Looking for the living among the dead?

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection
Luke 24:1-12
On the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. . . “


Why do you look for the living among the dead?

Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
This joyous Easter greeting rings out around the world ever since the women found the empty tomb at early dawn on the first day of the week after the Crucifixion. These were the women who took care of Jesus while he lived. Now, they were prepared to take care of him in his death. When they arrived at the tomb, they were taken aback. The stone was rolled away, and instead of the dead body of their Lord, they were confronted by two men in dazzling clothes asking, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

In my line of work, I generally caution people to avoid “Why Questions.” First, they are a waste of time. Just get to the point. Worse yet, they are triggers for lies, excuses, and a host of assorted other defensive retorts that instantly sabotage communication. At some level, the recipient of the dreaded Why Question knows that there will be no answer to satisfy the critical asker. “Why isn’t your room clean?!?” hmm Now what can that careless adolescent say that will satisfy a frustrated parent? Obviously, nothing!

The two men in dazzling clothing, however, were brave souls. They asked a Why Question that was never intended for the women to answer. They knew the women had witnessed the lifeless body of Christ taken down from the cross, the blood and water flowing from his riven side. They saw him laid in that very tomb where they now stood, terrified, with their faces bowed to the ground. The angels knew exactly why the women were there. So as not to waste time, they quickly answered their own question. “Jesus is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”

There were no more Why Questions at that point. The angels simply sent the women away from the house of the dead to the world of the living, to spread the news of Life. Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia! And that is what the women did, no questions asked.

As we begin the 50 days of Easter Season, I still hear the angels’ question, “Why do you look for living among the dead?” Their words must be as relevant today as they were on that Resurrection Day. Obviously, God still sees us grubbing about in the dead, attempting to find life. When does that happen? Is it when we spend an exorbitant amount of time revisiting old dead hurts, resentments, and grudges? Do we love to stir the pot of unjust slights and insults? Do we replay over and over in our mind some revenge we could justify with our righteous anger? Or even worse, do we burden others with our simmering resentments, as we enlist allies for our vendetta? Do we live out our life as the angry victim, justifying bitterness and hostility, puffing ourselves up with negative energy? Are we seduced into thinking this is life? That anything good will ever be realized from such dead end behaviors? If so, the angels will ask their Why Question again and again, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

Give careful thought to your answer. Trust me. I doubt that any excuse or defensive justification will satisfy them.

Remember, the angels did not send the women out to launch a PR assault on the unjust torture and crucifixion of Jesus. They were not asked to organize a war of revenge. No. They were sent to the living with the good news of a Life energized by repentance and forgiveness. Days later, disciples were brought before a concerned and angry Jewish council accusing them of putting the blood of Jesus on their heads. Like the women, Peter carried the clear message that God had raised up Jesus as Leader and Savior, not to organize a vengeful rebellion, but to offer Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. The open arms of Jesus on the cross was not an act of rejection and estrangement. It was an embrace.

In some ways the Season of Easter is much like the Season of Epiphany. Both are seasons of discovery. Epiphany invited us to take in the identity of Jesus, recognizing the signs and symbols of his kingship. Easter invites us to take in his resurrection, to recognize it historically and personally. Easter tells us, for the sake of our spiritual life, it is time to walk away from the tomb. Listen to the angels when they tell us that we will not find life among the dead where reside the very things that would be the death of our soul.

It’s a new day, a Resurrection day, a glorious day for a walk, don’t you think? We should be able to catch up with those women if we hurry. They do have a bit of a head start on us, but I can hear their lively voices even now, singing a song of resurrection all about love and repentance, life and forgiveness. Listen. I think they are starting the chorus. “Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia, Alleluia!”

Let’s go! Hurry!

And don’t waste time asking why!


4 thoughts on “Looking for the living among the dead?”

  1. This message was brilliant and inspiring to me. I am guilty of revisiting “Why” questions. Yes, it is a waste of precious time. I truly received a blessing from the message of the three women who came to the tomb to find Jesus was risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia! We can enjoy today because we have Him as our Lord and Savior.

  2. Curious children, adults and scientists ask why as we are most likely trying to understand cause and effect relationships. However, sometimes we seem to use the why question to make sense of an action on the part of ourselves or others that has no logical or rational answer that we can understand at the time…or perhaps any time. We just must trust God….some of us doubting Thomases have problems. Thank you Carol for the message…

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