3067. A Bold Challenge Justified

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No. 3067-53:565. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, March 1, 1871, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

p>A Sermon Published On Thursday, November 21, 1907.

Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. {Ro 8:34}


For other sermons on this text:

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 256, “Believer’s Challenge, The” 249}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1223, “Jesus, the Substitute for His People” 1214}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2240, “Challenge and a Shield, A” 2241}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2932, “False Justification and True” 2933}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3067, “Bold Challenge Justified, A” 3068}

   Exposition on Ps 138 Isa 55:1-11 Ro 8:28-39 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3422, “Call to the Depressed, A” 3424 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ro 7:22-8:34 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3486, “God’s Desire for Us, and His Work in Us” 3488 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ro 8:1-17,28-39 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3502, “Powerful Persuasives” 3504 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ro 8:14-39 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2626, “Peace in Believing” 2627 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ro 8:18-39 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2872, “Lord’s Supper, The” 2873 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ro 8:19-39 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2550, “Joy in God” 2551 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ro 8:26-39 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3204, “Saints Riches, The” 3205 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ro 8:26-39 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3398, “Love’s Great Reason” 3400 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ro 8 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3255, “Pearl of Patience, The” 3257 @@ "Exposition"}


1. All through this very wonderful chapter the apostle seems to be piling up, in heaps upon heaps, the many marvels of divine grace. I might quote from the old classic fable of the giants who piled the mountains one upon the other, — Pelion upon Ossa, {a} and I might say that Paul has done so even here. He has piled mountain upon mountain of wondrous grace in his description of the way to heaven, and now he seems to have climbed to the top of them all, and to have transformed them into a kind of Tabor or Pisgah; and as he stands there, he exalts in the Lord; he waves the palm branch of triumph; he boasts with holy boasting; and he challenges all his enemies to attack him: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”

2. I. Here, first of all, is A SOLEMN QUESTION, — a very solemn question if it were asked of all present here: “Who is he who condemns?”

3. I am afraid that some of my hearers, if they asked that question, might have a speedy answer; — “It is your own conscience that condemns you; it is the Word of God that condemns you; it is Christ himself who condemns you; it is God the Judge of all who condemns you because you have not fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before you in the gospel: you have not believed in Jesus.” But Paul is speaking as a believer in Christ, and for him to ask the question, or for any other believer to ask it, is a very different thing; for he may say what others must not, “Who can lay anything to my charge? Who is he who can condemn me, now that I have believed in Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour?”

4. Now, beloved, one answer that might be given to this question, “Who is he who condemns?” is that, there are many who would if they could; for, probably, no believer in Christ is without his enemies. There are few good men and women who are not slandered. The majority of God’s people have been persecuted in some way or other, and some of them have had to lie in prison year after year. Many more have been condemned to die; and yet, inasmuch as slanderers and persecutors have no right to condemn the man of God, he may challenge his slanderers and his persecutors, and say, “You may profess to condemn me if you please, but I consider your condemnation to be no more potent than the whistling of the wind. You would condemn me if you could, but you cannot really do so.” Satan, our arch-enemy, would condemn us if it were in his power. Only imagine him, for a moment, sitting on the judgment seat. If we had the devil to judge us, he would soon bring to our memory our many faults, and follies, and failings, and condemn us for them. But, oh you fiend of hell, God has not made you the judge of his saints! You may cast foul insinuations against them; but the Lord says to you concerning each one of them, “The Lord rebukes you, oh Satan! Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” Satan has no right to judge us, and no power to condemn us; so, when he speaks the worst he can about us, we laugh him to scorn, rejoicing that God will bruise him under our feet shortly.

5. But, beloved, sometimes our own conscience condemns us. The best man here will, at times, have painful memories of the past; and to look at the past, except through the glass made red by our Saviour’s precious blood, is to look on despair; for our past transgressions would drag us down to hell were it not for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Indeed, and we need not look back far to have this sad view, for the sins of any one of the best days we have ever lived might cause us to tremble. The sins of our holy things are black enough to cause us great sorrow. Did you ever pray a prayer that you could not have wept over afterwards? Have you ever preached a sermon with which you could feel content? Is not sin mixed with all that we do? But, here is the mercy, that our conscience is not set on God’s throne to judge and to condemn us, although we do well to listen to the voice of conscience, and to give heed to its admonitions. The apostle John reminds us that, “if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things”; and that, “if any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” With all our imperfections, and our consciousness of guilt, we rejoice that, — 


   There is a fountain fill’d with blood,

      Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;

   And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,

      Lose all their guilty stains.


6. It looks like a bold question for any man to ask so unreservedly, “Who is he who condemns?” But there is really only One who can condemn. Our characters may have been pulled to pieces by a thousand tittle-tattlers, but they could not condemn us. When a prisoner stands in the dock, he need not be afraid of anyone except the judge and jury. It does not matter what you or I may believe about him; no one but the twelve men in the box can give the verdict against him or in his favour. These are the people before whom he has reason to tremble; but before no one else. So, whoever may pretend to condemn us, there is only One who can really do so, and that is the Judge; and what is his name? Oh Christian, what a comforting fact this is for you! Your Judge is your Saviour; and it is not possible to conceive that he who died and rose again, and entered into heaven, and every day pleads for us, ever can use his blessed lips to pronounce condemnation on any one of his own people. “Oh!” you say, “but he must do it since he is the Judge; he must not show any favour on the judgment seat.” That is a correct remark, and I have been sorry whenever I have heard a preacher say that it is a consolation to think that the Judge will be our Friend. Why, beloved, we must not imagine that Jesus will judge partially, and give his verdict in our favour because we are his friends. No, but here is our comfort; he, who is our Judge, more than everyone else knows the whole truth about us, and he would not justify us at the last if we really ought to be condemned. Ah, no! he is too just to do that; but he knows that every believer is so completely justified that he cannot be condemned. He knows, as no one else does, how the believer was justified, what blood it was that washed the believer white, and what righteousness it is that has made the believer “accepted in the Beloved.” He knows his own, and he knows the way in which he has justified his own; and, therefore, as an omniscient, infallibly just Judge, he knows that the sentence which will be passed on the believer, which is a sentence of acquittal, is the only one that could be passed. “Who is he who condemns? Christ who died.” So the fact stands that, whatever there may be in store for others in connection with the coming day of final judgment, and the banishment of the condemned to hell, all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will never be condemned. Under no possible or conceivable circumstances can they ever be condemned, for those who are once forgiven and justified always shall be forgiven and justified in time and throughout eternity. There is no condemnation now for those who are in Christ Jesus, and there never shall be. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1917, “In Christ No Condemnation” 1918}

7. II. Our second point is, THE BASIS FOR THIS HOLY CONFIDENCE.

8. It was holy confidence that made Paul ask, “Who is he who condemns?” and he has given us the reasons for his confidence; but I shall first call your attention to what he has not given as the basis for confidence.

9. He does not say, “Who is he who condemns? — for we have never sinned.” That would be a very good basis for confidence if it were true; for, if we had never sinned, no one could condemn us. God is not unrighteous, so he does not condemn an innocent man; but there is not one glorified person in heaven who will ever dare to plead that he had never sinned, for “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We have all gone astray from God like lost sheep; every one of us has gone the downward road. By the works of the law we never can be justified, for the law only brings to us a knowledge of sin, and proves to us that our imagined perfection can never be the basis for our confidence.

10. Neither does the apostle base his confidence on the fact of his repentance. Some people seem to have a notion that, although sin is a very evil thing, yet, if repentance is sincere and deep, it will suffice to wash out the sin. But Paul does not say, “Who is he who condemns? — for I have felt the plague of sin, and hated it, and wept over it, and turned from it.” He makes no mention whatever of his repentance as a basis for his confidence. He had truly repented, yet he never dreamed of relying on his repentance as a reason for his justification in the sight of God.

11. Nor does he say that he puts any dependence on a long life of holiness. From the time of his conversion, Paul had been an example to all the flock, so that, he could even write, “Be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ”; yet he does not say, “Who is he who condemns? — for I have lived a blameless life among you all, and no one can convince me of sin.” Not a word of that kind does he utter. I know that some of you seekers after salvation imagine that those good Christian people, whom you very much admire, must get a great deal of comfort out of the good lives that they lead; but I can assure you that this is not the case with any of them. They will all tell you that they have not the least confidence in themselves, or in their own doings, but that their confidence is found in quite another direction.

12. Paul does not say that his confidence was based on the fact that he had practised great self-denial, and had been a most devoted missionary of the cross of Christ. It is true that he had been beaten, and stoned, and shut up in prison, and that he had been quite willing to lay down his life for his Lord, but he makes no mention of all that as the reason why he felt that he could not be condemned. What do you think was Paul’s opinion of all the good works he had ever done, and of all that he had suffered for the name of Christ? This is what he says, “I consider them only dung,” (he could hardly have used a more opprobrious word than that,) “that I may win Christ, and be found in him.” A good man, when he was dying, said that he was gathering all his good works and his bad works together in one bundle, and flinging them all overboard; in his estimation, the one set was about as good as the other as a basis for confidence in the sight of God, and he meant to be rid of the whole lot, and to put his trust somewhere else. And believe me, dear hearer, as I stand here before you, I know whom I have believed, and I have not only a hope of eternal life; but I know that I have eternal life within my own soul. But if you ask me whether I base my confidence for my salvation on the fact that, for these many years, I have preached the gospel of Jesus Christ, I tell you, “No, I place no reliance on my own preaching as any basis for merit in the sight of God.” And if I am asked whether, having experienced much of the grace of God, I build my confidence on my experience, I answer, “No, in no way. Infinitely better than anything within me or from me is the Rock on which my soul rests; or else I should be resting on a shifting quicksand which would be my destruction.” On Christ and what he has done, my soul hangs for time and eternity; and if your soul also hangs there, it will be saved as surely as mine shall be; and if you are lost trusting in Christ, whoever you may be, I will be lost with you, and I will go to hell with you; I must do so, for I have nothing else to rely on but the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived, and died, and was buried, and rose again, and went up to heaven, and still lives and pleads for sinners at the right hand of God.

13. So I have shown you that the apostle’s confidence was not founded on anything in himself. Now I want to explain to you the reasons why he knew that he was not condemned, and never should be. He had four pillars for his confidence.

14. And the first great massive pillar was this, — “It is Christ who died.” But, Paul, you have broken God’s law, so he must punish you. He replies, “God cannot punish me; he cannot even condemn me.” But, Paul, you helped to put Stephen to death; your hands were red with the blood of the martyrs. You hunted the saints of God, and delighted to put them to death; and yet you say that God cannot condemn you for that, and never will. “Indeed,” says the apostle, “he never will; he never can.” And why? “Because Christ died.” But, Paul, what has Christ’s death to do with your guilt? His answer is, “All my sins, however many or however black they may have been, were laid on Christ, and he stood in my place in the sight of God, and in my place he suffered what has rendered full satisfaction to the law of God for all my evil deeds, and thoughts, and words. The sufferings of Jesus were the sufferings of my Substitute. He bore, so that I might never bear, the wrath of God on account of my sin.” Do you see this, poor sin-burdened soul? If Jesus Christ died in your place, God cannot condemn you. If Jesus Christ did really suffer in your place, as your Substitute, where would God’s honour and justice be if he should punish the sinner for whom Jesus had died as Substitute? That can never be.

15. The comfort of the text lies here. Paul says, “It is Christ who died”; that is to say, it is the Son of God who died, and there must be infinite merit in the atonement which was presented by the sufferings of so august a person. Paul says, “It is Christ who died.” That word means “the anointed One,” — the Divine Person who was sent by the Father, and anointed by the Holy Spirit, and who himself undertook to suffer in the place of his people, he did not do it by his own will alone; he was authorized to do it, appointed and anointed to do it. God put his Son into that place, as the prophet Isaiah says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; every one of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Now, see, if Christ was my Substitute, and if God appointed him and anointed him as my Substitute, to suffer in my room, and place, and stead, where in the whole Universe can there be found any reason why God should first punish Christ, and then punish me? The only question is, “Did he really die in my room, and place, and stead?” The answer to that question is this, — If I believe in Christ, I am one of those for whom he died as Substitute. If I trust him with my whole heart, if I rely only on him as my Substitute, and Saviour, I have the mark and sign on me that he suffered in my place, that he offered a full and complete atonement for my sin; and, knowing this, I dare to say, as confidently as the apostle Paul said it, that Christ died for me. Who can ever condemn the sinner for whom Christ died as Substitute, and Saviour? Is this not a good foundation to have under my feet? May I not stand securely here; and, knowing that Jesus died instead of me, may I not feel assured that I can never die, and that I can never be sent to hell, for Jesus Christ has suffered all that I ought to have suffered?

16. But the apostle had a second reason for feeling sure that he should not be condemned, and that was that Christ had risen from the dead. “Yes rather,” he says, “is risen again.” Now, if Christ had not risen from the dead, he would have been proved to be an impostor. If he had not risen from the dead, it would have been clear that he was not God, or the Son of God; but his rising from the dead proved that he was both God and the appointed and anointed Saviour. Christ’s death paid the debt that his people owed to divine justice; and when he came out of the prison of death in which he had been detained for a while, it was, so to speak, God’s receipt, by which he said to the whole universe, “My Son has paid the debts of all his people; therefore I let him go free.” Jesus was the Hostage for all his chosen ones; and until the last farthing of the tremendous price of their redemption had been paid, he must lie in the prison-house of the tomb. But when it had been certified by infallible justice that the great transaction was finished, and the redemption of his people was fully accomplished, then Christ was set free, and “he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” Now see, believer, what the result of this glorious truth is. How can God ever condemn you after he has accepted Christ as your Substitute, — after he has publicly accepted him by raising him from the dead in the presence of men and angels? God cannot prove himself false; it is not possible that, after he has accepted the Substitute, he should afterwards condemn those for whom that Substitute bled and died.

17. Paul had those two pillars, — the death and resurrection of Christ, — but he added a third. He says that Christ is at the right hand of God. This is another weighty reason for our feeling that we never can be condemned, for the right hand of God is the place of power and the place of majesty. Christ at the right hand of God is there as King; and, as King, he is able to defend his people against all their adversaries. False accusers, therefore, shall be driven away by the power of his omnipotent arm. While Christ is King, at the right hand of God, what accuser shall dare to impeach us in the courts of heaven? Christ’s sitting at the right hand of God proves that his great redeeming work is done; if he had not completed it, he would not be sitting down. But it is done; and done for ever. Finished in that matchless loom is the perfect robe of righteousness that we are to wear for ever. The last throw of the sacred shuttle of his untold agony has been made. Dyed is the wondrous garment that we are to wear, for it has been dipped in his precious blood; and when it was finished, the Divine Worker “sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth waiting until his enemies are made his footstool.” For Christ to sit at the right hand of God is a continual certificate from the Father that he is satisfied with the substitution of his Son instead of us, and satisfied with us as we are represented in him. Every moment that Christ is at the right hand of God every believer is safe. For Christ to be in heaven, and for the people for whom he died to be in hell, is utterly impossible. For Christ to be there as our Representative, and yet for those whom he represents to be cast out from the favour of God, would be a monstrosity, a blasphemy, which cannot be imagined for a single instant. The Head is glorified, so the members of his mystical body shall never be condemned. They must be eternally saved because he is at the right hand of God. Look up, then, Christian! You looked down into the tomb, and saw him there paying your debts; you looked around the garden from where he rose, and saw that your debts were all discharged; now look up to heaven where he dwells with his Father, and see yourself “accepted in the Beloved.”

18. The apostle had yet one more basis for confidence, for he says that Christ “also makes intercession for us”; and if any doubt could linger until now, surely this must expel it. When Jesus pleads for his people, his pleas are omnipotent, and God will never deny to his Son the reward of his soul-travail. I suppose that, in heaven, Christ pleads for his people, vocally, but it is not at all necessary that he should; for his very presence there is an irresistible plea. If someone were pleading before an earthly court, and if he had been an old soldier, and had rendered valiant service to his country, if he were to bare his breast, and show the scars of the wounds that he received in battle, he would not have to say much, for his scars would plead better than any words could; and Jesus in heaven lifts his hands and feet, and shows his pierced side. His scarred body, still adorned with the marks of his passion and death, is an everlasting and overwhelming plea. If Jesus pleads for me, can his Father reject me? If so, he must also reject his Son, he must refuse the authoritative requests of his only-begotten and well-beloved Son, he must deny to Jesus what he well deserves; and that he never can do. Oh believer, if you still have any doubts about your acceptance in Christ, let them fly before this fourth mighty blow, “who also makes intercession for us.”

19. I am not going to keep you here much longer, but I just want to remind you that the main difficulty with some of you seems to be that you do believe these great truths, but you do not fully understand what is contained in them. I am speaking now only to you who really do believe in Jesus. You are resting only on him; you know you are. Unless you are awfully deceived, each one of you can say, — 


   My hope is built on nothing less

   Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.


Well, beloved, do not let me merely say this, and you simply hear it, but believe it, enjoy it, drink it in, live on it. You are not condemned by God; and, therefore, the opposite of that is true, you are accepted by God, you are beloved by God, you are dear to God; you are pure and precious in God’s sight. Let that blessed thought get into your brain; and, when it is there, pray to God to let it get down, deeper, even into your heart and soul, and then say, as Paul did, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”; and “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Why do I see you hang down your head, and look as gloomy as an owl? You might well look like that if you were condemned, or if there were any fear of your being condemned; but there is no such fear if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

20. I sometimes hear preachers say that we are in a state of probation, but I should like to know who is in such a state as that. Certainly, the sinner is not, for he is already lost; and the saint is not, for he is saved, and never can be lost. The sinner is already condemned, and the saint is already justified. We are not waiting for the verdict, for it has already been given. It is recorded concerning every believer that he is justified, and that the claim he makes that he is a child of God is a true one, and that all the glorious inheritance in the land of the blessed is his, and he may claim it at once as his own, for it all belongs to him. So, up with you, child of God! Up with you, bird of the day! Eagle of God, will you sit, day after day, moping in the dark, when you might soar up into the light, and gaze even at the sun? Up with you, son of the morning; up with you, child of light; away from all your gloomy doubts and fears! You have a million pounds a year for spending-money, given to you by the God of grace, so will you go on spending a few pence a day, like a beggar who needs to be careful even of his farthings? You are a forgiven man; then live as a forgiven man should. Even though God strikes you every now and then with trouble? Can you not say, as one did long ago, “Strike, Lord, as hard as you wish, for there is no anger in your blows now, and therefore I can bear them without complaining?” Are you suffering severe losses, and carrying heavy crosses? They ought to seem very light to you now. As long as you are forgiven, what does anything else matter? Go to a man in Newgate, condemned to die, and take him a free pardon; tell him that, by the favour of his sovereign, he is to live: and do you think he will begin murmuring because some little thing is not just as he would like it? Oh, no! he will say, “It is enough for me that my life is spared.” Now, you are forgiven; you are God’s child; you are on the way to heaven; so, “do not fret yourself because of evildoers.” Do not murmur against the Most High. Take your harp down from the willows, and sing to the Lord a new song, for he has accomplished marvels of mercy for you.

21. And then, in the light of this wonderful love of God for you, live at home and abroad so that others shall ask, “What makes this man so happy? What makes this woman so glad?” I will not say to you who are forgiven, — Sing with your voice all the day, though I would have you praise the Lord with joyful lips as much as you can; but let the bells of your hearts go on ringing all the day. Sometimes, when I think of what the Lord has done for me, I feel myself to be like a church steeple that I saw a few months ago. There had been a wedding in the place, and the bells were pealing out a merry chime; and, as they rang, I distinctly saw that steeple rock and reel, and the four pinnacles seemed to be tossing to and fro, and the whole tower seemed as though it must come down as the bells pealed out again and again. And sometimes when my soul pulls the big bell, “Jesus loved you, and gave himself for you, and you are accepted in him, you are God’s own child, and on your way to heaven, and a crown of eternal life is yours,” I feel as if this crazy steeple of my body would rock and reel beneath the excess of joy, and be scarcely able to hold the ecstatic bliss which the love of God creates within my soul; and then I do sing, — 


   In the heavenly Lamb, thrice happy I am,

   And my heart it doth leap at the sound of his name.


Oh, I wish that every one of you had that joy! And, surely, everyone shall have it who will have it in God’s way. If you believe in Jesus Christ, you shall be absolved from all your guilt. If you will only entrust yourself to him, whoever you are, he will take your sin, and lift it off from you, and cause you to be accepted, as all his people are.

22. May God give to all of you the grace to believe in Jesus, and to go on your way rejoicing, for his name’s sake! Amen.


{a} Ossa and Pelion: In Greek mythology, Mount Pelion (which took its name from the mythical King Peleus, father of Achilles) was the homeland of Chiron the Centaur, tutor of many ancient Greek heroes, such as Jason, Achilles, Theseus and Hercules. It was in Mount Pelion, near Chiron’s cave, that the marriage of Thetis and Peleus took place. The uninvited goddess Eris, to take revenge for having been kept outside the party, brought a golden apple with the inscription “To the Fairest.” The dispute that then arose between the goddesses Hera, Aphrodite and Athene resulted in events leading to the Trojan War. When the giants Otus and Ephialtes attempted to storm Olympus, they piled Mount Pelion upon Mount Ossa, which became a proverbial allusion for any huge but fruitless attempt. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelion"

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Joh 20:1-18}

1. The first day of the week Mary Magdalene comes early, when it was still dark, to the sepulchre, and sees the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

Her love for her Lord made her rise early, and helped her to overcome the fear which would have prevented many from going out “when it was still dark, to the sepulchre.” There are fears which some cannot shake off in the dark, and those fears would be apt to become intensified in going to a sepulchre in the dark; but love wakes up early to try to find Christ, and love can see in the dark when looking for Jesus. Mary little expected to find the tomb of Jesus rifled, and the stone rolled away; she was so surprised at what she saw that she hurried away to tell the story to other friends of her Lord.

2. Then she runs, and comes to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and says to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

This was the language of ignorance and unbelief. She had forgotten that the Lord had said that he would rise again, the third day; or else she had never understood the meaning of his words; so, instead of saying “He is risen,” she said, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Unbelief often reads things wrongly; it reads sorrow into facts that should create joy. Nothing could have made Mary happier than to believe that her Lord had risen from the dead, and nothing ever made her more sorrowful than feeling that she must say, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

3, 4. Peter therefore went out, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they both ran together: and the other disciple outran Peter, and came to the sepulchre first.

They wanted to know what had really happened, so they resolved that they would go and see. The woman’s message surprised them, and troubled them: “So they both ran together.” A good many people seemed to be running that morning. Had the disciples known the whole truth, they might have taken to dancing for joy, but their fears quickened their footsteps.

5. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; — 

So that he knew that they had not taken away the body of Jesus; for, if they had, they certainly would not have taken off the linen clothes. It would have been very difficult, and would have taken considerable time to unwrap the cold grave-clothes when they were bound to the body by the unguents that had been used: “He saw the linen clothes lying”; — 

5. Yet he did not go in.

Perhaps, out of reverence; or, possibly, out of deference to the older man, he would give him the preference, and let him enter first.

6. Then Simon Peter comes following him, and went into the sepulchre, and sees the linen clothes lie,

They were evidently both struck with that sight. It indicated that there had been no haste, no hurry by thieves, but deliberate action of quite another kind.

7. And the napkin, that was around his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

As one has well said, there were the grave-clothes left as the apparel for the believer’s last bed, and there was the napkin, “in a place by itself,” to wipe away the tears of mourners. The chief lesson is that this act had been done at leisure by someone who was in no hurry whatever. He had put together the linen clothes, and wrapped up the napkin, and laid it “in a place by itself.”

8. Then that other disciple also went in, who came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

That is a great deal for John to be able to say concerning himself, for Mary had not yet believed. Possibly, Peter had scarcely believed, but John had. He felt certain that the Lord had risen. He remembered his words, and he correctly interpreted the fact now before him: “he saw, and believed.”

9. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

They did not understand it; even John himself did not until then. The rest of the disciples had never put that interpretation on our Lord’s words which was their clear and simple meaning, namely, that he would rise from the dead. I should not wonder if there are other words of Scripture, with regard to the future, which we would understand if we took them exactly as they stand in the Word; but we have put other meanings on them, and consequently see no further into them.

10. Then the disciples went away again to their own home.

Having ascertained that the body of Jesus was not there, and John having come to the conclusion that the Lord had indeed risen from the dead, he and Peter went away home prayerfully to wait and see what would happen next.

11. But Mary stood — 

She was not going away home. Love cannot leave the place where it lost its object; it will continue to search there: “But Mary stood” — 

11. Outside the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked — 

Some can weep, but never look. Do not act like that, beloved, but look for comfort even when your heart is breaking: “As she wept, she stooped down, and looked” — 

11, 12. Into the sepulchre, and sees two angels in white — 

The resurrection colour, the colour of joy and gladness: “two angels in white” — 

12. Sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

I have no doubt that the angel who sat at the feet was quite as content to sit there as the other was to sit at the head. If any two of you are sent on the Lord’s business, do not pick and choose where you shall be, or what you shall do. “One at the head, and the other at the feet.” I am afraid that, if they had been men instead of angels, both would have wanted to sit at the head, and the feet would have been neglected. This sight seems to remind one of the mercy seat, where the cherubim stood facing each other, and covering the mercy seat with their outspread wings.

13. And they say to her, “Woman, why do you weep?” She says to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

Grief does not have many words. It is apt to repeat itself, as the Lord himself did in Gethsemane when he prayed three times, using the same words.

14, 15. And when she had said this, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus says to her, “Woman, why do you weep?

Christ often repeats the words of his messengers, as if to endorse them. The angels said, “Woman, why do you weep?” The angels’ Master says the same. I pray him, tonight, not only to give me the right word to say, but also to say it himself to your hearts. But Jesus added another question to the angels’ “Woman, why do you weep?”

15. Whom do you seek?” She, supposing him to be the gardener, says to him, “Sir, if you have borne him from here, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Did it occur to her that, possibly, the gardener objected to having a corpse in the garden, and that, therefore, he had come early in the morning, and taken it away? We can hardly imagine what she did think; but when people are in great grief, they often think a great many things which they would not think if they were quite in their right minds. What strange delusions, what exceptional chimeras {b} of monstrous shape will pass through the heart of grief! May God help us to be clear-minded, and not to think what we should not like to say! Still, Mary was a brave woman, for she said to the gardener, “Tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

16. Jesus says to her, “Mary.” She turned around, and says to him, “Rabboni”; which is to say, “Master.”

She said, “My Master, my Rabbi, my Teacher, my Leader, my dear Master”; and I expect she said it with great exaltation. She delighted to have her Master again, to have her Teacher again; for, to be without her Teacher, and without her Lord, was a terrible bereavement to that gentle, teachable heart.

I suppose she was about to lay hold on Christ, to grasp him by the feet, lest he should go away from her again.

17. Jesus says to her, “Do not touch me; — 

Or, as the words may be read, “Do not hold me; do not detain me”; — 

17. For I am not yet ascended to my Father:

“I have to go away from you, so do not imagine that you can hold me back. No, the time for such communications with me is past, for I am now in another condition. I will communicate with you spiritually; but, for that, you must wait a little: ‘I am not yet ascended to my Father.’”

17. But go to my brethren, — 

He had never called them that before. “Brethren” he had called them, but not with the emphatic “my.” “Go to my brethren,” — 

17. And say to them, ‘I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.’”

So Christ explained to them that the Father, who is God, was God to Christ, and God to them; the Father of Christ, and their Father also.

18. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord,

That was a very different message from her first one. Then she came and said, “He is gone; the tomb is empty; the stone is rolled away”; now she comes with the joyful news, “I have seen our risen Lord.”

18. And that he had spoken these things to her.

Sometimes, we have to deliver the message of stern justice, which is one of doom to the guilty; but, oh, how sweet it is to be able to come with the message of the gospel!


   “He lives; the great Redeemer lives.”


“He lives to plead for sinners; so, sinners, come and trust him, for he will reveal himself to you as surely as he did to these disciples, though not in exactly the same form.”


{b} Chimera: A fabled fire-breathing monster of Greek mythology, with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail (or according to others with the heads of a lion, a goat, and a serpent), killed by Bellerophon. OED.

John Ploughman’s Almanac for 1908, and Spurgeon’s Illustrated Almanac for 1908.

The two Almanacs are once more nearly ready for publication, and it is believed that they will prove fully equal to their predecessors. The great broadsheet contains 366 proverbial sayings, &c., and five pictures of farm scenes. Five of the illustrated articles in the Book Almanac are from the writings of C. H. Spurgeon, and the 366 texts for 1908 have been selected by Pastor Thomas Spurgeon. The Almanacs are one penny each, and can be obtained from Messrs. Passmore and Alabaster, Paternoster Buildings, London, or through all booksellers and colporteurs.

The OCR quality of this sermon was poor and contained many spurious comas, italics and corrupted or missing words. Editor.

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