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THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.
THE JOYFUL TIDINGS.
John xx. 21.
THEN SAID JESUS TO THEM AGAIN, Peace
BE UNTO YOU.
The Gospel for last Sunday contained the evidence which was given to the disciples of Christ of the resurrection of their Lord and Master from the dead, before any of them had actually seen Him. That which is appointed for this day describes a visit which He paid to them on the evening of the day on which He rose from the dead; when they were assembled together at supper time, and were conversing of the wonderful events that had taken place. As this appearance to so many of them,--Thomas only being absent, as it is afterwards stated,-satisfied
the doubts which were previously entertained by the disciples of the fact of their Master's resurrection; an account of it is also given by .St. Luke, which is appointed to be read as the Gospel for Easter Tuesday. The two Evangelists relate some different particulars of what occurred on this occasion; but each mentions enough to show that they referred to the same event.
St. John informs us that, Then the same day, on which He rose from the dead, at evening, when the doors were shut, where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. Here our Saviour manifested His almighty power by admitting Himself to the company of His disciples, when they had fastened the doors of the house in which they were assembled, that they might not be taken by surprise, if the rulers should have given orders for their apprehension. But this was not more extraordinary than the fact that when the Apostles were put in the common prison, the angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, and brought them forth; although the prison was afterwards found to be shu' with all safety, and the keepers were standing without before the doors : nor than when Peter was put in prison, and Herod had intended to bring him forth to the people, and to put him to death on the next day; and for his greater se
curity he was bound with two chains to two soldiers, and four quarternions of soldiers before the door kept the prison, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison, and he raised him up, and his chains fell off his hands; and he was desired to follow the angel, who led him through the first and the second ward, where doubtless other soldiers were placed on guard, and the doors were also securely fastened; and when they came unto the iron gate that led unto the city, it opened to them of its own accord ;82 and they went out without any of the keepers knowing any thing of it; the doors being all fastened again as they were before. These events were quite as extraordinary as the sudden appearance of Jesus in the midst of His disciples, when the doors were shut where they were assembled. They were all miraculous exhibitions of Divine power.
One would have thought that the kind words which our Saviour addressed to His disciples, on this occasion, would have delighted them all. But St. Luke mentions that notwithstanding they were conversing on the subject of His resurrection; and the two disciples who had been to Emmaus had scarcely concluded their account of His appearing to them, and of the manner in which they had known Him, and were assured that it was indeed the Lord Jesus;
82 Acts v. 18, 19, 23. xii. 6, 7, 10.
yet they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.83 He kindly inquired of them the reason of their needless fear; and in order to quiet their minds, when He had so said, He showed unto them His hands and His side. And to convince them that it was not a mere spirit that was before them, He ate of some broiled fish and honeycomb, which they gave Him. At the same time, St. Mark says, He upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart,84 in having manifested such unreasonable incredulity on the subject of His resurrection, when so many witnesses had testified to the fact, and He had Himself repeatedly told them beforehand that it would certainly take place.
They had now full evidence, all that they could require, of the reality of the resurrection of their lately crucified Lord and Master. The absence of His body from the sepulchre which they had visited; the vision of the angels; the testimony of Mary Magdalene, and the other women; of Simon Peter; and of the two disciples who went to Emmaus, that they had all seen Him, independently of each other, at different times; and now His appearing among them and eating with them, and showing them His hands and His feet, which had been pierced by the nails that had fastened Him to the cross; and His side, which had been opened by the spear of the Roman soldier; all these circumstances left no doubt in their minds of the truth of the fact, that He was indeed risen from the dead, and that it was the very same Person whom they had called their Master and Lord, who was then again in the midst of them. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. They were filled with joy to see Him again in such very different circumstances from those in which they had beheld Him, when He was taken, and with wicked hands crucified and slain.
83 Luke xxiv. 37.
84 Mark xvi. 14.
When they had testified their joy at seeing Him once more, then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you. He repeated the gracious salutation, with which He had addressed them on His first appearance in the midst of them. And then He commissioned them to make known the gospel of peace and salvation to others. As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. The manner in which He was sent, was declared by our blessed Saviour in the synagogue of Nazareth, when He opened the book of the prophet Isaiah, and found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor : He hath sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set' at liberty them that are bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And He began