Among the Living
Luke 24.1–9 ESV
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.
The word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
It’s always wonderful to be with you, but to be with you on Easter is the greatest honor of all. This not just the Lord’s day but it’s the day of ultimate hope. The is the day that proves that everything has changed; that death is no longer an enemy with a stranglehold on our souls. The is the day that death died.
The resurrection of Jesus set in motion a reality that is meant to be accepted by the entire world; a reality that we now have access to God. Where sin once held the leash to the human spirit, so we are now set free to run into the arms of God and be welcomed by the Father who gave it all to have us. The resurrection of Jesus means that our adoption is final and that we have a home with God. We are no longer children of death, but are now children of life!
In our text today, we learn an important lesson about death and life. Luke tells us that the women who witnessed the placement of Jesus’ body in the tomb had returned after the Sabbath to finish the proper burial steps. The women left in an attitude of death and fully expect to return to a lifeless scene. But when they get there, it is everything but lifeless. The stone has been rolled away and the body of Christ is no longer there. Then, there’s the awesome words from the visiting angels, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (vv.5, 6).
This no longer sounds like a graveyard, but like a very lively scene. There is life in a place where there should be none and the angels are wondering why the women have come to a place of death to find Someone living. And it’s to that sentiment that I want us to go to today. Because to search, to seek, to learn and to discover Jesus Christ is to do so in living places, not dead zones.
We all have dead zones in our lives—graveyards where we spend our time, our energy and our resources; looking for some sort of life when there is none. I don’t know what your graveyards and dead zones are, but think on what these places are or where these places are. The resurrection of Jesus calls us up and out of the graveyards and the dead zones. We are people of the light, not the darkness; people of abundant life, not suffocating death.
And yet, we wander this graveyard world, looking for something that will sustain us, only to come up short. The world has no life to offer us, no sustenance for our soul. The world cannot fill us, it can only drain us. But that is why Christ has come to defeat death, to loosen its grip and free us for things above.
This week I kept thinking back to the words of the apostle Paul, as he called his various churches to set their minds on life-giving things and get their minds out of the graveyards. He told the Philippians, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (4.8 ESV). Paul knew that godly, holy, virtuous practices and the various means of grace would bring us closer and into connection with the Living Christ. But to go after anything less than these is to search for life among that which is dead. We are to seek life among the One who gives life.
Paul then says to the Colossians, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (3.1, 2 ESV). Keeping our minds on things above is what keeps us out of the graveyard.
So what do we do with this? First, we recognize that Jesus has come to give life and that His sacrifice paid the price for our sin, that we may have life (now and forever) and a relationship with God, when before we did not have access because of our sin.
Second, we understand that now that Christ has been raised from the dead, defeating sin through his life and death through his resurrection, we TOO have victory over sin now and resurrection on the horizon of our faith journey because of our adoption by Him as sons and daughters of God.
Third, we raise our heads, our hearts, and our daily walks away from the dead zones and graveyards of the world because we no longer seek life among dead things. We seek the Living among the living. We focus, as a people, on the God who is above all things and is calling us above all things.
We are “people of the Resurrection,” finding and receiving abundant life through the Living One, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. So leave here today knowing that our God is alive; that He is giving us life; and that we are to live the rest of our days among the living. Amen.