EASTER SUNDAY 2020
WHY SEEK THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD? Luke 24:5
This was the question the two angels asked the women who came to the tomb early on that Sunday morning, bearing spices; spices they had prepared for the dead. It had been three days and three nights since these women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger, Joses mother of James and John and Salome last saw Jesus, dead, upon the cross. There was the shock of seeing the massive stone rolled away, followed by their perplexity that the body of Jesus was missing. Then, the added fear of seeing these two magnificent shinning angels standing alongside of them. Then, the question – “Why seek ye the living among the dead?” The women were in absolute perplexity and fear and they bowed their faces to the earth. But through the fog of their understanding the angels’ words shone through. “He is not here, but is risen!” And as they grappled with these words the angels reminded them of what Jesus had said. “The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And suddenly, they remembered! The living words of Jesus flooded their minds and hearts with hope.
“Why seek ye the living among the dead?” Our society can identify intimately with these women. We visit the grave sites of our past loved ones, and though we rarely bring spices, we leave flowers or burn candles, or leave teddy bears. There is nothing wrong with these activities for they are performed to honour and remember those who have passed on. It can be taken too far sometimes however. A cross-section of our society burn candles and incense and actually pray to their dead. Why seek ye the living among the dead? What do they pray for; what do they ask? We circle about a table, holding hands, to seek answers from the “dead spirits.” We seek answers in the “reading” of our palms, our tea leaves. We dabble with Ouija boards and tarot cards. Why do we seek the living among the dead?
The false religion of evolutionary theology has seeped into every aspect of life. They ruminate and rummage through the dust of the earth, seeking answers to life in the long dead bones of the past. They dig up graves seeking the living among the dead. And the irony of it all is that the truth screams out at them but it is quickly cast aside as fanciful and ignored and they continue to dig. Jesus said it well, “Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like white sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” We become what we worship.
Every scribe, prophet, cleric, priest, guru all lie dead. Every philosopher, sage, politician and dictator likewise lie dead. Every millionaire, billionaire, Hollywoodite, socialite, athlete, talk-show host or social influencer will all too soon lie dead. Why do we seek the living among the dead?
There is only One. Only The One, who was dead for a moment and is now alive forevermore, Jesus. Revelation 1:8, “I am alpha and omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, which is, which was, and which is to come, The Almighty.”
Only One who is called, “The resurrection and the life.”
Only One who is called, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
His grave is empty! All others are filled.
Revelation 1:18, “I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”
There is only this One, Jesus, who has the keys to unlock graves. Philosophy can’t, theology can’t, Presidents can’t, nor can dictators nor sages, nor priests nor Popes. Only One, Jesus.
Only the word shouted from His mouth has the authority to open graves – No proclamation, no decree, no written declaration has such authority.
Jesus demonstrated His authority over death and the grave when he shouted out to dead Lazarus, “Lazarus come forth!”
And he who had been dead four days walked in newness of life. Four days or four thousand years it matters not to Him. His word, His authority, His power arcs from the beginning to the end of time. “I am alpha and omega, the beginning and the ending . . .”
And those of us who belong to Him will hear that shout again. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of god: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with the, in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Hebrews 1:3 reminds us, [that He], “upholds all things by the word of His power . . . “
There is only one voice to whom the dead have their ears attuned. They are not listening to us. If even the dead await His voice, should we the living not follow suit?
Resurrection is not just some unfounded hope. Nor is it the opium of the masses as Karl Marx would have us believe. It is a living reality. Listen to what Scripture has to say on the subject. 1 Cor. 15:12-23
12 “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”
Here, Paul gives his account not only of the absolute necessity for resurrection but also the absolute certainty of resurrection. Remember he met the risen Lord on his way to Damascus. He not only saw and conversed with the risen Lord there but was later instructed first hand by the Lord for several years before embarking on his mission to the Gentiles.
Hundreds of others also were witnesses of the resurrected Christ. Every Apostle, save John, suffered painful and agonizing execution. No one suffers such a death for something they know to be false. They all refused to deny the reality of the resurrection of Jesus.
In the above passage Christ is mentioned as the firstfruits of the resurrection. What does this mean? During a season of harvest there are four stages to the process. The first gathering of the fruits to ripen first is termed firstfruits. These are the tastiest and best of the harvest. This is the picture of Jesus, the best of the best. He underwent resurrection first before anyone else. Others were resurrected in scripture before Jesus but they died again. Jesus was the first to be resurrected never to die again. Also, Jesus rose on the first day of the Hebrew festival of Firstfruits, the 18th of the month of Nisan, the Sunday morning. The second stage of a harvest is the main harvest. This is followed by the harvest of the gleanings, and finally the gathering or harvest of the tares.
So, Jesus the firstfruits of the harvest. Followed by the main harvest of those who belong to Him, both living and dead at His coming. Then, those who entered into the Millennium Kingdom in their mortal bodies who need to commit themselves to Christ and receive their resurrected bodies are the gleanings of the harvest. Finally, the last phase of a harvest involves the collection of the Tares that are gathered and cast into the fire. This represents the Christ rejecting individuals.
Here is our hope.
- Romans 6:5 – “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we will be also in the likeness of His resurrection.” As we identify with Christ’s death and burial, we will also be identified with His resurrection. We identify with His death and burial by making a personal declaration that Jesus is indeed our Saviour. We thank Him for dying in our place; for being our substitute for sin. We ask Him to come and live in us. We then can be certain that we will now be identified with His resurrection.
- Philippians 3:10-11 – [understanding that I have no righteousness of my own], “That I may know him, and power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” We have no righteousness to save ourselves from our due desserts. We depend solely upon His finished work. We identify with His sufferings and die to self and to this world system and thereby gain eternal life through resurrection.
- 1 Peter 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The passage continues to tell us that we are now entitled to an inheritance which cannot decay and that we will be kept by the power of God through faith. A new resurrected body, beyond decay kept in this state by the power of God.
- Revelation 20:6 – “Blessed and holy is the one that has part in the first resurrection: on such a one the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with him a thousand years.” This first resurrection as stated here refers to the resurrection of all those who have put their trust in Jesus. The future is secure and blessed. I will save comment on the rest of the verse for a later time.
HE IS RISEN!
HE IS RISEN INDEED!
“Unto you that fear my name will the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings . . .” Malachi 4:2.
Resurrection is central to all that we believe. It is the defining truth, as He is the Truth. It is our fundamental reality and hope. And, it is not just a New Testament addendum. Listen to this Jewish prayer known as the Amidah. (Translation of the Weekday Amidah) (From Israel My Glory March/April 2020, page 33.)
“You are mighty forever, my L-rd; You resurrect the dead; You are powerful to save. . . He sustains the living with loving kindness, resurrects the dead with great mercy, supports the falling, heals the sick, releases the bound, and fulfills His trust to those who sleep in the dust. Who is like You, mighty One! And who can be compared to You, King, who brings death and restores life, and causes deliverance to spring forth!”
In Job 19:25-26 we also read, “For I know that my Redeemer lives and that he will stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh will I see God: Whom I will see for myself, and mine eyes will behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”
Job is the oldest book in the Bible. And right here at the very beginning we have resurrection belief. Through thousands of years the body of Job would lie in wait for that Voice, the voice of his Redeemer. And ‘IN HIS FLESH, Job will stand before Jesus, our Redeemer, and see Him with his own eyes. He won’t have to take someone else’s word for it but he will see for himself the goodness and mercy of our risen Lord.
And we can rejoice and look ahead to that time. The prophet Daniel had many unanswered questions. The Lord’s reply to his faithful prophet was, “But go thou thy way [Daniel], till the end be: for you will rest, and stand in your lot at the end of the days.”
We have been promised that we who call Him Saviour, will stand in that day. Stand in new resurrected bodies, likened unto His own. And all pain, and fear, and loneliness will vanish. All deception and untruth will crumble to nothingness. His word will stand, as we stand in His word. He is Faithful and True. As He lives so will you. HE IS RISEN; HE IS RISEN INDEED.
Listen and watch Don Francisco – He’s Alive – you tube. Words below.
The gates and doors were barred and all the windows fastened down,
I spent the night in sleeplessness and rose at every sound,
Half in hopeless sorrow half in fear the day,
Would find the soldiers crashing through to drag us all away.
Then just before the sunrise I heard something at the wall,
The gate began to rattle and a voice began to call,
I hurried to the window and looked down to the street,
Expecting swords and torches and the sound of soldiers feet,
There was no one there but Mary so I went down to let her in,
John stood there beside me as she told us were she’d been,
She said they moved him in the night and none of us knows where,
The stones been rolled away and now his body isn’t there.
We both ran toward the garden then John ran on ahead,
We found the stone and the empty tomb just the way that Mary said,
But the winding sheet they wrapped him in was just an empty shell,
And how or where they’d taken him was more than I could tell.
Something strange had happened there but what I did not know,
John believed a miracle but I just turned to go,
Circumstance and speculation couldn’t lift me very high,
Cause I’d seen them crucify him and then I’d watched him die,
Back inside the house again all the guilt and anguish came,
Everything I’d promised him just added to my shame,
But at last it came to choices I denied I knew his name,
Even If he was alive it wouldn’t be the same.
But suddenly the air was filled with a strange and sweet perfume,
Light that came from everywhere drove shadows from the room,
Jesus stood before me with his arms held open wide,
And I fell down on my knees and clung to him and cried,
He raised me to my feet and as I looked into his eyes,
Love was shining out from him like sunlight from the sky,
Guilt and my confusion disappeared in sweet release,
And every fear I’d ever had just melted into peace.
He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive and I’m forgiven,
Heavens gates are open wide.
He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive and I’m forgiven,
Heavens gates are open wide.
He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive and I’m forgiven,
Heavens gates are open wide. He’s alive!