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Look For The Living

On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they 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. - Luke 24:1-5

Why do you look for the living among the dead?

I feel defensive on behalf of the women of Easter when I read this.

They had summoned great courage and resolve to come that morning, and they were there to offer a profound act of service and love in anointing Jesus’ body. The strangers in dazzling clothes who appear before them don’t acknowledge this, but seem to chastise them for being foolish. That bothers me.

I do want to take their question seriously, though. Why do you look for the living among the dead? Do I ever look for the living among the dead? Do I look for life where I ought to know that no life is to be found?

I know that I do. The things I’ve bought and consumed that I allowed myself to think would bring contentment; the precious resources of time and attention that I’ve dedicated to earning others’ approval; the hatred I’ve nursed that I desperately wanted to believe was redemptive. Yes, sometimes I look for life among the dead.

But that’s my folly. The women at the tomb on Easter were not foolish, they were not making some naïve mistake looking for Jesus in the tomb.

They didn’t look for the living among the dead, because they didn’t know he was living. Nobody goes to a grave to look for a loved one walking out of a tomb.

The visitors point out that Jesus had indeed prophesied he would be raised on the third day – “Remember when he said that the Son of Man must be handed over and crucified and rise again…”

Point taken, but absolutely nobody heeded those words. Even the disciples who witnessed the many miracles Jesus performed did not believe he would be alive among them on Sunday, after what had happened Friday.

That is the gift and the supreme challenge of Easter. The cross is true, it must be believed. Resurrection is also true.

You don’t expect it. You see the stone rolled away and you think you must have come to the wrong tomb. You look for any explanation for why the savior could be missing, to avoid the thought he might be alive. Is it because entertaining hope is too painful, since it’s likely to be dashed? I don’t know. But you come looking for the dead among the dead.

Easter says, look for the living. Because the dead are raised, against every expectation.

Families are restored after vicious discord. Justice does burst into bloom, amidst desolate societies. Wayward ones do arise after crippling addiction. Wars that claim to be eternal are brought to their end.

Pain and death are real. Hope is terrifying. Resurrection is true.

Happy Easter, friends. Look for the living.

Pastor Rob Leveridge

The Table meets for worship every Sunday at 11am, at 1435 W 14th St. in Davenport, IA.

On Easter Sunday, April 9, 2023, our worship will be outdoors at Emeis Park on West Locust Street, in Davenport, at 11am.

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