The Collect for the day, which is ancient, seems to have suggested
to our Reformers that more suitable passages might be selected for the
Epistle and Gospel than those before in use. We have, therefore,
in the Gospel the account of the Resurrection as given in St. John, and
in the Epistle the doctrine of the resurrection of all Christian people
in baptism as stated by St. Paul. Thus the unity of the Feast has
been secured and very practical instruction given.
THE EPISTLE. (COL. iii. 1.) BAPTISMAL
There is a close connection between Christ’s Resurrection and Christian
baptism. This connection is no mere metaphor from descent into and rising
from the baptismal water. S. Paul teaches that his baptism has been to
the Christian exactly what the Resurrection was to Christ.
It is not said merely that the baptized must “die to sin and rise again
to righteousness” (cf. baptismal service), but that they have died to sin
and have risen to righteousness, and are (Rom. vi. 11) “to reckon themselves
as dead in respect to sin and as alive in respect to God.”
This baptismal change is continually used by S. Paul as the great motive
and power for newness of life. Thus we must not invert the order
of this Epistle—risen, dead, mortify—nor insert the word “true” before
Christian, for our baptism is to be our great motive to true and real Christianity
A. Baptismal Resurrection.
By our Lord’s Resurrection He entered upon a new and risen life and
a new relation to God. His old life passed away, and alt things became
new. Thus by baptism into Christ the Christian enters upon a new life and
a new relation towards God. Baptism conveys this change, which was once
for all accomplished for the whole Church by the Resurrection of Christ,
to the individual.
S. Paul can, therefore, say to all baptized Christians: “If ye were
raised with Christ.” This “if” implies no uncertainty as to the fact, but
only uses the fact as an argument—
(1) To heavenly effort.
The risen Christian is to pursue and aim at all that is consistent
with his new position, to seek the things above.
(2) To heavenly affections.
He is to mind the things above—i.e., to make the new life not only
his effort, but his delight. The order is significant; effort must precede
pleasure, and then pleasure will surely follow, and where our treasure
is (i.e., that for which we have laboured) our hearts will be also.
B. Baptismal Death.
The death and resurrection of Christ were not only His entrance upon
a new sphere of life, but marked the severance of His connection with the
past. Thus by baptism into Christ the Christian severs his relation to
the world. The baptismal water is the Christian’s Rubicon.
Rom. vi. 4. “We were buried with Him through
baptism into death.”
Col. ii. 12. “Having been buried with Him in
baptism, wherein ye were also raised with Him.”
This is no mere metaphor, but a statement of actual fact; the Christian
as baptized and incorporated into Christ is thereby taken out of relation
to the world to which he is dead and even buried. Baptism, like death,
severs worldly ties and cancels human engage. ments. He who is “in Christ”
is out of the world.
C. Baptismal Duty.
Our duty is to live a life consistent with our baptism. Resurrection
with Christ implies death to the world, and death to the world implies
that we “put to death our members that are upon the earth.” The baptismal
change of relation demands also a change of conduct, a life of purity in
action and thought, and a life of unselfishness, for since baptismal resurrection
demands death to the world, to love the world is, therefore, the worst
of sins, and deserves the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
THE GOSPEL. (S. JOHN xx. 1.) THE
RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.
This short Gospel shows the Resurrection not as a doctrine, but as a
fact to be verified on evidence like all other facts. Three witnesses are
adduced and three remarkable signs.
A. The Three Witnesses.
These are three: Mary Magdalene, S. Peter, and S. John. The value of
their witness appears from the following consideration.
It was an event entirely unexpected by them.
(1) Mary had come in the evident expectation
of finding the Body, for she had come bringing spices to complete the embalmment.
Her perplexity is shown by her haste, and her breathless description—she
has no time to explain either the “they” or the ‘‘ we."
(2) S. Peter and S. John are equally surprised.
They, too, run—and run each as fast as they can, thus separating, and the
younger and more active arriving first.
They are both taken by complete surprise, and consider the facts without
any preconceived theory. This done, they depart home.
B. The Three Signs.
These are only to be explained by the Resurrection, and are not consistent
either with robbery of the tomb by the Jews, by removal of the Body by
the disciples, or the supposition that Christ had revived while in the
(1) The Stone Rolled Away.
Christ’s foes would not move it, for they had both sealed it and watched
it to prevent this very thing. Christ’s friends could not move it thus
guarded, and Christ Himself, even supposing His recovery from His terrible
injuries, could not have moved it, for it was “exceeding great.”
(2) The Empty Grave.
The Lord’s Body was gone, and whither gone and how? His foes would
not have taken it, and had they taken it, would have produced it to confute
the belief of the disciples. Christ’s friends could not, and would not
if they could, for His rising again had never entered their minds.
(3) The Condition of the Grave.
All was in order—the grave-clothes lying in one place, the napkin folded
lying by itself. Here was no thieves’ work. Hurried fear does
not leave behind it marks of deliberation. Here was no deception,
but resurrection. The conviction of the first witnesses was based
on observed facts—“they saw and believed.” Only the fact of the Resurrection
explains what was seen on the first Easter morning.
C. The Faith of the Church.
This rests upon two foundations—
(1) The lives of the first witnesses, which
give the strongest possible confirmation of their belief—by what they were
and by what they did.
(2) The life of Christ Himself. This might
well, in the absence of all other evidence, make us ready to believe that
it was not possible for Him to be holden of death.
This simple Easter prayer combines the teaching of the Gospel with that
of the Epistle.
A. The Resurrection of Christ.
By this our Lord not only overcame death Himself as recorded in the
Gospel, but “opened unto us the gate of everlasting life,” that we might
pass through the “grave and gate of death to a joyful resurrection.”
B. Our Baptismal Resurrection.
Through incorporation into Christ, the only begotten Son, we are made
sons of God by adoption, and not only so, but receive the Spirit of His
Son to quicken our souls to life by infusing good desires by “His special
grace preventing us.”
C. Our Easter Prayer.
We pray that He Who has raised up Christ for us, and raised us up with
Christ, would by His continual help enable us to live the risen life, as
described in the close of the Epistle, of practical duty.