Why do you look for the living among the dead? -Luke 24:25
A Dead Sparrow
The bird hit the big picture window like a bug hits a windshield. It didn’t fair well. The little sparrow fell to the deck floor some six feet below the point of impact, which was marked with feathers stuck to the surface of the glass. It lay on its side at first, then it slowly rolled over and extended its legs up toward the sky. It was almost cartoonish. The only thing missing were a couple of ‘Xs” over each eye. My kids heard the “THUMP” and ran out onto the deck where the bird lay.
“We need to pray for him dad!” They insisted.
Wow. This is awkward. I had taught my kids about the power of God, and the power of prayer, and the importance of faith. It wasn’t that I didn’t have faith. I had faith alright. I had faith I’d be planting that sparrow in the back yard with all our other dead pets. But what could I do? My kids were expecting a miracle.
So we prayed.
Nothing happened. I herded the kids inside where I looked for some way to occupy myself. I wasn’t particularly anxious to bury the bird. About fifteen minutes later I looked out the window just in time to see the sparrow moving. He rolled upright and just sat there for a minute. Then he hopped around gingerly for another minute or so. Then he flew off.
“Hey kids, come on over here,” I called.
When they showed up, they looked out onto the deck but the bird was already gone. They asked, “Dad, where’s the sparrow?”
A Dead Messiah
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” The angels asked Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women there at Jesus’ tomb. “He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'” Then they remembered his words. (Luke 24:5-8)
That same day a guy named Cleopas and his buddy were walking from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus, a hike of around seven miles. Jesus himself came up and walked along with them.
He asked them what they were discussing but they didn’t recognize him. They told him about “Jesus of Nazareth” who was dead–killed by crucifixion. They also told him about the women who found the tomb empty.
“…how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” Jesus said of them. (Luke 24:13-25)
Look with me at what’s happening here: The two Marys, Joanna, Cleopas, and the others, they didn’t get it. And they didn’t get it because they were looking for a dead Messiah. They weren’t going to find him there in the tomb any more than my kids were going to find the sparrow on the back deck. Because the sparrow wasn’t dead. And the Messiah was no longer dead either.
I have friends who are looking for Jesus in the tomb. They’re looking for Jesus the dead philosopher, or Jesus the dead rabbi, or Jesus the dead teacher, and they’ll never find him by looking there.
Look with me at what Jesus did, when he encountered the two on the road to Emmaus, who were stuck in this perception that Jesus was dead:
…beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself. -Luke 24:27
That’s where you find him. That’s where you find the living Jesus.
When Jesus helped them find him in the scriptures, Cleopas and his friend’s hearts began to burn inside them.
After seeing him alive there in Moses and the prophets, their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus.
They were so overcome with excitement, they got up and hiked the seven miles back to Jerusalem to tell the others. That means they walked fourteen miles in one day. (Sometimes I have a hard time getting up off the couch to walk over and pick up the remote) (Luke 24:27-34)
Maybe like Cleopas and his friend, you’re having trouble figuring it all out. If you are, do what they did. Go through the scriptures looking for the living Messiah. Look for the living Jesus in Moses and all the prophets. You’ll find him there. Look for the living Christ in the gospels. You’ll find him there.
Your heart will burn, like theirs did.
You’ll recognize him, like they did.
He’s alive. And you’ll find him in your bible.
Go now, and look for him there.
[Image via neonzu1 – Creative Commons]
You might be asking right about now, “Are you saying that sparrow was dead, and that you’re prayer brought him back to life?”
The answer is no, I’m not necessarily saying that. I’m not a wildlife biologist. I really have no idea if the sparrow was dead or not. It looked exactly like the dead sparrow in the picture. But it only lay like that for fifteen minutes. It wasn’t like it lay there for three days or even three hours. So was the sparrow dead? I don’t know. But the events I describe in the story are all accurate.