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. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. Luke 24:1-12 (ESV)
Why do we seek the living among the dead?
On the first Easter morning Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the stone rolled away from the tomb, and horrified to find the body of Jesus missing. It’s not every day that a stone weighing several tons moves all by itself, and a dead person disappears from a tomb- much less a tomb that also had an armed guard.
Christianity is the only world religion with a truth claim that can be verified. Should the bones of Jesus be found- shown to be His beyond a reasonable doubt, our faith is proven null and void. While faith is not something that comes about based upon scientific evidence, the multiple eyewitness testimonies of those who saw, walked with and ate with the risen Jesus attest to the veracity of the Resurrection. Those accounts were written in Scripture for our edification, so that by hearing the Word of God, we too, would believe.
There was no body in that tomb. Jesus had enough adversaries (and some did try to claim that Jesus’ body had been stolen, as some Jews still believe today) that had His body been stolen, it would have been widely known. Jesus had enough followers who had been with Him after the Resurrection who could attest that He was alive in bodily form, including Thomas who had asked to see His side, His hands, His feet and touch the scars of the crucifixion wounds.
It’s not always easy to tap into the joy of Easter and the reality of resurrection when we are here in this world living with very real problems. We still see the same old death and suffering and trouble that are part of this sin-soaked world. What does resurrection and new life mean to the poor, the suffering, they dying, the grieving? What solace can we bring when we know that the common denominator is death?
We are still living among the dead in a manner of speaking. This life, this world, and our situations are all temporary and will pass away. If we look for salvation and comfort in this world and in this life, we are only going to find death.
The good news is that Jesus is not among the dead. He is risen, alive- and in Him we have life too.
Jesus is with us. He asks us to seek, knock and ask, because in Him we have life that doesn’t end.
He is risen. He is risen, indeed.