Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Lactantius: Chap. XIX.—Of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus; and the predictions of these events
Chap. XIX.—Of the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus; And the Predictions of These Events.
What more can now be said respecting the crime of the Jews, than that they were then blinded and seized with incurable madness, who read these things daily, and yet neither understood them, nor were able to be on their guard so as not to do them? Therefore, being lifted up and nailed to the cross, He cried to the Lord with a loud voice, and of His own accord gave up His spirit. And at the same hour there was an earthquake; and the veil of the temple, which separated the two tabernacles, was rent into two parts; and the sun suddenly withdrew its light, and there was darkness from the sixth 776 even to the ninth hour. Of which event the prophet Amos testifies: 777 “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that the sun shall go down at noon, and the daylight shall be darkened; and I will turn your feasts into mourning, and your songs into lamentation.” Also Jeremiah: 778 “She who brings forth is affrighted, and vexed in spirit; her sun is gone down while it was yet mid-day; she hath been ashamed and confounded; 779 and the residue of them will I give to the sword in the sight of their enemies.” And the Sibyl:—“And the veil of the temple shall be rent, and at midday there shall be dark vast night for three hours,”
When these things were done, even by the heavenly prodigies, they were not able to understand their crime.
But since He had foretold that on the third day He should rise again from the dead, fearing lest, the body having been stolen by the disciples, and removed, all should believe that He had risen, and there should be a much greater disturbance among the people, they took Him down from the cross, and having shut Him up in a tomb, they securely surrounded it with a guard of soldiers. But on the third day, before light, there was an earthquake, and the sepulchre was suddenly opened; and the guard, who were astonished and stupefied with fear, seeing nothing, He came forth uninjured and alive from the sepulchre, and went into Galilee to seek His disciples: but nothing was found in the sepulchre except the grave-clothes in which they had enclosed and wrapt His body. Now, that He would not remain in hell, 780 but rise again on the third day, had been foretold by the prophets. David says, in the fifteenth Psalm: 781 “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine holy one to see corruption.” Also in the third Psalm: 782 “I laid me down to sleep, and took my rest, and rose again, for the Lord sustained me.” Hosea also, the first of the twelve prophets, testified of His resurrection: 783 “This my Son is wise, therefore He will not remain in the anguish of His sons: and I will redeem Him from the power 784 of the grave. Where is thy judgment, O death? or where is thy sting?” The same also in another place: 785 “After two days, He will revive us in the third day.” And therefore the Sibyl said, that after three days sleep he would put an end to death:—“And after sleeping three days, He shall put an end to the fate of death; and then, releasing Himself from the dead, He shall come to light, first showing to the called ones the beginning of the resurrection.”
For He gained life for us by overcoming death. No hope, therefore, of gaining immortality is given to man, unless he shall believe on Him, and shall take up that cross to be borne and endured.
i.e., from noon. [Elucidation IV.]122:777
Amos 8:9, 10.122:778
Jer. xv. 9.122:779
Confusa est et maledicta.122:780
i.e., Hades, the place of departed spirits.122:781
Ps. xvi. 10.122:782
Ps. iii. 5.122:783
Hos. 13:13, 14.122:784
De manu inferorum.122:785
Hos. vi. 2.
Next: Chap. XX.—Of the departure of Jesus into Galilee after his resurrection; and of the two testaments, the old and the new
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