Good News

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
~ John 14:23

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
~ Revelation 2:8

Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.
~ Luke 9:22

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
~ Matthew 12:40

And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.
~ Matthew 17:22-23

Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
~ Matthew 27:63

And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
~ Mark 8:31

For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.
~ Mark 9:31-32

The Good News of the Resurrection, by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. 1873.

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee.”— Luke xxiv. 5, 6.

The following contains an excerpt from his sermon, “The Lord is Risen Indeed”.

“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee.”— Luke xxiv. 5, 6.

III. We will again change our strain and consider, in the third place, UNSUITABLE ABODES. The angels said to the women, “He is not here, but is risen.” As much as to say— since he is alive he does not abide here. The living Christ might have sat down in the tomb— he might have made the sepulchre his resting place, but it would not have been appropriate; and so he teaches us to-day that Christians should dwell in places appropriate to them. Ye are risen in Christ, ye ought not to dwell in the grave. I shall now speak to those who, to all intents and purposes, live in the sepulchre, though they are risen from the dead.

Some of these are excellent people, but their temperament, and perhaps their mistaken convictions of duty, lead them to be perpetually gloomy and desponding. They hope they have believed in Christ, but they are not sure; they trust that they are saved, but they would not be presumptuous enough to say so. They do not dare to be happy in the conviction that they are accepted in the Beloved. They love the mournful string of the harp, they mourn an absent God. They hope that the divine promises will be fulfilled: they trust that, perhaps, one of these days they may come forth into light, and see a little of the brightness of the Lord’s love, but now they are ready to halt, they dwell in the valley of the shadow of death, and their soul is sore burdened. Dear friend, do you think this is a proper condition for a Christian to be in? I am not going to deny your Christianity for a moment, for I have not half so much doubt about that as you have; I have a better opinion of you than you have of yourself. The most trembling believer in Jesus is saved, and your little faith will save you; but do you really think that Christ meant you to stay where you are, sitting in the cold and silent tomb, amid the dust and ashes? Why keep underground? why not come into the Master’s garden where the flowers are breathing perfume? Why not enjoy the fresh light of full assurance, and the sweet breath of the Spirit’s comforting influences? Tt was a madman who dwelt among the tombs, do not imitate him. Do not say I have been such a sinner, that this is all I deserve to enjoy; for if you talk of deserving, you have left the gospel altogether. I know you believe in Jesus, and you would not give up your hope for all the world: you feel after all that he is a precious Christ to you; come, then, rejoice in him, though you cannot rejoice in yourself. Come, beloved, come out of this dreary vault, leave it at once! Though you have lien among the pots, yet now shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold. Your Master comes to you now, and says, “O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rocks, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.” Members of the body of a risen Saviour, will ye lie in the grave still? Arise ye, and come away! Doubt no longer. O believer, what cause hast thou to doubt thy God? Has he ever lied unto thee? Question no longer the power of the precious blood. Why shouldst thou doubt it? Is it not able to cleanse thee from sin? No longer enquire as to whether thou art saved or can be— if thou believest thou art as safe as Christ is. Thou canst no more perish than Christ can if thou art resting in him— his word has pledged it, his honour is involved in it, he will surely bring thee unto the promised rest; therefore be glad. Why, I have known a brother live down in the catacombs and vaults so long, that he has condemned his brethren for living in the sunlight, and has said. “I cannot understand a man speaking so confidently, I cannot understand it.” My dear brother, because you cannot understand it, it is not therefore wrong. There is a great deal about eagles that owls do not understand, You that are always fretting and worrying in that way, are sinning against God, you are grieving his Spirit, you are acting inconsistently with your Christian profession, and yet you judge others who believe God to be true and take him at his word, and therefore get joy and comfort out of his promise. Never do that, it would be wicked indeed for you to set yourselves up for judges. Instead thereof, pray the Lord to lift up the light of his countenance upon you, to give you joy and peace in believing, for this he saith, “Rejoice in the Lord ye righteous, and shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart.” Come out of the tomb, dear brother, for Jesus is not here, and if he is not here why should you be? He is risen. O rise into comfort too, in his Spirit’s power.

Another sort of people seem to dwell among the tombs: I mean Christians— and I trust real Christians— who are very, very worldly. It is no sin for a man to be diligent in business, but it is a grievous fault when diligence in business destroys fervency in spirit, and when there is no serving of God in daily life. A Christian man should be diligent so as to provide things honest in the sight of all men, but there be some who are not content with this. They have enough, but they covet more, and when they have more, they still stretch their arms like seas to grasp in all the shore, and their main thought is not God, but gold; not Christ, but wealth. O brethren, brethren, permit me earnestly to rebuke you, lest you receive a severe rebuke in providence in your own souls. Christ is not here! he dwells not in piles of silver. You may be very rich, and yet not find Christ in it all; and you might be poor, and yet if Christ were with you you would be happy as the angels. He is not here, he is risen! A marble tomb could not hold him, nor could a golden tomb have contained him. Let it not contain you. Unwrap the cerements of your heart; cast all your care on God who careth for you. Let your conversation be in heaven. Set not your affection on things on the earth, but set it upon things above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.

Once more on this point, a subject more grievous still, there are some professors who live in the dead-house of sin. Yet they say that they are Christ’s people. Nay, I will not say they live in it, but they do what, perhaps, is worse— they go to sin to find their pleasures, I suppose we may judge of a man more by that wherein he finds his pleasure than by almost anything else. A man may say, “I do not habitually frequent the gaieties of the world; I am not always found where sin is mixed with mirth, and where worldlings dance upon the verge of hell, but I go there now and then for a special treat.” I cannot help quoting the remark of Rowland Hill, who, when he met with a professor who went to the theatre, a member of his church, said to him, “I understand you attend the theatre.” “No,” he said, “I only go for a treat now and then.” “Ah,” said Mr. Hill, “that makes it all the worse. Suppose that somebody said, ‘Mr. Hill is a strange being, he eats carrion.’ I am asked, ‘Is it true, Mr. Hill, that you live on carrion?’ ‘No, I do not habitually eat carrion, but I have a dish of it now and then just for a treat.’ Why, you would think I was nastier than I should have been if I had eaten it ordinarily.” There is much force in the remark. If anything that verges on the unclean and lascivious is a treat to you, why then your very heart is unclean, and you are seeking your pleasure and comfort among the dead. There are some things that men take pleasure in now-a-days that are only fit to make idiots laugh, or else to cause angels to weep. Do be choice, Christian men and women, in your company. You are brothers to Christ; will you consort with the sons of Belial? You are heirs of perfection in Christ, you are even now arrayed in spotless linen, and you are fair and lovely in the sight of God; you are a royal priesthood, you are the elect of mankind; will you trail your garments in the mire and make yourselves the sport of the Philistines? Will you consort with the beggarly children of the world? No; act according to your pedigree and your newborn nature, and never seek the living among the dead. Jesus was never there— go not there yourselves. He loved not the noise and turmoil of the world’s pleasures; he had meat to eat of another kind. God grant you to feel the resurrection life strong within your spirits.

IV. But I pass on from that. In the fourth place, I want to warn you against UNREASONABLE SERVICES. Those good people to whom the angels said, “lie is not here, but is risen,” were bearing a load, and what were they carrying? What is Joanna carrying, and her servants, and Mary, what are they carrying? Why, white linen, and what else? Pounds of spices, the most precious they could buy. What are they going to do? Ah, if an angel could laugh, I should think he must have smiled as he found they were coming to embalm Christ. “Why he is not here: and, what is more, he is not dead, he does not want any embalming, he is alive.” You might have seen all over England on Good Friday, and also on this Easter Sunday, crowds of people, I have no doubt very sincere people, coming to embalm Christ. They tolled a bell because he was dead, and they hung crape over what they call their altars because he was dead, and they fasted and sung sad hymns over their dead Saviour. I bless the Lord my Redeemer is not dead, and I have no bells to toll for him either. He is risen, he is not here! Here they come, crowds of them with their white linen, and their precious spices to wrap a dead Christ up in. Are the men mad? But say they, we were only acting it over again. Oh, was that it? Practical charades was it? Acting the glorious atonement of Calvary as a play! Then I accuse the performers of blasphemy before the throne of the eternal God who hears my words; I charge them with profanity in daring to rehearse in mimicry that which was once done and done for ever, and is never to be repeated. No, I cannot suppose they meant to mimic the great sacrifice, and, therefore, I conclude that they thought their Saviour to be dead, and so they said, “Toll the bell for him! Kneel down and weep before his image on a cross.” If I believed Jesus Christ died on Good Friday, I would feast all daylong because his death is over; as he has ordained the high festival of the Lord’s Supper to be his commemoration, I would follow his bidding, and keep no fast. Who would sit down and whine over a friend once dead if you knew him. to be restored to life and exalted in power? Why toll a bell for a living friend? However, I condemn not the good people any more than the angels condemned those holy women, only they may take their spices home and their white linen too, for Jesus is alive, and does not want them.

In other ways a great many fussy people do the same thing. See how they come forward in defence of the gospel. It has been discovered by geology and by arithmetic, that Moses was wrong. Straightway many go out to defend Jesus Christ. They argue for the gospel, and apologize for it, as if it were now a little out of date, and we must try to bring it round to suit modern discoveries and the philosophies of the present period. That seems to me exactly like coming up with your linen and precious spices to wrap him in. Take them away. I question whether Butler and Paley have not both of them created more infidels than they ever cured, and whether most of the defences of the gospel are not sheer impertinences. The gospel does not want defending. If Jesus Christ is not alive, and cannot fight his own battles, then Christianity is in an evil ease. But he is, and we have only to preach his gospel in all its naked simplicity, and the power that goes with it will he the evidence of its divinity. No other evidence will ever convince mankind. Apologies and defences are well intended no doubt, so was the embalming well intended by these good women, but they are of small value. Give Christ room, give his preachers space and opportunities to preach the gospel, and let the truth be brought out in simple language, and you will soon hear the Master say, “Take away the spices, take away the linen! I am alive, I do not want these.”

We see the same kind of thing in other good people who are sticklers for old-fashioned, stereotyped ways— they must have everything conducted exactly as it used to be conducted one hundred or two hundred years ago. Puritanic order must be maintained, and there must be no divergence, and the way of putting the gospel must be exactly the same way in which it was put by good old Dr. So-and-so, and in the pulpit there must be the most awful dreariness that can possibly be compassed, and the preacher must be devoutly dull, and all the worship must be serenely proper— lots of spices and fine linen to wrap a dead Christ up in. I delight to break down conventional proprieties. It is a grand thing to put one’s foot right through merely human regulations, because life cannot lie strapped down by regulations fit only for the dead. Death lies wrapped up like a mummy in the museum— it will always do the proper thing, or rather won’t do anything at all; but life, real life, will show itself in unexpected ways. Life will say what death could not say, it will break out where it was not expected, and break all your laws and regulations into a thousand pieces. But still J see the good people holding up their hands in horror, and crying out, “Bring hither the Arabian gum, the myrrh and the aloes, bring hither the linen: we must take care of our dear dead Master.” Leave him alone, leave him alone, man, he is alive, and does not want your wrapping up. I do not hesitate to say that a great deal of church order among Dissenters and Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and all sorts of sects, and a great deal of propriety and decorum, and regulation, and “As-it-was-in-the-beginning,-is-now,-and-ever-shall-be,” -ism; are only so much spices and linen for a dead Christ, and Christ is alive, and what is wanted is to give him room! I do not say this for my own sake— am I not always proper?— but I say it for the sake of earnest brother Evangelists who, in preaching to the poor, use extravagance of language, and perhaps of action. Let them use it. Cavillers say they are histrionic. Was ever anybody ever half so histrionic as Ezekiel? Did not all the prophets do strange things to get the attention of the people? Why, the same charge was brought against Whitfield and Wesley— “These people are breaking through all rules,” and so on. What a blessed thing it is when men can do it! Mr. Hill went to Scotland to preach the gospel, and they said he rode on the back of all order and decorum. Then said he, “I will call my pair of horses by those names, and make it true.” It was true; no doubt, he did ride on the back of order and decorum, but then he drew souls to Christ with those two strange steeds, and his breaking through rules enabled him to get at men and women who never would have been got at in any other way. Do ready to set Christ at liberty, and give his servants liberty to serve him as the Spirit of God shall guide them.

V. I wanted to speak, last of all, upon THE AMAZING NEWS which these good women received:— “He is not here, but he is risen.” This was amazing news to his enemies. They said, “We have killed him— we have put him in the tomb; it is all over with him.” A-ha! Scribe, Pharisee, Priest, what have you done? Your work is all undone, for he is risen! It was amazing news for Satan. He no doubt dreamed that he had destroyed the Saviour, but he is risen! What a thrill went through all the regions of hell! What news it was for the grave! Now was it utterly destroyed, and death had lost his sting! What news it was for trembling saints. “He is risen indeed.” They plucked up courage, and they said, “The good cause is the right one still, and it will conquer, for our Christ is still alive at its head. It was good news for sinners. Ay, it is good news for every sinner here. Christ is alive; if you seek him he will be found of you. He is not a dead Christ to whom I point you to-day. He is risen; and he is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him. There is no better news for sad men, for distressed, desponding, and despairing men, than this— the Saviour lives, able still to save and willing to receive you to his tender heart. This was glad news, beloved, for all the angels and all the spirits in heaven, glad news indeed for them. And this day it shall be glad news to us, and we will live in the power of it by the help of his Spirit, and we will tell it to our brethren that they may rejoice with us, and we will not despair any longer. We will give way no more to doubts and fears, but we will say to one another, “He is risen indeed; therefore let our hearts be glad.” The Lord bless you, and in coming to his table, as I trust many of his people will come, let us meet our risen Master. Amen.