My favorite Easter movie is “Risen”. The story centers on a Roman soldier named Clavius. A lifelong member of the military, Clavius is a dutiful and hardened soldier who has risen in the ranks. He is looking toward the end of his military career. He is sent by Pilate to oversee the execution of a criminal charged with treason – a man that many were proclaiming to be the King of the Jews. Clavius watches Jesus die. He returns to Pilate and gives his report. Pilate, aware that Clavius is a man of ambition whose service will soon be ending, asks the soldier what he ultimately wants in life. Clavius answers, “Rome, position, power…” “What will this give you?” asks the governor. “A villa in the country.” “What will you find there?” asks Pilate. “An end of travail … peace … a day without death.”
The story does not end there.
There begins to be reports that this dead man has risen and with these rumors unrest begins in and around Jerusalem. Pilate again summons the soldier and assigns Clavius to get to the truth of what has happened and to prove that all of these accounts of a resurrection are false. But they are not. In the course of his tracking down the disciples, Clavius comes face to face with Jesus – the man he saw die on the cross. His world is turned upside down! Everything is thrown into question. The hardened Roman soldier begins to tag along on the edge of the group of disciples – like a stray dog. He watches the risen Lord and the disciples. One night, on the shore of Lake Galilee, while all the disciples are asleep, Clavius approaches Jesus who is watching the night sky. Sitting down beside Jesus, Clavius admits, “I don’t even know what to ask,” “Speak your heart,” says Jesus. “How can I reconcile this with the world I know?” “Still you doubt … what frightens you … What is it you seek Clavius?” Jesus then answers for him, “certainty … peace … a day without death?” Clavius weeps, his heart and his pain have been recognized … and answered.
The angels in the tomb ask the women, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised.” Jesus alone is the “living one”. Although we consider ourselves alive we are not the “living one”. How do we know this? Because, like Clavius, we often seek to find life in the midst of that which is dead. When we seek peace and tranquility through worldly power, privilege and position – that is seeking to find life among that which is dead. When we find a numbing comfort in life by holding on to grievances, resentments, fears, sorrows, addictions, failures and even our own sins and sense of unworthiness of mercy – that is also seeking to find life among the dead. We are not the living one because we carry the wound of sin, because we so often look to find life among that which is dead.
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead,” asks the angels. Jesus alone is the living one and he is not to be found among any of those dead things.
Here is the Easter truth – Jesus alone is the living one. Jesus, alone, in his obedience has conquered sin and death. If we go on looking for life among that which is dead, we will find no life. It is only when we allow the Living One to find us – to answer the need and pain in our own heart – that we will know healing and true life.
Only in the fullness of the Kingdom, will we be truly living. Only then will we know a day without death. For now, we still carry the wound of sin. But, the Living One is here, he walks with us, he loves us and he gives us his mercy and he says to us, “Do not seek me among the dead things. I am not there. There is no life there. Let go of those things. I am the Life and I am here for you.”
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead,” ask the angels, “He is not here, but he has been raised.”