The GOSPEL TRUTH
Sermons on the Resurrection:
THREE PHASES OF THE RISEN CHRIST
Dinsdale T. Young
"And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures!" -- Luke 24:32
In this glowing testimony three phases of the Risen Christ arc set forth. Each aspect of the Lord of Eastertide is delectable. I know not which is the most charmful.
Bishop Moule has a note on the story of which these words are a grateful reminiscence: 'The charm of this immortal story lies largely in the strange facility with which, in it, the supernatural comes upon us in all its mystery and majesty, literally walking and talking with the natural. To depict such a converse has been the attempt not seldom of literary genius, but where has it succeeded? Shakespeare has assuredly failed in Hamlet. Scott himself admits that he has failed in The Monastery. But St. Luke succeeds.'
And why does St. Luke succeed? Because he records a real experience: he tells a true story. Godet speaks of the 'intimate' character of these words, and well he may. Here the supernatural walks and talks with men. The Risen Lord holds converse with His disciples.
They sometimes tell us that no one has ever come back from the other world to give us assurance of it. But that is not so. Christ came back. He authenticated the unseen universe. And now amid all the proofs of immortality no evidence is so decisive as the Resurrection of our Lord.
The Risen Master is here portrayed as the companionable Christ, the expository Christ, and the enkindling Christ. Let us seek to catch the triple glory of this manifestation.
1. THE COMPANIONABLE CHRIST.
'He talked with us by the way' cry these glad-hearted men. 'He spake to us in the way' is the rendering of the R.V.
This is one of the surprises of the Resurrection. I should not have dreamed that the Risen Lord would be companionable. My fear would be that resurrection might have involved remoteness. He has been 'declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.' Will He henceforth be accessible as aforetime? I should not have dared to expect it. With this new and wonderful accession of deity surely He can scarcely be as human as before! Yet He is. More divine than ever, He is more human than ever, The Lord of all is a brother still. 'He talked with us by the way.'
Resurrection has not quenched his sympathy. Exalted, He is tender as He was on His humiliation. He is the friendly Lord. He is the companion of His people. His heart yearns with His ancient love. Although bedewed with new glory, He comes close: as ever to those His heart approves and pities.
The Emmaus story is a perennial parable of Christian experience. Still the Risen Christ is the companionable Christ. This is very practical mysticism. This is factual poetry. I have known many who were little of mystics and less of poets, but they emphatically declared 'the Saviour walks and talks with me.'
'He spoke to us in. the way.' We ever need the Christ of 'the way.' We must have the Christ of heaven; we cannot do without the Christ of the sanctuary; but the Christ of 'the way' is a deep necessity of our daily toilful life.
How wonderful that 'He' should have joined His followers 'in the way'! He seemed as one of themselves, but they speedily discerned that He was not one of themselves. He appeared as a common traveller, but they early found that He was Lord of 'the way.' He talked to them till the eight miles of country road seemed as a golden street, and the journey had more appropriately ended in the city of light than in an Oriental village.
Will He talk to us 'in the way'? Is He still the companionable Christ? Assuredly so! In the common ways of life He joins us. He floods prosaic streets with His peerless glory. His companionship destroys the monotony of the most monotonous way, and the steepness of the most uphill way, and the peril of the most declivitous way. He causes a vulgar road to be: crowded with the angeb of God.
But is His companionship the prerogative of every one? Not so. Mark that 'us.' These men were disciples of Christ. Only such can say 'He spake to us in the way.' Discipleship alone has the privilege of Divine Companionship. If any of Christ's depressed disciples hereupon exclaim, 'We are such poor unworthy disciples,' I would reply that you cannot be less promising disciples than these men were at that time. They had almost made the great renunciation. Their discipleship was at the lowest ebb. I should not wonder but they had left Jerusalem that morning all but determined to quite the discipleship-band for ever. Yet it is with such the Saviour walks and talks! Divine fellowship does not depend upon the merit of the disciples, but upon the grace of the Master. You, therefore, O poor dispirited and sin-plagued disciples, may be included in this happy 'us.'
They were sorely troubled disciples with whom Christ companied. They were all but heartbroken. Sorrow had overwhelmed them. All their hopes were buried in their Master's grave, and they knew not yet of His resurrection. They could scarcely speak: they could only sob. Their golden days were all in the past. But these sorrowing ones presently testify, 'He spake to us in the way.' Christ is most companionable to His troubled children. When we tread the way of grief, oh, how He speaks to us in the way! And if His words do not arrest our tears they alleviate them. There are roads we could not tread were it not for our loving Lord's companionship. Reckon on His presence with thee when thou dost tread a darkened way! He will conquer the darkness with the light of His countenance.
Of Wisdom we read that his delights are with the sons of men. Verily this is true of the Christ. He rejoices in the habitable parts of the earth. On life's various ways He loves to walk with His disciples.
And how He talks with us in the way! His words are rest and comfort. They soothe and they invigorate. 'Never man spake like this man.' Blessed souls that know the sweetly companionable Christ!
2. THE EXPOSITORY CHRIST.
'He opened to us the Scriptures.' I cannot overstate the significance of the fact that our Lord's primary solicitude when he rose from the dead was the Bible. Too great attention cannot be called to our Saviour's holy enthusiasm for the Word of God. He lived and died devoted to it with peerless devotion.
I should have imagined that the Risen Lord would be independent of the Bible. But no! He cleaves to it with all the old affection. He came up from the grave and hastened to the Holy Book. He flooded it with the glory of His countenance, and the precious pages retain the lustre. Nothing reveals to me so dearly the indispensability of the Bible. This is of a truth the token of its authority.
Was not our Lord in this a prophet? He surely foresaw that the great necessity was to set His people in a right relation to the Bible. Did He not realize that the battle of faith and unbelief would rage around the Bible? And to ensure its safety was His first endeavour when He was risen from the dead. 'He opened to us the Scriptures.' Evidently then our Lord regarded the Bible as no mere fortuitous collection of documents more or less inspired. It was no 'dogma' to Him. Nor to Him was it simply 'literature.' He treated it as of supreme spiritual authority. He appealed to it as such. He expounded it as such.
More and more must Christians emulate Christ's attitude towards the Bible. There is too often a marked and deplorable disparity between the Lord's relation to the Book and the relation of His servants. Never shall we be a conquering Church till we recover the Saviour's standpoint. What is the bible to you? Are you its critic or its humble and believing expositor? Is it your final court of appeal? Do you look upon its holy pages with the loving gratitude with which our Lord regarded it?
The Bible requires opening. 'He opened to us the Scriptures'
It is full of intellectual and spiritual mystery. It is a sealed book until Jesus opens it. Its mystery is a sign of its divinity. A divine book is sure to be mysterious. Its Author is the Author of Nature, and the element of mystery is in all His works. You would not believe in a Bible which had no mystery, any more than you would believe in a God who was easily understood. The mystery of the Bible need be no stumbling-block to us, for it evidences its heavenly origin. And such a one as Huxley said that the mysteries of the Bible are child's play to the mysteries of nature.
But however mysterious be the Bible, Christ can open it. And He alone can do this. Yes, how wonderfully He does it for His children. Have we not often heart this testimony, 'He opened to us the Scriptures'? The secret of the exposition is not cleverness, but the illuminating presence of Christ. If He shine upon your Bible and invoke the companionship of Jesus, he He gives us to understand the wonderful words of life! Unlettered men who have the Divine Expositor near see wondrous things in God's law.
Is Christ always opening to you the Scriptures? Are you always seeing new things in the old Book? O blest Expositor, be ever near us and reveal the hidden wealth of the Word of God!
This is what the Church needs--the presence of Christ as the expository Christ. We need the Author of the Book to give us the infallible interpretation of the Book. Then the Bible will regain its old authoritative position in the Church; then the power of the holy people shall prevail in the earth
It is not my present task to show the expository method of our Lord, but I cannot refrain from alluding to one feature of it as disclosed in this story, 'And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself" (ver. 27). Mark that recurring 'all.' According to the expository Christ the whole of the Old Testament is full of 'things concerning Himself.' There are those who have driven Him out of the Old Testament. How opposed to His teaching is such a course! It is sheer blasphemy, though it may pose as scholarship. Either Christ was wrong or these present-day teachers are in error. I believe they are absolutely in error. No valid reason can ever be assigned for contradicting the teaching of the Incarnate God. And He declares that 'all' the Old Testament holds 'things concerning Himself.'
This is the due to the true exposition of the Old Testament. There are some who discuss the question, 'How can we preach the Old Testament to the present age?' They reply that the best way, the only way, is to deduce from it ethical instruction. That was not our Lord's method. Nor is it the true method. To reveal the Saviour everywhere concealed therein is the inspired way of interpreting the Old Testament. Preaching which follows the Lord's expository example must be crowned with the Lord's benediction.
Is your Bible fuller and fuller to you of 'things concerning Himself'? It will be if He opens to you the Scriptures. Abide with us, Thou Expositor Divine, and give the gift of life to the Word of God!
3. THE ENKINDLING CHRIST.
What a witness these men bear! 'They said one to another, Did not our heart bum within us?' The Companion-Expositor set their hearts aglow. Oh how He always enkindles the heart! 'He that is near Me is near the fire' is reputed to be a saying of the Christ's. It is assuredly true. He, like the Jehovah of the Old Testament, answered by fire. The Spirit He imparted was a spirit of burning.
He loves to set the heart aflame. And none can come under His influence without realizing the secret mystery of the burning heart. The glow He leaves attests His supernal influence. You cannot know His dear companionship and His irradiating exposition without also knowing what it is to have a heart white-hot with holy fervour.
John Wesley, in his invaluable Notes, says it was 'warmth of love.' So it was. He ever enkindles with love. He inflames the heart with love to God and to Himself, and to all disciples, and to the Word of God, and to everything that is divine. John Wesley knew in his own wonderful experience that Christ is the enkindling Christ. How ideally he formulated his conversion! 'I felt my heart strangely warmed.' And the great Evangelical Revival began and continued in an enkindled heart. Have we such a heart?
Christ enkindled these hearts with comfort. It is the fine comment of Professor Bruce in the Expositor's Greek Testament that 'it is the heart that has been dried by trouble that burns so.' Well and truly said. Each of these men had a heart that had dried by trouble, but the Lord makes it glow with strong consolation. Christ uplifts us oft-times above our troubles by the burning comfort He imparts. He enkindled their hearts with joy and with hope till they knew nothing of all their former sadness. The flame of gladness enfolded their soul; the flame of hope enwrapped their spirit.
The tense of the verb indicates that the enkindling was permanent. The fire was burning still. The episode was over, but not the influence. The Master has departed, but has left His glorious traces in their heart.
Do we all know Christ as the enkindling Christ? Has He really set our hearts on fire? And is the fire still burning? The modern Church greatly needs the burning heart. Is not the fire quenched in many a Church?' Where is the old-time ardour? Is not the sacred passion spent? It is a serious thing if we know not Christ as the enkindling Christ. The world will never be greatly Impressed with a Church which has not a burning heart. Jesus, set our hearts on fire and keep them flaming even whilst the love of many waxes cold!
Matthew Henry sees here a lesson for preachers and for hearers. He says that is the right style of preaching which makes the heart of the hearer burn. He was himself a great preacher and the son of a great preacher, and all preachers will do well to ponder his words. If we bring Christ to men and treat the Bible as Christ treated it, we shall be of that enkindling school of preachers.
The great commentator says they are the best hearers who listen with a burning heart. Are you such hearers? With enkindling preachers and enkindled hearers may God fill our pulpits and our pews!
DINSDALE T. YOUNG (1861-1937)Dinsdale T. Young was born November 20, 1861 at Corbridge-on-Tyne, a few miles from Hexham, the birthplace of Joseph Parker, the son of a physician, William Young. His father was brought up in the Church of England, but felt led to leave it to join the Wesleyan group, and the love for Methodism was born in the son's heart at that time, never to be quenched. After a brief ministry in Edinburgh, he was called to the great Queen Street Chapel, Holborn, in London, the same area in which was located Dr. Joseph Parker's City Temple. The Queen Street Chapel was the largest Wesleyan Chapel in London, but had "fallen upon pathetically evil days." The chapel subsequently being given over to the West London Mission, Young served as pastor at Wesley's Chapel, City Road, of which he himself says, "I preached oftener in Wesley's Chapel than any man has ever done -- not excepting John Wesley himself."
In 1914, a double responsibility came to Dinsdale Young: he was elected President of the Methodist Conference and he was appointed Minister of Central Hall, Westminster, the largest Methodist auditorium in that part of England. Here he ministered for twenty years, the church being crowded morning and evening. I remember the night, in 1924, when five of us men went down to Westminster to hear the famous, then white-haired minister, and arriving only five minutes late, we found the auditorium so crowded that we had to sit on the cement steps leading up to the choir. He was beginning that night a series of sermons on the Apostles' Creed, and preached from the opening declaration, "I believe." He read extensively from Pearson's profound work on the Creed, and because of nearsightedness, he had to hold these slips of paper up very close to his eyes. But not a person moved; the attention remained undivided and one could sense an attitude of reverence toward this mighty prophet of God.
Frequently he bore vigorous testimony to the sufficiency of the Scriptures and the need of constant Biblical preaching. In his delightful autobiography, Stars of Retrospect, he affirmed, "With all movements for the circulation and defence of the Bible I have had and have intensest sympathy. My faith in the power of Scripture when brought under the most evil eyes grows stronger and stronger. The evangelistic influence of the printed Word can never be exaggerated. I have had no richer service than such as I have been enabled to render in London, especially of late years, to the cause of the Bible. We want far more assertion of what the Bible is, and far less assertion of what it is not. The lack of positiveness concerning Holy Scripture is one of the most tragical weaknesses of the present-day churches and pulpits .... I testify that God never fails to supply one's pulpit needs as one searches the Scriptures. Make the Bible your text-book, preacher, and it will be to you a book of texts! ... I have found the Bible an ever more delightful companion. I humbly think I have surmounted the fearful danger of treating it as a professional instrument. To read it anywhere and everywhere has been my increasing joy. Never was it so sweet to my taste as it is today. It abases me into the dust. It makes me smart, with self-condemnation. But it cheers, it interests, it inspires me more and more. It flings the light of the morning star upon my darkest hours of night. That my ministry has brought me into constant contact with God's written Word is a mercy of mercies in my experience."
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