, which, in reality, only referred to his spiritual manifestations to them; as was done with Matt., xii., 40, and John, ii., 19?

Even if we grant that this may have been the case with some of Christ’s expressions of the kind, it by no means follows that all the intimations of the resurrection were applied in this way only at a later period. The very fact that some of his sayings really did intimate it may have led to the attributing of this meaning to others that did not. In John, xx., 8, 9, we see an indication that the disciples, soon after his death, began to call to mind what he had said concerning his resurrection, and hope began to struggle with fear in their souls. But John has preserved to us one of Christ’s sayings which plainly points to his resurrection, viz., x., 17, 18. It is obvious that the declaration, “I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it up again,” was meant to imply something distinctive and peculiar to Christ; it is entirely emasculated by being applied to that immortality which is common to all men; nor can it be satisfied except by reference to his resurrection. There are passages in the synoptical Gospels (e.g., Matt., xvi., 21; Luke, ix., 22) in which Christ expressly foretells his resurrection, along with his sufferings, specifying the precise interval of three days; but it is marvellous that these precise declarations should neither have been understood nor made the subject of direct inquiry, often as they were repeated. This appears unhistorical; indeed, it is a thing to be looked for that tradition would give to such expressions, after the event, when their bearing was better understood, a more precise form than they really had at first. In John’s Gospel all Christ’s intimations are distant and indefinite, as is usual in prophecy; and this is one of the proofs of its genuine Apostolic origin.


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