On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead” (Luke 24:1-5, NIV)?
Words like “conclusion” and “irreversible” enter my mind upon a person’s death. The gravity of death pulls us to think it is final. However, for Christians the grave is not final; it is more like the beginning. Jesus’ death was terminated with new life. “He is not here; he has risen” (Luke 24:6a). Jesus’ death was the beginning of new life for everyone who had followed and would follow him.
Hours after his death, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary (Luke 24:10) went to the place where Jesus was buried. What do you suppose they were expecting? They expected see his body lying still, grayish, cold, wounded, and without life. They were not happy. Death drains joy from the living; there is no hiding that. Neither euphemizing death as some generic passing nor renaming the funeral service that commemorates it as some generic celebration of life does not fix death’s joyless and cold sting. Death is hell, and Jesus’ mother and her friends were experiencing it. That is, until they stumbled upon evidence of life permeating Jesus’ former grave.
Nothing brightens a day like life. Holding a new baby automatically makes me smile. Also, the joy that comes when God saves a sinner is unavoidable. The church rejoices in new life and new salvation!
In the same way, the mourning women who expected to embalm Jesus’ body were jolted with joy upon hearing this question, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Like in any mystery their curiosity was overwhelming, Jesus’ body was gone. They probably figured someone stole his body. After all, that was the logical conclusion, but then they heard that question:
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” The Son of Man, Jesus, is alive. Death could not hold him. Just as he taught his disciples, so it was (Luke 24:6-9). Joy crowds out the darkness of hell with this question.
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” There is hope for every Christian. We who are in Christ will not die forever, just as Jesus didn’t die forever. We will be resurrected, just as Jesus was resurrected. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25).
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Stop thinking that death is the conclusion. In Christ, death is reversed. For just as Jesus arose from the ashes of death, so does the church at his return.
And when he returns, perhaps it will be asked of those who look for us at our graves, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”