Why seek the living among the dead?

You may have heard about the man walking through his neighborhood one night when he saw a child inching along on his hands and knees beneath a streetlight. “What’s wrong, Jimmy? Did you lose something?” the man asked. “Yes,” whimpered Jimmy. “I dropped the dollar Mama gave me for ice cream.” Feeling sorry for the boy, the man got down on his hands and knees and started looking diligently for the missing money. After a few minutes, he said, “I’m sorry, Jimmy, but I don’t see your dollar anywhere. Are you sure this is where you lost it?” “No,” Jimmy replied. “I dropped it over there in the vacant lot.” “What?” the man said. “If you dropped it way over there, why are you looking for it here?” Jimmy pointed across the street and said, “It’s dark over there and I can’t see a thing! I can see a lot better here.”


It occurs to me that Jimmy was more theologically correct than he knew. The only way you can find what you lost in the darkness is to come to the light.


The angels on resurrection day had a different question for the two women who had come to anoint the dead body of their Savior: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Why look in the darkness for the One who is the light of the world?


I sometimes think it might be helpful to have an angel or two pop up in front of me once in a while and ask me the same kinds of questions. “Hey, Mark, why are you living as though your Savior were still dead?” “Hey, why are you rummaging around in the dark when the things you need can only be found in the light?” And, “Hey, why are you still carrying that?”


We do tend to live as though Jesus were still in his tomb, and we often carry burdens that we should have put down a long time ago. We forget — or fail to trust — that Jesus finished the entire work of our salvation, and we say or think things like, “Well, yeah, Jesus died for my sins — but now it’s up to me to live a life good enough to get into heaven.” That’s thinking as though Jesus is still dead.


Or, like the women who carried one hundred pounds of linens and spices to the tomb that morning, we struggle under heavy burdens and worry about things as though God expected us to handle life on our own. We say things like, “Pray as if everything depends on God, and work as if everything depends on you.” Wrong. We must pray. And we must work! But everything still depends on God. Otherwise, we live as though the One who conquered sin and death is not available, or not concerned, or not all-powerful. That’s living as though Jesus is still in the grave.


But Jesus is not dead. His grave is empty — there’s no reason to be looking for him there. And that’s why the angel’s question is such a good reminder to us — and a healthy rebuke when our faith needs to be directed once again to God’s promises. Let’s not live as though Jesus were dead; we have a risen Lord.


Truth cannot be sealed in a tomb … or in a life. It certainly was not with Jesus. May we worship him openly, with great passion and joy and delight. May we walk humbly with him, trusting him for every step and for help with every burden.


He is risen!


J. Mark Fox is the author of “A Faithful Man” and the pastor of Antioch Community Church on Power Line Road in Elon. You can Tweet him @jmarkfox and can find all of Mark’s books on Amazon or other online sellers. Email Mark at markfox@antiochchurch.cc