“Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” The angels’ question to the perplexed women at the empty tomb haunts me. It’s been lodged like a wedge in the wheel of my thoughts all night. And in some way, is it not the question that haunts all our days and nights? The problem of a lifetime? The problem with the world? Isn’t looking for life in all the wrong places the very wedge between the world and its God?
The sleepy women at the garden tomb perhaps had a simpler answer for the angels though. They made their way there on that first Easter morning because it was the last place they had seen Jesus. By the time His body had been laid there, sundown had come, and the Sabbath was dawning. They had run out of time and were forced to rest and wait an entire day. Now, with burial spices and perfumes in hand, they were returning to the last place they had seen their Lord.
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They went in but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground. “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. “He is not here, but he has risen! Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, saying, ‘It is necessary that the Son of Man be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’?” And they remembered his words.Luke 24:1-8 (CSB)
But the angels had another wonderful word for the women that morning. There is a second, perhaps truer, reason these women were looking in the wrong place. The two men in dazzling clothes told them to “remember.” Well rested after the Sabbath and duly prepared with their aromatic spices, these women were nevertheless forgetful. They had forgotten the words of Jesus about His betrayal, His crucifixion, and His resurrection.
And I wonder, does forgetfulness also play a role in my own vain pursuits? I have to admit that I too have looked for life in things that only lead to death. I have looked for God and His promise and provision in dead end relationships and enslaving patterns of self-destruction. Other times I may linger too long in the last place I caught a glimpse of goodness or truth or beauty, forgetting that those shadows are only meant to remind me of all that I have failed to remember and drive me to the One who is the Giver of all good gifts, the One who is Truth Himself. Instead, I poke around in places that can never deliver on their lively promises, assured all the while by my cunning enemy that I will surely not die. But little by little, something inside me does die as I dig deeper into his death traps. Until I finally remember.
I am in good company today with the forgetful women at the tomb. I need the words of the angels to reverberate in every hollow of my heart too: “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?…Remember!” Remember that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, that He is my life. Remember that Jesus is the Living Water and the Bread of Life that can revive my parched and starving soul. Today I will remember that Jesus is risen. He sits at the right hand of God, holding the precious gift of true life for all who will seek it in Him. Today I will remember where life is truly found and look for it there — “hidden with Christ in God”.
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.Colossians 3:1-4 (CSB)