Summary: What do people visit cemeteries to find? Dead people. So, why would the angels ask "Why do you seek the living among the dead?
OPEN: In the last century, there was a very prominent British philosopher named Bertrand Russell who had a interesting view of life and death. He wrote:
“The life of man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, towards a goal that few can hope to reach and where none can tarry long. One by one, as they march, our comrades vanish from our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent death.
Brief and powerless is man's life, on his and all his race the slow, sure doom falls, pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way. For man, condemned today to lose his dearest, tomorrow himself to pass through the gates of darkness, it remains only to cherish, ere yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day.”
Wow. Talk about depressing. What could possibly have prompted Bertrand Russell to write such a thing?
Well, Bertrand Russell didn’t believe in Jesus. He was an atheist! He rejected God and denied the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For the atheist there is no back door out of the grave. Once you die, you’re dead, and that’s the way you’re going to stay. An atheist doesn’t go looking for the living among the dead, because for the atheist death is final.
Now in the text we read this morning, the angels at the tomb asked the women: “Why do seek the living among the dead?”
Why would the angels ask that question? Well, they asked that question because these women hadn’t come looking for a living Jesus. They’d come to this cemetery to seek the dead amongst the dead. When you go to a cemetery… that’s generally what you’re there for.
ILLUS: Well, almost always. I remember a girl in my home church who dated a guy who took her to the graveyard for their first date. When he mentioned it, she thought – this guy just wants to go make out. But he didn’t. He really wanted to take her to the graveyard, and they spent much of the evening reading the names and information on the gravestones. She was so intrigued by his novel approach to dating that she eventually married him.
But most of the time – people go to cemeteries to seek the dead.
Luke 24:1-3 says “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”
These women have come to Jesus’ grave because He’s supposed to be dead! When Jesus died on the cross, there hadn’t been sufficient time to prepare His body properly for the grave. So they brought spices that they’d prepared so they can apply them to his corpse
The Commentary by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown says that the tradition was to bring “pulverized myrrh and aloes (and shake it) into the folds, and the entire body, thus swathed, (was) wrapt in an outer covering of ‘clean linen cloth’”
You see these women thought Jesus was dead, and they were simply trying to make sure His corpse received the respect it was due. These women weren’t looking for the living. They were looking for the dead! And without realizing there’d been a resurrection… the dead was all they expected to find.
Now, what Russell and numerous atheists understand is that without Jesus you can’t find the living among the dead. Because we live in A DYING WORLD.
Without Jesus all that this world can offer is a 6 foot hole in the ground.
• There’s no fountain of youth.
• Science might prolong your life but it can’t do anything about death.
• Plastic surgeons can make you look like you’ve cheated death but you won’t.
Everybody you know is going to die. As one person observed, “There’s nothing certain in this world but death and taxes.”
And without Jesus, death IS oblivion. It’s emptiness. It’s the end of all existence. There’s no hope for a future because (without Jesus’ resurrection) there is no life after this. For centuries, there have been philosophers and skeptics that have preached that kind of hopelessness
There were even some in the early church who began to believe that so Paul wrote this: “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’” 1 Corinthians 15:32
Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ… that’s about all you get in this world.
But then Paul wrote:
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:20