“The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tombs and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.
On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James,and the other women with them who told this to the apostles (Luke 24:5-8).
Maybe we lose a person or a relationship, and the shock leaves us without capacity to imagine how we can move on. I’ve been there and done that, and in pain and loss I struggled with remembering how and when to breathe, leaving me gasping and panicked at odd moments.
We see how it is, the positions and circumstances left after devastation and work to deal with them the best we can.
Then even our sorrow betrays us. We prepare our spices and ointments and head out to deal with our grief by doing something, by showing our love, but we only find a dark and gaping hole when we arrive.
We were just beginning to cope and then the seemingly immovable moves, the ground gives way, and suddenly there is nothing we recognize, nothing we can touch or grasp. Someone or something has stolen all that we had left to hold on to.
Attack and pain gives us something to fight, something to do, even if the prospect is futile. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” is the cry of someone still in the fight, even if darkness is coming on fast (Mark 15:33-34).
When suffering leaves us with only God and a question for possessions we have the raw elements of hope.
But when Jesus moved away and left no forwarding address and turned out not to be who we thought he was, we are filled with confusion and bewilderment worse than pain because there is no one to fight and nothing left to wield in the fight. We are defeated by any measure of reality.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1) can sound so hollow in that moment, especially when uttered to us by a smiling messenger of positivity. A glib “Smile Jesus loves you” can cause the searing agony described by burn victims when their skinless flesh is touched.
“Divine intervention” is a concept made trite by the beneficiaries of found keys, empty parking spaces, successful job interviews, and tax refunds–worshipers of the trinity of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Lottery Board. Expectation and speculation are cheap, flimsy knock-offs of faith. They break under stress leaving sharp edges to cut us.
What really blows us away is when the glory of God suddenly blazes, not as an intervention to help us out or a reward for our achievement or virtue, but as an interruption to our rutted existence. The two men in dazzling clothes who ask the women, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead. He is not here, but has risen” are angels (John 20:12). God breaks in to our human reactions and disappointment with new light. We are so used to seeing things the way they’ve always been, when we see them in the disruptive light of resurrection, it will terrify and flatten us.
Light is the power that pulls the seed from the ground and turns the dormant branch of winter into the blossom of spring and the fruit of summer. Last year’s light can’t be preserved, reserved or retained. It is gone. The Jesus we knew, who taught us the words of life, was killed on the cross. We aren’t going back to the way it was. We are not going to embalm and preserve his body. We are not going to bring flowers to his tomb. It is insanity to keep looking for him where he is not.
This is the time when his word comes to life in memory and experience. Things have changed. Things will change. He said it would be so and after the cross, the glory of heaven is focused on illuminating the truth that Jesus is risen as the Christ and has gone before us.
It was the intention of the Father and the Son before the foundation of the world was laid that light would overcome darkness, his love always proves stronger than malice and hatred, where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, and life, not death, is proved to be the final word. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins . . . If for this life only, you have hoped in Christ, we are of all people, most to be pitied” ( 1 Cor 15:17, 19).
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” This question is the pivot on which the Christian hope turns. It speaks to the power that moved the stone from the tomb entrance. It carries word of the forgiveness that breaks the chains binding us to the past. It conveys the generous tenderness to soften hard and cynical hearts and shines the light to open up minds long closed and darkened. “To all who believe and accept Jesus as the Christ, he [by his death and resurrection] gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God” (John 1:12-13, NLT).
I hope I help you to glimpse the possibilities in the question, but by all means consider it for yourselves.
“O taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are those who take
refuge in him” (Ps 34:8).
Under the mercy of Christ,
Please note that the content and viewpoints of Mr. Hansen are his own and are not necessarily those of the C.S. Lewis Foundation. We have not edited his writing in any substantial way and have permission from him to post his content.
Kent Hansen is a Christian attorney, author and speaker. He practices corporate law and is the managing attorney of the firm of Clayson, Mann, Yaeger & Hansen in Corona, California. Kent also serves as the general counsel of Loma Linda University and Medical Center in Loma Linda, California.
Finding God’s grace revealed in the ordinary experiences of life, spiritual renewal in Christ and prayer are Kent’s passions. He has written two books, Grace at 30,000 Feet and Other Unexpected Placespublished by Review & Herald in 2002 and Cleansing Fire, Healing Streams: Experiencing God’s Love Through Prayer, published by Pacific Press in spring 2007. Many of his stories and essays about God’s encompassing love have been published in magazines and journals. Kent is often found on the hiking trails of the southern California mountains, following major league baseball, playing the piano or writing his weekly email devotional, “A Word of Grace for Your Monday” that is read by men and women from Alaska to Zimbabwe.