“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 delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. (Luke 24:6-9).
In the days and weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, his followers kept looking for him in all the wrong places. And, they kept finding him where they weren’t looking for him! Anyone who had been listening carefully to Jesus would have realized that the scripture above was what he had been saying all along. Once reminded of Jesus’ words, the women recall the plan that Jesus had laid out for them, and what is happening around them starts to sink in. Jesus wasn’t shy in speaking of what was to happen to him. He had outlined in some detail what was to occur, according to his set plan and foreknowledge. He allowed himself to be handed over to sinful men. With his permission, he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, crucified as king of the Jews. On his authority he laid his life down, and with the authority to take it up again was raised by the Father.
Today is the Sunday after Easter and this season will take us to the Pentecost and, after that, a
new season. But, since we are still in the spirit of Easter today gives us an opportunity to review where Jesus both is and is not found.
First, looking for Jesus in all the wrong places. The first—and earliest—place where Jesus’ followers look for him in the wrong place is obvious. Very early on Easter morning the disciples went looking for Jesus in a tomb. In a burial chamber. In a place where death reigns. He wasn’t there! Though the disciples were certain that that’s where they could find him—looking for him in the place where his dead corpse had been entombed—they were wrong!
Two men dressed in white suddenly appeared and asked them “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen!” They were looking for Jesus in the wrong place. But who could blame them? Up until that morning, everything in life—and, indeed, everything in human history—said that the one certainty in life is that, when you die, you stay dead, especially if you’ve been cruelly tortured.
And Jesus had really been dead! His executioners were professional killers and they had made certain of it. His disciples had witnessed it. And the burial crew—Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea—had done all that was humanly possible to make sure that Jesus’ corpse was locked away to begin the sad but inevitable process of rot and decay. So, if there was one place to be certain to look and find Jesus, it would be in his tomb, right?
But they were wrong! Then or now, you cannot find Jesus, dead and dormant, in a place like that! Jesus has broken the hold—and the certainty—of death on us! Jesus makes all things alive!
And so, to look for Jesus in a place like that is looking for Jesus in all the wrong places. He’s not there. He’s broken free from death. So that’s the first place where it’s wrong to look for Jesus.
The Book of Acts continues the story of Jesus begun in the Gospel of Luke. And, actually, where the one story ends the other begins! In Luke, forty days after Easter, the risen Lord Jesus takes his disciples some distance out of Jerusalem where he blesses them and is carried up into heaven. He is, as we say, ascended. And that’s where the story of Jesus in Luke ends. In Acts, this is where the story begins! After repeating several times that an outpouring of God’s Spirit will soon be poured out on them—such as has never happened before—Jesus is lifted up before their eyes. Jesus had, of course, been “lifted up” earlier in the story. But, this time, instead of Jesus being “lifted up” to die on a cross, he is “lifted up” to reign forever at the right hand of God in heaven!
And here’s what happens next. “While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them.” Do you know what that’s supposed to remind us of? It’s supposed to remind us of the last time Jesus’ disciples were looking for him in all the wrong places!
On Easter itself, when Jesus’ followers were looking for the living Lord Jesus in the place of the dead, two men dressed in white also asked them what they were doing there. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” Today, they do the same! Two men dressed in white suddenly appear and ask, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go …”
In other words, stop looking for Jesus in all the wrong places!
Of importance is that we notice the zeal of those seeking after the Lord Jesus. It was not enough that they themselves were seeking after Jesus, but they were instructed by the Angels to encourage others to seek him as well by meeting with him in Galilee with other seekers.
Not only is the gathering of others important in seeking Jesus, but gathering with others is critical. It is important that as Christians we gather with others on a weekly if not daily basis to encourage each other in the faith, to remain strong in the Lord and to minister to each other, building up the body of Christ. Christians should be regular participants in churches and fellowships of Godly individuals, seek Jesus in personal fellowship, in humility, fasting and Prayer, Obedience to Godly instructions, perseverance, repentance, the Word of God faithfully and in all diligence.
It is my prayer that as you seek God continually, you shall find Him in every areas of your life in Jesus Name. Amen.
Your brother, friend, Pastor & Archdeacon