Charles Chapman Grafton.

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bear witness to the resurrection of Christ

Let us now look at some details. All the evangel-
ists tell us of the visit of the band of women to the
tomb. They came bringing the spices they had
prepared. They find the stone rolled away and the
tomb empty. They seem to have met at some ap-
pointed rendezvous. They set off together, when
we may suppose that either Mary Magdalene goes
ahead as an advance guard, for they were in much
fear, to see that the way was clear, or that the others
lingered for some one of the party to join them, or went
back for something which may have been forgotten.
This accounts for the Magdalene arriving alone and
first at the tomb. Finding it empty she immediately
goes by some other way to find Peter and John, who
were probably staying together. Meanwhile, the other
women arrive and are addressed by an angel, who
tells them Christ is risen. They depart with fear
and great joy. And as they went to tell His dis-
ciples, behold Jesus met them, saying, "All hail.
And they came, and held Him by the feet, and wor-
shipped Him." 1

i S. Matt, xxviii. 8, 9.


Meanwhile, Peter and John arrive and examine
the condition of the tomb and depart. Then Mary
Magdalene, who has followed, sees the two angels
sitting, the one at the head and the other at the feet,
where the body of Jesus had lain. They address her,
" Woman, why weepest thou ? " Her memorable reply
need not be repeated. The question and answer show
it was not in a vision. As she was not expecting the
resurrection, there was no suggestive motive which
would predispose her to imagine one. With loving
slowness so as not to overpower or suddenly shock
her, Jesus discloses Himself. During all the resur-
rection time we discern Christ's majestic calmness
and dignity coupled with personal consideration and
tenderness. It is the same Christ who delivered the
Sermon on the Mount, testified before Pontius Pilate,
stooped with loving-kindness to the fallen, who
calls His faithless disciples by the endearing name of
"children," and who consoles Mary. "Jesus saith
unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest
thou?" And she, supposing the speaker to have been
the gardener, saith, " Sir, if thou have borne Him hence,
tell me where thou hast laid Him and I will take Him
away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned
herself, and saith unto Him, Rabboni ; which is to
say, Master. And she came and told the disciples
she had seen the Lord."

Not less interesting and confirmatory is the visit of
the two Apostles to the sepulchre. They run both
together. Naturally S. John, who gives us the ac-
count, being the younger, outruns Peter and comes
first to the tomb. With his meditative, contemplative


manner he stoops down and looks, then pauses, but
does not go in. S. Peter, following, with his eager,
impulsive nature, enters at once, gazes about and
retires. " Then went in also that other disciple which
came first to the sepulchre and he saw and believed." 1
The interesting question that arises here is, what did
he see that made him believe? The answer is to be
found in the Eastern manner in which the body was
wrapped and bandaged for interment. A hundred
pounds of spices had been used and the body then
tightly wound in linen, made fast by long strips
which were wound under and over the body and
crossed behind and before. The head was treated
after the anointing in the same way and the head-
gear resembled a sort of covering or helmet. Now
what was it S- John saw? He saw the linen clothes.
This might suggest to him the fact that the body
had not been surreptitiously removed. Had the Jews,
or had any one, taken the body they would have re-
moved it just as it was. The myrrh would have
caused the linen clothes to adhere closely to the body,
and it would be a long as well as useless task to re-
move them. The body could not, therefore, have been
stolen. But this would not account for the convic-
tion that flashed into S. John's mind that Christ was
risen. What he observed was that the grave clothes in
which the body had been wrapped were not, as is given
in the authorized version, " Laid by themselves," but,
as in the Revised Version, simply " lying." Lying, as
we read in S. Luke, lying alone, /. e., lying empty. 2 The
clothes had gaved in and were lying down flat. The

1 S. John xx. 8. a S. Luke xxiv. 12.


napkin which had been upon His head was rolled up
in a place by itself. It had been bound and bandaged
about the head, and had retained its helmet-like
form. It was not rolled up like a ball, but held the
twisted shape it had received and now stood by itself
in the place where the head had been. It is not un-
likely, as it retained some marks of the countenance
of our Lord, that this was the origin of the ancient
legend of S. Veronica. When S. John saw this
arrangement of the grave clothes there was only one
deduction to be drawn. No body could have been
taken -out of those clothes, with the bandages lying
as they were, nor could any one have got out of
them without disturbing them. When Christ rose,
He passed through them, even as He did through the
tomb, and as His body subsequently came through
the closed doors. So John saw and believed.

It is but fair to state the last opposing theory of
German criticism. It is that there are two accounts
or two sets of appearances, one at Jerusalem and the
other in Galilee. The latter is found in S. Matthew
and S. Mark. They say nothing about the Jerusalem
manifestations, if the last nine verses of Mark are
omitted. S. Luke and S. John give the Judean ap-
pearances, and say nothing of Galilee, if we may omit
the last chapter of John. Now these two accounts
present great difficulties in the way of harmonizing
them. We must therefore give up one or the other.
The Galilean one is the simpler and more methodical,
is in S. Mark and should therefore be adopted. In
confirmation of this theory we have the testimony of
S. Paul who does not mention the Jerusalem inci-


dents. He says Christ rose on the third day, and
that He appeared to Peter. But that is not saying
He appeared to Peter on the third day. The disciples
had fled terrified to Galilee. There Peter imagined he
saw Christ. The spirit of seeing visions became con-
tagious, so the Apostles thought they saw Him.
They came back to Jerusalem, kept quiet, settled
down, and gradually belief in the resurrection grew.

We have, however, seen why the Gospel narratives
are not identical. It is therefore difficult to harmo-
nize them. Our Lord most fittingly, however, appears
both in Judea and in Galilee. S. Paul gives not a
full account of the resurrection but adduces the
authorized proof of it. He learned from S. Peter
himself the fact of our Lord's appearance to him. S.
Luke, who wrote under S. Paul's oversight, is the
only one who records the fact, and it takes place not
in Galilee but in Jerusalem. The Apostles told their
story publicly and at once, and were arrested for it.
The eight thousand at Jerusalem would never have
been converted by such a Galilean tale. The ques-
tions concerning the body, where it was if Christ had
not risen, would remain unanswered. This theory
does not hold well together. It leaves the credibility
of the Gospel narrative unshaken.

Let us, then, draw our conclusion. It is of record
that S. Peter preached at Pentecost that Christ had
risen, and so it is clear that the story was not a myth.
For myths grow, but this account did not. It was
stated from the beginning.

The Apostles declared they had seen the Lord. It
was not then a spectral illusion, could not have been


a ghost. For they knew the voice, touched the body,
put their hands into His side, they walked with Him,
they ate with Him. He said, " Handle me, and see ;
for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me

As it was not a ghost, neither was it a reminiscence
which took delusive shape in their minds. They
would have soon got tired of announcing as a fact
what in sober moments they would know was but a
mental illusion. It could not have been a reminis-
cence for the further reason that Christ went on with
His teaching. He opened their minds to the under-
standing of the scriptures. He revealed the new
name of God, which they knew not before. He gave
them the royal power of administering absolution.
He established the sacrament of Holy Baptism.

He rose from the dead and was with the Apostles
off and on during forty days. Rising in triumph over
death, it was but natural, as the benefit was for all
the world, He should appear in Judea and in Galilee
of the Gentiles.

The Apostles saw Him in the house, by the lake,
in the evening, at daybreak, at all times, and listened
to His instruction and received His gifts which were
embodied in institutions.

Then He led them out to Bethany, and according
to His promise that He would ascend into heaven,
openly, in broad daylight, He ascended till the cloud
received Him out of their sight. Not only did He
promise it, but one whole Book of the New Testa-
ment, which might be called the Gospel of the
Ascension, bears witness to it. Thus He the divinely


sent and commissioned Teacher, whose words and life
prove His divinity, rose from the dead and ascended
to the Right Hand of Power.

What a light this Great Credential throws upon His
whole life. He was, as St. John declares, the Word
Incarnate. God had wrapped round His divine na-
ture our humanity, that through it He might set forth
the Divine Life.

We need not be staggered by the consideration
that this planet is a small one. God loves little
things. He loves to hide Himself. He comes to the
little nation. He is born in the little town. So He
comes to the small planet. Yet as He comes into the
world for all men, He comes into creation for the
benefit of the whole of it. The universe is a unit and
God enters it that He might unite all things in Heaven
and earth in Himself.

He has thus given us proof of His divine nature
by His resurrection. No wonder that one who had
so supernatural an exit from this world should have
an equally supernatural entrance. As our first parents
could not have been derived from a preceding pair,
but must have been singly produced, so when Creation
advances to a new stage, the new Head and Type is
produced in like unique manner. Christ Himself
bore testimony to His own pre-existence. Blessed S.
Joseph declares he is not His earthly father. The
sanctity of the ever Blessed Virgin bears witness to
the testimony S. Luke has recorded. God the Word
became Flesh.

What wonder, then, that when He was born all
creation was present at His birth to honour it. The


stars, created it may be for the very purpose, shone
at His birth. One especially formed or angel-borne
guided the Magi from their Eastern home. The
angel hosts and chorus from off the great rood
screen of the skies, jewelled and lit with its many
thousand lamps, chanted the glad gospel of peace and
of good-will to man. All nations were represented
by Jew and Gentile; the shepherds and the kings
came to do Him homage. The high and low, the
rich and poor, man and woman, surround His cradle
throne. There, too, are the kneeling or waiting cattle,
and the sheep of the flock, and the produce of the
earth, the straw of the manger, and the mineral gifts
of the kings. When the Lord of creation entered it,
most fittingly all creation was representatively present.
Most naturally, too, when He entered on His work,
all creation acknowledged Him as its Lord. The
winds and waves obey His command. He controls
the law of gravitation by a greater law, and walks
on the sea. He is Master of the law of the extension
of matter, and multiplies the loaves. The fishes obey
His behests and gather in crowds into the net. The
fig tree withers away at His condemnation. The
Roman soldiers go back and fall to the ground at
His simple word. Sickness and disease flee before
Him who is the life itself. The blind regain their
sight, the lame walk, the lepers are healed, death
gives up its prey and the dead are raised.



IT is easy to imagine a reader now saying, you have
surrounded Christ with a divine halo, but in doing
so you have taken Him away from me. I have been
drawn to Him by the attractions of His crystalline
character, the inspirations of His exalted teaching, and
His wondrous, never-exhausted sympathy. He would,
I feel sure, know my case, the baffling impotences of
my mental powers, the tortuous ways of my self-
deceiving heart. His invitation was world wide,
" Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy
laden, and I will refresh you," and " Whosoever
cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out."

But if He was divine how was it possible for Him
to be tried and tempted? If temptation was only
like a dart thrown against some invulnerable
shield, how can He know what it is? How sympa-
thize with us, round whom, from youth to age, temp-
tation's " poisoned arrows hurtle," changing with
advancing years, but ever present. How know of

That dreary sickness of the soul ;

When all the generations of mankind,

With all their purposes, their hopes and fears,

Seem nothing truer than those wandering shapes

Cast by a trick of light upon the wall.


How know of those fierce contentions between clam-
orous desire and exacting duty, the lassitude of
weakness and the necessity of exertion ; the enticing
influences of affection and the calls to self-sacrifice ;
the anger-arousing exasperations of false accusations
and the law of Christian charity?

How can He be an example to us if it was impos-
sible for Him to know our strain of trial? Yet on
the other hand, if He was divine, how can He be
tempted? There is no root nor tendency to lawless-
ness in any portion of His nature, as there is in us, to
which temptation can appeal. So we are seemingly
shut up in this trying dilemma. Either He could be
tempted and thus was not divine, or He could not be
tempted and therefore He is no example for us.

In addressing ourselves to the solution of this
problem, we must first say that it is revealed truth
that Christ was tempted. " He was in all points
tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Therefore, of
the reality of His temptations there can be no doubt.
They are a ground of our supplication in the litany.
We not only plead by Christ's priceless Cross and
Passion, but by His temptation. " By thy Baptism,
Fasting, and Temptation, good Lord, deliver us."

How, then, can we reconcile His temptation with
His absolute sinlessness? How can one who is holy,
harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, be tempted?
We must admit that the mere presentation of a temp-
tation would not satisfy the conditions of the case.
Yet it is in this way that some theologians have stated
it. To be in a real and true sense a temptation there
must not only be something placed before the will,


but a conscious strain between conflicting desires
requiring a choice.

There were three kinds of temptations to which our
Lord while being perfectly sinless was perpetually
exposed. First, He was bound to be true to the
human nature He had assumed. Human nature in
its struggle for righteousness had been defeated. It
bore the marks of its defeat upon it in its obvious
weakness to rectify itself. Christ came on behalf of
man to fight over his lost battle and to reverse his
defeat. Therefore, He took upon Himself that nature,
and became man. He became thus the second Adam,
or new Head of a new race. As temptation is a
necessity of a progressive life, affecting angels and
men, Christ as the second Adam had to be tried.

The first source of trial would be in our composite
nature. He had, like us, to suffer from hunger, thirst,
and weariness. There is no sin in experiencing any
of these natural desires, and they may be severe.
We know our Lord was an hungered after His great
forty days' fast. It left Him a wan and emaciated
figure. We see how weary He was when the
Apostles took Him as He was into the boat, or when
He sat so tired at Samaria's well. But the unrelax-
ing calls of duty ever triumphed over the feebleness
of the flesh.

The peculiarity of our Lord's temptations arises
from the fact that he possessed a divine power by
which all bodily pains could be set aside. This was
a second and a persistent source of temptation. It
was the temptation to use His divine power for
the reliefer the support of His human nature. Now


this was the very thing He was not to do. He had
assumed our nature and identified Himself with it to
retrieve its defeat. He was to present to God human
nature as perfectly obedient to the divine will. Thus
He was to fulfil the original conception of God in
creating a creature endowed with free will, who should
reflect His image. It would therefore have violated
the very purpose for which He came, if He had used
His divine power to protect or defend Himself. In
Him humanity was to triumph. It was to rise to the
height God had designed for it. It was to be victori-
ous in the necessary strife. His humanity might be
aided by the Holy Spirit, as His followers may be.
But He must not draw on the resources of His divinity
to aid Him in the struggle. He may indeed do so in
aid of others. He may work miracles for others'
benefit. He may multiply the loaves to feed the fam-
ishing multitude. But He must not turn the stones
into bread to save His own life. He may assuage the
pains of the diseased, open the eyes of the blind, raise
the dead, but not for a moment may He use that
divine power for His own deliverance. It is true that
when His enemies take up stones to kill Him He
hides Himself and goes out of the temple, but this is
not in the spirit of shunning death, but of saving Him-
self for that more cruel death to which He was

Again, a third source of temptation arose from the
fact that the plan of the world's redemption had been
laid down for Him. He found in Holy Scripture His
Redeeming life-work traced out. This explains how
frequently it is said " that the scripture might be ful-


filled." He cast His human mind into its mould.
He will not take the offered anaesthetic at the Cruci-
fixion, that the Word of God might be kept. He was
obedient from childhood to this rule, which governed
His whole life. He was to fulfil every prophecy and
every type of the promised Messiah. He will not
descend, before the assembled worshippers in the
temple, from its pinnacle and so gain their adher-
ence. He will not take the kingdoms of the earth
from Satan, by doing homage, because He is to win
the kingdom by a victory over him. That victory
was to be won on the battle-field of the cross. It had
been ordained that the feet that should press the eter-
nal stairway should be marked by the nail-prints, and
the hand that should grasp the royal sceptre should
be a pierced hand.

Our Lord was therefore under a perpetual strain,
first by reason of the composite human nature as-
sumed, and next by a more trying one through union
of that human nature with His divinity; and also by
virtue of the plan ordained for man's redemption to
which He was to conform.

These causes led at special times and crises to
more severely felt trials. When, for example, He
was so exhausted after His first prolonged fast. Try
and think what condition His body was in after that
terrifically weakening mortification. Painters have
loved to delineate the Christ in a form of exceeding
grace and beauty. But He began His ministry in
this emaciated condition, and His three years' labors,
having no place wherein to lay His head, and having
at times to supply His bodily wants with the raw ears


of corn, left Him so worn that at the crucifixion His
enemies stand jeering at Him.

But why did He, unlike a human teacher who knows
His life is a valuable one, so begin His ministry? One
reason undoubtedly was that as has been stated He
came to identify Himself with us and fight over again
for us our lost battle. So He took His stand beside
us, where our sins had placed us, not in paradise, but
in the wilderness. He places Himself without the
gates kept by the flaming Cherubim to win for man
an entrance into the tree of life. But another reason
was that by taking on Himself the results of sickness
He might be in all points tempted as we are, yet
without sin. He made His body to feel weakness
and racking pain, that no sufferer but should know He
had felt the same. Then when His bodily nature has
been so reduced, as we may say to its last gasp, He
is assailed by a most subtle temptation. The temp-
tation to satisfy nature in order to save His life for the
sake of others. To exert His rightful divine power
and turn the stones into bread. Why not? What
withheld Him? This: He was to be true to the
nature He had assumed. If for one moment He had
ever failed in being true to the conditions of His
humanity, His work for man's redemption had been

We are apt to think that only on the one occasion
of the wilderness was our Lord tempted. It was
indeed a special trial. So it was when, in more
subtle ways than Satan's argument, there came from
a loved disciple the insinuating plea, " Be it far from
Thee, O Lord." The strength of the rebuke to Peter


tells us of the strength of the appeal he made to
Christ. Satan left Him, we know, for a season only,
for He said to His Apostles, "Ye are they which have
continued with me in my temptations."

It is therefore for us to realize that our Lord was
under constant fire and a perpetual strain. In this
His trial differed from that of the angels and of
man. God placed before the angels their trial, but
it was only one. He made it short. The obedient,
humble, and faithful rose by their choice of God into
the enfolding protection of the Divine Light. He
gave to the first Adam one simple test of obedience,
by which he might secure his proffered supernatural
reward. But the second Adam had no such brief
probation. It lasted from infancy to the end.

It affected and tried all portions of His human
nature. So it was with the test presented to the first
Adam. Adam was to abstain from the forbidden
fruit. This was a discipline, however slight, of the
body. He was to remember the particular tree and
the Lord's command, and this was a discipline of the
memory. He was to obey the injunction not to eat,
and this involved the submission of the reason and
the will. The tree became thereby his offering, by
which he offered himself. It tested all portions of his
nature. So it was with Christ He came and passed
through all the stages of our mortal life. He came
not as the first Adam did, in the fulness of His
powers. Christ lay first of all a helpless infant in the
arms of His Blessed Mother. He is to sanctify every
human stage and is to be true to its conditions. He
joined our human nature to His divine nature in


His one personality. So He who lies in Mary's arms
is God. But He must, to redeem us, be true to the
conditions of infancy. Neither His Mother's loving
caress nor threatened danger must lead Him to
break the law of infancy by word or sign. He is
God bound, so far as this exercise of His omnipo-
tence is concerned, in swaddling bands. His mental
powers undergo the same discipline. He is subject
to earthly parents, though He knows how mistaken
they often are in their judgments. He obeys S.
Joseph in the carpenter's shop, though assured that
the directions he gives are far from the most scien-
tific and correct. He submits His human reason to
God's will as revealed for Him in the Holy Scrip-
tures. He follows and keeps it as His rule of life.
He surrenders also His soul to the Holy Spirit, and
is led in all things by Him.

He comes not to do His own will or speak His own
message. " As I hear, so I speak." " The Word is
not mine, but His that sent me." In all ways He was
to be tempted like ourselves. As He was to subor-
dinate His reason to revelation, so was He to sup-
press and discipline a rightful mental curiosity. Of
all things that we may suppose Him most anxious
to know was the time when the kingdom would be
consummated by His return in glory. Yet of that
day and that hour He said, "knoweth no man but my

Online LibraryCharles Chapman GraftonThe works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 25)