John 20:1-18                      “Life”


            This last week in scientific news we heard that life could actually just be floating around space on tiny ice crystals that are spewed out from frozen moons around the outer planets of our solar system. That is a cool thought. Think about that: “Just life out there in space, falling down from the sky and melting into organisms.” This follows decades of discoveries of life in the deepest oceans, darkest caves, and even in some churches! Okay, that was a bad joke.

            The understanding of life in the New Testament is a lot more than just biological blips in space. In fact, as we read the story of the resurrection of Jesus we are affirmed in the good news that there is life after death. Happy Easter. That is what we are celebrating today. Jesus died a horrible physical death but then appeared before Mary Magdalene once more quite alive. Good job, Jesus!

            Then, Jesus warns Mary Magdalene that he may not be touched because “he has not yet ascended.” This becomes very difficult for us to understand. What would happen if Mary had in fact hugged Jesus on Easter? What does it mean that Jesus must ascend? So, he is alive, resurrected bodily, but the process is not yet complete. He is not back up with God. He is not on his throne. He is not yet spiritually fulfilled in this life yet. He has not taken on his immortal body yet.

            This raises a unique question for Christians: Did Jesus get two lives? Or did He just get one life that was interrupted by the Cross? This relates to us simply that we should understand that we in fact do not get two lives–the earthly and the heavenly. We get one life in Christ. You get the life that God has given you. And, you must make the most of it! That life begins when you accept Jesus Christ.

            In modern terms, we have the acronym, Y.O.L.O., which stands for You Only Live Once. People have used this idea to sell their homes and take a glorious vacation in Hawaii! I, myself, have claimed YOLO at times. This last week, in fact, my wife and I found ourselves attending an on-line meeting that was a small group of people staring at each other waiting to see if anyone else would log on so we could have a quorum. No quorum ever appeared. So, the meeting was called to order (somehow) but then no business could be conducted. So, the meeting digressed into simply planning the next meeting. Meetings to plan more meetings! I came away thinking to myself, YOLO, I want that time back that I just spent online! I could have used that time to pull weeds in the vegetable garden or change the fan belt on the truck! A simple nap would have been better! I only have one life–do not let it be put on hold!

            Reading from John 1:4, “In Him was LIFE, and the life was the light of all people.” This is the understanding of life for Saint John in his writing about the life of Christ. It is the spiritual light of God. It is a divine life. It is not biological life. It is not some artificial intelligence that pretends to know things. This is the divine life from God the creator that comes through Jesus Christ to us!

            Reading from John 10:10, “The thief comes to steal and destroy. I came that they may have life abundantly.” The “they” is “us.” Jesus came that we may have life abundantly. Everything else is trying to steal your life away from you–and I mean the spiritual divine life that God gives. Every time you are stuck in traffic, every time you are put on hold forever, every time your mind is distracted from what is godly, the thief is stealing your divine life away. Jesus came back to us on Easter morning that we may have life abundantly.

            At this point I wish to share two of my favorite authors with you. The first one is the father of the modern Greek novel, Nikos Katazantzakis. You will surely recall his famous work “Zorba the Greek.” I was so privileged to actually see Anthony Quinn live at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles reprise his famous role. It was amazing. Here is the famous line from the movie, novel, and play: “Life? Life is trouble. . . .only death is not. To live is to take off your belt and go out and look for trouble.” I love this idea of going out intentionally looking for life! This is the Greek word “Zoe” by the way. Every time I meet someone named Zoe I just think about LIFE. What a great name.

            When we think about going out looking for life that God gave us, I think about Henry David Thoreau. He wrote “On Walden Pond” in which he states, “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.”

Last week at the youth camp up in Kokee, on the last night we were sitting around the glorious campfire torching marshmallows when brother Jared asked “So, anything to share on the last night?” The youth looked at one another. Then one young man spoke up: “I miss my phone, but this up here is real life. I wish all of my life could be like this.” There it was again, the idea of living deliberately. Jesus did not come back on Easter morning that we should sit watching our phones! No offense to those who might be watching this worship online right now!


So, what kind of life (Zoe) does Christ expect from us? I imagine Jesus saying, “Hey Olaf, I did all of this for you. I even went to the Cross for you. How now are you going to live your life?” (That is actually the subject and title of a book by Chuck Colson, btw.) Colossians 3, please:

“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.” We can continue to read the rest of this letter on how to make this life of ours, the LIFE (Zoe) that God sent Jesus to give us.


This last Monday I was here at the church wearing my work clothes. I have a big rip in the cargo pants over the left knee. Lucia saw me in my grubbies as she had come to do a little gardening around the cemetery. She commented that I must spend too much time on my knees praying. Just like Thoreau says we have to “suck the marrow out of life” we have to wear out our knees in doing for Jesus. My pants are not ripped at the knees because that is where I hold my cell phone while attending online meetings! It is because I am too busy living life to go out and buy a new pair of pants for myself maybe!

I love it when I look out at all of you and see how much life you are living for Jesus! You are on your knees praying, you are out helping those in need, reaching out in love to one another, offering that eternal life that you have received from Christ to the world. When it is time for you to ascend, you will be just shouting out “I am ready, Lord. Thank you for this wonderful life that I have lived in you!” Then, it will be your Easter!

The Bible tells us that we have eternal life in Christ because He is firstborn from the dead. Guess what? You are the second born! So, just follow Jesus. Amen.