“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? “ Luke 24v1-5
I was once given a set of golf clubs. I wanted to try out the game and secretly thought I would be good at it. In true Millward style, I succeeded in playing one full round with them before they got consigned to the cupboard at the bottom of the stairs. About a year later, I caught the bug again and went looking for them. I looked in every cupboard, behind every door, in the shed, in the loft; everywhere. Could I find them? I literally looked everywhere for days, but the place I looked the most was the cupboard at the bottom of the stairs, because I know that that is the place where I saw them last.
In a much more important story, the disciples had just seen their Saviour, Lord, Friend and King be murdered in front of them. They were devastated and didn’t know what to do. So they find themselves heading to the last place they had seen Jesus, with supreme confidence that they would find Him there. And yet, He is gone and they hear the most profound question they could have heard. A question that was not only relevant for that moment, but would sustain them as they explored the new life, Jesus’ resurrection gave them.
Why do you look for the living among the dead?
As disciples, we are asked the same question. If we are to thrive as disciples then we need to listen to this truth. Where should we look for life? Where should our attention be?
Too many “christians” seek out life in the land of the dead. This world, without Christ, is not our source of life. Looking for counterfeits outside of Christ will not bring abundant life, will not bring fulfillment. Looking for love or affirmation or peace, among the spiritually dead is not the answer. We must follow Jesus, wherever He goes.
We need to listen to the question of the angels, and ensure that as disciples we only seek out life, hope-filled, invigorating life, from the source of life Himself; the risen saviour.
- Take a moment to pause and reconsider the question; Do I seek out life among the dead? Are there still areas of my life that are not submitted to Christ? Are there areas where I look elsewhere for fulfillment and happiness?
- In the same way that it was life-changing for the disciples of old to move and follow Jesus wherever He went (even at His resurrection); we must do the same. To stay, scrabbling around for an existence in the graveyard, is insane. Take time to thank God that He is always leading us to life.
“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.’ …
…After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky?…’” Acts 1v4, 9-11
Yesterday we saw the greatest “What now?” moment in history when Jesus’ followers found His tomb empty. Today we see the next big “What now?” moment when Jesus gives His final instructions and then ascends to heaven in front of His disciples. They were transfixed on the sky and desperately looking to see any sign of Him or perhaps His return. When suddenly, angels came and asked “why do you stand here looking into the sky?”
In the natural, it was perfectly reasonable to stand there and look up, but in terms of discipleship, this was a polite rebuke and reminder. Jesus had said to wait in Jerusalem. They weren’t in Jerusalem and therefore they needed to hotfoot it to the place that Jesus had told them to be.
When I was (briefly) in the Territorial Army and we were on exercise somewhere (usually cold). We would have standing orders that were given to us. If at any point we were in doubt as to what the objective was, or what our response should be, we were always to fall back onto the thing we knew; the words we were sure of. We found more than a polite rebuke, if we failed to follow the standing orders we had previously been given.
Being a disciple, a follower of Jesus, requires us to listen to His voice and follow His leading (note that when Jesus speaks, they are not suggestions, they are instructions). John 10v27 says “My sheep listen to my voice;” Too often we stand still, perhaps spiritually looking up to the sky, when actually Jesus has already spoken. To follow Jesus means to go where He has called us and to be the people He has called us to be.
Standing here, when He has called us there is not an option for a disciple.
- Stop; Listen; Can you hear the still small voice of the Good Shepherd? Pause, block out the other distractions and allow Jesus to lead you, to guide you and to whisper His truths to you.
- Has Jesus spoken to you, now or in the past? How’s that going? Repent of the times that you’ve treated His word as an optional extra. Now seek out opportunities to go where He has called you, and to stand in the place He has prepared for you.
“Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. ‘Go, stand in the temple courts,’ he said, ‘and tell the people all about this new life.’
At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.” Acts 5v17-21
For the last couple of days, we have been looking at what now? moments in the New Testament. We’ve seen the disciples left stunned at both the resurrection and the ascension and leaving God to answer the What now? question.
I’m currently watching a programme that seeks to dramatise the early days of the church, and whilst parts of it are poetic licence, I have been struck by the humanity of the choices and effects that even the shortest of accounts from the book of Acts had on people. Ordinary people making life and death decisions surrounding their new faith that would threaten them and their families. Here we have the disciples, arrested and thrown into prison because the High priest was jealous. Remember this was one of the motivations for killing Jesus. Now the disciples are in prison, because of being obedient to an invisible Holy Spirit.
But then…. the Lord opened the jail and set them free. What now? What now then? They know that if they continue doing what they were doing then they would probably be thrown into jail again (or worse). But what now?
“Go, and tell the people all about this new life.”
I don’t know what situations you’ve found yourself in. But the cost of discipleship hasn’t forced you into jail. There is nothing we face as disciples of Jesus that compares with the turmoil and opposition that the early church had to face. However we have all experienced God opening up doors and ways for us, that were blocked. Being set free from prisons of the heart or mind. Or finding ourselves with a wide open space and new opportunities. Whichever it is, we are all presented with the same instruction:
“Go, and tell the people all about this new life.”
Go and share with people the new life that has opened up for you. The new way that is before you. Tell them, through words and deeds the freedom you have received through the love and mercy of God.
- “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’” John 16:33. John was convinced that not only would there be trouble, but that the same trouble will be overcome. Take time to thank God for giving you the strength and the means to overcome the world and all its trials.
- What now? When we have made the choice to pay the cost of discipleship then in order to have life in all it fullness, we must follow all the instructions. Go, and tell the people all about this new life. Pray for opportunities today to share with people this new life you have been given.
“I have come that you might have life and life in all its fullness.” John 10v10
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Matt 28v19-20
Too often we live lives that are defined by lack; whether it is lack of purpose, lack of adundance or lack of direction. And yet, Jesus said we are to have life and life in all its fullness. Which is why I appreciate the loving reminders He has been giving me and us recently.
When we read the bible, I love the living Word of God. Jesus speaking to us everytime we open His Word. Meditating and allowing Him to permeate every corner of our hearts and lives. When we lay out the last few days of scripture; the words given by the angels to a confused, bewildered but determined and hopeful group of disciples; we see a beautiful, gentle leading from death to life; from loss to abundance.
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Luke 24v5
Discipleship can be defined as ensuring our fulfillment and answers our found at the source of life, Jesus Christ; rather than elsewhere.
“Why do you stand here…?” Acts 1v11
Jesus has already spoken and directed us. He has called us out of the church building, into our communities. Purpose comes when you move and go where Jesus has called you.
“Go, and tell the people all about this new life…” Acts 5v20
Abundant life actually comes when we look beyond ourselves and go, and tell people about this new abundant life.
So… what now? God has spoken. He has lovingly brought us on the journey into discipleship and now to see that discipleship is only effective when it is lived out, in the place He has called us to the people He has called us to.
Are we willing to look beyond ourselves? Are we willing to follow the call and go where Jesus has called us to? Will we demonstrate to our neighbours this abundant life?
Imagine if our WHAT NOW moment becomes a WOW moment for our city, for your street, for your friend?
- Lord, lead me to the place of discipleship and cause me to stand where you’ve called me. To stand and communicate this abundant life to those around and be the light and blessing you have called me to be.
- How can you demonstrate this life to your neighbours? Take time to meditate on the scriptures above and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to His ways. He will show you acts of love that will WOW those whom God have called you to.
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