Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying,`The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.'”
And they remembered His words. (Luke 24:5-8)
We are coming to the end of a Bible study in Luke. I find my attention drawn to a central themes of Luke, and of all the gospels, that of the surprising nature of Jesus’ Messiahship and of the salvation He brings. We are familiar with the story of Jesus, so it has lost its ability to surprise. But all the gospels emphasize throughout how consistently and completely Jesus’ whole ministry defied people’s expectations. The way we naturally think of power, glory, truth, progress, and effectiveness is all wrong and corrupted by sin. That is why they didn’t “get” Jesus. They took the concept of the Messiah and twisted it to line up with their earthly expectations, so that when the Messiah came, they rejected Him.
It’s why people still don’t get Him. We still do the same thing today. Being familiar with the story of Jesus, we twist Jesus to fit into our own materialistic, earthly expectations. We see His salvation as satisfying my lusts. But our response to this story should not be, “Those stupid disciples!” It should be, “How am I being rebuked by this story just as they were? How do I search for the living among the dead? How do I look for salvation in the cursed wreckage of this world?” If you don’t think you do, then you don’t understand the problem.
It’s the most natural thing in the world to do to construe God’s salvation in terms of the satisfaction of our own selfish lusts, the vindication of our own desire for autonomy. This must be confronted. Perhaps Jesus’ salvation to you means that you can be comfortable, that you can put away your guilt and relax about your sin, feeling no need for repentance, so that you can live your life the way you please with no fear of what comes after. Perhaps Jesus is the means you can use to make your family or society what you think it should be. Perhaps Jesus is the road to wealth and fame and power for you. Perhaps Jesus is the club you can beat everyone else with, using Him to establish your moral or intellectual superiority over everyone else. This pastor has seen every one of these motivations and more. I’ve seen several of them in myself. All of these are distortions of the salvation that Jesus brings. All of these are examples of seeking the living among the dead, of seeking the life of God among the death of this world.
“Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.”