Delivered on Sabbath Evening, January 30th, 1859, by
"He shewed them his hands and his feet."Luke 24:40.
HAVE selected this sentence as the text, although I shall not strictly adhere to it. What was to be seen on Christ's hands and feet? We are taught that the prints of the nails were visible, and that in his side there was still the gash of the spear. For did he not say to Thomas? "Reach hither thy finger and behold my hands, and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless, but believing." I wish to draw your attention to the ample fact, that our Lord Jesus Christ, when he rose again from the dead had in his body the marks of his passion. If he had pleased he could readily have removed them. He rose again from the dead, and he might have erased from his body everything which could be an indication of what he had suffered and endured before be descended into the tomb. But, no! Instead thereof, there were the pierced hands and feet, and there was the open side. What was the reason for this? There was no absolute necessity for it: it could easily have been dispensed with, What, then, were the reasons? I shall endeavor to enter into this subject, and I hope we may draw some profitable instructions therefrom.
And wears his priesthood still."
If the wounds had been removed we might have forgotten that there was a sacrifice; and, mayhap, next we might have forgotten that there was a priest. But the wounds are there: then there is a sacrifice, and there is a priest also, for he who is wounded is both himself, the sacrifice and the priest. The priesthood of Melchisedec is a glorious subject. He who reads that with the eye of faith, and is blessed with the Spirit, will find much cause for joy when he contrasts the priesthood of Christ with that of Aaron. The priesthood of Aaron began, and it finished; but the priesthood of Melchisedec had no beginning, and it had no end. He was, we are told, "Without beginning of days, and without end of years;" without father, without mother, without descent. Such is the priesthood of Christ' It shall never end. He himself is without beginning, and his priesthood is without end. When the last ransomed soul is brought in. when there shall be no more prayers to offer, Christ shall still be a priest. Though he has no sacrifice now to slay, for he is the sacrifice himself, "once for all," yet still he is a priest, and when all his people as the result of that sacrifice shall be assembled around his glorious throne, he shall still be the priest. "For thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." I take it that this is a further reason why he still bears his wounds in heaven.
There is another and a terrible reason why Christ wears his wounds still. It is this. Christ is coming to judge the world. Christ has with himself to-day the accusers of his enemies. Every time that Christ lifts his hands to heaven, the men that hate him, or despise him, are accused. The Jewish nation is brought in guilty every day. The cry is remembered, "His blood be on us and on our children;" and the sin of casting Christ away, and rejecting him, is brought before the mind of the Most High. And when Christ shall come a second time to judge the world in righteousness, seated on the great white throne, that hand of his shall be the terror of the universe." They shall look on him whom they have pierced," and they shall mourn for their sins. They would not mourn with hopeful penitence in time, they shall mourn with sorrowful remorse throughout eternity. When the multitude are gathered together, when in the valley of Jehoshaphat Christ shall judge the nations, what need he to summon accusers? His own wounds are his witnesses. Why need he to summon any to convict men of sin? His own side bears their handiwork. Ye murderers, did you not do this? Ye sons of an evil generation did ye not pierce the Saviour? Did ye not nail him to the tree? Behold these holes in my hand, and this stab in my side; these are swift witnesses against you to condemn you I There is a terrible side, then to this question. A crucified Christ with his wounds still open will be a terrible sight for an assembled universe. "Well," but says one of my congregation "What is that to us? We have not crucified the Saviour." No but let me assure You that his blood shall be on you. If ye die unbelievers his blood shall be required at your hand. The death of Christ was wrought by the hand of manhood, of all and entire manhood. Others did it for you, and though you gave no consent verbally, yet you do assent in your heart every day. As long as you hate Christ you give an assent to his death. As long as you reject his sacrifice, and despise his love, you give evidence in your hearts that you would have crucified the Lord of glory had you been there. Nay, and you do yourself, so fares you can, crucify him afresh and put him to an open shame. When you laugh at his people, when you despise his word, and mock at his ordinances, you are driving nails into his hands, and thrusting the spear into his side; therefore those open hands and that pierced side shall be witnesses against you, even against you, if ye die rejecting him, and enter into eternity enemies to Christ by wicked works.
I think I have thus supplied severe excellent reasons. But now there is one more which I shall offer to your consideration before I come to the lesson which you shall learn. Christ v, ears those marks in his hands that, as believers, you may never forget that he has died. We shall need, perhaps, nothing to refresh our memories in heaven. but still' even if we should, we have it here. When we shall have been in heaven many a thousand years we shall still have the death of Christ before us, we shall see him reigning. But can you not conceive that the presence of the wounded Christ will often stir up the holy hearts of the celestial beings to a fresh outpouring of their grateful songs? They begin the song thus, "Unto him that liveth." Jesus looks upon them and shows his hand and they add, "and was dead, and is alive for evermore, and hath the keys of hell and death." They would not forget that he died; but certainly that part of the song where it said, "and was dead," will have all the more sweetness, because there he sits with the very marks of his passionwith the nail-prints of his crucifixion. If we shall be in heaven at all constituted as we are on earth, we shall need some visible token to keep us continually in remembrance. Here, you know, the most spiritual saint needs the bread and winesweet emblems of the Saviour's body. There we shall have nothing to do with emblems, for we shall have the sight of him. And I say, if we be in heaven anything like what we are here, I can imagine that the presence of Jesus may be highly beneficial, may be gloriously precious to the saints in reviving their love continually, and causing their hearts, which are like fountains of love, to bubble up afresh, and send out again the living water of gratitude and thanksgiving. At any rate, I know this thought is very delightful to me, that I shall see the man that did hang on Calvary's cross, and that I shall see him as he did inane there. I delight to see my Saviour in all the glories of his Father, but I long to go back and see him as he was, as well as he is. I think I should sometimes envy Peter and the rest of them that they should have seen him crucified. Yes, I should say, I see him glorified, but you saw the most marvellous sight. To see a God is an every-day sight with glorified beings, but to see a God covered with his blood, this is an extraordinary thing. To see Christ glorified, that we may see each day, but to have seen him on that special occasion, made obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross, that was an extraordinary sight which even angels themselves could see but once. You and I cannot see that. But those wounds are there still manifest and visible, and we shall be delighted with the rapturous sight of the Lord in glory, with his wounds still fresh upon him. May the Lord grant that we may all be there to see it. May we refresh ourselves with that glorious sight. I can say that I would part with all the joys of sense to view his face Everything that is good on earth I would give away without a wish, without one single lingering thought, if I might but behold his face, and lie in his bosom, and see the dear pierced hands and the wide-open side. We must wait his pleasure. A few more rolling suns shall do it. The moon shall rise and wane for us a few more times, and then
But from the rivers of his grace, drink endless pleasures in."
III. This brings me now to the third point. WHAT DOES CHRIST MEAN BY SHOWING TO US HIS HANDS AND FEET? He means this that suffering is absolutely necessary. Christ is the head, and his people are the members. If suffering could have been avoided, surely our glorious Head ought to have escaped; but inasmuch as he shows us his wounds, it is to tell us, that we shall have wounds too. Innocence ought to escape suffering. Did not Pilate mean as much when be said, "I find no fault in him, therefore let him go?" But innocence did not escape suffering. Even the captain of our salvation must be made perfect through suffering; therefore, we who are guilty, we who are far from being perfect, must not wonder that we have to be wounded too. Shall the head be crowned with thorns, and do you imagine that the other members of the body are to be rocked upon the dainty lap of ease? Must Jesus Christ swim through seas of his own blood to win the crown, and are you and I to walk to heaven dryshod in silver slippers? No, the wounds of Christ are to teach us that suffering is necessary. In fact, that doctrine was taught upon Mount Calvary. There are only three sorts of men that have ever liveda good man, a bad man, and the God-man. Now, on Calvary's cross, I see three characters, I see the thief, the representative of the bad. I see the penitent thief, the representative of the righteous, and I see the God-man in the midst. All three must suffer. Do not imagine, for a moment, that wicked men get through this world without suffering. Oh, no. The path to hell is very rough, though it seems smooth. When men will damn themselves, they will not find it a very pleasurable task. The cutting the throat of one's soul is not such a pleasant operation. The drinking the poison of damnation is not, after all, an enviable task. The path of the sinner may seem to be happy, but it is not. It is a gilded deceit. He knows there is bitterness in his bowels, even here on earth. Even the wicked must suffer. But, mark, if any out of the world would have escaped it would be the God-man; but the God-man did not escape. He shows us his wounds; and do you think that you shall remain unwounded? Not if you are his, at any rate. Men sometimes escape on earth; but the true-born child of God must not, and would not, if he might, for if he did, he would then give himself cause to say, "I am no part of the body; if I were a part of the body, my head suffered, and so must I suffer, for I am part of his living body." That is the first lesson he teaches us, the necessity of suffering.
But next he teaches us his sympathy with us in our suffering. "There," says he, "see this hand! I am not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of your infirmities. I have suffered, too. I was tempted in all ways like as you are. Look here! there are the marksthere are the marks. They are not only tokens of my love, they are not only sweet forget-me-nots that bind me to love you for ever. But besides that they are the evidence of my sympathy. I can feel for you. LooklookI have suffered. Have you the heart-ache? Ah, look yon here, what a heartache I had when this heart was pierced Do you suffer, even unto blood wrestling against sin? So did I. I have sympathy with you." It was this that sustained the early martyrs. One of them declared that while he was suffering he fixed his eyes on Christ; and when they were pinching his flesh dragging it off with the hot harrows, when they were putting him to agonies so extraordinary, that I could not dare to mention them here, lest some of you should faint even under the very narrative, he said, "My soul is not insensible but it loves." What a glorious speech was that! It lovesit loves Christ. It was not insensible, but love gave it power to overcome suffering, a power as potent as insensibility. "For," said he, "my eyes are fixed on him that suffered for me, and I can suffer for him; for my soul is in his body; I have sent my heart up unto him. He is my brother, and there my heart is. Plough my flesh, and break my bones; smash them with veer irons, I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and he suffers in me now; but he sympathises with me, arid this makes me strong." Yes, beloved, lay hold on this in all times of your agony. When you are sweating, think of his bloody so eat. When you are bruised, think of the whips that tore his flesh. And when you are aging, think of his death. And when God hides his face for a little from you, think of "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" This is why he wears his wounds in his hands, that he may show that he sympathises with you.
Another thing. Christ wears these wounds to show that suffering is an honorable thing. To suffer for Christ is glory. Men will say, "It is glorious to make others suffer." When Alexander rides over the necks of princes, and treads nations beneath his feet, that is glorious. The Christian religion teaches us it is glorious to be trodden on, glorious to be crushed, glorious to suffer. This is hard to learn. There we see it in our glorified Master. He makes his wounds his glory, and his sufferings are part of the drapery of his regal attire in Paradise Now, then, it is an honorable thing to suffer. Oh, Christian, when you are overtaken by strange troubles, be not afraid. God is near you. It was Christ's honor to suffer, and it is yours too. The only degree that God gives to his people is the degree of "Masters in tribulation." If you would be one of God's nobles you must be knighted. Men are knighted with A blow of the sword. The Lord knights us with the sword of affliction; and when we fight hard in many a battle, he makes us barons of the kingdom of heaven, he makes us dukes and lords in the kingdom of sorrowful honor, not through honor of man, but through dishonor of man, not through joy, but through suffering, and grief, and agony, and death. The highest honor that God can confer upon his children is the blood-red crown of martyrdom. When I read, as I have been reading lately, the story of the catacombs of Rome, and those short but very pithy inscriptions that are written over the graves of the martyrs, I felt sometimes as it I could envy them. I do not envy them their racks, their hot irons, their being dragged at the heels of horses; but I do envy them when I see them arrayed in the blood-red robe of martyrdom. Who are they that stand nearest to the eternal throne, foremost of the saints in light? Why, the noble army of martyrs. And just as God shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ, and to suffer as Christ, just so much does he honor us. The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. The regalia of the kings, that God hath made, are their troubles, their sorrows, and their griefs Let us not, therefore, shun being honored. Let us not turn aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us, and troubles lift us.
Lastly, there is one sweet thought connected with the wounds of Christ that has charmed my soul, and made my heart run over with delight. It is this: I have sometimes thought that if I am a part of Christ's body I am a poor wounded part; if I do belong to that all-glorious whole, the church, which is his fullness, the fullness of him that filleth all in all, yet have I said within me, "I am a poor maimed part, wounded, full of putrifying sores." But Christ did not leave even his wounds behind him, even those he took to heaven. "Not a bone of him shall be broken," and the flesh when wounded shall not be discarded,shall not be left. He shall carry that with him to heaven, and he shall glorify even the wounded member. Is not this sweet, is not this precious to the troubled child of God? This, indeed, is a thought from which one may suck honey. Poor, weak, and wounded though I am, he will not discard me. His wounds are healed wounds, mark! they are not running sores; and so, though we be the wounded parts of Christ, we shall be healed; though we shall seem to ourselves in looking back upon what we were upon earth only as wounds, only parts of a wounded body, still we shall rejoice that he has healed those wounds, and that he has not cast us away. Precious, precious truth I The whole body he will present before his Father's face, and wounded though he be, he shall not cast his own wounds away, Let us take comfort, then, in this; let us rejoice therein. We shall be presented at last, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. Mark, Christ's wounds are no spots to him, no wrinkles, they are ornaments; and even those parts of his church on earth that despair of themselves, thinking themselves to be as wounds shall be no spots, no wrinkles in the complete church above, but even they shall be the ornaments and the glory of Christ. Let us now look up by faith and see Jesus, the Wounded Jesus, sitting on his throne. Will not this help us to gird up our loins to "run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the Shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
I cannot send you away without this last remark. Poor sinner, thou art troubled on account of sin. There is a sweet thought for thee. Men are afraid to go to Christ, or else they say, "My Sins are so many I cannot go to him; he will be angry with me." Do you see his hands outstretched to you to night? He is in heaven, and he still says, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Are you afraid to come? Then, look at his handlook at his hand, will not that induce you? "Oh," but you say, "I cannot think that Christ can have it in his heart to remember such a worm as I." Look at his side, there is easy access to his heart. His side is open, and even your poor prayers may be thrust into that side, and they shall reach his heart, holy though it be. Only do thou look to his wounds, and thou shalt certainly find peace through the blood of Jesus. There were two monks of late years in different cells in their convent. They were reading the Bible. One of them found Christ while reading the Scriptures, and he believed with a true evangelical faith. The other one was timid, and could scarcely think it true; the scheme of salvation seemed so great to him he could scarcely lay hold upon it. But, at last, he lay upon the point to die, and he sent for the other to come and sit by him, and to shut the door; because if the superior had heard of that of which they were about to speak, he might have condemned them both. When the monk had sat down, the sick man began to tell how his sins lay heavy on him; the other reminded him of Jesus. "If you would be saved, brother, you must look to Jesus who did hang upon the cross. His wounds must save." The poor man heard and he believed. Almost immediately afterwards came in the superior, with the brethren and the priests; and they began to grease him in extreme unction. This poor man tried to push them away; he could not bear the ceremony, and as well as he could he expressed his dissent. At last his lips were opened, and he said in Latin, "Tu vulnera Jesu!"thy wounds, oh Jesus! thy wounds, oh Jesus!clasped his hands, lifted them to heaven, fell back and died. Oh, I would that many a Protestant would die with these words on his lips. There was the fullness of the gospel in them. Thy wounds, oh Jesus! thy wounds; these are my refuge in my trouble. Oh sinner, may you be helped to believe in his wounds! They cannot fail; Christ's wounds must heal those that put their trust in him.