King's Business - 1951-03

the tomb and quite likely Mary followed them, for she was there after they returned to their homes. “ But Mary stood without the sepulchre weeping.” She wept for the agony of her Lord upon the cross; she wept for the cruel end of such a blessed, holy life ; she wept for her own hopelessness and bereavement. Surely the end had come for her and for all of the world He had come to redeem. There was no one to whom to go: He only had the words of eternal life; He only could “ bind up the broken-hearted.” Her Lord was irretrievably gone, and the waves of doubt and sorrow rolled over her and en­ gulfed her soul. Of course, her grief was wrong, because it was the result of unbelief, but that did not make her less pitiable. But suddenly, in a moment, Mary’s mourning was turned into an ecstasy of gladness! Through tear-wet eyes she beheld Jesus, alive! Revealed to her in the men­ tion of her name, since “ never man spake like this man,” in an instant, her faith in Him as her God was restored, and her burden of sorrow was lifted. She knew it was He because again He met the need of her heart. It was not alone His familiar outward appearance and the tone of His voice when He called her “ Mary,” but it was because He was aware of her spiritual difficulty, and took care of it at once. Bidding her not to delay Him by clinging to Him since He was already on His way to the Father, He gave her a commission, “ Go and tell,” and Mary went singing on her way, a happy, triumphant witness of the resurrection! We turn from this joyous scene to another eyewitness, Thomas the Twin In the make-up of his personality, Thomas Didvmus (the twin) was the complete antithesis to impulsive, affec­ tionate Mary of Magdala. His was a thoughtful, inquiring mind. He was the calculating type that wanted to be certain of everything. He did not jump at conclusions; cautious and deliberate, he seldom made mistakes in judg­ ment. Lack of courage was not his weakness, for when Jesus was about to walk into the jaws of death by return­ ing to Judea to raise Lazarus, it was he who proposed: “ Let us also go, that we may die with him.” He may not have doubted any more than the others, but because he was so outspoken about it, the record stands against him. They were all guilty of not believing Christ when He stated that He would die and after three days rise again. If they heard Him at all, they must have believed that He was using some theological figure of speech. So ob­ sessed were they with the popular Judaistic Messianic view of a glorious kingdom to be restored to Israel that they gave no credence at all to His references concerning His passion. The incredulity of Thomas was reprehensible, and not to be passed over lightly. Jesus had once told the Jews, “ If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” While God has patience with an honest inquirer, unbelief has no virtue in His eyes. Contrary to the popular athe­ istic view of our day, skepticism is not an indication of intellectuality, either. The risen Christ was cognizant of the difficulty of Thomas, of the awful doubt that was shaking his soul, of the violent struggle that was taking place in his heart. “ He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” Because He was God, He was aware too of those unbelieving words Thomas had spoken so hastily, in the bitterness of his soul, when he believed that all was lost at the crucifixion: “ Except I shall see . . . I will not believe.” It is amazing that when eight days later Jesus appeared personally to Thomas, He did not reprove him for his doubts. He had compassion upon him for He knew how MARCH, 1951

sick at heart Thomas was and He dealt with him as kindly as He had with poor, sorrowing Mary. “ Then said he 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. And Thomas answered . . . my Lord and my God.” Did Thomas touch the wounds of Jesus for proof? Certainly not! The fact that Christ understood his need was enough for “ Doubting Thomas,” who from that instant became “ Believing Thomas.” Not only was he transformed into a bright and shining witness for the resurrection, but after the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he became a flaming evangel. His­ tory records that he gave a good account of himself as a missionary to distant Parthia. Christ lives! And He is interested in the soul trouble of those who, like Thomas, find it hard to believe in the supernatural. “ He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him . . . If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.” Thus Mary of Magdala became a witness of the resur­ rection, and so did Thomas the Twin, “And Peter” ’ All of us have a fellow feeling for Peter, because in so many ways he resembles most of us. Constructed of the same imperfect material, he was so rash; he made so many mistakes; he talked so much; he so often failed at critical times. But withal he was an interesting and lov­ able character, irresistible and irrepressible. It amazes us to note the reaction of Christ to Peter upon their first encounter: “ And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas . . . a stone.” In the three years that Peter followed Jesus as His disciple, very infrequent were the indications of any rock-like substance in his character. There was a brief glimpse of it when he made the Great Confession: “We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” But on the whole his performance was definitely disappointing and not up to Jesus’ estimate of him. But that was before the resurrec­ tion! Peter was a much more direct personality than Thomas; he was an extrovert in every respect, a man of action rather than a man of thought. He was not held back bv inhibitions, cursed by an inferiority complex, or tortured by a skeptical mind. His was a battle with a dis­ positional weakness which he attempted to conceal by bluster and bravado: he was a craven coward. No one was better aware of it than he, unless it was his Lord. But Jesus also knew a wonderful secret about Peter: He held the key that could unlock Peter’s personality. He holds such a key for the hearts of all of His children! After the crucifixion, Peter was in deeper soul trouble than even Mary and Thomas. Not only overwhelmed with the awful sense of loss that Mary felt, not only filled with a bitter doubt, as was Thomas, but on top of these experiences of sorrow and unbelief, he was suffering from a gnawing conviction of sin. No man ever hated himself more than did Peter after the death of Jesus. He remem­ bered with agony his egotistical boasting that he would never forsake Jesus, he who not only deserted with all of the others, leaving Jesus to His enemies in His hour of need, but who “ denied with an oath, I do not know the man” ! All four of the Gospel writers tell the shameful story of Peter’s treachery; apparently the Holy Spirit wanted us to know how far the best of men may fall, and how high the worst of men may be lifted by His grace. The heinous sin of Judas seems no worse than Peter’s, the only Page Seven

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