It is reported that William Sidney Porter (O' Henry), commenting on the irony of life, on his deathbed said, "Turn up the lights, I don't want to go home in the dark."
It is reported that an angel spoke to two women at an empty tomb, saying, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!" (Luke 24:5, 6)
Unless one is a grave robber, there is little of value to be found among the dead. This is especially true in spiritual matters.
The angel's question was asked outside a very special tomb: an empty one. An empty tomb is not unusual; neither is an occupied tomb. But one that was once occupied and then vacated - a borrowed tomb - is unique.
Tomorrow, Christians celebrate the most unique, life and universe changing event in history: the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is he alone who can exclaim, "I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!" (Revelation 1:18). Anticipating this fact, Jesus promised his followers, "Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19). Christ's victory over death validated his qualifications to grant eternal life to those who have faith in him alone.
People have always sought immortality, what the bible calls eternal life. Priests, philosophers, poets, politicians, and pundits pop up like potted plants at Easter, promising paths to prosperity and Paradise. They soon pass on to join the ranks of a spiritual Dead Poets Society, filling tombs with their bones.
When we need a guide to lead us through unfamiliar terrain, we look for someone who has been that way and successfully returned. A guide who has gone his own way, never reaching his goal and returning, is not worth following. When explaining salvation to Nicodemus, Jesus flashed his credentials thus: "No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven - the Son of Man" (John 3:13).
After a challenging discussion with his followers, many deserted Christ. "'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.'" (John 6:6769).
In an ironic act of self-defeat, the mobs "killed the Prince of life, but God raised him from the dead" (Acts 3:15). Putting Jesus to death did not stop him. His murder planted the seed of his return as Savior and Lord (Acts 3:1721). No other leader has left behind an empty (borrowed!) tombdeath has tripped up every one. "Why do you look for the living among the dead?"
Jesus encouraged his followers with "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20), an empty promise had he not passed through the gates of death twice: once on the way in, once on the way out. The resurrected Christ shows death is not the Grim Reaper with the sickle but the Great Reunion with the Savior. "By his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (Hebrews 2:14, 15). "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55).
The bible is the word of life (Philippians 2:16); Jesus is the Word of Life (1 John 1:1). He who follows them "will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12), and will not have to go home in the dark.