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24. The Resurrection, Ascension

1But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came unto the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4And it came to pass, while they were perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel: 5and as they were affrighted and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7saying that the Son of man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8And they remembered his words, 9and returned from the tomb, and told all these things to the eleven, and to all the rest. 10Now they were Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James: and the other women with them told these things unto the apostles. 11And these words appeared in their sight as idle talk; and they disbelieved them. 12But Peter arose, and ran unto the tomb; and stooping and looking in, he seeth the linen cloths by themselves; and he departed to his home, wondering at that which was come to pass. 13And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was threescore furlongs from Jerusalem. 14And they communed with each other of all these things which had happened. 15And it came to pass, while they communed and questioned together, that Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17And he said unto them, What communications are these that ye have one with another, as ye walk? And they stood still, looking sad. 18And one of them, named Cleopas, answering said unto him, Dost thou alone sojourn in Jerusalem and not know the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21But we hoped that it was he who should redeem Israel. Yea and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things came to pass. 22Moreover certain women of our company amazed us, having been early at the tomb; 23and when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24And certain of them that were with us went to the tomb, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. 25And he said unto them, O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory? 27And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 28And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they were going: and he made as though he would go further. 29And they constrained him, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent. And he went in to abide with them. 30And it came to pass, when he had sat down with them to meat, he took the bread and blessed; and breaking it he gave to them. 31And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32And they said one to another, Was not our heart burning within us, while he spake to us in the way, while he opened to us the scriptures? 33And they rose up that very hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, 34saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. 35And they rehearsed the things that happened in the way, and how he was known of them in the breaking of the bread. 36And as they spake these things, he himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 37But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they beheld a spirit. 38And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and wherefore do questionings arise in your heart? 39See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold me having. 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here anything to eat? 42And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish. 43And he took it, and ate before them. 44And he said unto them, These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me. 45Then opened he their mind, that they might understand the scriptures; 46and he said unto them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; 47and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48Ye are witnesses of these things. 49And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power from on high. 50And he led them out until they were over against Bethany: and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. 52And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: 53and were continually in the temple, blessing God.

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43. Verily I tell thee. Though Christ had not yet made a public triumph over death, still he displays the efficacy and fruit of his death in the midst of his humiliation. And in this way he shows that he never was deprived of the power of his kingdom; for nothing more lofty or magnificent belongs to a divine King, 278278     “Au Roy celeste;” — “to the heavenly King.” than to restore life to the dead. So then, Christ, although, struck by the hand of God, he appeared to be a man utterly abandoned, yet as he did not cease to be the Savior of the world, he was always endued with heavenly power for fulfilling his office. And, first, we ought to observe his inconceivable readiness in so kindly receiving the robber without delay, and promising to make him a partaker 279279     “De le faire participant.” of a happy life. There is therefore no room to doubt that he is prepared to admit into his kingdom all, without exception, who shall apply to him. Hence we may conclude with certainty that we shall be saved, provided that he remember us; and it is impossible that he shall forget those who commit to him their salvation.

But if a robber found the entrance into heaven so easy, because, while he beheld on all sides ground for total despair, he relied on the grace of Christ; much more will Christ, who has now vanquished death, stretch out his hand to us from his throne, to admit us to be partakers of life. For since Christ has

nailed to his cross the handwriting which was opposed to us,
(Colossians 2:14,)

and has destroyed death and Satan, and in his resurrection has triumphed over the prince of the world, (John 12:31,) it would be unreasonable to suppose that the passage from death to life will be more laborious and difficult to us than to the robber. Whoever then in dying shall commit to Christ, in true faith, the keeping of his soul, will not be long detained or allowed to languish in suspense; but Christ will meet his prayer with the same kindness which he exercised towards the robber. Away, then, with that detestable contrivance of the Sophists about retaining the punishment when the guilt is removed; for we see how Christ, in acquitting him from condemnation, frees him also from punishment. Nor is this inconsistent with the fact, that the robber nevertheless endures to the very last the punishment which had been pronounced upon him; for we must not here imagine any compensation which serves the purpose of satisfaction for appeasing the judgment of God, (as the Sophists dream,) but the Lord merely trains his elect by corporal punishments to displeasure and hatred of sin. Thus, when the robber has been brought by fatherly discipline to self-denial Christ receives him, as it were, into his bosom, and does not send him away to the fire of purgatory.

We ought likewise to observe by what keys the gate of heaven was opened to the robber; for neither papal confession nor satisfactions are here taken into account, but Christ is satisfied with repentance and faith, so as to receive him willingly when he comes to him. And this confirms more fully what I formerly suggested, that if any man disdain to abide by the footsteps of the robber, and to follow in his path, he deserves everlasting destruction, because by wicked pride he shuts against himself the gate of heaven. And, certainly, as Christ has given to all of us, in the person of the robber, a general pledge of obtaining forgiveness, so, on the other hand, he has bestowed on this wretched man such distinguished honor, in order that, laying aside our own glory, we may glory in nothing but the mercy of God alone. If each of us shall truly and seriously examine the subject, we shall find abundant reason to be ashamed of the prodigious mass of our crimes, so that we shall not be offended at having for our guide and leader a poor wretch, who obtained salvation by free grace. Again, as the death of Christ at that time yielded its fruit, so we infer from it that souls, when they have departed from their bodies, continue to live; otherwise the promise of Christ, which he confirms even by an oath, would be a mockery.

Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. We ought not to enter into curious and subtle arguments about the place of paradise. Let us rest satisfied with knowing that those who are engrafted by faith into the body of Christ are partakers of that life, and thus enjoy after death a blessed and joyful rest, until the perfect glory of the heavenly life is fully manifested by the coming of Christ.

One point still remains. What is promised to the robber does not alleviate his present sufferings, nor make any abatement of his bodily punishment. This reminds us that we ought not to judge of the grace of God by the perception of the flesh; for it will often happen that those to whom God is reconciled are permitted by him to be severely afflicted. So then, if we are dreadfully tormented in body, we ought to be on our guard lest the severity of pain hinder us from tasting the goodness of God; but, on the contrary, all our afflictions ought to be mitigated and soothed by this single consolation, that as soon as God has received us into his favor, all the afflictions which we endure are aids to our salvation. This will cause our faith not only to rise victorious over all our distresses, but to enjoy calm repose amidst the endurance of sufferings.




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