Tag Archives: Easter

“It was easy” by Jonathan Edwards

“It was as easy with God to raise up His Son from death, as it is for one man to awake another out of sleep.”

–Jonathan Edwards, The “Miscellanies”: (Entry Nos. 1153–1360) (ed. Douglas A. Sweeney and Harry S. Stout; vol. 23; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2004), 159.

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“The church’s marriage with the Lamb” by Jonathan Edwards

“Above all, the time of Christ’s last coming is the time of the consummation of the church’s marriage with the Lamb, and the time of the complete and most perfect joy of the wedding.

In that resurrection morning, when the Sun of Righteousness shall appear in our heavens, shining in all His brightness and glory, He will come forth as a bridegroom.

He shall come in the glory of His Father, with all His holy angels. And at that glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ, shall the whole elect church, complete as to every individual member and each member with the whole man, both body and soul, and both in perfect glory, ascend up to meet the Lord in the air, to be thenceforth forever with the Lord.

That will be a joyful meeting of this glorious bridegroom and bride indeed. Then the bridegroom will appear in all His glory without any veil.

And then the saints shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, and at the right hand of their Redeemer and then the church will appear as the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

’Tis the state of the church after the resurrection, that is spoken of, Rev. 21:2, ‘And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride, adorned for her husband.’ And v. 9, ‘Come hither; I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’

Then will come the time, when Christ will sweetly invite His spouse to enter in with Him into the palace of His glory, which He had been preparing for her from the foundation of the world, and shall as it were take her by the hand, and lead her in with Him.

And this glorious bridegroom and bride shall with all their shining ornaments, ascend up together into the heaven of heaven, the whole multitude of glorious angels waiting upon them.

And this Son and daughter of God shall, in their united glory and joy, present themselves together before the Father.

When Christ shall say, ‘Here am I, and the children which Thou has given Me,’ and they both shall in that relation and union, together receive the Father’s blessing, and shall thenceforward rejoice together, in consummate, uninterrupted, immutable, and everlasting glory, in the love and embraces of each other, and joint enjoyment of the love of the Father.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “The Church’s Marriage to Her Sons, and to Her God,” in Sermons and Discourses, 1743–1758 (ed. Wilson H. Kimnach and Harry S. Stout; vol. 25; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2006), 25: 183–184.

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“His sufferings and His glory” by John Owen

“These are the two heads whereunto all the prophecies and predictions concerning Jesus Christ under the Old Testament are referred– namely, His sufferings, and the glory that ensued thereon (1 Peter 1:11).

All the prophets testified beforehand ‘of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.’

So when He Himself opened the Scriptures unto His disciples, He gave them this as the sum of the doctrine contained in them, ‘Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?’ (Luke 24:26). The same is frequently expressed elsewhere in Rom. 14:9 and Phil. 2:5–9.

So much as we know of Christ, His sufferings, and His glory, so much do we understand of the Scripture, and no more.”

–John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Volume 1: The Glory of Christ (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1684/2000), 342–343.

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“He not only was but still is our chief Prophet, our only High Priest, and our eternal King” by Herman Bavinck

“It is the crucified but also the resurrected and exalted Christ whom the apostles proclaim. From that vantage point of the exaltation of Christ, they view and describe His earthly life, suffering, and death.

For the work He now carries out as the exalted mediator, He laid the foundations in His cross. In His battle with sin, the world, and Satan, the cross has been His only weapon.

By the cross He triumphed in the sphere of justice over all powers that are hostile to God. But in the state of exaltation, consequently, He has also been given the divine right, the divine appointment, the royal power and prerogatives to carry out the work of re-creation in full, to conquer all His enemies, to save all those who have been given Him, and to perfect the entire kingdom of God.

On the basis of the one, perfect sacrifice made on the cross, He now—in keeping with the will of the Father—distributes all His benefits. Those benefits are not the physical or magical aftereffect of His earthly life and death.

It is the living and exalted Christ, seated at the right hand of God, who deliberately and with authority distributes all these benefits, gathers His elect, overcomes His enemies, and directs the history of the world toward the day of His parousia.

He is still consistently at work in heaven as the mediator. He not only was but still is our chief prophet, our only high priest, and our eternal king.

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 473-474.

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“What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation” by G.K. Chesterton

“They took the body down from the cross and one of the few rich men among the first Christians obtained permission to bury it in a rock tomb in his garden; the Romans setting a military guard lest there should be some riot and attempt to recover the body.

There was once more a natural symbolism in these natural proceedings; it was well that the tomb should be sealed with all the secrecy of ancient eastern sepulture and guarded by the authority of the Caesars. For in that second cavern the whole of that great and glorious humanity which we call antiquity was gathered up and covered over; and in that place it was buried.

It was the end of a very great thing called human history; the history that was merely human. The mythologies and the philosophies were buried there, the gods and the heroes and the sages. In the great Roman phrase, they had lived.

But as they could only live, so they could only die; and they were dead. On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away.

In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night.

What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.”

–G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, Volume 2 (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1986), 2: 344–345.

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“The Empty Tomb” by Tom Wright

“Darkness on the face of the deep. The formless beginning, the chaos. The void. The beginning.

The wind and the word. God’s breath, God’s speech, summoning things never known before. Life and light. The first day. Creation.

In the beginning was the Word… and the Word became flesh.

The flesh has spoken, breathed, brought life and light. New creation has spilled out around Him wherever He has gone. ‘Here’s the man!’ The sixth day. Creation is complete. God saw all he had made, and it was very good.

Flesh dies. Chaos comes again. Darkness descends on the little weeping group at the cross. Two men in the fading light do what has to be done. Then the long sabbath, the rest in the cold tomb.

And now, still in the darkness, the first day of the week. The new week. The new creation. The eighth day. Eyes red from weeping and sleepless sabbath nights.

Women at the tomb; perhaps to bring more spices, perhaps just to weep, perhaps just to be there, because there was nowhere else to be, nothing else to do, nothing else that mattered, that would ever matter.

Mary Magdalene doesn’t feature in John’s gospel until her appearance, with the other Marys, at the foot of the cross. John has told us nothing of her history; the little we know, we know from the other gospels.

But her place here is spectacular. She is the first to bring the news that the tomb was empty. And, in the next section, a greater privilege yet: the first to see, to meet, to speak with the risen master Himself.

For the moment, the empty tomb is simply another twist of the knife. Chaos upon chaos. Someone’s taken Him away. No faith, no hope, no ‘maybe, after all …’. Just a cruel trick.

Some gardener, some labourer, some soldier, someone’s servant. But we must find out. It’s urgent. She runs back into the city, back to Peter in his hiding place, back to the young lad she had stood with by the cross, the one Jesus specially loved.

They run, too. (There is more running in these verses than in the rest of the gospels put together.) The younger man gets there first. Sure enough, the tomb is open and empty.

And here’s a curious thing: there are the linen cloths, lying there. Someone has not only taken the body away; they have first gone to the trouble of unwrapping it. Why on earth would you do that? Where has that happened before?

Peter, out of breath, arrives at the tomb a few moments later. He acts in character: no waiting, no beating about the bush, no shall-we-shan’t-we. In he goes.

And here’s an even more curious thing: the linen cloths are lying there; but the single cloth, the napkin that had been around Jesus’ head, isn’t with the others. It’s in a place by itself.

Someone, having unwrapped the body (a complicated task in itself), has gone to the trouble of laying out the cloths to create an effect. It looks as though the body wasn’t picked up and unwrapped, but had just disappeared, leaving the empty cloths, like a collapsed balloon when the air has gone out of it.

Then comes the moment. The younger man, the beloved disciple, goes into the tomb after Peter. And the idea they had had to that point about what must have happened—someone taking the body away, but unwrapping it first—suddenly looks stupid and irrelevant.

Something quite new surges up in the young disciple, a wild delight at God’s creative power. He remembers the moment ever afterwards. A different sensation. A bit like falling in love; a bit like sunrise; a bit like the sound of rain at the end of a long drought.

A bit like faith. Oh, he’d had faith before. He had believed that Jesus was the Messiah. He had believed that God had sent Him, that He was God’s man for God’s people and God’s world.

But this was different. ‘He saw, and believed.’ Believed that new creation had begun. Believed that the world had turned the corner, out of its long winter and into spring at last.

Believed that God had said ‘Yes’ to Jesus, to all that He had been and done. Believed that Jesus was alive again.

Not ‘believed that Jesus had gone to heaven’. People often still think that that’s what Christians mean when they say He was raised from the dead. John is quite clear, later on in this passage, that that’s not what he’s talking about (verse 17). He is talking about resurrection.

Everybody in the ancient world knew that resurrection didn’t happen. More: they knew it couldn’t happen. They spoke of it, in the classical world of Greece and Rome, as something one might imagine but which never actually occurred, and never could or would.

The Jews, though, began to believe that it would. Not all of them, mind; the Sadducees resolutely stuck out against it. And they weren’t all clear exactly what it would mean, what it would be like. But they believed, as we saw in 11:24, that when resurrection happened it would happen to all God’s people all at once. (Perhaps, even, to all people everywhere, as in 5:28–29.)

Not—this is the point—to one person in the middle of time. That would be an odd, outlandish event, unimagined, unheard-of.

When Jesus raised Lazarus, Lazarus returned to the present life. He came back again. The echoes of the Lazarus story in the present one are there partly to tell us that it was the same kind of event, but mostly to tell us that it wasn’t.

Lazarus needed someone to untie him from his cloths, and the napkin round his head. Jesus left His behind altogether. Lazarus came back into a world where death threats still mattered (12:10).

Jesus had gone on, through death and out into a new world, a new creation, a new life beyond, where death itself had been defeated and life, sheer life, life in all its fullness, could begin at last.

Ask people around the world what they think is the biggest day of the year for Christians. Most will say ‘Christmas’. That’s what our society has achieved: a romantic mid-winter festival (though we don’t actually know what time of the year Jesus was born) from which most of the things that really matter (the danger, the politics) are carefully excluded.

The true answer—and I wish the churches would find ways of making this clear—is Easter.

This is the moment of new creation. If it hadn’t been for Easter, nobody would ever have dreamed of celebrating Christmas.

This is the first day of God’s new week. The darkness has gone, and the sun is shining.”

–Tom Wright, John for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 11-21 (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004), 140–143.

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