This morning, we will address the two questions given in our two passages–– “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5) and “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (Romans 6:3).The response to the first is “Jesus is risen!” The answer to the second is “Jesus is risen, and we’re with him!” Easter is the foundation for every baptism, and each baptism is a celebration of Easter.
Garden of Graves (Luke 24:1-7)
Luke 24 begins in a garden as several women attempt to anoint the dead body of Jesus (vs. 1). This garden is not full of life but has become a place of death, a garden of graves (Jn. 19:41) When the women arrive at the grave they find the stone is rolled away and the tomb is empty (vs. 2-3). As they are processing, two angels appear and deliver a zinger, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (vs. 5) On first pass, the women seem pretty justified in their search. They know Jesus is died because they saw him die. So he’s going to be among the dead. This is how it’s been since the events of another garden––the Garden of Eden.
The Gospel According to Two Trees
In the beginning, God created Adam, the seed of humanity’s family tree. The tree of mankind is contained and represented in this tiny seed named Adam. As the seed goes, so goes the tree. If the seed is healthy, the tree is healthy. If the seed is sick, the tree is sick. On the day Adam disobeyed, sin entered the seed and this disease infected the human tree. The root, trunk, branches, fruit all share the same disease, and, like the seed, “shall all surely die.”
Here begins the good news of another tree from a new Seed. The Master Gardener loves the diseased, the rotting, the dying people in Adam’s Tree. So the Lord causes a new Seed to grow on the old tree and from this new Seed he would plant a new tree. The Holy Spirit caused Mary to conceive so that “the child to be born will be called holy––Son of God” (Lk. 1:35). This seed has to be the Son of God and not the son (or great, great, great, great, great…grandson) of Adam, so he can born without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Because Jesus is man, He is united to the tree. Because Jesus is God, He is free from the sin of the tree.
Baptized into Adam’s Tree
The first thing Jesus does in his public ministry is to identify with Adam’s Tree by being baptized by John. John’s baptism was of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mk. 1:4). But Jesus is the one person who does not need to be baptized. As Paul says, “He made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus becomes the sin of those he will save. On the wooden cross, the Seed of the woman receives the punishment for the sins of Adam’s Tree. The Seed is then hacked off from the tree and the buried in the ground (Is. 53:8). But even when Jesus is buried as a dead seed, there comes new life. The angels announce to the women the miracle. The seed of the woman, Jesus, is no longer among the dead. He’s not here, but he has risen! And so the angels ask, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
Baptized into Jesus’ Tree (Romans 6:3-4)
This is all very good news for Jesus. But why is this good news for me and all those in Adam’s tree? At Easter, the seed of the new tree is planted. Pauls says that your baptism unites you with the Seed so that what happens to the seed, happens to you. In baptism, you die with the Seed. In baptism, you are buried with the Seed. And in baptism you are raised with the Seed in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4). To become a Christian is to be cut off from the dying Adam Tree and to be grafted into the living Jesus Tree. And if this seems impossible for an individual twig to accomplish, that twig is correct. The work must be done by another, and it’s a gift to you (Eph. 2:8-9).
Baptized Death, Easter Life
The same question the angels asked about the Seed can now be asked about those from the Seed, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” If there’s new life from the dead for Jesus, then there’s new life for all those unified to Jesus. Once you are connected to the living Jesus Tree, then live like it! Produce the kind of fruit in your life that shows the kind of tree you’re connected to. Easter is the declaration that “Jesus is risen.” And each baptism is the declaration on another Easter, “Jesus is risen, and I’m with him.” This is the good news of Easter baptism.