The Grave of Jesus
James Smith, 1860
The Lamb of God had taken away the sins of the world. The day of expiation was past. The atonement was now accepted. Peace with God was made. The tumults of the people were hushed. The women hastened to the tomb. The great stone was rolled away. Instead of a dead body — they found living angels. They were terrified, and filled with alarm. But their fears were soon scattered, for a mighty angel, clothed with majesty — but inspired with love, said to them with winning voice, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay!" Matthew 28:5-6.
Jesus had lain . . .
in the bosom of his Father,
in the womb of the virgin,
in the manger at Bethlehem,
in the carpenter's cottage at Nazareth,
and at length in Joseph's tomb.
There he lay — a corpse. Life was gone. Strength and beauty were gone. He was brought into the dust of death. Let us visit his grave. Let us obey the angels, and let us bow down, and "Come and see the place where he lay!"
Mark, The SPOT.It is a garden — a rich man's garden. In the upper part of it there is a rock, and out of that rock was chiseled a tomb. It was a quiet spot, though not far from the city. No one had lain there before. The man of wealth had intended it for himself. He expected to die, for he knew that his wealth could not save him from the last enemy. But of Messiah it had been said, "His death was with the wicked, and with the rich man was his tomb." Therefore, they laid Jesus there, for the sepulcher was not far from the cross. It was near at hand. Flowers, sweet flowers grew and threw their fragrance around it, and lofty shrubs bent over it.
It was an interesting spot. Interesting before Jesus was laid there — but to us, much more so afterwards. The beauties of creation, the terrible effects of sin, and the ravages of death — were brought close together. The flowers blossomed and looked mirthful — humanity had faded and looked sad. What could form a greater contrast, than those beautiful flowers — and the sorrow-stricken, mutilated corpse of the Son of God. I feel deeply interested in every object around me, as I stand by the grave of Jesus, and look down to "see the place where he lay!"
The place is as instructive as it is interesting. What lessons may be learned here! O sin, what have you introduced! O death, what have you done! The Son of God is slain, the Son of man was laid in the tomb. The Lord of Glory — was clothed with shame. The Prince of life — experienced death. The omnipotent — suffers. The immortal — dies. The innocent takes the place, and suffers the desert of the guilty. O what condescension! O what a stoop — from the highest throne of glory, to this charnel house! What a mystery! Let me meditate, adore, and praise!
But it is a solemn spot. Death is always solemn — but the death of the Son of God is most solemn. The grave is always a solemn place — but the grave of Jesus is particularly so.
He died — whom no one could kill.
He died — whom no disease could touch.
He died — who had given life to millions.
He was buried — who was to raise every corpse from the grave.
What did that tomb enclose!
What did that stone cover!
The body of the incarnate God;
the hope of his scattered disciples,
the foundation of the church of God.
O my soul, I feel a deep seriousness creep over me, as I look at the place, and think that I myself was the cause of his death, and that it was through my fault that he was brought down to the gates of the grave. Let me tarry here for a while, and with deep seriousness and sympathy, look at the tomb, and "see the place where he lay!"
Observe, The ACTION."Come and see." Use the eye, to ascertain, the grave is empty — to impress the mind; let the eye affect the heart — and to profit the soul, for the most important, the most precious lessons, are to be learned here. Come, meditate, let the eye of the mind reach where the eye of the body cannot, and for a time be a substitute for it. Looking into the empty grave, let us ask five questions, not so much for information — as impression.
First, WHO lay there? The Lord! The Lord of heaven and earth. The creator of the universe, the sustainer of all things, the preserver of men! The ruler of all worlds, lay there! The King of kings, the Lord of lords, was wrapped in that shroud! The face of the King eternal, immortal, invisible, was covered with that burial cloth. O wondrous thought — it is the place where the Lord lay!
Second, in what CHARACTER did he lay there? As our Surety, Savior, and Friend. He had become answerable for us. He engaged to pay the debt that we had contracted, and to suffer all we had deserved. "He bore our sins, he carried our sorrows." It was his undertaking for us — which nailed him to the cross, and then laid him in the sepulcher. He died to save us. He was bruised that he might save us. He arose from the grave that he might save us. He became our Surety, that he might be our Savior; and he became our Savior, because he was our Friend.
O Jesus, as my Surety — you have paid my
as my Savior — you will present me without fault to your Father;
and as my Friend — you will associate me with yourself forever.
Third, what brought him there?
It was our sins — and His own infinite love.
Our sins alone could not — for He was not involved in them.
His love alone could not — for as innocent, He could not die.
But out of His pure, infinite, and eternal love — He became answerable for our sins. He engaged to bear them, atone for them, and remove them forever!
"He died for our sins."
He suffered — because we had sinned,
He died — because we deserved to die, and
He lay in the grave for a time — that we may not lie in hell forever!
Our sins . . .
forged the nails that fastened Him to the tree,
planted the thorns that pierced His brow, and
sharpened the spear that was thrust into His heart!
O what an evil must sin be — to bring the Son of God into such a state of suffering and humiliation!
O what love must the love of Jesus be — that induced Him to take our place, and suffer and die in our stead!
Fourth, how LONG did he lay there? For three days, or until all he had engaged to do was fulfilled. They laid him there on Friday, he lay there the whole of Saturday, and he arose on the morning of Sunday. With the Jews, part of a day was reckoned as a whole — and therefore according to their reckoning, he lay there three days. He lay there long enough to prove that he was really dead. He lay there, until laying there longer, would answer no purpose — and then he rose.
Fifth, what BROUGHT him thence? The sentence of divine justice, the command of his Father, and his own power. The debt being paid, the bond was cancelled — the Surety must be set at liberty. The expiation being complete, the Father could desire no more, and therefore commanded to set him free. Having life in himself, having power to lay down his life, and power to take it again — he exerted that power, and came forth free from all obligation, invested with universal authority, and able to save whoever he would. "He has risen! Come and see the place where he lay!"
Let us now,Accept the Invitation. Let us come to the place and become familiar with it — that we may neither fear death nor the grave. Let us come and obtain assurance that we also shall be delivered from it. Let us come and examine into its nature and contents.
What is the grave? It is a bed of rest, for the poor, weary, worn-out body. It is a house of safety, in which the members of Jesus are laid up, until he shall raise and make them like himself. It is a land of quiet, where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest. The rich and the poor are there, and the servant is free from his master.
What is to be seen in that tomb? A napkin to wipe our tears, a winding sheet to wrap up our bodies, and an angel to guard our dust. Here we see the last foe conquered, conquered on his own ground, and conquered though every advantage was given him. Surely then, death is disarmed, the grave is furnished, and believers have nothing to fear.
Come then, lost sinner — come, see the place where the Lord lay. He is risen. He is able to save. He is exalted to give repentance, and the remission of sins. Come and believe in a living, loving, almighty Savior. There is salvation for you nowhere else. You can obtain pardon, peace, and everlasting life in no other way. Only by believing in Jesus can you be saved, and by believing you may be saved before rising from the perusal of these lines.
Come, seeker — come, see the place where the Lord lay, and be happy. See, death is conquered, Satan is overcome, and sin is put away. Jesus is a perfect Savior, a pledged Savior — pledged to save all who come unto God by him. Indulge your fears no longer, harbor your doubts no more — but come and trust in the risen Savior, and be at peace. The angel says, "Fear not, I know that you seek Jesus." Because you seek Jesus, you ought not to fear. He will save you, and save you for evermore.
Come, believer — come, see the place where the Lord lay — and weep, love, and rejoice!
Weep — that he had to suffer so much, and to sink so low, for you!
Love — because he has so loved you, as to lay down his life for you; because he has conquered death for you; because he has perfumed the grave for you; because he has opened the gates of glory for you.
Rejoice — for he has finished his work, frustrated the designs of all your foes, and secured for you all the good things of time, and the great things of eternity. Rejoice in Jesus! Rejoice at his empty tomb! Rejoice, rejoice forever in his holy name!