For this Sunday’s Spurgeon selection I have posted excerpts from his sermon The Tomb of Jesus, which he preached from the New Park Street pulpit on April 8, 1855; at the age of 21. This Spurgeon selection is unapologetically longer than typical, and if you want even more, then follow the link above to read the entire sermon.
The Tomb of Jesus
We shall, on this occasion, go where Mary went on the morning of the first day of the week, when waking from her couch before the dawn, she aroused herself to be early at the sepulchre of Jesus. We will try, if it be possible, by the help of God’s Spirit, to go as she did—not in body, but in soul—we will stand at that tomb; we will examine it, and we trust we shall hear some truth-speaking voice coming from its hollow bosom which will comfort and instruct us “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” On this Easter morning pay a visit to his grave, for it is the grave of your best friend.
An Invitation Given
Dost fear then, Christian, to step into that tomb? Dost dread to enter there? start not from the entrance; let not the darkness affright thee; the vault is not damp with the vapors of death, nor doth the air contain aught of contagion. Come, for it is a pure and healthy place. Fear not to enter that tomb. I will admit that catacombs are not the places where we, who are full of joy, would love to go. There is something gloomy and noisome about a vault. there are noxious smells of corruption; oft-times pestilence is born where a dead body hath lain; but fear it not, Christian, for Christ was not left in hell—in Hades—neither did his body see corruption. Think not thou shalt find aught obnoxious to thy senses. Corruption Jesus never saw; no worms ever devoured his flesh; no rottenness ever entered into his bones; he saw no corruption. Three days he slumbered, but no long enough to putrefy; he soon arose, perfect as when he entered, uninjured as when his limbs were composed for their slumber. Come then, Christian, summon up thy thoughts, gather all thy powers; here is a sweet invitation, let me press it again. Let me lead thee by the hand of meditation, my brother; let me take thee by the arm of thy fancy, and let me again say to thee, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
I have pressed the invitation; now we will enter the tomb. Let us examine it with deep attention. First, mark that it is a costly tomb. Stand here and ask why Jesus had such a costly sepulchre. He had no elegant garments; he wore a coat without seam. He owned no sumptuous palace, for he had not where to lay his head. He was poor. Why, then does he lie in a noble grave? For this reason: Christ was unhonored till he had finished his sufferings.
Though it is a costly grave, it is a borrowed one. Yes, he was buried in another’s sepulchre. He who had no house of his own, and rested in the habitation of other men; who had no table, but lived upon the hospitality of his disciples; who borrowed boats in which to preach, and had not anything in the wide world, was obliged to have a tomb from charity. It was a borrowed tomb; and why? I take it, not to dishonor 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; concerning all his people, it is true, he bore their griefs and carried their sorrows in his own body on the tree; therefore, as they were others’ sins, so he rested in another’s grave; as they were sins imputed, so that grave was only imputedly his.
I would bid you stand and see the place where the Lord lay with emotions of deep sorrow. He was a murdered man. I slew him. My deeds slew Christ. Alas! I slew my best beloved; I killed him who loved me with an everlasting love. 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. Ah! we may indeed regret our sin, since it slew Jesus.
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 sin slew him, but his divinity raised him up. Thy guilt hath murdered him, but his righteousness hath restored him. Oh! he hath burst the bonds of death, he hath ungirt the cerements of the tomb, and hath come out more than conqueror, crushing death beneath his feet. Rejoice, O Christian, for he is not there—he is risen.
And now, Christian brethren, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay,” to learn a doctrine or two. The first thing you perceive, if you stand by his empty tomb, is his divinity. O Christian, thy Jesus is God; his broad shoulders that hold thee up are indeed divine; and here thou hast the best proof of it—because he rose from the grave.
A second doctrine here taught well may charm thee, if the Holy Spirit apply it with power. Behold his 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. O beloved, is not that an overwhelming thought? As a justified man, I have not a sin now against me in God’s book. If I were to turn over God’s eternal book, I should see every debt of mine receipted and cancelled.
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—this body must be a carnival for worms; it must be eaten by those tiny cannibals. The constituent particles of this my frame will enter into plants, from plants pass into animals, and thus be carried into far distant realms; but, at the blast of the archangel’s trumpet, every separate atom of my body shall find its fellow. So let me die, let beasts devour me, let fire turn this body into gas and vapor, all its particles shall yet again be restored; this very self-same, actual body shall start up from its grave, glorified and made like Christ’s body, yet still the same body, for God hath said it.
Come, view the place then, with all hallowed meditation, where the Lord lay. Spend this afternoon, my beloved brethren, in meditating upon it, and very often go to Christ’s grave, both to weep and to rejoice. Ye timid ones, do not be afraid to approach, for ’tis no vain thing to remember that timidity buried Christ. Faith would not have given him a funeral at all; faith would have kept him above ground, and would never have let him be buried; for it would have said, it would be useless to bury Christ if he were to rise. Fear buried him. Nicodemus, the night disciple, and Joseph of Arimathea, secretly, for fear of the Jews, went and buried him. Therefore, ye timid ones, ye may go too. Ready-to-halt, poor Fearing, and thou, Mrs. Despondency, and Much-afraid, go often there; let it be your favorite haunt, there build a tabernacle, there abide. And often say to your heart, when you are in distress and sorrow, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”