"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I
will give you rest."
"He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear
not; I am the first and the last--I am He that lives, and was dead--and,
behold, I am alive for evermore; and have the keys of Hades and of death."
John was at this moment, in no ordinary sense of the
word, one of the weary and burdened. He was left alone of the apostolic
band. Many of his fellows and friends had died a martyr's death. Untold
cruelties had stained the imperial purple; clouds brooded over the Christian
cause. No sympathetic human voice was near to cheer him in his loneliness,
as he wandered along the shore of that prison-island. Can we wonder if, in
his solitary hours, he grouped himself among the heavy-laden? Can we wonder
if these waves of the Aegean Sea were a type of his own inner feelings--so
far as earth was concerned, seeking rest and finding none? His earthly home
and Hospice was a desolate and terrible one.
But the Rest-Giver, He who of old permitted him in
tranquil love to pillow his head on His bosom, was near with the well-known
lullabies which he had heard amid the pauses of the storm on Tiberias, and
at the timid gathering in the upper room on the first Easter evening--"Fear
not;" "I am alive!" Among the prognostications of coming evil and
disaster conveyed in vision of opened seals and emptied vials--Hades and
Death specially active participators in the drama--He reveals Himself as the
great Lord of life, watching, as such, the destinies of the Church--not a
seal broken, not a vial outpoured, without His bidding--walking in the midst
of the golden candlesticks, and alone pronounced "worthy" to open the roll
Life and Death alternate and palpitate,
strangely in this verse. DEATH, the mystery and portent of mankind; death,
which lies like a cold avalanche on the heart of humanity; death, with its
ghastly tapers lighting the long corridors of the past; death, the most
irresistible of all natural forces, is here confronted by a Force mightier
still--"I am alive for evermore;" "I have the keys of that gloomy gate,
opening to the vast unknown, suspended at my belt. 'Fear not!' I Myself know
death. I have felt it. I have passed through its portals. I was dead;
but I have conquered it and its defiances, spoiled it of its power, and left
the King of Terrors a vanquished foe. I have converted the very home of
death, the grave, into a veritable Hospice, a 'cemetery,' a
sleeping-place or bed of rest, preparatory to a waking up in endless life.
'Write, From henceforth blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; for they
"There is no death--the leaves may fall,
The flowers may fade and pass away;
They only wait through wintry hours
The coming of the May!"
O weary and heavy-laden ones, who, it may be, through
fear of death are all your lifetime subject to bondage, fear it not. Your
Lord was dead. Fear not the chill tenets of the prophets of annihilation,
who meet the yearnings of humanity with the requiem of despair– "Sleep the
sleep that knows no waking."
Your Lord lives. Leave to paganism to carve on its
sepulchral slabs--"The land of no return." He is alive forever more.
He will come again in His advent glory to take you to Himself, and to
transplant you among the ingathered company of His ransomed.
"Therefore dread I not to go
O'er the silent river.
Death, your hastening oar I know;
Bear me, you Life-giver,
Through the waters to the shore,
Where mine own have gone before!''
He gives us, meanwhile, the sublime guarantee–
"Because I live, you shall live also."
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest. This is
the place of repose." Isaiah 28:12