Why do you look for the living among the dead?

Easter Day – 2010

Luke 24:1-11

Marian Free

In the name of God who opens our eyes to a new reality in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Why do you seek the living among the dead?

C.S. Lewis, author of the much loved children’s books the Chronicles of Narnia, as well as numerous books on popular theology, was for much of his life a committed atheist. His journey to the Christian faith came about through a search for joy. He discovers in a round about way that his objectifying of joy makes it allusive and always beyond his reach, or at least, when he reaches it, it is not what he is looking for. “All his waitings and watchings for joy, all his vain hopes to find some mental content on which he could lay his finger and say: “this is it” had been a futile attempt.

Having lost any faith in his early teens, and having lost interest in Christianity, Lewis did not look for joy in faith. Faith catches him almost unawares, and when it does he stops looking, in part, because it has lost the importance he once attached to it.[1]

Why do you seek the living among the dead?

There are many who spend their lives searching because they are dissatisfied with the world as they know it. For many of them the search takes them on a wild goose chase which has little chance of bringing them the peace of mind which they seek. Their lives are littered with “if only’s”. If only I had a better job, if only my wife/husband understood me, if only my house were bigger, my children smarter, if only my parents had done this or that, if only my boss recognised my talents. The search never comes to a conclusion because they will never find satisfaction in external circumstances, but will only be happy and at peace if they can comes to terms with who and what they are. The search fails because they are looking for the wrong things in the wrong places.

Why do you seek the living among the dead?

Despite the fact that Jesus has spent three years with his closest friends they still have not understood what he is about. Despite Jesus’ teaching and example, they have not understood that he is opening the way to a new form of reality, that he is breaking down the barriers between heaven and earth and trying to establish a whole new way of being. His followers, limited by their human understanding do not comprehend when he challenges the earthly notions of power and competition and replaces them with service and mutuality. They have not fully grasped the implications of unconditional love and forgiveness. Jesus has tried to encourage them to live by different standards and be guided by different principles than those of this world. He lives and demonstrates kingdom values.

Why do you seek the living among the dead?

Worst of all Jesus’ disciples haven’t really grasped who he is and what his purpose is. To them the crucifixion is the end – not only of Jesus’ life but of all the hopes and dreams they had built around him. So on the day after the Sabbath, the women go to the tomb to anoint his lifeless body. He is dead and they are grief-stricken, confused and perhaps even disappointed, but they will still do what is necessary and say their last “good-byes”.

Despite all that Jesus has said and done, they expect to find him there in the tomb – the life drained out of him. He is not there. In fact, he was never going to be there. They are searching for the wrong thing, in the wrong place.

Why do you seek the living among the dead?

Having not understood in the first place, the women and, in turn the disciples, are still operating according to earthly values and expectations. It takes some time, and according to Luke, further explanation before they really grasp the full implication of all that has happened. The crucifixion did not represent the failure of Jesus’ mission and the resurrection confirmed and affirmed all that Jesus had said and done.

In his life, his death and now his resurrection, Jesus has opened the door to a new way of living, a new reality and a new way of seeing the world. He has exposed the limitations of human thinking and the frailty of human behaviour. Now the resurrection explodes all of our notions of what is real and challenges our narrow frames of reference – if death is not the end, then anything is possible. Most importantly, the resurrection breaks through the barrier between this world and the next making it possible for us to live both in this world and in the world to come, free from the strivings and disappointments of this existence.

Why do you seek the living among the dead?

The resurrection challenges us to consider where our true values lie, in what we place our hopes and what brings us true contentment. Do we seek happiness in material things or worldly success which are ultimately transitory and unsatisfying, or do we seek the deep peace and joy which come from a relationship with the living God? Are we looking for short term gains, or long term solutions to life’s complexities? Are we firmly rooted in this world, or are we already participating in the benefits of the next?

Jesus reveals to us a different way of being. He demonstrates that it is possible to live in a way which recognises that the barriers between heaven and earth have been broken down. He shows us what it is to live according to the values of the kingdom and through his crucifixion and resurrection; he shatters our fear of death.

Why seek the living among the dead, why strive for things which do not satisfy? The resurrection is guarantee of life – resurrection life in the future and resurrection life in the present – peace, joy and contentment. In Jesus the dead have been raised, and in him we find that we have all that we need.

[1] Surprised by Joy. 175.


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