The Claims of the Risen Redeemer
George Everard, 1885
"Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One. I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades!" Revelation 1:17-18
Never a darker night of sorrow, and fear, and doubt, than the interval between our Lord's death and resurrection. The little flock was scattered. Their hopes seemed dashed to the ground. The arrow had pierced the soul of His mother. Peter was weeping bitterly. Mary Magdalene and her companions had no thought but of honoring the dead body of their Lord.
But the darkness lasted only for a short season. And never dawned a brighter or more glorious day, than that when the Prince of Life arose from the tomb and dispelled forever those black clouds of unbelief which for a season had so hidden from sight the promises He had left them and the grand future that was in store for His Church. He rose, and none could stay Him. The guard, and the stone, and the seal — cannot delay for one moment the fulfillment of His promise. To one and another He showed Himself, until on that first Easter Eve the disciples together heard His welcome voice telling of peace, and saw the hands and the feet and the side and the brow which had been wounded for them.
And for us too the light shines, and the Living One reminds us that His life abides evermore, and that all the powers of death and of the unseen world are in His hand. No humble, believing soul need now be afraid. "Do not be afraid," He says, "I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One."
But what claims has this risen, living, glorious Redeemer upon you? What does He ask of you by virtue of His resurrection?
First, He has a claim on your unlimited, unbounded confidence. If Christ had remained in Joseph's new tomb, then faith would have been vain, and our hope would have perished. But now that He has risen, and that the evidences of His resurrection are so clear — does He not ask that we shall trust Him utterly?
If there are those near at hand who would suggest doubts as to the truth of the Gospel, we may not hearken to them nor regard them. Christ has risen — therefore He is God's chosen Messiah. His Word is Yes and Amen, for He is proved to be the faithful and true witness. He cannot be deceived — and He cannot deceive. As firm as a rock, abide . . .
every doctrine which He taught,
every promise He gave, and
every threatening He uttered.
Moreover, you may trust Him for free and perfect forgiveness of sins. The resurrection was God's seal on the all-sufficiency of His atoning work. The debt is paid, for the prisoner is set free. And the payment of that debt availed for all who by faith accept the ransom. Therefore trust in Him and be not afraid. Trust Him as the great Prophet whose words cannot fail. Trust Him as the Surety who has satisfied the justice of God's law on your behalf. Trust Him as the One who can trample down the world, the devil, death, and Hell under your feet! Trust Him with full whole-hearted confidence, and so trusting you shall never be put to shame.
Christ, as the risen Savior, has a claim on your supreme and constant love. For He rose again, to perpetuate and forever manifest the love which brought Him to the cross. It was the same loving Savior who spoke to Mary, and forgave Peter, and bore with the unbelief of Thomas — that the disciples had known in earlier days.
He loved through life.
He loved in death.
He loved when He rose again.
And He loves still at the Father's right hand. And does not this love of Christ demand our love, our warmest and most fervent love? Thank God, Jesus lives evermore to accept and honor and reciprocate the love that is poured out upon Him. He loved first; but it is no less true that when you return His love, and manifest that love in joyful obedience — He delights to reveal His love more and more, and to be ever giving fresh tokens of its reality.
Therefore be it your glad privilege to recognize this claim of Christ. Set your love on Christ. Say with David, "I will love You, O Lord, my strength!" Own to Him that you would love Him far more than ever you have done hitherto, and ask Him by His Spirit to pour His love abundantly into your heart. Ponder His marvelous life, His words of grace — above all, the story of His death — until your heart is on fire with love to Him, until that love grows deeper and stronger, and pervades your whole soul. Such love blesses him who exercises it, and honors Him on whom it is bestowed.
Lastly, Christ by virtue of His resurrection has a claim on your loyal and unswerving allegiance. You are bound to fight bravely and steadfastly on behalf of His kingdom of righteousness and truth. Did not He fight your battle even to the death — and for your sake, did He not spoil principalities and powers? Did He not overcome for you, that mighty enemy of your soul who must otherwise have kept you in the bondage of sin and fear?
And now that, by His resurrection, He has proved His power, and has commissioned His Church to carry on the warfare against the power of evil — is it not your part to gird on your armor and, as a good soldier of His cross, to go to the front and never be ashamed of His banner? You are fighting under a victorious General, and you know beforehand that His kingdom must spread, and that at length He will put all enemies under His feet.
Therefore be brave and devoted to His cause. Never mind a few sword-cuts. Don't hesitate to be on Christ's side, because you may meet occasionally with a little reproach for His sake. Day by day rise up in the morning with a prayer that you may never dishonor Him, but that you may do something, however small, to advance His kingdom in the world.
And always remember the loving Redeemer is by your side. He is close at hand to support and to help you. You are not left alone, but He is with you, and your least efforts to do good shall not be in vain.