Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen! Just as he told you he would.
Read the gospel texts and you will see that Jesus had told his disciples again and again that he would suffer and die but then after 3 days he would be raised from death to LIFE.
Perhaps he put it like this: Christ will die, Christ will RISE, Christ will come again
He had told them that he would be raised from death to life but here are the women rushing to the garden tomb early in the morning on the day after the sabbath and they are here not to witness a resurrection but to embalm Jesus’ dead body. They are shocked to find the stone rolled away and the body gone!
When the women bring the news of resurrection to the 11 and all the other disciples the news is not met with joy it is discarded as nonsense.
Peter ran to witness the empty tomb and grave clothes and he went away wondering what had happened.
Jesus had told them THIS would happen!!
Christ will die, Christ WILL RISE, Christ will come again
Perhaps it’s a bit like when my wife, Fiona was pregnant for the first time and various dads offered this ‘dad to be’ advice about babies and fatherhood and nappies and i listened and i heard but i didn’t really hear, i couldn’t really hear. You can never be prepared for all that. I still couldn’t get my head around the fact that there really were twin babies growing inside Fiona who would one day be in our arms and in the world - let alone taking nappies on board. I heard but i didn’t really hear
Is that what it was like with the disciples? they believed in Jesus, they had followed him, they had listened to him. But the words about his resurrection had not really …entered them; had not captured them, had not affected their hearts and their hopes. The words.. they had heard them but they hadn’t actually heard them. The words didn’t change their lives.
And It’s only when the shining angels graciously visit the perplexed women and say, “What are you doing here looking for Jesus? He told you he’s not gonna be here.” It’s only then that they begin to re-member - put together - his words.
I wonder if it’s the same for us when it comes to Easter?
[Some of us struggle to believe this stuff at all and i’ll come to that in a moment]
But many of us do believe in Jesus, we have followed him, we have listened to him. And we’re told by God in his word again and again that Jesus suffered and died and then after 3 days he was raised from death to life. Christ has died, CHRIST is RISEN, Christ will come again. We remind ourselves sunday after sunday. BUT these words about his resurrection .. they haven’t really entered us; haven’t captured us, haven’t affected our hearts and our hopes. We’ve heard the words but we haven’t actually heard them. The words haven’t changed our lives. And we end up looking for the living among the dead and he is not there. HE IS RISEN
We need a shining angel, the Holy Spirit of God - to redirect us and open our eyes to the significance of what we are being told!
What about those of us who have real difficulty believing that these events could even have happened. dead men simply do not rise. it’s impossible. and therefore this text must be a fabrication presumably intended to promote a religion after it’s leader had died. it might have some universal themes but is not to be taken literally..
Well. look. I agree that dead men do not rise .. normally. But if there is a God who governs reality we cannot rule out the fact that God could raise a dead person.
Furthermore. If these texts as you suppose were fabrications written a generation after the events to promote Christianity then not only would it’s author not have had women going first to the tomb (women were not considered credible witnesses in the ancient world, as this story itself bears out); but also the author would surely have had the 11 disciples believing in the resurrection gospel at once, ready to be models of faith to lead the church into God’s future. The only real explanation for why these events are written in such a real way is the same explanation for why from this feeble few the church exploded across the roman world: something really happened. there really was a resurrection. Jesus Christ really is Alive.
And so what does it mean?
O spirit open our hearts to hear
Luke tells us that it was in the very early morning of the first day of the week that the stone was found to be rolled away and the body gone. In other words - Because of the resurrection of JC there is a new dawn, a new day, a new start, a new week, a new world.
the overturning of our greatest and most pervasive enemy - death.
When Adam - the father of humanity - sinned; when he pushed God aside - the consequence was death. Death came… to all : All Adam’s race (the human race) who sin just like him; and even to our planet - the earth was subjected to decay. Death. Death.
Until Good Friday when ‘Christ died for our sins.’
Astonishingly while we were the sinners, while we deserved our death penalty…
Christ died…. For our sins.
Like the little boy who with his magnifying glass on a sunny day concentrates all the suns rays into one laser beam of light that can incinerate dry grass or small creatures or his sister’s hair…
So when Jesus hung on that cross it was as if some cosmic magnifying glass redirected and concentrated all of the destructive consequences of our sins and all God’s holy anger against sin onto him - bringing him death for the wages of sin is death and there dying on his cross jesus paid off the debt of sin once for all time. And Sin and death were stripped of their power. And now here on the first Easter day we begin to see the results..
The day that death died. Like the first green shoot of spring forcing its way up through the frozen ground of an eternal winter. Like the golden light of the dawn ending the longest and darkest night. So Jesus bursts from the tomb of death. Not a ghost having entered some new mode of existence, no, notice the emphasis that Jesus’ body was gone. His body is raised. This is life returning to this world. Jesus - bodily alive and strong, complete forever. The resurrection marked the greatest turnaround in history. Death has lost its sting. Death has been swallowed up in victory. Death has been defeated!!!!
in another place in the NT the apostle Paul describes the risen Jesus as the firstfruits of those who have died
We are to Imagine a farmer toward the end of the growing season daily, anxiously looking over his crop. Watching the skies for sun and rain. His very life depends on the success of the crop. If it fails.. his family will die.
And then.. early one morning… the thing he’s been watching for: in one corner of the field which receives the first sunlight of the day tiny ears of corn have begun to form and appear in the stalks of the crop. The first fruits!! The first fruits means the whole crop is successful! He tears it out of the ground and runs home to his wife.. Just a tiny part of the crop but proof that a harvest will follow..
Jesus is not raised alone. His resurrection is the firstfruits - the guarantee of a great harvest of people raised from the dead. Jesus is like a needle, he has pierced through the great shroud of death to life on the other side and those who are joined to Jesus by faith, as the thread is connected to the needle, shall surely follow him through.
Christ is risen from the dead and we and all this broken world will follow.
1. We do not grieve as those who have no hope
Death. it’s horrible, it’s unnatural. Have you had a loved one close to you who has died? Do you fear your own death? Are you stuck in grief? Whether untimely or at ripe old age. Death is not the way the world is meant to be. To lose our lives. To lose the presence of a loved one is always agonizing..
But Easter says that death has ultimately been defeated. Where o death is your victory? Where O death is your sting. Jesus is RISEN from the grave.
Many people reach out to Jesus as death approaches and we should long for all to know him because Jesus says ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
ill. We’re going to live forever.
Do you hear this? Can you take it deep into your soul for yourself and your loved ones.
Through Christ death is now merely a gardener and we are the seeds .
We will be raised and united eternally bodily with our loved ones. We will embrace.
Our popular culture’s view of the afterlife is one, if any, of vague immateriality. Occasionally Harry Potter catches a glimpse of his deceased parents or Luke Skywalker glimpses a shimmering Obi Wan Kenobi. But these silent, transparent ghostly holograms what comfort do they provide - you can’t hug them. I want to hug. And the resurrection says - you will.
Jesus will wipe away every tear. he will reunite us on the day when death is no more.
In the face of defeated death we do not grieve as those who have no hope
We do not live as those who have no hope
If Christ is not raised from the dead then the Bible tells us (1 corinthians 15) we should eat and drink for tomorrow we die. If this is all there is then maximise your happiness now! What are you doing here?? See the world, realise your dreams. You only live ONCE. Make a list - a thousand things i need to do before I DIE.
The problem of course is we don’t even know how to live well with the one chance we have and time like sand is running through our fingers. If Christ is not raised from the dead we should eat and drink for tomorrow we die. But even this brief life does not go as we plan - i haven’t seen the world, i haven’t used my gifts, i haven’t realised my dreams…
But….. Christ has been raised from the dead. The tomb was empty. His Body was gone. His body was raised. The first fruits of the renewal of this world. This reality. The future is not some abstract ethereal heavenly existence. The future is this world restored forever. A new dawn, a new day, a new start a new ….CREATION.
And therefore - we do not despair
see, listen.. take it to heart
You don’t have to explore the world now
the world’s not going anywhere ..
You don’t have to realise all your dreams now
plenty of time to develop your gifts
You don’t have to maximise your happiness actually
You have an eternity when all things shall be made new
So how then should we live in the light of this glorious resurrection hope for this world?
Trust Jesus and tell people about him? Yes, absolutely.
But also, if the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ means that this world, every part of it that is good, has a future. Then everything matters. Everything
whether you eat or drink or whatever you do - work, play, rest, love, nurture, rebuke, study, create, comfort, learn, teach, pray, weep, laugh - whatever you do. do it all to the glory of God.
Do it all for others. cos you don’t have to cling to this life like it’s the only one you’ve got.
Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen! Just as he told you he would.