April 11, 2004: Why Do You Look For The Living Among The Dead?

Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, today we thank You for taking back Your life, for in so doing, You took back our lives, too. Because You have arisen from the grave and turned death into life, we have life, light, joy, peace, thankfulness, and our hearts and mouths are full of praise. Lord, we have chosen to honor You this day with our presence. But, more importantly, You have chosen to honor us with Your living presence today and every day! May we embrace that truth to our graves—and beyond into living glory! Amen

TEXT: Luke 24: 5: “In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’”

Fellow Redeemed Sinners Made Alive By the Resurrected Christ:
WHY DO YOU LOOK FOR THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD? Those words from the angels at the tomb have an edge to them. There is a slight rebuke in them. The women were looking for a dead Christ, not someone who was alive. As they went to the tomb that first Easter morning, their hearts were heavy. They hadn’t had time on Good Friday to properly prepare Christ’s body for burial. So now, with the dawn of Easter morning they carried the big bag of spices—a weighty bag–to finish the job. As they walked along they talked about the big stone that Pilate had placed over the entrance and also had sealed with Pilate’s official seal. Who would take it away? How could they get at the body? Would the soldier’s shoo them away? They arrived with grief and to their great surprise the tomb was already open and an angel greeted them. In shock and awe they listened as he said to them: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Yes, this was a gentle rebuke for their lack of faith, for living as if Christ were still dead.

Like the women we deserve this rebuke, as well. For like them, we carry around a big, heavy bag too. Not of burial spices, but of inner burdens and turmoil. In actuality the women had nothing to be worried about that morning. For not only was the stone rolled away, but Christ was arisen! How many stones do you see blocking your pathway through life? Do you live as if Christ were still moldering in the grave? To you the angel says: “He is not here, He is risen!”

Another way we act as if Jesus were still dead is to permit sin to dominate our lives. But, “why do you look for the living among the dead?”—This is the Lord’s message to us when we fret and worry, when we grieve unduly over loved ones who have fallen asleep in Christ, when we let temptation gain a foothold in our lives. We have a risen Savior! Scripture says “he died to sin in order to make us alive to righteousness.” He’s given you and me the power to resist sin and temptation. In fact, our Living Savior and our Best Friend now stands beside us every day encouraging us to do just that! So, why do you look for the living among the dead? Why live in the past? Why not go forward into a glorious future with Christ?


“Why?” the angel asked. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” There was an answer to that question. And the angel had it. “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.” The angel knew why. It was because the women had forgotten Jesus’ words and promises to them. They forget about how He prophesied His death in advance and also proclaimed His resurrection on the 3rd day after that gruesome death. The women forget these things because they focused more on their own lives and emotions than on Christ and His word of eternal truth.

We need to remember that. We need to quit trying to carry all our guilt around by ourselves. Instead, we need to focus on Christ and how He carried all our guilt to the cross and left it there to die. As Christ promised through the prophet Isaiah: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Jesus isn’t dead any more. He lives and rules forever. So quit acting as if sin and evil rule you. Quit acting as if you’re hopeless and helpless. In baptism you were buried with Christ in His grave. And just as He arose to life, through baptism you arise to a new life, too. Yes, because He lives, we shall live also—through faith and confidence in Him alone!


About 900 years before Jesus’ death and resurrection, the prophet Elijah became discourage with his work for God and ran off into the desert, hid in a cave, and waited to die. The Lord found him there. And He asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” That question contained a reminder. It said, “You are a prophet of God. So, what are you doing here, alone, in this wilderness?” The angel’s question to the women: “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” is an echo of that same question. And just as in Elijah’s case, it was a reminder that they now had the good news of salvation and that they needed to go and tell others about it! Elijah got the message. The women got the message. They quit poking around the cemetery of their own doubts, fears, and indecision and went out and told Jesus’ disciples what they had seen and heard.

Why do you look for the living among the dead? When you’re tempted to poke around in your life as if you have no reason for living beyond putting in your time, you need to ask yourself that same question. And then you need to recall the answer: Jesus is alive! Jesus is risen! And because He lives I shall live also! Live for what? To proclaim His honor and His victory. To tell others. To make an eternal difference in their lives.

I have a friend who is a pastor. Many years ago he told me that like all people he gets down and feels sorry for himself sometimes. But, by God’s grace he learned how to pull himself out of his funk. He went out and visited his members, particularly the shut-ins in his church. Telling them of Jesus and seeing the difference it made in their lives always gave him a much-needed shot-in-the-arm. I’ve learned to do the same. And it works! It works because the message of the Gospel, the message of Easter is: “the power of God unto salvation to all who believe” as St. Paul says.
In closing, I ask you this. “What human worry, what temptation, what fear can ever stand up against and compete with God’s eternal power?” That’s right, none!!! So, why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, He is risen!” And He now walks beside you—ready to pick you up at a moment’s notice! Amen.