“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.’ And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.” Luke 24:1-12
Current circumstances do not change this reality. The Gospel is still the Gospel. Diseases and distances do not nullify truth. We, as believers in Christ, celebrate the resurrection in Jesus Christ as we always do at this time of year. We wish we could be together in person this upcoming Lord’s Day, but our disappointments do not change the truth.
I have been pondering the words of the angels in this passage for several day now. “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen…”
As we seek to celebrate what Jesus has done for us by offering himself once for all, I have some thoughts that may keep us from seeking the living among the dead. Sometimes our attention is focused on the wrong things and we need to remember what is true, just like the disciples needed to be reminded of Jesus’ words that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.
First--Focus on lifeand not on death. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” John 11:25-26.
I find that the more I listen to the news the more anxious I get. The more I turn it off the more peaceful I am. This is not a call to abandon all contact with the outside world, but after a while hearing the number of deaths and making death the focus turns us away from the message of life. We are those who believe that we shall never die. Physical death will come to us all but because of Christ we are optimistic, and we rejoice that we shall live eternally with Christ.
Second – Live by faithand not by sight. “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-8
So much of our society has become visual and we tend to live by sight and not by faith. When Thomas wanted to see Christ for himself Jesus told him blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. Watch out for too much dependence upon visual technology. Sometimes we need to put down our phones or turn of the TV and open a physical copy of the Word of God. At this time of year when there are many options for television programs regarding Christ, avoid those that seek to show physical representations of Jesus or attempt to act out Scripture. For various reasons. We know that the second commandment forbids any physical images of God and Christ is God in the flesh, but beyond that the ninth commandment about not bearing false witness against your neighbor applies to every movie or television show that depicts Scripture because the directors and actors take artistic license with what they think is accurate and end up creating things that are not truthful or accurate. Or speculations as an attempt to make a better visual story. More bad theology comes from TV programs and movies based on the Bible than any good that can come from it. The end does not justify the means. Spend your time reading the gospel accounts of the death, burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ this week in your Bible.
Third – Be thankfulinstead of resentful. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15.
I know we would all love to be together in one place celebrating Easter this weekend. I know we would love our normal traditions and activities with family and friends. We don’t want this to be the new normal. We long for what used to be. But in that we have to be careful that we do not resent and become bitter. We can be discouraged as things are cancelled and as this continues on but let us also be reminded to shift our focus to being thankful. As we celebrate Easter, we do have a lot to be thankful for.
I never thought I’d have to get up to speed so quickly on a lot of various technology platforms, but I am grateful for the avenues we do have to stay connected. I hope you are able to use the live streams on Sunday to participate as you are able at home. I hope that our efforts at remote prayer meeting and Sunday School can be edifying. It is not the same and we all hope for a return to normal soon. But in the meantime, I hope it does give you some peace and also a thankful heart.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18