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third day," is repeated in substance in XVII, 23, and in XX, 19. In XXVII, 63, 64, we have the following, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night and steal him away.” It is important to notice that in this passage, “after three days", and "the third day", are equivalent in meaning, for the predictions in Mark VIII, 31, IX., 31 and X, 34, all use the words "after three days". In Matt. XII, 40, evidently to bring out the parallel to the experience of Jonah, the stay in the grave is described as being “three days and three nights”. Luke, in IX, 22; XVIII, 33; XXIV, 7, 46, has always "on the third day". Mark, XIV, 58, quotes the false witnesses as testifying to our Lord's having declared that He would destroy the temple and "in three days build another." Here is a reference to the saying recorded in John II, 19, where the same phrase “in three days” is used, and where it is interpreted as pointing to the Resurrection. In Acts, X, 40, Peter declares to Cornelius, "Him God raised up the third day.”
It is therefore clear that the "third day" as the date of the Resurrection was an integral part of the earliest Christian belief regarding that great truth. Since no one beheld the Rising itself, this means that the appearances of the Risen Lord must have first occurred on the third day after He was crucified and buried, i. e., on the Sunday after that Friday.
It is absolutely impossible to account for the constant insistence of "the third day" in all mentions of the Resurrection, or any other supposition than that it was on that day the disciples believed they saw their Master alive from the dead. The suggestion that this was due to a popular belief that it was not until then that the soul of a dead person was finally separated from its body does not affect the point, for in that case this would mean that as soon as the disciples were, according to the common notion, assured that Jesus was indeed dead they beheld Him alive. If they saw Him just after all hope had ceased to be possible, then the evidence which brought them conviction must have been strong indeed. We can dismiss without serious discussion the conjecture of Dr. Lake, based on the hypotheses of Gunkel and Jensen, that the genesis of the Gospel story and of St. Paul's faith was due to the Babylonian myth that the solar equinox was the resurrection of the sun god Marduk, and the new moon was the death and resurrection after three days (when the moon again became visible) of the moon deity! There ought to be some limit even to the credulity of scholarly sceptics. If it be argued that the frequent and precise predictions of the rising on the third day could not here have been made by Christ Himself, but that some vaguer utterances were, after the event, given this definite shape by the Evangelists, then this very objection assumes that these writers and the Christians for whom they wrote already believed that Jesus rose on the third day. Such a prophecy could not have been put in the mouth of the Master unless the exact day on which He first manifested Himself was first fixed in the minds of His disciples.
Further confirmation of the originality and genuiness of the dating is furnished by the clause "according to the Scriptures". If the Old Testament contained any clear and unmistakable prophecy of the Resurrection and connected it with the third day, it might be claimed with some plausibility that the prediction, and not the actual occurrence, had made this phrase so constant a part of the record, and that the writers of the Gospels had shaped their accounts to conform with the expectation. But this is not the case. The prophetical anticipations of the Resurrection of the Christ are so obscure that there was no expectation of such an event in Jewish popular thought, and there is no suggestion of anything of the kind even in the apocalypses. The passages quoted from the second and sixteenth psalms by the Apostles in their sermons to the Jews make no mention of the third day. Indeed, when we search for grounds for the statement that this date is “according to the Scriptures”, we meet with great difficulty. The sayings and types commonly cited seem only remotely applicable. It is only in the light of the great event itself, and when we adopt the general principle that all the Old Testament really speaks of Christ, that we can assert that the "third day" is "according to the Scriptures". It is impossible to suppose these vague statements made the disciples believe in the Resurrection on the third day, if actually nothing of the kind took place. That after the fact Christian devotion should discover in them a mysterical reference is easily intelligible, but that is quite another matter.
What are the passages usually cited ? Hosea, VI, 1, 2, is one. It is part of an exhortation to repentance: “Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live before him." Applicable certainly, but far from being a direct prediction, and entirely unlikely to be the occasion of a belief which had no ground in reality. The message brought by Isaiah to King Hezekiah is sometimes quoted: “I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold, I will heal thee; on the third day thou shalt go up into the house of the Lord.” Often allusion is thought to be made to Pharaoh's bringing up the chief butler and the chief baker from prison on the third day, or to Joseph's release of his brethren, "after three days." Here again the devout mind of the Christian believer will see striking types of the Resurrection, but there is nothing to create belief in the fact, apart from its actual occurrence. In Matt. XIII, 40, we find our Lord apparently drawing a parallel between Jonah's three days and three nights in the whale's belly, and His own approaching three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. There is a good deal of reason, from a comparison with the corresponding verses in Luke, and from an acquaintance with the habitual practive of the Evangelist, to regard these words as a parenthesis or editorial comment, inserted by the writer and not uttered by our Lord Himself. But, at any rate, and this is the point at present—the type is not so obvious as to have suggested the conforming of the history to the passage in Jonah. The more carefully we examine the Ancient Scriptures the more certain it becomes that only the great event itself could have led the disciples to interpret them as foreshadowing it.
This precision concerning the day of the Resurrection is of importance as connoting its actual occurrence. Legend is not wont even to pretend to historical accuracy. It has still further and notable significance in that it determines absolutely the time when the first appearance of the Risen Christ took place. No later than the third day after His crucifixion-indeed when but one whole day had intervened, and only 36 hours after His followers had laid His Body in the grave and had gone, heart-broken and despairing, to their own homes—He had shown Himself alive from the dead! Could any transformation be swifter, more startling, more complete, and less anticipated? What else but fact, convincing, compelling, overruling all preconceptions, could thus force belief on incredulous and hopeless minds, and, a week later, subjugate the obstinately doubtful Thomas? There was no time for the gradual recovery from the numbing shock of Good Friday, for the slow stirring of new hope, for the study of prophecy, for the recollection of warning utterances, for the forming and solidification of a conviction that God could and must vindicate His Christ, and for the consequent upspringing of a new faith which could triumph above the horror of the Cross and the desolation of the Tomb. Fancy and affection have often woven strange garments for heroes and saints, have attributed to them miraculous powers which they never claimed for themselves, and have placed on their heads haloes unmarked by their contemporaries. Skeptics have suggested that the stories of the appearance of the risen Lord were the product of loving imagination, perhaps were even fictions, invented at first to deceive the world and later deceiving their very authors. Legends and myths, they have been termed, and parallels for them have been sought in the fables of heathen gods, in the obscure rites of Adonis, or in the dramatic mysteries of Mithras. It should be sufficient answer to point out the essential differences, and to remind these critics that men do not so hazard their lives for the fanciful tales of mythology, as did these early followers of Jesus Christ for the truth of His Resurrection. Peter and John and Paul were neither visionaries nor imposters, but men of sane judgment and honest purpose. Nor do legend and myth spring up in a day. They require a favorable soil and considerable time, and both these requisites were lacking in this case. The character of the Apostles assures us as regards the first point, and the extreme shortness of the interval between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection proves the latter. The "third day" allows no room for the development of simple loyalty and faith into a triumphant and out-spoken conviction of the victory over death and sin. This brief, almost unmarked phrase of Scripture and Creed sets the seal of certainty on the great fundamental Fact of the Christian religion.
A Morality Play
It has come to be the custom for dramatists to give their plays an interpretative preface addressed, not to the audience as were the Prologues of the primitive drama, but to the players, that they shall miss none of the significance which the writer would have his lines convey.
EVERYMAN TAKES UP HIS BURDEN does not pretend to great estate. It is but one more argument on behalf of the Church's widened field of endeavor, but with this peculiarity, that it is addressed to, as it is also the voice of, that younger generation which is causing conservative middle age so much uneasiness. The Church has an especial concern for youth, for does it not trace its descent from the idealism of a divine Youth? John and Paul and Stephen were all Hotspurs whose zealous enthusiasm fired the world.
So in our play EVERYMAN purports to speak on behalf of the younger generation which in a world of chaotic unrest finds itself confronted by difficulties and problems for which its elders can offer no adequate solution. So burdened EVERYMAN comes into the Church, a place, so he has been taught, of rest and brooding peace, beautiful with the stored loveliness of age, and rich in historical associations and past conquests. One after the other the Lessons warn him that this is not all, bid him search for something more, for the warm life pulsing underneath, but the very familiarity of their voices dulls his ear. Not until the Church herself, speaking in the language best understood by youth today as it was by Paul crying out in response to the vision, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” gives him a new understanding of her mission, does he find the summons to comradeship in the great Christian adventure. The burden which he binds upon his willing shoulders is symbolic of those activities of the Church which most appeal to youth, and in which youth is most sorely needed.
This, then, is our play.