Their care was in vain. On the first day of the week, long ere it was light, an an-gel came and broke the seal and rolled the stone from the grave and sat on it. His face shone like light and his robe was as white as snow. At sight of him, those who kept watch, shook with fear and were like dead men.
Just as the sun rose, Ma-ry Mag-da-lene, Ma-ry Cleo-phas, and Sa-lome came to the tomb, and brought sweet spice and fine salve to rub the body of Je-sus. But as they come up to the great rock in which the tomb is cleft, they see the stone is gone. Ma-ry Mag-da-lene, in her grief and fear lest the dear corpse of the Lord has come to harm, does not wait to look through the door of the tomb, but flies back to Je-ru-salem and finds Pe-ter and John and tells her sad tale. "They have borne off the Lord from his tomb, and we know not where they have laid him."
But the two friends whom Mag-da-lene left at the tomb, go in to see if they could find some trace of their Lord. There sits a young man clad in a long white robe who calms their fears at once.
"Fear not," he says, "I know that ye seek Je-sus of Naz-a-reth, who died on the cross. He is not here. He rose from the dead as he said he would do. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. But go your way with speed, and tell his friends and Pe-ter, that he rose from the dead and will meet you in Gal-i-lee. There shall ye see him as he said to you. Lo! I have told you."
And they went out with haste from the tomb, and with fear and dare speak to no one by the way, but ran with the good news to the friends of Je-sus.
In the mean time Pe-ter and John have set out in great haste to see with their own eyes what Mary Magdalene had told them of. They both ran, but John got to the tomb first, and bent down to look in. He saw no one, but there lay the fine white bands in which fond hands had wrapt Je-sus the night of his death. But Pe-ter, when he came up, did not stop at the door. He went right in the tomb, and saw the clothes. These clothes did not look as if they had been torn off in haste, but they lay in neat folds, each in its place. Then John went in, and he saw these things, and knew that Jesus had left the grave of his own free will.
Then Pe-ter and John went back to their own home. But Mary Mag-da-lene did not go. She stayed to weep. The glad thought that Je-sus could and must rise from the dead to prove the truth of all that he had said and done, has not as yet made its way to her heart. She clings to the sad thought that the foes of Je-sus must have come to steal his corpse for some bad end of their own, and that she can not strew the sweet gifts she had brought on his grave.
As she weeps, she stoops down to look in, and sees two forms of light, who sit on each side of the place where Jesus had lain. They say to her, "Why dost thou weep?"
They have borne off my lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
When she had said this, she turns her head and sees Je-sus, who stands near her. But her heart is so full of fear and grief, and her eyes of tears, that she does not know him. She thinks he must be the man who has charge of Joseph's grounds, and says to him, "Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take care of him."
What a thrill the well known voice of Je-sus must have sent through that sad heart of hers!
She falls down and tries to clasp his feet, but all she can say is, "My Lord!" But Je-sus bids her touch him not, for he has not yet gone up on high. But he bids her, too, go and tell his friends that he will soon go back to his God and their God.
On her way, Sa-lome and Ma-ry Cleo-phas join her, and Je-sus meets them and bids them
"Fear not, but go and tell my friends to go to Gal-i-lee, and there shall they see me."
But when they tell his friends of what they have seen and heard, they have no faith in their words.
That same day, two friends of Je-sus were on their way to Em-ma-us, which was eight miles from Je-ru-sa-lem. As they walk they talk of the sad scenes in Pi-late's hall, on the road to Cal-va-ry, and of the death on the cross. In the midst of this talk one joins them whom they know not (it is said that their eyes were held so they did not know him), and asks them why they are so sad.
Cleo-pas (that is the name of one of them) said that He who asks this can not have been in Je-ru-sa-lem, since he does not know the things which have come to pass there in these days.
"What things?" asked their new friend.
"Why how Je-sus of Naz-a-reth, who spoke such words and wrought such great deeds in the sight of all men, has been put to death on the cross by our chief priests and those who rule us. Our hope was that it had been he who should save Israel, and this is the third day since these things were done. Some of our friends who went to his tomb at dawn, found that he was not there, and say that they saw Forms of Light, and were told by them that Jesus still lives.
He who had met them heard them through, and then said, "O fools and slow of heart, to trust all the words which ye have heard as to Jesus and his work! Ought not Jesus to have borne all these things to prove his claims?"
And then he went back to what Mo-ses and men of old wrote of Je-sus that he might show them how all things had been done by Je-sus of Naz-a-reth which it had been said the Christ should do. But still their eyes were held, and they knew him not.
When they came to' Em-ma-us, he made as if he would have gone on, but they beg him to stay with them. They know not who he is, but they feel that it is good to be with him. When they urge that the day is far spent and the night draws on, he turns in with them to the house where they are to stay. But their guest is soon their host; for it came to pass as he sat at meat with them he took bread and blessed it, and brake and gave to them. Now their eyes are
held no more, and they know their Lord! But as they gaze at him in awe and love, he fades from their sight, and they see him no more. Then how they call up all his words and looks by the way, and cry, "Did not our hearts burn as he spoke with us by the way?" And they rose up that same hour, though night drew on, and went back to Je-ru-sa-lem to tell their friends what things were done in the way, and how Jesus was made known to them as he broke the bread.
That same night the friends of Je-sus met by stealth, and with shut doors, for fear of the Jews. All at once Je-sus stood in their midst with the words, "Peace be with you!" They are in great fear at this sight, and think it is his ghost, for he has made his way to them in spite of shut doors and bolts and bars.
But Je-sus said, "Why do you fear? and why do such thoughts rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet that it is I; touch me and see, for a ghost hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.
When he shows them his hands and feet with the rents which the nails of the cross had made
in them, and the wound of the spear in his side, then were they glad, as they saw the Lord. To make them still more sure that it is not his ghost, he asks for food, and eats in their sight.
Then once more Je-sus said, "Peace be to you! as God has sent me forth, so send I you," and as he breathes on them he gives them the Ho-ly Ghost.
Now, there was one of the twelve who was not at the place where they met that night, and when those who had been there told him what he had lost, he doubts their word. He said, "I shall have no faith that it is he if I can not see in his hands the print of the nails, and touch the prints of the nails, and thrust my hand in his side!"
But the next week, when they met on what has been known from the day when Je-sus rose from the dead till now, as the Lord's day, Thom-as was there.
When all were in and the doors shut, Je-sus stands forth in their midst, and says, "Peace be to you!" Then he turns to Thom-as, whose head doubts, though his heart loves, and says, "See and touch the prints of the nails! Put thy hand in my side, and doubt no more, but have faith in me!
Thom-as' doubts all fly at these words. He does not care to see or touch the wounds of his Lord's flesh, for he sees through that torn flesh the GOD WITH US of whom Isa-i-ah sung, and cries "My Lord, and my God!"
Je-sus next meets his friends as he had told them he would, in a mount in Gal-i-lee. His band seem not to have yet seen what Je-sus meant to have them do. They do not break up, and yet some of them seem to have gone back to their old trades. Pe-ter, at least, as he stands once more on the shore of the Lake of Gal-i-lee feels his old de-sires come back, and cries out, "I shall go and fish!" Four or five of Je-sus' friends who chance to be with him at the time, say, "We will go with thee." So they sail out on the lake and toil all night, but catch no fish.
At dawn Je-sus stood on the shore, but they knew him not. Nor do they know him when he asks if they have caught any fish. When they tell him that they have not, he bids them cast their net on the right side of the ship and they shall find fish. Still they know not that it is Je-sus, but as they throw the net where he bade them, it fills with fish at once, so that they can not draw the net back on board the boat! Then John said to Pe-ter, "It is the Lord!"
Pe-ter cares no more for the fish when he hears that glad word. He caught up his coat which he had laid off in his toil, and sprang into the sea, and made for the shore as fast as he could. The rest of the crew come on in the boat, and drag the net with them. When they reach the shore they find a fire of coals, and fish laid on it, and bread. Je-sus bids them bring some of the fish from the net, and they find it full. Then Je-sus said to them, "Come and dine," and they drew near, but dare not speak to him.
Je-sus now acts as their host. He took bread and gave to them, and fish as well.
When the meal is done, Je-sus turns to Pe-ter and speaks words which must have been like balm to his sore heart. Pe-ter's grief is still fresh for the wrong he had done his Lord, when he said three times that he knew him not, in the dark hour when he was left to trust to his own weak heart. But he now hears him to whom he had been so false, say, in mild, sweet tones, "Si-mon, son of Jo-nas, dost thou love me more than these?"
Pe-ter is not so rash as he was, and does not boast of his love, but he is sure of it, "Yes, Lord, thou dost know that I love thee." Je-sus then shows him how he can make proof of his love; Feed my lambs. Help the young and the weak to find their strength and life in your Lord. But Je-sus asks once more, in the same words. "Si-mon, son of Jo-nas, dost thou love me?"
"Yes, Lord; thou dost know that I love thee."
Feed my sheep.
The third time Je-sus asks, "Si-mon, son of Jo-nas, dost thou love me!"
Three times Pe-ter has said, of Je-sus, I know not the man, and three times he must own his love to Je-sus. Peter grieves that his Lord should ask him this the third time, but says with all his heart, "Lord, thou dost know all things; thou dost know that I love thee."
Feed my sheep.
Then Je-sus tells Pe-ter by what mode of death he will die, in these words; "When thou
wert young thou didst gird thee, and walk where thou didst please; but when thou shalt be old, strange hands will gird thee and bear thee where thou wouldst not."
And so it came to pass, for Pe-ter was to serve Je-sus all his life, and prove his love to him when an old man, by death, for his name's sake. Bad men would gird him, as they had bound his Lord, to the cross.
It is said, that when the hour came for him to be made fast to the cross on which he was to die, the thought of how false he had been to his Lord clung to him, and made him beg those who were to nail him to the wood to place him with his head down, for he said he was not fit to die by the same death with his Lord.
When Pe-ter has heard what his own fate is to be he wants to know what will come to John. He knows how fond Je-sus has been of John who sat with his head on his Lord's breast at their last feast, and so he asks, "Lord, and what shall this man do?"
Je-sus does not choose to tell. "If I will that he stay till I come, what is that to thee?"
John who tells us this, says that some who heard it thought Je-sus meant by this that John should not die, but states that that was not what Je-sus said at all, but, "If I will that he stay till I come, what is that to thee?"
Once more Je-sus met his friends at Je-ru-salem, and told them what their work in the world was to be. Not to fish or to take tolls, but to spread the good news in Je-ru-sa-lem first, and then through all the world. He bids them stay in Je-ru-sa-lem till the Ho-Ly GHOST shall come down on them to fit them for this great work, and then go forth and preach in his name.
Je-sus stayed on earth two score days from the day when he rose from the dead. He gave proof on proof that he was the same Je-sus who had died on the cross. He made them see at last what all his life had not taught them, that he was in truth, the King of kings, though not like this world's kings, and that they were to spread his king-dom till it should take in all the world. He told them, too, that in this great work, though he would be hid from their sight, yet he would be with them. "Lo! I am with you at all times, to the end of the world." And when he had thus taught them, and made them strong in the faith, he left them to do his work.
He leads them out as far as Beth-any, and there lifts up his hands to bless them. While he thus stands with eyes that beam with love, and hands that bless, he floats through the air up and up and up, till a cloud veils him from their sight! It is not strange that this weak band should stand and gaze and gaze in hope that they may yet catch a wave of those hands which bless to the last, or a glimpse of the robe which shrouds his form. But they look in vain. A voice at their side brings their eyes back to earth. There stood with them two men in white robes who say, "Ye men of Gal-i-lee, why stand ye and thus gaze? This same Je-sus who has thus gone from your sight, shall come once more as ye have seen him go."
They went back to Je-ru-sa-lem as Jesus bade them, and for ten days they stayed there and prayed and gave thanks to God. At the end of that time, one day, all at once, they heard a loud noise like the sound of a great wind. It filled the whole house; and what looked like flames of fire, in the shape of tongues, came in the room and rested on their heads, and they were filled with the HO-LY GHOST, and they at once spake with strange (for-eign lan-gua-ges) tongues, so that those who heard them thought they were drunk.
But if they were drunk it was not with wine but with joy, for that might which Je-sus said should one day be theirs had come to them. Now they knew what the life and death of Je-sus meant to all the world, and from that day they lived but to teach and preach of him and his love.
They went to all lands, and spread the glad news from place to place, and did the same sort of signs and good works that Je-sus used to do when he was on earth. The most tim-id of them lost all fear and bold-ly taught the crowds of the love of Je-sus for man and urged them to re-pent and be saved in His name. And many did repent and were bap-tized and spread the faith in dis-tant lands.
Like Je-sus they gave up their lives for their teach-ings, but their blood was the seed of the faith that has grown, like a vine, and covered the earth to the glo-ry of God and the joy of man.
May God give to each read-er of this book the strength to hold the faith to the end so that like Paul they can say as their last words: "I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith." A-men.