Sunday, April 12, 2020

Why do you seek the living among the dead?

It's Easter morning, the day we remember our risen Savior, Jesus! For as long as I can remember I have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus with my family and my extended church family. Usually, in the English-speaking church, you'll hear this exchange: He is Risen—He is Risen Indeed! But this year, a different phrase stands out to me. It's a phrase spoken by the angels at the empty tomb as recorded in the book of Luke:
Why do you seek the living among the dead?

What a question! From the angels' point of view, did it seem ridiculous that his disciples would come looking for the living Jesus in a tomb? Why would they show up to mourn at his burial place when they could be experiencing life with a living, breathing person? After all, didn't Jesus tell them that he would be raised on the third day?

Of course, we have to give the disciples some credit. Jesus' teachings were sometimes hard to understand. At times He spoke plainly, and at other times He used figurative language. Not to mention, they had watched Jesus die and people don't walk out of the grave every day! I can understand how the disciples could have expected to find Jesus' body in the tomb that morning.

But it struck me this morning that people still look for Jesus among the dead. Non-believers view him as just another Jewish teacher, known only by words recorded in ancient books. But even in the church, we don't always act like Jesus is alive. We read about Him in the Bible and in countless books that men have written about Him. We discuss and argue about theology and Christology, in the same way that would debate politics or economic policy. We study his life, and sometimes ask, "What would Jesus do?" In many ways, we treat Jesus as any other person who is dead and buried. But somewhere—and I don't fully understand it—Jesus really and truly exists in resurrected bodily form! Why do we look for Him among the dead when He is found among the living?!

I don't mean to say that the Bible is unimportant; it is the primary way that we learn about Jesus. And I'm not advocating or elevating mystical experiences above the written Word of God. Not at all! But we have to remember this: Jesus not only was alive; He is alive! That is to say, He didn't go back to being dead, or become a "spirit being" after His ascension. As I understand the Bible, Jesus continues to exist in a glorified bodily form. Do I fully grasp that? No; I don't know how to fully explain it. But if I truly believe that Jesus is alive, continuing to work behind the scenes until the day that He returns, it completely changes the way I relate to Him.

Would I close myself off from my wife and kids, reminiscing about days gone by and looking at old photos, when I could continue to live life with them right now? So why would I do that with Jesus? This Easter I'm praying that the Lord would breath new life into my relationship with Him, and that I would really live in light of the fact that He is alive!

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