In Another Form
After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country–Mar 16:12
We Are Not Told What Form
This is all that St. Mark has got to tell us of our Lord’s appearance on the Emmaus road. It is in the Gospel of St. Luke that we have the exquisite story in detail. St. Luke tells us that when He joined the wayfarers their eyes were holden and they did not know Him. Although when He spoke to them their hearts began to burn, something interfered with recognition. And St. Mark tells us what that something was which kept them from recognizing Jesus–He appeared unto them in another form. What that form was we do not know. This is one of the silences of Scripture. The Bible can be magnificently eloquent, and the Bible can be magnificently silent. It was another; it was different; it was not any form they were familiar with; and then (as in the play) the rest is silence.
What God Gives Is Not Static as What Man Makes
I should like to say that if Jesus be of God this is exactly what I should expect. The work of God differs from that of man in the beautiful varying of form. Man builds a bridge, and it remains a bridge: it is still a bridge when fifty years have gone. Man constructs the engine for the liner, and that engine never varies till it is scrapped. And then God comes, and begins building, and one great mark of His handiwork is this, that it is always appearing in another form. He makes the oak–it is barren in November. It appears in another form in July. He makes the seed, intricate in mystery. It appears in another form upon the harvest field. He makes the hawthorn, flowering in May and burning with scarlet berries in the autumn. It is the same bush, but in another form. That is particularly true of sunshine, and our Savior is the sun of righteousness. One of the mysteries of sunlight is how it is always appearing in another form–in health, in countless energies, in the coal-fire burning in the grate, in the colors of the lilies of the field. Now, according to my Gospel, He who gave the sunshine gave the Lord. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. And I should expect, if Jesus be of God, as the sunshine and all the lilies are, that He would appear in another form.
Christ Is the Same and Yet Changing
One thinks, for instance, how very true that is of Christ in succeeding generations–He is the same, yet the form is ever changing. Suppose that some preacher of a hundred years ago were to “revisit the glimpses of the moon”–an able man, born of the Holy Ghost, consecrated to his heavenly calling–suppose he were to preach one of his sermons to an audience of our more thoughtful young people: does not everyone know what they would say? They would say, “That is an able man, and we recognize him as perfectly sincere. We admire his logic and we enjoy his eloquence, and we wish we had more of it today. But the Christ he preaches–dogmatic, theological–seems to be out of contact with our lives, and his message (to put it frankly) leaves us cold.” Then folk talk of this degenerate age–as if Christ were a man-constructed thing; as if He were like that engine of the liner that can never vary till it is scrapped. While all the time the glorious thing is this, that to every succeeding generation Christ is appearing in another form. Always the same–always the Son of Man–always (as I believe) the Son of God; able to save as no one else can do, for He is able to save unto the uttermost–yet, like the lily and the hawthorn and the sunshine (these glorious but lesser gifts of heaven), too wonderful to be tied to one epiphany.
Christ Is Different in Various Individuals
One thinks again how very true that is of Christ in different individuals. That is where He differs from the creed or catechism, however indispensable they be. Your creed or catechism never varies, whether a man be a blackguard or a saint. It meets you with the same form of words when the bells are ringing and when the heart is breaking. But Christ, living, infinitely sensitive to the secret lodged in every separate heart, is always appearing in another form. How different the Christ of the converted criminal from the Christ of the philosophic thinker! How different the Christ of one of Cromwell’s Ironsides from the Christ of the delicate and shrinking woman! Right down the ages, in our varying lives, you have the transcript of resurrection morning, when Mary supposed He was the gardener, and the two saw Him in another form. He came to Paul as the righteousness he craved for. He came to Justin Martyr as the truth. He came to St. Francis as the radiant Comrade. He came to Spurgeon as rest and satisfaction. Always the same–always the Son of Man–always (as I believe) the Son of God, yet in differing form to different personalities, and every form most exquisitely chosen.
Christ Different in the Advancing Years of Life
One thinks lastly how very true this is of Christ in the advancing years of life He is the “very same Jesus” to the end, yet different, in form, with every mile. That is where He is so like the Bible, for this is one of the wonders of the Bible. The Bible we cherish when we are growing old is identical with the Bible of our childhood: yet how different–how rich in new significance–how melodious with notes of heavenly music that we never had ears to hear when we were young. With every trial met and temptation mastered, the Bible appears in another form–with every illness, and every hour of heartbreak, and every cross that we are called to carry. And the wonder of the written word is just the wonder of the Word Incarnate: He is always appearing in another form. In ardent youth, the Lord of high endeavor; in the years of stress and strain, the Lord of rest; in the evening when the first stars come out, the Way that leads us home. And when we waken, in the brighter morning, there He will be just the same–and yet we shall see Him in another form