But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.
The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”
Then they remembered that he had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened. [Luke 24:1-12 NLT]
It is very probable that you, like me, have read and heard the first Easter morning account from Luke hundreds of times. However, this year, reading it again I was struck by the realization that the question in the women’s minds on entering the empty tomb must have been “where is he?”.
I love the wry humor/irony of the two men in dazzling white clothing — Luke just says they were men, although other gospel writers invoke angels — who say “what’s the point of looking for the body of a live person in a graveyard? You’re looking in the wrong place!” [my paraphrase].
The women were convinced that Jesus must be alive because the men repeated Jesus’ words earlier to the disciples, and used Jesus’ normal description of himself “Son of Man ”. See Matthew 17:22-23 for confirmation. I do have sympathy for the eleven disciples who didn’t believe what the women said because they thought it was nonsense — it’s still hard to believe, even although we know it to be true!
Peter, hoping against hope, rushes to the empty tomb to find Jesus. Perhaps his body was tucked into some inconspicuous corner of the tomb the women couldn’t see. But again, he was looking in the wrong place. And again the question is, “where is He?”
You already know that the question was answered on many occasions in miraculous ways, but that question “where is He?”, still has relevance today and I believe many people are still looking for him in the wrong place.
So where is he?
The writer to the Hebrews in Rome tells us this,
“But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.” [Hebrews 10:12 NLT].
The position is important — Jesus is the Father’s right-hand-man! — but so is the action. In a court of law, the bailiff will cry “all rise” and everyone will stand until the judge enters and sits down, indicating that the proceedings have officially commenced. This is an ancient tradition which even precedes biblical times. So by sitting down at the Father’s right hand Jesus has taken the authority to be the eternal judge of the Father’s creation.
But not only that, he has become our defense counsel!
“Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” [Hebrews 7:25 NLT]
Not only that, but He knows we will be held blameless and he is preparing a place in heaven for us, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” [John 14:1-3 NLT]
So, it is obvious that judgement and eternity are taken care of, but the question still remains, “where is He now?” The answer is incredibly simple, yet profound. Jesus is here, in us, by means of his Holy Spirit.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” [John 15:4 NLT]
When we allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our will, our actions, thoughts and intentions become Jesus’ actions, thoughts and intentions! Sure, we are all works in progress, so we only appear to be Jesus-like to the extent we allow the Holy Spirit to take control. But the answer to the question, “where is He?”, should be as simple as looking in a mirror!
The rest of the world is looking for Jesus in the wrong place, often in wealth, possessions, power, celebrity, education, etc. But it should be true that when they look at a Jesus-follower they should in fact see Jesus!
“Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, All His wonderful passion and purity O thou Spirit divine, All my nature refine Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.” - Albert Orsborn
I pray that each of our lives will be billboards of Jesus’ presence so that people stop looking for love in all the wrong places.
Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black