When someone dies we put them in a casket and bury them in a graveyard. Or perhaps we cremate them and put their ashes in an urn. But we know where to look for the dead – we look for the dead in cemeteries and mausoleums or urns. We look for the dead among the dead. We grieve their loss; we celebrate their memories. But we quit looking for the dead among the living.
Death is final. Death is an ending. Death invokes sadness. Death frightens. Death ends life.
This is how the followers of Jesus felt on that Sunday long ago after Jesus’ death on a cross. Until they came to place where the dead reside, then everything changed. They came with sadness and grief; they came with spices for burial. They came with heartache and disappointment. They came with unfulfilled desires and unanswered questions. They came to the place where the dead rest expecting to find nothing but the dead. Until they came to an empty tomb.
They had no way to perceive it, except to imagine someone had stolen the body. It must have been an external force that moved him. There was no other possible explanation. The dead do not rise and move on their own. All you find among the dead is the dead; you find no life in the dead.
But the angel had an explanation for the empty tomb that no human could have imagined, no follower could have hoped for. The angel said to the women at the tomb, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”
And with that one question, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” everything changed. The Living. The world changed. Our fate changed. Hope was born anew. Victory over sin was available. Death, the ultimate human problem that owns us all, was conquered. Heaven was opened to sinners like us. Hell’s gates were dismantled and Hell’s captives were liberated. Life was possible, even for those hopelessly bound to die.
With that one question it became clear. Jesus’ death was not an ending, but a new beginning. Jesus’ life was not his alone, but available to all who believe in Him. Jesus’ victory was the victory of the ages. Death that had bound the human condition since the beginning was now under his feet. Death was overcome by the Living One. Sin which had caused death to enter the world was purged by blood. And death had no more power over the purges ones. Pleasing God was no longer a hopeless endeavor of failed human effort, but a gift to be received from a loving Savior who conquered sin and death.
With that one question, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? everything changed. Humanity was unshackled. Satan’s death grip on the human soul was broken. Darkness was defeated. Light had entered the world. Life was available to all. Love overwhelmed hate with the glorious victory of the ultimate sacrifice.
One question: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” One final blow to all that went wrong when sin entered the world. One ultimate hope to all who believe. We will never look for Him among the dead again. He has risen. He is the Living One.