In Luke 24 a few of the women that had been following Jesus, including Mary Magdalene and Jesus’ mother, go on the morning after the Sabbath to embalm Jesus’ body using spices, as was the Jewish tradition in that time. They arrive to find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. As they stand and wonder what in the world happened (Did someone steal Jesus’ body? Why? Who would do such a thing?) Suddenly two angels show up on the scene and ask a very important but often overlooked question;
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
– Luke 24:6-7
After the angels ask them this question the women remember Jesus’ words about his resurrection and return to tell the disciples, with no little excitement, that Jesus was alive.
The question that the angels ask the women at Jesus’ tomb is a question God is asking you today. “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? Don’t you remember what Jesus told you?”
Why do you look for the living among the dead?
On a human level the women there at Jesus’ tomb had good reason to linger, search, and wonder what had happened. The situation made no sense and looked like the work of grave robbers desecrating their friend and son’s corpse. On a human level it was another thing to mourn.
We too often have an abundance of reasons to linger among the graves of our past failures, wounds, and struggles, mourning what we have or haven’t done and what has and hasn’t been done to us. For the man whose father never showed affection, the natural reaction is to let that shape expectations for rejection in the present. For the woman who has gone through failed relationship after failed relationship, it’s natural to look back on those gravestones and feel the overwhelming thought that she is the problem that can never be fixed.
But we serve a God who isn’t confined to a human level. He’s not satisfied with his people operating on a human level either, to the point where he will send two supernatural beings to rebuke the women at Jesus’ tomb for their lingering at the grave. Catch that – God is rebuking the women for lingering at their son, friend, and leader’s grave. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
These woman should have known better. We should know better. They’d been with Jesus for years now, heard him teach, seen him raise people from the dead, heal the deathly ill, walk on water, and so much more. We’ve been with Jesus for years now and have seen him transform lives, heal, restore, and faithfully shepherd us through every trial. Why do we linger among the graves? That’s not where Jesus is! He’s had a plan all along, in every trial and every darkest moment, it’s been according to plan. We just need to remember.
Remember how he told you
“He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’”
We, like the women at Jesus’ tomb, need to bring to mind the words that God has spoken to us. Jesus had explicitly told them multiple times that he was going to die and that he was going to rise again. Heck, he’d even given them the timeline (“on the third day…”). They shouldn’t have had to stand around in the graveyard pondering – they should have connected the dots and begun rejoicing!
Just as Jesus made promises to his disciples about his resurrection, God has made promises to each of his people about his plan for their lives. Remember, he said
- Everything will work out for your good. (Romans 8:28)
- He will provide for every need you have (Philippians 4:19)
- We will live eternally (John 10:27-28)
- He will be with us all the time (Matthew 28:20)
and so much more! Remember what he’s told you. When you find yourself lingering on failures, wounds, and struggles, call to mind what God has promised. We can, like Jesus, go with confidence into situations where we are rejected, abused, and even killed if we will remember.
When we remember what he’s told us it won’t be possible to search among the dead and the gravestones any more. In our excitement we’ll join the women of Luke 24, drop our burdens, and run to tell others the amazing news of what has happened.
Jesus has gone before us and purchased for us the fulfillment of every one of the Father’s promises to us. He’s spoken them over you and speaks them over you every moment of every day. Stop trying to find life among the dead. Leave that graveyard behind. Remember what he told you. Jesus has risen, and we shall indeed have life in him – life to the fullest. Leave the graveyard with joy and proclaim to all the good news of this glorious Gospel!