Our Pattern for Resurrection Living
He showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3 KJV)
Easter morning is the beginning of a unique and most tenderly interesting portion of our blessed Savior’s life. It is the transition period between His earthly ministry and His heavenly exaltation. Like the Indian summer of the year, there is a tender veil of loveliness and mystery about it that links it with both worlds and makes it an especially appropriate pattern for life “hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3 KJV), in which we may walk with Him all our days, with our heads in heaven while our feet still tread the earth below. May the Holy Spirit vividly reveal to us such glimpses of this blessed life as will enable us to reproduce it in our own experience and walk with Him with a new sense of His abiding presence and glorious reality!
1. The Christ of the Forty Days Is a Living Christ
This glad resurrection morning dispels from the religion of Jesus all the shadows of the sepulcher and all the morbid atmosphere of sorrow, depression, and death. The Christ of true Christianity is not a bleeding, thorn-crowned “Ecce Homo” [Latin for “Behold the man”; see John 19:5] but a glad and radiant face, bright as the springtide morning and radiant with immortal life. His message is:
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore. (Revelation 1:18 KJV)
Oh, may this day impress upon our hearts the reality of a risen and living Christ, until He is more actual to us than any other personality, and we know what it means not only to be “reconciled to God by the death of his Son” but “much more [to be] saved by his life” (Romans 5:10 KJV)!
2. The Christ of the Forty Days Is a Victorious Christ
Satan had done his worst, and men had done their best, to hold the Captive in the tomb. But without an effort, the Mighty Sleeper calmly rose before the Easter dawn, deliberately laying off the grave clothes, folding the napkin, and putting all in place as naturally as any of us got dressed this morning. Then, He passed through that colossal stone that closed His tomb without even rolling it aside or breaking the seal. Perhaps the most overwhelming impression we have received from all the incidents of His resurrection is the infinite facility with which He put His feet on every foe and rose above every obstacle.
Our risen Christ is still the Mighty Victor over all His foes and ours. If we could see Him now, we would behold Him sitting on His Father’s throne, undismayed by all the powers of darkness and “from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” (Hebrews 10:13 KJV). Oh, how it cheers our timid hearts to behold our glorious and victorious Captain and to hear Him say of every adversary and over every difficulty, “I have overcome for you.”
3. The Christ of the Forty Days Is a Simple Christ
How natural, how easy, how simple His manifestations were through those blessed forty days! How quietly He dropped down among the disciples, unheralded, unassuming, unattended by angelic guards, and sometimes undistinguished from them in His simple presence!
Oh, what a picture of that Blessed One who still lives to be our constant Visitor, our ceaseless Companion and Friend—to meet us like Mary in our hours of sorrow; and to walk with us, as with His disciples, often unrecognized at first; or to greet us in the cold, sad morning, after our long hours of waiting and toil and failure, with His marvelous deliverance and still more gracious words of love and instruction. He is so near that not even our nearest friends can come so close! He is so simple that His messages come as the intuition of our own hearts. And yet He is the Wonderful Counselor and the Mighty God for all our perplexities and all our hard places. Oh, blessed Christ of the Forty Days, help us to walk with You with a faith more simple and a love more childlike!
4. The Christ of the Forty Days Is a Mighty Christ
It is hard for us to realize the Presence that comes with such gentle footsteps and undemonstrative simplicity. Yet behind that gentle form and those noiseless steps is the Omnipotence who could say, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18 KJV).
All power is His in heaven. He is the Lamb in the midst of the throne who holds in His hand the seven seals and unrolls the scroll of destiny and providence for all worlds, beings, and events.
And all power on earth is subordinate to His power. He can open nations and kingdoms to the gospel, and so He bids us to go forth and disciple all the nations because of His almighty power on our behalf! Christ’s heart is bursting with resources that the world needs and that He is ready to use, if only He could find vessels ready and willing to use them.
5. The Christ of the Forty Days Is a Loving Christ
How unavailing all His power would be if we were not sure that it is available for us, and that His heart loves us as tenderly as His mighty hand can help us. How tender and loving is the Christ of the Forty Days!
So tender, so forgiving, so full of love, He comes to us to dry our tears, to satisfy our doubts, to forgive our failures, to restore our souls, and then to use us for a higher service, because we have learned through our own infirmities the depths of His great love. The secret to walking closely with Christ and working successfully for Him is to fully realize that we are His beloved. This was the secret of John’s spirit. “We have known and believed the love that God hath to us” (1 John 4:16 KJV). And the heart that has fully learned this has found the secret of unbounded faith and enthusiastic service.
6. The Christ of the Forty Days Is a Physical Christ
He who came forth alive from Joseph of Arimethea’s tomb came forth in the flesh, with a material body and the same form that He had laid down in death and the grave. Jesus made this point in His meeting with His disciples after His resurrection. He wanted them to be thoroughly assured that there was no illusion about His body. “Handle me, and see” were His emphatic words, “for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39 KJV).
Indeed, His spiritual consciousness had not died; it was His body alone that tasted death, and it was His body therefore that was raised from death. The resurrection of Christ, then, is a physical fact, and the physical meaning of the resurrection must be of surpassing importance. It means no less than this: that He has come forth to be the physical life of His people now, and, in a little while, the Fountain of their immortality and the Head of their resurrection bodies.
7. The Christ of the Forty Days Is Ever Present
The Christ of the Forty Days is not a transient vision that has passed away forever but rather the Christ of all the ages. Standing at the close of those blessed days midway between earth and heaven, we hear Him say, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NKJV). That blessed present tense has bridged the past and the present and has prolonged those heavenly days after the resurrection through all the days since then. It is not “I will be,” as one who has to go away and come back again but “‘I am,’” as a presence that is never to be withdrawn.
The promise of this beautiful passage is not fulfilled only in the presence of Christ in the heart of the believer, which is a literal and glorious truth, but it is a presence with us. It is more than the spiritual consciousness of the Lord’s indwelling. It is His direct personality and constant companionship with our entire life, and His omnipotent cooperation in all our needs. It is the presence of One who has all power in heaven and in earth and whose presence means the defeat of every adversary, the solution of every difficulty, the supply of every need.
There is no day so dark, so commonplace, so uninteresting, that you will not find Him there. Thus we will never be alone; thus we will never be defenseless; thus we will never be defeated; thus we never need to fear.
Did you enjoy this blog post? Then you will love A. B. Simpson’s book The Christ of the 40 Days!