Sunday, April 24, 2011

Living Among the Dead

Sometimes as I read the Gospel accounts, I admit I get a little jealous of the disciples who got to see Jesus face to face.  While Jesus was on earth, the disciples were able to sit next to Him, eat with Him, and just listen to His voice.  Jesus personally invested in these disciples by teaching the principles, power, and promises of the kingdom.  Although they personally were able to be near the Lord, they didn’t always understand what He was teaching.   As they grew in the Lord or circumstances arose, the Spirit would give them understanding as they remembered His words.  So, this should be reassuring for us, we will not always understand what God is doing but He will reveal it at the right time.
     Remember the disciples walked closely with Jesus, so their hearts are very troubled about His death.  The disciples were expecting Jesus to establish a kingdom on earth, instead He is dead.  It seemed all of their hopes are dashed as His body enters the tomb.  Anyone who’s experienced a death of a loved one understands the torment of the heart, it’s very difficult.   Nothing can comfort the heart, the relationship is severed by death, yet death lost its sting. 
     Besides the disciples, Jesus had some devoted women who followed Him.  The first day of the week, early in the morning, some beloved followers of Christ come to preserve His body.  As their heavy hearts come to show their devotion, something tragic has happened, the stone is moved from the tomb.  As they enter the tomb, the body of Christ is gone.  These women are completely bewildered, as they ponder over it, two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  Who are these people?  Why are they here?  In their fright, these women fall prostrate to the ground before these men.  The men speak a profound statement, “Why do you look for the LIVING AMONG THE DEAD?  He is not here; he has risen! REMEMBER how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”  Then they remembered his words. 
     Sometimes life can bring difficult circumstances in our lives, we will question if God really spoke it.  We had a personal encounter with God who assured us of His promise but life seems too hard.  Although God is in control, His promise seems so far from us.  Right now, we are barely holding on with our simple and small faith.  It can seem we need the same reminder as these women, “Why are you looking for the LIVING among the dead?  The power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ doesn’t just complete our salvation; it brings a hope for all mankind.  He is alive!  Although the tomb of life has been closed, Jesus appears to bring hope-the stone is rolled away.  No matter how dark, dangerous, or powerful the circumstances, Jesus defeated it.   The powers of Hell, death, and the grave lost the moment Jesus arose.  Our beloved Savior conquered it all for us; our salvation is complete through the death and resurrection of Christ.
Do you understand absolutely nothing can separate you from His love?  Nothing can separate you, even your circumstances.  As the story unfolds in Luke 24:1-12, these devoted women get to preach the very first message of the resurrection.  It wasn’t the disciples who preached the first message, it was the women.  As these women share the story with the disciples, they don’t understand or believe the women are talking nonsense.  Instead of discussing it, Peter runs to the tomb.  As he arrives to the tomb, the story is true-just as the women said.  Peter walks away completely wondering what happened, he doesn’t understand.   
     Will we always understand God’s ways?  No, we will not but we have to trust Him.  What these precious followers don’t understand, Jesus is in their midst, He is walking beside them.  As two men walk on the road of Emmaus, Jesus appears to uplift and teach them.  As He breaks bread with them, their eyes are opened to the truth-He is alive.  Jesus will not leave you in the heart of despair; He will uplift and teach your heart because He is alive.  So, quit looking at the death (your circumstances) and look to the living, Jesus Christ who is in our midst.