Luke 24: 1-12
The Reverend Tasha Blackburn
March 27, 2016
Why do you look for the Living among the Dead?
An empty tomb doesn’t offer us much. Only loss, mistake, missing, and trick. That’s what the women thought, there with their faces in the dirt. It doesn’t offer us much either…A grave without a body is still a grave; a dead end.
So why do we keep ending up there? Why do we live with our faces in the dirt focused on loss, mistake, missing, and trick? Those things never brought anyone to faith. They never changed an average life to abundant life. An empty tomb doesn’t offer us much. That is nothing to proclaim on Easter.
Peter’s life wasn’t changed by it. Nor was Thomas’ or Mary’s. In fact, neither has the life of anyone else: from Paul to today. What changed their lives was meeting the risen Christ. Was encountering a Living Lord.
We won’t find the Living One in the tomb. We will find him in Galilee, which is ministry and healing and teaching and feeding. Loss, mistake, missing and trick will never show us our Living Christ. So lift your face out of its dirt and stand up. Christ is risen. He is alive!…
We learn nothing through an empty tomb. No one’s faith is deepened by an empty tomb. No one moves from darkness to light because of an empty tomb. An empty tomb means nothing. It is just empty. A body is missing. A heist has been accomplished. A magician’s sleight of hand has taken place right under your eye: surprising perhaps and even impressive; but not life-changing.
What is life changing is not that the tomb is empty, but that Jesus is risen.
Perhaps these sound like the same things but they are not. Jesus is risen means he is not missing; he is not nowhere to be found. He is alive and is working. He is visible to the women and to the disciples very soon on this Easter morning and, even more than that, even when he returns to heaven, he is still alive. He is still working. (He turns a frightened and defeated fringe group into courageous apostles); He is still turning lives around and changing people’s hearts today. That is how our faith is deepened and how new faith is formed. That is the miraculous work of this day: that he is a Living Savior, a Living Lord.
What changes our lives is that Jesus is alive and he lives even now. It is what we believe. It is what all of our faith and trust hangs upon. It is what we look toward and aspire to and say we hold to be truth, not only for our own personal lives but for the whole world. We carry the mantle of being witnesses to that resurrection and to his continued Life among us.
So why do we continue to look among the dead and wonder why we don’t see him there?
[Resurrection, after all, is not some buoyant ideal, unconnected to the real world. It is an invitation to live as Jesus lived, a doorway to a life in which meals are shared with enemies, healing is offered to the hopeless, prophetic challenges are issued to the powerful.]
Women are terrified but no reassurance is given by the messengers (which is almost standard: be not afraid). Instead they deliver this Easter announcement to the top of their cowed heads.
How often do we spend Easter looking for Jesus in the wrong places?
He is not in the tomb any longer? Quit looking for him there. What are our tombs?
We base our faith on the presence of a risen Lord in human experience. It is the personal encounter with the risen Lord that leads to faith.
Our “why?” should move to the admonishment to “remember”. In the “remember” we are reminded that we should know better. He told us in Galilee all that would happen.
Remembering is often the activating of the power of recognition. For faith does not usually move from promise to fulfillment but from fulfillment to promise. Amen