Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything

"[The women] found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, 'Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.'"
Luke 24:2-6

I've always been interested in angels. However, most of what I'm thinking about saying is totally unrelated to what I really want to say in this post, so I'll just settle for... can you imagine what it would be like to be these two angels? To be the bearer of the greatest news since... ever? To tell these women, who have come to the tomb expecting to honor the body of their beloved lord and friend, that he is not here?

I love the question the angels open with. "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" Do the angels not know? Are they sincerely wondering why the women are looking for Jesus? Of course not. It's a rhetorical question. But such a question! The way I imagine them saying it... laughing, shouting, voices like a great, triumphant, joyful song, one of those questions ending with a "!?" "Why do you seek the living among the dead!? He is not here, but has risen!"

This last sentence is quite possibly the greatest sentence spoken since creation, and it will not be surpassed until the end of this world. He is not here, but has risen. Christ is not among the dead–he is not like the Egyptian god-kings who still lie and rot in their pyramids. He is not like Buddha or Mohamed . He is not like every false messiah that has ever walked the face of the earth. He is not in the grave, and even though he died he is not dead. He is not here, but has risen!

And this... this is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. God rules a suffering world, and at a real time in a real place God said to the world, "I suffer with you." However, that is not the end of the story. If it were, our faith would be meaningless. "If Christ has not been raised," Paul says, "then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain" (1 Cor. 15:14). Now, I take it one step farther, and say that if Christ has not been raised, our lives are in vain. Without the resurrection of Christ, we are left with the author of Ecclesiastes, saying "Vanity of vanities! All is vanity." Without the resurrection, the story of Christ is merely one of defeat, of suffering and pain and a last, hopeless cry in the dark which is not answered. But praise be to God that Christ has risen! This is the twist, the great reversal, that what seems to be the ultimate defeat becomes the ultimate victory. Life is not merely suffering, and the story does not end with death. Those who mock and jeer at the one on the cross are not the victors. The suffering will end, and there will be redemption and victory. And he who is seated on the throne will say, "Behold, I am making all things new."

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