Luke 24:1-12                           “Looking for Life”



            We have no idea how these three women thought that they could get into the tomb to see the body and anoint it. Maybe they thought that they could over-power the guards then somehow magically roll the stone away by themselves? Well, they could not do it, so it is quite fortunate that God took care of that for them by sending down two angels.

            Stop. Are they angels? The bible does not actually say that they are angels. Did you notice that? What does it say? Two men dressed in dazzling white. Looking at the Greek, and if I were to do my own translation here, I would say: “Two human forms cloaked in starlight.” The word “star” is actually in the Greek astraptoush. You see, these cannot be just regular men in clean white uniforms. They are not the staff at the mortuary office coming to check the burial.

            The other thing that is interesting in the Greek here is that apparently they spoke in unison—simultaneously.  They said these exact words to the women who had come to see Jesus. It does not say that one of them spoke. It says that “they” said these words. Imagine please two human forms dressed in starlight but speaking with one voice! Cool.


            What do they say? They ask a rhetorical question: “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” Read please: “Do not look for the living among the dead!” “Jesus is risen.”

I need to point out that the word here for “living” is not the Greek word to represent biological life—which is “bioV” by the way, and is from whence we get out word “biology” in English. The word here is “zonta” in the text. It means alive as in Jesus is kicking up his heals and dancing. This is like that Thoreau line from “On Walden Pond”:  “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear. . . .”

It is quite right to notice this distinction between life and life. The angels are not telling the women that Jesus is on life support in ICU having barely survived a horrble but botched execution attempt. There are still some today that say “perhaps Jesus did not really die on the Cross but was able to recover.” To be sure, Jesus is not just alive; He is truly alive and well—thank you very much for asking! And, yes, he really did die on the Cross. The Roman soldiers made sure of that! One even used a spear to make sure.

            A news story came up this last week about the difference between “life and life.” In the Ukraine, the Ukrainian army captured the head of the pro-Russian political party. This political party that opposes Ukrainian independence is called in Russian “Platforma za jheeznплатформа За жизнь. This translates as the “Political Party for Life.” I was thinking about this sincerely because when we say “for life” in English we might think of the “pro-life” movement that stands against abortion. Or, we might think of a political platform for a “better life.”

            However, in the context of the Russian invasion and subsequent war we might read this idea as a threat prior to imminent death. “If you want to live, you must vote for Putin’s lackey.” “If you no want to vote for the pro-Moscow person, then we take out our gun and shoot you.” платформа За жизнь sounds exactly like that in today’s world. Is it the platform for a better life, or a threat “you want to breathe tomorrow?”


            Which leads to my next point: We are only ever just one breath away from death. So, we must make every breath count in this life. As many of you know, my dog Nikos died a few weeks ago. He was fifteen years old, had lived a good long life of walks on the beach and tearing apart coconuts. It was his time to go because he had grown completely deaf and unable to walk any great distance. The night that he passed I stayed with him until about midnight. He could not get up and did not want to eat or drink. His breathing was labored. The next morning I got up to discover that he had taken his last breath. He was gone. Like this, one day I will take my last breath.

            I told my wife, who was in Texas at the time visiting our daughter, that Nikos da dog had died the night before. I asked if I should go out and get another puppy from the humane society. As it turned out, the humane society had just started a radio announcement about this very thing. My wife told me that I could not get another puppy—that our time for having dogs was over. At first I was a little upset, but then I realized that I had had five dogs in the family so far, but if I were to get another dog, IT could very easily outlive me. Then, who would feed the dog? Wow, my body is not going to live forever! Death is going to one day come for me too.

            I think about all the plans I have made for myself. You know, when I was younger I got life insurance policy, the 403b pension, and set up the ROTH IRA. I did all that for one specific reason: I really do not know when I am going to take my final breath. We plan for so much in our lives, but that is always a bit of a surprise indeed. One minute we are in the flesh, and the next minute we are not.

            I believe in Jesus’ day people were much more aware of this fact. Death was always a bit closer at hand. The average person lived to be 35 or 40. Even just a broken bone back then could have been a death sentence because there were no hospitals in the day. There were no drugs as we have today. War and famine were rampant. People were surrounded by their animals that were killed for food. The Romans were nailing people to crosses along the roadsides.

            On top of that, the orthodox Judaism of the day, that which was practiced in the Temple in Jerusalem, was decidedly against the idea of there being life after death. You were told that you had just this life here on earth and when that ended, it was truly just the end.


            I bring all this up to you this morning so that you can understand better why Jesus’ rising from the dead was such an amazing idea or thought—why it would be considered “idle gossip” at the time. Why back then it was called the “Good News” and why it is still the Good News for us today. Jesus erases the number one fear of living! Our final breath in this world, is not just death! So, death does not matter anymore.

            This last Sunday the evening bible study got right into the heart of Easter not by reading one of the four Gospels, but rather Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Verse 19 of Chapter One of Philippians: “I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in anyway, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death.” Then, Paul, who is in prison in Rome at the time, cannot decide which he thinks is better, to live or to die in Christ.

            The eternal life with Christ starts when we accept Jesus as our Lord who has defeated death by rising on Easter morning. It really does not start when we breathe our last.


            When I felt my call by Jesus, I was a young man. I was walking to church on Christmas Eve. It was 30 below. Too cold to snow. All of the sudden the sky was bright, the air was warm, and it was like walking through Jello. For that moment, I was affirmed that whatever I thought this life on earth was about, there was more to it. Moments with Jesus like this, I feel, are a glimpse at the other side where life is eternal.   

            When the women saw those sparkling angels, they knew that there was more to life than just waiting for the final breath. They did not really even have to see Jesus again did they? Everything that happened up unto that point affrimed that there was more to this life than waiting to die!

            Chapter 24 continues in Luke to describe instances in which people did see Jesus alive and well again. Over 500 people saw Jesus after his death and before his ascension to heaven. You know what? People are still seing Jesus. In this way, Easter never really stops. Now we look for the living in Christ! He has gone before us. He ahs conquered death.