“Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”—Matt. 28:6.
An invitation given. “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Surely ye need no argument to move your feet in the direction of the holy sepulchre; but still we will use the utmost power to draw your spirit thither. Come then, for ’tis the shrine of greatness, ’tis the resting-place of the man, the Restorer of our race, the Conqueror of death and hell.
Come with me, moreover, because it is the tomb of your best friend…yea, one who “sticketh closer than a brother.” Is not the place sanctified where one so well-beloved slept, although but for a moment? Come, for angels bid you. Angels said, “Come, see the place where our Lord lay.”
Come for it is a pure and healthy place. Fear not to enter that tomb.
There is yet one reason more why I would have thee visit this Royal sepulchre—because it is a quiet spot. I wish I could be at ease for a moment. I have become a man of the world; my brain is racked, my soul is tired. Oh! wouldst thou be quiet, Christian? Merchant, wouldst thou rest from thy toils? wouldst thou be calm for once! then come hither. It is in a pleasant garden, far from the hum of Jerusalem; the noise and din of business will not reach thee there; “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
Attention requested. And first, mark that it is a costly tomb. It is a princely tomb: it was made of marble, cut in the side of a hill. Stand here, believer, and ask why Jesus had such a costly sepulchre. He was poor. Why, then, does he lie in a noble grave? We answer, for this reason: Christ was unhonourd till he had finished his sufferings; Christ’s body suffered contumely, shame, spitting, buffetting, and reproach, until he had completed his great work; he was trampled under foot, he was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; but the moment he had finished his undertaking, God said, “No more shall that body be disgraced; if it is to sleep, let it slumber in an honourable grave; if it is to rest, let nobles bury it; let Joseph, the councillor, and Nicodemus, the man of Sanhedrim, be present at the funeral; let the body be embalmed with precious spices, let it have honour; it has had enough of contumely, and shame, and reproach, and buffetting; let it now be treated with respect.”
But though it is a costly grave, it is a borrowed one. Yes, he was buried in another’s sepulchre. It was a borrowed tomb; and why? I take it not to dishonour Christ, but in order to show that as his sins were borrowed sins, so his burial was in a borrowed grave. Christ had no transgressions of his own; he took ours upon his head; he never committed a wrong, but he took all my sin, and all yours, if ye are believers. The grave, we observe, was cut in a rock. Why was this? The Rock of ages was buried in a rock—a Rock within a rock. But why? Christ’s sepulchre was cut in a rock. It was not cut in mould that might be worn away by the water, or might crumble and fall into decay. The sepulchre stands, I believe, entire to this day; if it does not naturally, it does spiritually. The same sepulchre which took the sins of Paul, shall take my iniquities into its bosom; for if I ever lose my guilt, it must roll off my shoulders into the sepulchre. It was cut in a rock, so that if a sinner were saved a thousand years ago, I too can be delivered, for it is a rocky sepulchre where sin was buried—it was a rocky sepulchre of marble where my crimes were laid for ever—buried never to have a resurrection.
You will mark, moreover, that tomb was one wherein no other man had ever lain. Christopher Ness says, “When Christ was born he lay in a virgin’s womb, and when he died he was placed in a virgin tomb; he slept where never man had slept before.” The reason was, that none might say that another person rose, for there never had been any other body there; thus a mistake of persons was impossible. Nor could it be said that some old prophet was interred in the place, and that Christ rose because he had touched his bones. You remember when Elisha was buried, and as they were burying a man, behold he touched the prophet’s bones, and arose. Christ touched no prophet’s bones, for none had ever slept there; it was a new chamber, where the Monarch of the earth did take his rest for three days and three nights.
We see the grave, but do you notice the grave-clothes, all wrapped and laid in their places, the napkin being folded up by itself? Wherefore are the grave-clothes wrapped up? The Jews said robbers had abstracted the body; but if so, surely they would have stolen the clothes; they would never have thought of wrapping them up and laying them down so carefully; they would be too much in haste to think of it. Why was it then? To manifest to us that Christ did not come out in a hurried manner. He slept till the last moment; then he awoke: he came not in haste. They shall not come out in haste, neither by flight, but at the appointed moment shall his people come to him. So at the precise hour, the decreed instant, Jesus Christ leisurely awoke, took off his cerements, left them all behind him, and came forth in his pure and naked innocence, perhaps to show us that as clothes are the offspring of sin—when sin was atoned for by Christ, he left all raiment behind him—for garments are the badges of guilt: if we had not been guilty we should never have needed them.
Emotion Excited. Now, if I had power, like a master, I would touch the strings of your hearts, and fetch a glorious tune of solemn music from them, for this is a deeply solemn place, into which I have conducted you.
First, I would bid you stand and see the place where the Lord lay with emotions of deep sorrow. I slew him—this right hand struck the dagger to his heart. My deeds slew Christ. Alas! I slew my best beloved: I killed him who loved me with an everlasting love. Ye eyes, why do ye refuse to weep when ye see Jesus’ body mangled and torn? Oh! give vent to your sorrow, Christians, for ye have good reason to do so. It seemed so sad a thing that Christ should have to die; and to me it often appears too great a price for Jesus Christ to purchase worms with his own blood. It seems too costly for him who is the prince of life and glory to let his fair limbs be tortured in agony; that the hands which carried mercies should be pierced with accursed nails; that the temples that were always clothed with love, should have cruel thorns driven through them. It appears too much. Oh! weep, Christian, and let your sorrow rise. Is not the price all but too great, that your Beloved should for you resign himself.
Now, Christian, change thy note a moment. “Come, see the place where the Lord lay,” with joy and gladness. He does not lie there now. Weep, when ye see the tomb of Christ, but rejoice because it is empty. Thy guilt hath murdered him, but his righteousness hath restored him. Oh! he hath burst the bonds of death…crushing death beneath his feet. Rejoice, O Christian, for he is not there—he is risen.
“Come, see the place where the Lord lay” with solemn awe, for you and I will have to lay there too. Do you ever try to picture to yourself the moment of your dissolution? My friends, there are some of you who seldom realize how old you are, how near you are to death. We can scarcely say “He is gone,” before the ransomed spirit takes its mansion near the throne. Come to Christ’s tomb then, for the silent vault must soon be your habitation. Come to Christ’s grave, for you must slumber there. And even you, ye sinners, for one moment I will ask you to come also, because ye must die as well as the rest of us. Your sins cannot keep you from the jaws of death. I say, sinner, I want thee to look at Christ’s sepulchre too, for when thou diest it may have done thee great good to think of it.
Instruction imparted. The first thing you perceive, if you stand by his empty tomb, is his divinity. There is no better proof of Christ’s divinity, than that startling resurrection of his, when he rose from the grave, by the glory of the Father.
A second doctrine here taught, well may charm thee, if the Holy Spirit apply it with power. Behold this empty tomb, O true believer: it is a sign of thine acquittal and thy full discharge. If Jesus had not paid the debt, he ne’er had risen from the grave. He would have lain there till this moment if he had not cancelled the entire debt, by satisfying eternal vengeance.
One more doctrine we learn, and with that we will conclude—the doctrine of the resurrection. Jesus rose, and as the Lord our Saviour rose, so all his followers must rise. Die I must…but at the blast of the archangel’s trumpet every separate atom of my body shall find its fellow…and the breath shall return. Thou wilt lose thy partner body a little while, but thou wilt be married again in heaven; soul and body shall again be united before the throne of God. The grave—what is it? It is the bath in which the Christian puts the clothes of his body to have them washed and cleansed.
Spend this afternoon, my beloved brethren, in meditating upon it, and very often go to Christ’s grave both to weep and to rejoice.