A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, March 24, 1878, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *9/9/2012
Sitting opposite the sepulchre. [Mt 27:61]
1. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were last at the Saviour’s grave. They had associated themselves with Joseph and Nicodemus in the sad but loving task of placing the body of their Lord in the silent tomb, and after the holy men had gone home they still lingered near the grave. Sitting down, perhaps upon some seat in the garden, or on some projection of the rock, they waited in mournful solitude. They had seen where and how the body was laid, and so had done their utmost, but yet they still sat watching: love has never done enough, it is hungry to render service. They could scarcely take their eyes away from the place which held their most precious treasure, nor leave the sacred remains of their Best Beloved until they were compelled to do so. The Virgin Mary had been taken by John to his own home. She had sustained too great a shock to remain at the tomb, for in her were fulfilled the words, “Yes, a sword shall pierce through your own heart also.” She was wise to leave to others those sorrowful offices which were beyond her own power; extremely wise, also, from that hour to her life’s end, to remain in the shadows, modestly bearing the honour which made her blessed among women. The mother of Zebedee’s children, who also lingered late at the tomb, was gone home too, for as she was the mother of John it is extremely probable that John resided with her, and had taken the Virgin to her home: hence she was needed at home to act as hostess and assist her son, and so she would be obeying the last wish of her dying Lord when he said “Son, behold your mother,” and explained his meaning by a look. All having so departed, the two Marys were the sole watchers at the tomb of Christ at the time of the going down of the sun. They still had work to do for his burial, and this called them away, but they stayed as long as they could — last to go and first to return.
This morning we shall with the women take up the somewhat unusual
post of “sitting opposite the sepulchre.” I call it unusual, for just
as no one remained except these two women, so few have preached upon
our Redeemer’s burial. Thousands of sermons have been delivered upon
his death and resurrection, and in this I greatly rejoice, only
wishing that there were thousands more; but still the burial of our
Lord deserves a larger share of consideration than it generally
obtains. “He was crucified, dead, and buried,” says the creed,
and therefore those who wrote that summary must have thought his
burial to be an important truth; and so indeed it is. It was the
natural sequence and seal of his death, and so was related to what
went before; it was the fitting and suitable preparation for his
rising again, and so stood in connection with what followed after.
Come, then, let us take our seat with the holy women “opposite the
sepulchre,” and sing —
Rest, glorious Son of God: thy work is done,
And all thy burdens borne;
Rest on that stone till the third sun has brought
Thine everlasting morn.
How calmly in that tomb thou liest now,
Thy rest how still and deep!
O’er thee in love the Father rests: he gives
To his Beloved
On Bethel pillow now thy head is laid,
In Joseph’s rock-hewn cell;
Thy watchers are the angels of thy God
They guard thy slumbers well.
3. I. Supposing ourselves to be sitting in the garden with our eyes fixed upon the great stone which formed the door of the tomb, we first of all ADMIRE THAT HE HAD A GRAVE AT ALL.
4. We wonder how that stone could hide him who is the brightness of his Father’s glory; how the Life of all could lie among the dead; how he who holds creation in his strong right hand could even for an hour he entombed. Admiring this, we would calmly reflect, first, upon the testimony of his grave that he was really dead. Those tender women could not have been mistaken, their eyes were too quick to allow him to be buried alive, even if anyone had wished to do so. Of our Lord’s actual death we have many proofs connected with his burial. When Joseph of Arimathaea went to Pilate and begged for the body, the Roman ruler would not give it up until he was certified of his death. The centurion, a man under authority, careful in all that he did, certified that Jesus was dead. The soldier who served under the centurion had by a very conclusive test established the fact of his death beyond all doubt, for with a spear he pierced his side, and immediately there came out blood and water. Pilate, who would not have given up the body of a condemned person unless he was sure that execution had taken place, registered the death and commanded the body to be delivered to Joseph. Both Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus and all the friends who aided in the interment were beyond all question convinced that he was dead. They handled the lifeless body, they wrapped it in the bands of fine linen, they placed the spices around the sacred flesh which they loved so well: they were sadly assured that their Lord was dead. Even his enemies were quite certain that they had killed him: they never had a suspicion that possibly a little life remained in him, and that it could be revived, for their stern hate allowed no doubt to remain upon that point, they knew even to the satisfaction of their mistrustful malice that Jesus of Nazareth had died. Even when in their anxiety they went to Pilate, it was not that they might obtain stronger proofs of death, but to prevent the disciples from stealing his dead body and saying that he had risen from the dead. Yes, Jesus died, literally and actually died, and his body of flesh and bones was really laid in Joseph’s grave. It was no phantom that was crucified, as certain heretics dreamed of old. We do not have to look to a spectral atonement or to a visionary sacrifice, though some in our own times would reduce redemption to something shadowy and unsubstantial. Jesus was a real man, and truly tasted the bitter pangs of death; and therefore he in very deed lay in the sepulchre, motionless as the rock out of which it was hewn, shrouded in his winding sheet. Remember as you think of your Lord’s death that the day will come, unless the second advent should intervene, in which you and I shall lie low among the dead, as once our Master did. Soon to this heart there will be left no pulsing life, to this eye no glance of observation, to this tongue no voice, to this ear no sensitivity of sound. We naturally recoil from this, yet it must be. We shall certainly mingle with the dust we tread upon and feed the worm. But as we gaze on the tomb of Jesus and assure ourselves that our great Lord and Master died each thought of dread is gone, and we no longer shudder: we feel that we can safely go where Christ has gone before.
5. Sitting down opposite the sepulchre, after one has meditated upon the wondrous fact that he, who only has immortality, was numbered with the dead, the next subject which suggests itself is the testimony of the grave to his union with us. He had his grave close to the city, and not on some lonely mountain peak where foot of man could never tread. His grave was in a place where it could be seen; it was a family grave which Joseph had no doubt prepared for himself and his household. Jesus was laid in a family vault where another had expected to lie. Where was Moses buried? No man knows of his sepulchre to this day. But where Jesus was buried was well known to his friends. He was not caught away in a chariot of fire, nor was it said of him that God took him, but he was laid in the grave, “as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” Jesus found his grave among the men he had redeemed. Close to the commonplace of execution there was a garden, and in that garden they laid him in a tomb which was meant for others; so that our Lord’s sepulchre stands, as it were, among our homes and gardens, and is one tomb among many. Before me rises a picture. I see the cemetery, or sleeping place, of the saints, where each one rests on his lowly bed. They do not lie alone, but like soldiers sleeping around their captain’s pavilion, where he also spent the night, though he is up before them. The sepulchre of Jesus is the central grave of God’s acre; it is empty now, but his saints lie buried all around that cave in the rock, gathered in ranks around their dear Redeemer’s resting-place. Surely it robs the grave of its ancient terror when we think that Jesus slept in one of the chambers of the great dormitory of the sons of men.
6. Very much might be said about the tomb in which Jesus lay. It was a new tomb, in which no remains had been previously laid, and so if he came out from it there would be no suspicion that another had arisen, nor could it be imagined that he rose through touching some old prophet’s bones, as he did who was laid in Elisha’s grave. Just as he was born of a virgin mother, so he was buried in a virgin tomb, in which no man had ever lain. It was a rocky tomb, and therefore no one could dig into it by night, or tunnel through the earth. It was a borrowed tomb; so poor was Jesus that he owed a grave to charity; but that tomb was spontaneously offered, so rich was he in the love of hearts which he had won. He returned that tomb to Joseph, honoured unspeakably by his temporary sojourn in it. I do not know whether Joseph ever used it for any of his household; but I see no reason why he should not have done so. Certainly, our Lord when he borrows always makes prompt repayment, and adds a bonus to it: he filled Simon’s boat with fish when he used it for a pulpit, and he sanctified the rocky cell where he had lodged, and left it perfumed for the next one who should sleep in it.
7. We, too, expect, unless special circumstances should intervene, that these bodies of ours will lie in their narrow beds beneath the green grass, and slumber until the resurrection. Nor need we be afraid of the tomb, for Jesus has been there. Sitting opposite his sepulchre we grow brave, and are ready, like knights of the holy sepulchre, to hurl defiance at death. At times we almost long for evening to undress so that we may rest with God, in the chamber where he gives to his beloved sleep.
8. Now, notice that our Lord’s tomb was in a garden; for this is typically the testimony of his grave to the hope of better things. Just a little beyond the garden wall you would see a little knoll, of grim name and character, the Tyburn [a] of Jerusalem, Golgotha, the place of a skull, and there stood the cross. That rising ground was given up to horror and barrenness; but around the actual tomb of our Saviour there grew herbs and plants and flowers. A spiritual garden still blooms around his tomb; the wilderness and the solitary place are glad for him, and the desert rejoices and blossoms as the rose. He has made another Paradise for us, and he himself is the sweetest flower in it. The first Adam sinned in a garden and spoiled our nature; the second Adam slept in a garden and restored our loss. The Saviour buried in the earth has removed the curse from the soil; henceforth blessed is the ground for his sake. He died for us so that we ourselves might become in heart and life fruitful gardens of the Lord. Only let his tomb, and all the facts which surround it, have due influence upon the minds of men, and this poor blighted earth shall again yield her increase: instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree, and it shall be to the Lord for a name.
9. Sitting opposite the sepulchre perhaps the best thought of all is that now it is empty and so bears testimony to our resurrection. It must have made the two Marys weep, when before they left the grave they saw it filled with so beloved a treasure, so surely dead; they ought to have rejoiced to find it empty when they returned, but they did not know as yet the angel’s message, — “He is not here, for he is risen.” Our Christ is not dead now; he lives for ever to make intercession for us. He could not be held by the bands of death. There was nothing corruptible about him, and therefore his body has left the abode of decay to live in newness of life. The sepulchre is spoiled and the spoiler has gone up to glory, leading captives captive. As you sit opposite the sepulchre let your hearts be comforted concerning death, whose sting is gone for ever. There shall be a resurrection. Be sure of this, for if the dead do not rise then Christ is not risen; but the Lord is risen indeed, and his rising necessitates that all who are in him should rise as he has done.
10. Yet another thought comes to me, — Can I follow Christ as fully as these two women did? That is to say, can I still cling to him though to sense and reason his cause should seem dead and laid in a rocky sepulchre? Can I like Joseph and Magdalene be a disciple of a dead Christ? Could I follow him even at his lowest point? I want to apply this practically. Times have come upon the Christian church when truth seems to be fallen in the streets, and the kingdom of Christ is in apparent peril. Just now the Lord Jesus is betrayed by not a few of his professed ministers. He is being crucified afresh in the perpetual attacks of scepticism against his blessed gospel; and it may be things may wax worse and worse. This is not the first occasion when it has been so, for at various times in the history of the church of God his enemies have exalted, and cried out that the gospel of past ages was exploded, and might be considered as dead and buried. I for one intend to sit opposite the very sepulchre of truth. I am a disciple of the old-fashioned doctrine as much when it is covered with reproach and rebuke as when it shall again display its power, as it surely shall. Sceptics may seem to take truth and bind it, and scourge it, and crucify it, and say that it is dead, and they may endeavour to bury it in scorn, but the Lord has many a Joseph and a Nicodemus who will see honour done even to the body of truth, and will wrap the despised creed in sweet spices, and hide it away in their hearts. They may, perhaps, be half afraid that it is really dead, as the wise men assert, yet it is precious to their souls, and they will come out very gladly to espouse its cause, and to confess that they are its disciples. We will sit down in sorrow but not in despair, and watch until the stone is rolled away, and Christ in his truth shall live again, and be openly triumphant. We shall see a divine intervention and shall cease to fear; while those who stand armed to prevent the resurrection of the grand old doctrine shall quake and become as dead men, because the gospel’s everlasting life has been vindicated, and they are made to quail before the brightness of its glory.
11. This, then, is our first meditation: we admire that Jesus ever had a grave, and we sit in wonder opposite the sepulchre.
12. II. Secondly, sitting here, WE REJOICE IN THE HONOURS OF HIS BURIAL.
13. The burial of Christ was, under some aspects of it, the lowest step of his humiliation: he must not merely die for a moment, but he must be buried for a while in the heart of the earth. On the other hand, under other aspects our Lord’s burial was the first step of his glory: it was a turning-point in his great career, as we shall hope to show you. Our Lord’s body was given up by Pilate to Joseph, and he went with authority to receive it from those who were appointed to see him take it down. Yesterday I had a glimpse at a work of art by one of our own Lembeth neighbours, exhibited by Mr. Doulton; it is a fine piece of work in terra-cotta, representing the taking down of Christ from the cross. I could have wished to have studied it more at leisure, but a mere glimpse has charmed me. The artist represents a Roman soldier at the top of the cross taking down the parchment upon which the accusation was written; he is rolling it up to put it away for ever. I thought of the taking away of the handwriting which was against him, even as he had taken away what was against us. The Roman soldier by authority is thus represented as removing the charge which was once nailed over the ever-blessed head; there is no accusation against him now: he died, and the law is satisfied, it can no longer accuse the man who has endured its penalty. Another soldier is represented with a pair of pincers drawing out one of the big nails from the hands; the sacred body is free now, law has no further claims upon it, and withdraws its nails. A disciple, not a soldier, has mounted a ladder on the other side, and with a pair of scissors is cutting away the crown of thorns; and I think the artist did well to represent his doing so, for henceforth it is our delight to remove all shame from the name of Jesus, and to crown him in another way. Then the artist has represented certain of his disciples as gently taking hold of the body as it is gradually being unloosed by the soldiers, while Joseph of Arimathaea stands there with his long linen sheet ready to receive him. Jars of precious myrrh and spices are standing there, and the women are ready to open the lids and to place the spices around the holy flesh. Every part of the design is significant and instructive, and the artist deserves great praise for it: it brought before my mind the descent from the cross with greater vividness than any painting I have ever seen. The nails are all extracted, he is held no longer to the cross, the body is taken down, no longer to be spit upon, and despised, and rejected, but tenderly handled by his friends; for all and everything that has to do with shame, and suffering, and paying of penalty is ended once and for all. What became of the cross of wood? You find in Scripture no further mention of it. The legends concerning it are all false upon the face of them. The cross is gone for ever; neither gibbet, nor nail, nor spear, nor thorny crown can be found; there is no further use for them. Jesus our Lord has gone to his glory; for by his one sacrifice he has secured the salvation of his own.
14. But now concerning his burial, beloved, there were many honourable circumstances about it. Its first effect was the development of timid minds. Joseph of Arimathaea occupied a high post as an honourable councillor, but he was a secret disciple. Nicodemus, too, was a ruler of the Jews, and though he had spoken a word for the Master now and then, as probably Joseph had done (for we are told that he had not consented to their counsel and deed), yet he had never come out boldly until now. He came to Jesus by night previously, but he came by daylight now. At the worst estate of the Saviour’s cause we should have thought that these two men would remain concealed, but they did not. Now that the case seemed desperate, they show their faith in Jesus and pluck up courage to honour their Lord. Lambs become lions when the Lamb is slain. Joseph went boldly in to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. For a dead Christ he risks his position, and even his life, for he is asking for the body of a reputed traitor, and may himself be put to death by Pilate; or else the members of the Sanhedrin may be enraged at him, and bind themselves with an oath that they will kill him for paying honour to the Nazarene, whom they called “that deceiver.” Joseph can risk everything for Jesus, even though he knows him to be dead. Equally brave is Nicodemus; for publicly at the foot of the cross he stands with his hundred pounds of spices, caring nothing for any who may report the deed. I cheerfully hope, dear brethren, that one result of the ferocious attacks made upon the gospel at this time will be that a great number of quiet and retiring spirits will be roused to energy and courage. Such works of evil might move the very stones to cry out. While, perhaps, some who have spoken well in other days and have usually done the battling may be downcast and quiet, these who have kept in the rear rank, and have only in secret followed Jesus, will be brought to the forefront, and we shall see men of substance and of position affirming their Lord. Joseph and Nicodemus both illustrate the dreadful truth that it is hard for those who have riches to enter into the kingdom of God; but they also show us that when they do enter they frequently excel. If they come last they remain to the last. If cowards when others are heroes, they can also be heroes when even apostles are cowards. Each man has his turn, and so while the fishermen-apostles were hiding away, the wealthy non-committal brethren came to the forefront: though bred in luxury, they bore the brunt of the storm, and affirmed the cause whose leader lay dead. Brave are the hearts which stand up for Jesus in his burial. “Sitting opposite the sepulchre,” we draw comfort from the sight of the friends who honoured the Lord in his death.
15. I like to remember that the burial of the Lord displayed the union of loving hearts. The tomb became the meeting place of the old disciples and the new, of those who had long consorted with the Master, and those who had only recently affirmed him. Magdalene and Mary had been with the Lord for years, and had ministered to him from their substance; but Joseph of Arimathaea, as far as his public affirmation of Christ is concerned, was, like Nicodemus, a new disciple: old and new followers united in the deed of love, and laid their Master in the tomb. A common sorrow and a common love unite us wondrously. When our great Master’s cause is under a cloud and his name blasphemed it is pleasant to see the young men battling with the foe and aiding their fathers in the stern struggle. Magdalene with her penitent love, and Mary with her deep attachment to her Lord, join with the rabbi and the counsellor who now begin to prove that they intensely love the Man of Nazareth. That small society, that little working meeting, which gathered around our Master’s body, was a type of the whole Christian church. When once aroused, believers forget all differences and degrees of spiritual condition, and each one is eager to do his part to honour his Lord.
16. Also notice that the Saviour’s death brought out abundant liberality. The spices, one hundred pounds in weight, and the fine linen, were furnished by the men; and then the holy women prepared the liquid spices with which to carry out what they might have called his great funeral, when they would more completely wrap the body in odoriferous spices as the custom of the Jews was to bury. There was much of honour intended by all that they brought. A very thoughtful writer observes that the clothes in which our Lord was wrapped are not called grave-clothes but linen clothes, and that the emphasis would seem to be put upon their being linen; and he reminds us that when we read about the garments of the priests in the Book of the Law we find that every garment must be made of linen. Our Lord’s priesthood is, therefore, suggested by the sole use of linen for his death robes. The Apostle and High Priest of our profession in his tomb slept in pure white linen, even as now today he represents himself to his servants as clothed with a garment down to the foot. Even after death he acted as a priest, and poured out a libation of blood and water; and it was, therefore, fitting that in the grave he should still wear priestly garments.
17. “He made his grave with the wicked,” — there was his shame; “but with the rich in his death,” — there was his honour. He was put to death by the rough soldiers, but he was laid in his grave by tender women. People of honourable estate helped gently to receive, and reverentially to place in its position his dear and sacred body; and then, as if to do him honour, though they did not mean it, his tomb must not be left unguarded, and Caesar lends his guards to watch the couch of the Prince of Peace. Like a king he slumbers, until as the King of kings he wakes up at daybreak.
18. To my mind it is very pleasant to see all this honour come to our Lord when he is in his worst estate, — dead and buried. Will we not also honour our Lord when others despise him? Will we not cling to him, come what may? If the church were all but exterminated, if every voice should go over to the enemy, if a great stone of philosophical reasoning were rolled at the door of truth, and it should seem no longer possible for argument to remove it, yet we would wait until the gospel should rise again to confound its foes. We will not be afraid, but keep our position; we will stand still and see the salvation of God, or “sitting opposite the sepulchre,” we will watch for the Lord’s coming. Let the worst come to the worst we would sooner serve Christ while he is conceived to be dead than all the philosophers who ever lived when in their prime. Even if fools should dance over the grave of Christianity there shall remain at least a few who will weep over it, and brushing away their tears from their eyes expect to see it revive, and exert all its ancient strength.
19. III. I must now pass to a third point. While sitting opposite the sepulchre WE OBSERVE THAT HIS ENEMIES WERE NOT AT REST.
20. They had their own way, but they were not content; they had taken the Saviour, and with wicked hands they had crucified and killed him; but they were not satisfied. They were the most uneasy people in the world, though they had gained their point. It was their Sabbath day, and it was a high day, that Sabbath of Sabbaths, the Sabbath of the Passover. They kept a preparation for it and had been very careful not to go into the place called the pavement, lest they should defile themselves — sweet creatures! And now have they not achieved all they wanted? They have killed Jesus and buried him: are they not happy? No: and what is more, their humiliation had begun — they were doomed to violate their own favourite profession. What was that profession? Their boast of rigid Sabbath keeping was its chief point, and they were perpetually charging our blessed Lord with Sabbath breaking, for healing the sick, and even because his disciples rubbed a few ears of wheat between their hands, when they were hungry on the Sabbath day. Brethren, look at these men and laugh at their hypocrisy. It is the Sabbath day, and they come to Pilate, holding counsel on the Sabbath with a heathen! They tell him that they are afraid that the body of Jesus will be spirited away, and he says, “You have a watch; go your way, make it as secure as you can”; and they go and seal the stone on the Sabbath. Oh you hypocritical Pharisees, here was an awful breaking of your Sabbath by yourselves! According to their superstitious tradition the rubbing ears of wheat between the hands was a kind of threshing, and therefore it was a breach of the law; surely, by the same reasoning the burning of a candle to melt the wax must have been similar to the lighting of a furnace, and the melting of wax must have been a kind of foundry work, like that of the smith who pours metal into a mould; for in such a ridiculous fashion their rabbis interpreted the smallest acts. But they had to seal the stone and break their own absurd laws to satisfy their restless malice. One is pleased to see either Pharisees or Sadducees made to overturn their own professions and lay bare their hypocrisy. Modern thought gentlemen will, before long, be forced to the same humiliation.
21. Next, they had to retract their own accusation against our Lord. They charged Jesus with having said, “Destroy this temple, and I will build it in three days”; pretending that he referred to the temple upon Zion. Now they come to Pilate and tell him, “This deceiver said, after three days I will rise again.” Oh, you knaves, that is your new version, is it? You put the man to death for quite another rendering! Now do you understand the dark saying? Yes, you deceivers, and you understood it before; but now you must eat your leek, [b] and swallow your own words. Truly, he scorns the scorners, and pours contempt upon his enemies.
22. And now see how these Kill-Christs betray their own fears. He is dead, but they are afraid of him! He is dead, but they cannot shake off the dread that he will still vanquish them. They are full of agitation and alarm.
23. Nor was this all, they were to be made witnesses for God, — to sign certificates of the death and resurrection of his Anointed. In order that there might be no doubt about the resurrection at all, there must be a seal, and they must go and set it; there must be a guard, and they must see it mustered. The disciples need not trouble about certifying that Jesus is in the grave, these Jews will do it, and set their own great seal to the evidence. These proud ones are sent to do drudges’ work in Christ’s kitchen, to wait upon a dead Christ, and to protect the body which they had killed. The lie which they told afterwards crowned their shame: they bribed the soldiers to say that his disciples stole him away while they slept; and this was a transparent falsehood; for if the soldiers were asleep how could they know what was done? We cannot conceive of an example in which men were more completely made to contradict and convict themselves. That Sabbath was a high day, but it was no Sabbath for them, nor would the overthrow of the gospel be any rest of soul for its opponents. If ever we should live to see the truth pushed into a corner, and the blessed cause of Christ fastened up as with rationalistic nails, and its very heart pierced by a critic’s spear; yet, notice that even in the darkest night that can ever test our faith, the adversaries of the gospel will still be in alarm lest it should rise again. The old truth has a wonderful habit of leaping up from every fall as strong as ever. In Dr. Doddridge’s days men had pretty nearly buried the gospel. Socinianism [c] was taught in many if not most dissenting pulpits, and the same was true of the Church of England: the liberal thinkers dreamed that they had won the victory and extinguished evangelical teaching; but their shouting came a little too soon. They said, “We shall hear no more of this miserable justification by faith, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit.” They laid the gospel in a tomb cut out in the cold rock of Unitarianism, and they set the seal of their learning upon the great stone of doubt which shut in the gospel. There it was to lie for ever; but God intended otherwise. There was a pot-boy [d] over in Gloucester called George Whitfield, and there was a young student who had recently gone to Oxford called John Wesley, and these two passed by the grave of the gospel and beheld a strange sight, which they began to tell; and as they told it, the sods of unbelief and the stones of learned criticism began to move, and the truth which had been buried sprang up with Pentecostal power. Aha! you adversaries, how greatly had you deceived yourselves! Within a few months all over England the work of the devil and his ministers was broken to pieces, as when a tower is split by lightning, or the thick darkness scattered by the rising sun. The weight of ignorance and unbelief fled before the bright day of the gospel, though that gospel was for the most part proclaimed by unlettered men. The thing which has been is the thing which shall be. History repeats itself. Oh generation of modern thinkers, you will have to eat your own words, and disprove your own assertions. You will have to confute each other and yourselves, even as the Moabites and Elamites killed each other. It may even happen that your infidelities will work themselves out into practical evil of which you will be the victims. You may bring about a repetition of the French Revolution of 1789, with more than all its bloodshed, and who will wonder. You, some of you calling yourselves ministers of God, with your insinuations of doubt, your denials of future punishment, your insults of the gospel, your ingenious speeches against the Bible, are shaking the very foundation of society. I impeach you as the worst enemies of mankind. In effect you proclaim to men that they may sin as they like, for there is no hell, or if there is, it is only a little one: so you proclaim a gospel of licentiousness, and you may one day rue the result. You may live to see a reign of terror of your own creating, but even if you do, the gospel of Jesus will come out from all the filth you have heaped upon it, for the holy gospel will live as Christ lives, and its enemies shall never cease to be in fear. Your harsh speeches against those who preach the gospel, your bitterness and your sneers of contempt, all show that you know better than you say, and are afraid of the very Christ whom you kill. We who cling to the glorious gospel will abide in peace, come what may, but you will not.
24. IV. And now our last thought is that while these enemies of Christ were in fear and trembling WE NOTICE THAT HIS FOLLOWERS WERE RESTING.
25. It was the seventh day, and therefore they ceased from labour. The Marys waited, and Joseph and Nicodemus refrained from visiting the tomb; they obediently observed the Sabbath rest. I am not sure that they had faith enough to feel very happy, but they evidently did expect something, and anxiously awaited the third day. They had enough of the comfort of hope to remain quiet on the seventh day.
26. Now, beloved, sitting opposite the sepulchre while Christ lies in it, my first thought about it is, I will rest, for he rests. What a wonderful stillness there was about our Lord in that rocky grave. He had been daily thronged by thousands: even when he ate bread they disturbed him. He scarcely could have a moment’s peace in life; but now how quiet is his bed! Not a sound is heard. The great stone shuts out all noise, and the body is at peace. Well, if he rests, I may. If for a while the Lord seems to suspend his energies, his servants may cry to him, but they may not fret. He knows best when to sleep and when to wake up.
27. As I see the Christ resting in the grave, my next thought is, he has the power to come out again. Some few months ago I tried to show you that when the disciples were alarmed because Jesus was asleep they were in error, for his sleep was the sign of their security. [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2852, “Comfort for the Fearful” 2853] When I see a captain on board ship pacing anxiously up and down the deck, I may fear that danger is suspected; but when the captain turns into his cabin, then I may be sure that all is right, and there is no reason why I should not turn in too. So if our blessed Lord should ever permit his cause to droop, and if he should give no marvellous manifestations of his power, we need not doubt his power; let us keep our Sabbath, pray to him, and work for him, for these are duties of the holy day of rest; but do not let us fret and worry, for his time to work will come.
28. The rest of the Christian lies in believing in Christ under all circumstances. Go in for this, beloved. Believe in him in the manger, when his cause is young and weak. Believe in him in the streets, when the populace applaud him, for he deserves their loudest acclamations. Believe in him when they take him to the brow of the hill to cast him headlong, he is just as worthy as when they cry “Hosanna.” Believe in him when he is in an agony, and believe in him when he is on the cross; and if ever it should seem to you that his cause must die out, believe in him still. Christ’s gospel in any circumstances deserves our fullest trust. That gospel which has saved your souls, that gospel which you have received, and which has been sealed upon your hearts by the Holy Spirit, stand firm in it, come what may, and through faith, peace and quiet shall pervade your souls.
29. Once more, it will be well if we can obtain peace by having fellowship with our Lord in his burial. Die with him, and be buried with him; there is nothing like it. I desire for my soul while she lives in the Lord that, with respect to the world and all its wisdom, I may be as a dead man. When accused of having no power of thought, and no originality of teaching, I am content to acknowledge the charge, for my soul desires to be dead to all except what is revealed and taught by the Lord Jesus. I would lie in the rocky tomb of the everlasting truth, not creating thought, but giving myself up to God’s thoughts. But, brethren, if we are ever to lie in that tomb, we must be wrapped around with the fine linen of holiness: these are the shrouds of a man who is dead to sin. All around us must be the spices, the myrrh, and aloes of preserving grace, that being dead with Christ we may see no corruption, but may show that death to be only another form of the new life which we have received in him. When the world goes by, let it know concerning our heart’s desire and ambition, that they are all buried with Christ, and it is written on the memorial of our spiritual grave, “Here he lies”; as far as this world’s sin, and pleasure, and self-seeking, and wisdom are concerned, “Here he lies buried with his Master.”
Know, you who are not converted, that the way of salvation is by
believing in Christ, or trusting in him, and if you do so trust you
shall never be confounded, world without end, for he who trusts
Christ, and believes in him even as a little child, the same shall
enter into his kingdom, and he who will follow him, even down to his
grave, shall be with him in his glory, and shall see his triumphs for
ever and ever. Amen.
[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Mt 27:44-61 Mr 15:42-47 Lu 23:50-56 Joh 19:38-42 Ro 6:1-13]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Lord’s Day — Hosannah” 909]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Burial Hymns — Burial Of A Saint” 832]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Resurrection — Death Swallowed Up In Victory” 844]
[a] Tyburn: The place of public execution for Middlesex until 1783, situated at the junction of the present Oxford Street, Bayswater Road, and Edgware Road. OEE.
[b] To eat the (or one’s) leek: To submit to humiliation under compulsion. OED.
[c] Socinianism: A sect founded by Laelius and Faustus Socinus, two Italian theologians of the sixteenth century, who denied the divinity of Christ. OED.
[d] Pot-boy: A boy or young man employed at a tavern or public house to serve the customers with beer, or to carry beer to outside customers. OED.
Public Worship, The Lord’s Day
909 — Hosanna
1 This is the day the Lord hath made,
He calls the hours his own;
Let heaven rejoice, let earth be glad,
And praise surround the throne.
2 Today he rose and left the dead;
And Satan’s empire fell;
Today the saints his triumphs spread,
And all his wonders tell.
3 Hosanna to th’ anointhewyd King,
To David’s holy Son!
Help us, oh Lord! descend and bring
Salvation from thy throne.
4 Blest be the Lord, who comes to men,
With messages of grace;
Who comes in god his Father’s name,
To save our sinful race.
5 Hosanna in the highest strains
The church on earth can raise;
The highest heavens, in which he reigns,
Shall give him nobler praise.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
The Christian, Burial Hymns
832 — Burial Of A Saint
1 Why do we mourn departing friends,
Or shake at death’s alarms!
‘Tis but the voice that Jesus sends
To call them to his arms.
2 Why should we tremble to convey
Their bodies to the tomb?
There the dear flesh of Jesus lay,
And left a long perfume.
3 The graves of all his saints he bless’d,
And soften’d every bed:
Where should the dying members rest,
But with the dying Head?
4 Thence he arose, ascending high,
And show’d our feet the way;
Up to the Lord our flesh shall fly,
At the great rising day.
5 Then let the last loud trumpet sound,
And bid our kindred rise;
Awake, ye nations, under ground;
Ye saints, ascend the skies.
Isaac Watts, 1709.
The Christian, Resurrection
844 — Death Swallowed Up In Victory
1 We sing his love who once was slain,
Who soon o’er death revived again,
That all his saints through him might have
Eternal conquests o’er the grave.
Soon shall the trumpet sound, and we
Shall rise to immortality.
2 The saints who now in Jesus sleep,
His own almighty power shall keep,
Till dawns the bright illustrious day,
When death itself shall die away.
Soon shall the trumpet sound, and we
Shall rise to immortality.
3 How loud shall our glad voices sing,
When Christ his risen saints shall bring
From beds of dust, and silent clay,
To realms of everlasting day!
Soon shall the trumpet sound, and we
Shall rise to immortality.
4 When Jesus we in glory meet,
Our utmost joys shall be complete:
When landed on that heavenly shore,
Death and the curse will be no more!
Soon shall the trumpet sound, and we
Shall rise to immortality.
5 Hasten, dear Lord, the glorious day,
And this delightful scene display:
When all thy saints from death shall rise,
Raptured in bliss beyond the skies.
Soon shall the trumpet sound, and we
Shall rise to immortality.
Rowland Hill, 1796.