If I were to ask you how you've spent Easter morning, I can think of a variety of ways you might answer that question.
Some have likely spent it on the beach or lakeside at an Easter sunrise service. Others are among those my mother calls C&E Christians (Christmas and Easter), attending church for the first time all year.
Or maybe you've spent it with kids or grandkids hunting eggs or indulging in a massive holiday brunch.
However you've spent it, it was much different than how Mary and Mary Magdalene spent the very first Easter, searching for Jesus' body at the cemetery.
The women carried burial spices to perform the traditional bathing and anointing of the dead. When they arrived at the tomb, they were astounded by what they saw, and by what they didn't see.
They didn't see the stone where authorities had placed it to prevent Jesus' supporters from stealing his body and claiming his resurrection. The stone was no longer sealing the tomb, but rather it had been rolled aside like a ball of cotton.
The women dared to venture inside the tomb, where they didn't see Jesus' body.
Mary cried out, "They have taken my Lord away, and I don't know where they have put him."
If Jesus' missing body wasn't scary enough, it must have been terrifying to find who was there instead: two men bathed in light.
"Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery?" asked the shining men.
The women had no answer but instead fell prostrate on the ground.
Then, as if gently scolding the women for pointlessly searching for life in a dead zone, the men reminded the women of Jesus' promise to return three days after he was killed.
The story connects me with the present day in two ways:
First, I can identify with the concern expressed over the possible theft of Jesus.
These days, there are a lot of people looking to steal my Jesus. They'd like to transfer him to bumper stickers or protest placards. Others assume his endorsement for their political aspirations. And there will always be a church or two claiming to be heaven's exclusive gate guards.
But no worries. The real Jesus comes with a standard antitheft system. No one can steal him because the real Jesus is the one who was resurrected in our lives. He lives within people of faith.
The second connection I have with the story is expressed in the question asked by the shining men: "Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery?"
After looking for Jesus in all the traditional places, people of today have become discouraged.
They look to the priest, only to find he's flawed. They look to the smiling television evangelist, only to find he'll deliver Jesus for the right donation. They look into crystals, diets and all kinds of spiritual dives.
Looking for Jesus among these folks is like looking for the spiritual life among the dead.
So where should we look?
The source. Go to his words and his teachings. I recommend beginning by reading the Gospel of John.
Then, after you find Jesus in his words, James 1:22 leaves us with one last piece of advice:
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."
Norris Burkes is a syndicated columnist, national speaker and author of "No Small Miracles." He is an Air National Guard chaplain.
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