On this Easter Sunday as we celebrate the glorious resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we make a final post from the book Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross (Nancy Guthrie, ed.; Crossway, 2009). Chapter 22 contains an excerpt from St.Augustine’s Homilies on the Gospels, specifically on Luke 24:36-45. Though his style is different, this great 4th-century church father has some powerful thoughts and applications for us, the 21st-century church.
May they serve to point us to our risen Lord and to the faith we must have in Him alone – for comfort and hope in living and in dying.
The Lord appeared to his disciples after his resurrection and saluted them, saying, ‘Peace be unto you.’ This is peace indeed, and the salutation of salvation: for the very word ‘salutation’ has received its name from salvation. And what can be better than that salvation itself should salute man? For Christ is our salvation. He is our salvation, who was wounded for us, and fixed by nails to the tree, and being taken down from the tree, was laid in the sepulcher. And from the sepulcher he arose, with his wounds healed, his scars kept. For this he judged expedient for his disciples, that his scars should be kept, whereby the wounds of their hearts might be healed.
What wounds? The wounds of unbelief. For he appeared to their eyes, exhibiting real flesh, and they thought they saw a spirit. It is no light wound, this wound of the heart. Yea, they have made a malignant heresy who have abided in this wound. But do we suppose that the disciples had not been wounded, because they were so quickly healed? Only, beloved, suppose, if they had continued in this wound, to think that the body which had been buried, could not rise again, but that a spirit in the image of a body, deceived the eyes of men. If they had continued in this belief, yea, rather in this unbelief, not their wounds, but their death would have had to be bewailed.
…Hear him speaking; lo, he speaks to thee, thou unhappy one, he speaks to thee: ‘Why art thou troubled, and why do thoughts ascend into thine heart?’ ‘See,’, saith he, ‘My hands and My feet. Handle me and see, because a spirit hath not flesh and bones as he see Me have.’ This spake the truth, and did he deceive? It was a body then, it was flesh; that which has been buried, appeared. Let doubting perish, and meet praise ensue.
Come then, O Lord, employ thy keys, open, that we may understand… (pp.127-130)