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. 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 They re looking for life on Mars. Why? I guess it would be interesting just to find out if it s there or not.
The Brits launched Beagle 2 a few years back. They re not sure what happened with it. That would have been a sure bet. I figure, about 2 days after landing a Beagle on Mars, the neighbors would be showing up to complain about the noise. As it turns out that there has been some evidence of life on Mars, but hard facts remain sketchy. After looking at a few photos of the Martian landscape, I ve concluded this: if there is life on Mars, it s very bored. If there is no life on Mars, it doesn t matter how long or how hard we keep looking for it, we re not going to find it. It s kind of like looking for the body of Jesus in a tomb after He s alive. Someone might well ask, Hey, why are you looking for the Living One here where you would expect to find dead people? 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. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 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? 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. \’\” Then they remembered his words.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. We re here this morning to wonder at the empty tomb. The Bible, right here, tells us in clear terms what Easter means. I. Much hasn t changed but it CAN Any time you look at someone in the Bible and shake your head about the way they botch things, take a mirror, look right into it, and shake your head again. Let s see just how true to our situations God s word is. Those women at the empty tomb, those disciples they spoke to that could have just as easily been us! Here s what I mean 1. We forget His words The angels said to these ladies, remember how He told you He had. He had told them and the disciples in plain terms before His death exactly what was going to happen: \”We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life! \”