Read: Luke 24:1-7 NRSV
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”
If you attended a protestant church or summer camp during the early 2000s, you most likely sang the song “Lord I Lift your Name on High.” It was a popular praise chorus at the time, and the melody has been stuck in my head ever since.
“You came from heaven to earth to show the way
From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay
From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky
Lord I lift your name on high.”
Did you notice anything strange about those lyrics? Heaven to earth, earth to cross, cross to grave, grave to…the sky? What happened to the resurrection!?
I’m not here to criticize Christian songwriters. It’s hard to capture the entire gospel account of Jesus’ life in four lines and have those lines rhyme, but the incarnation and the resurrection are the two acts that make Jesus distinct from any other person claiming to be the son of God. Plenty of people were martyred in Rome, but only one came back from the dead. If you believe in heaven, (in the sky or elsewhere), then Jesus going from the grave to the sky isn’t all that radical. However, Jesus didn’t go from the grave to the sky, he simply left the grave and, according to the gospels, spent a few weeks with his followers as a real and living man. A man with a body still bearing wounds from the crucifixion, a body that could pass through locked doors but still be hungry, a body that was not always recognized by his closest companions.
This week, we will not be looking in the grave or even the sky. Instead we will be studying the gospel accounts of the resurrected man, Jesus. Good Friday turns our attention to the cross, Easter turns our attention to the empty tomb, but now we heed the voice of the angels: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Christos anesti! Alithos anesti!