In the lead up to Easter this year, I’ve been reflecting on the life and ministry of my Great Uncle, Leon Morris.
In February, when I preached as part of our Missions Month at Ambassador, and shared our call to missions (generally) and Costa Rica (specifically), I spoke about Leon. I shared about his influence on my early Christian walk and how his faithfulness inspired me when he was on the threshold of going home.
March 15, 2014 would have been his 100th birthday. Ridley College in Melbourne (where he taught for 30 years) has been posting some occasional posts celebrating Leon’s centenary. The first post by current Ridley principal, Rev Dr Brian Rosner is great and I eagerly await each new post in the series.
In the weeks to come, I plan to write more about “Uncle Leon” and the precious friendship God blessed me with. But today, on Easter Sunday, I am drawn to the verse from Luke that is the title of this blog post.
From my mid-teens, I made a regular practice of listening to sermons on tape (for my younger readers, Google “cassette” if you’re confused what I’m talking about!) Leon’s sermons were some of my favorites and I remember one Easter Sunday sermon in particular.
Luke 24 was Leon’s text and he preached it with his usual care and precision. But what stood out to me from the first time I heard it (and to this very day) is the way Leon dramatically said the words of the angels.
No one would have called Leon bombastic but when he delivered those words – “why are you looking for the living among the dead?!?” – he communicated a striking mix of incredulity and joy. I felt like I was hearing the angels’ words as they would have been received by the women staring at the empty tomb.
Those words were truly new life dawning in the hearts of those women. They heard the explanation and then the angels told them the gospel – the good news of Easter Sunday. “He told you – the Son of Man had to be crucified by sinful men. But he would rise on the third day!”
The despair and dejection of those Jesus followers must have turned to joy so quickly! And in Leon’s words, on that cassette tape, I heard the introduction to joy. “Why are you looking for the living among the dead!”
In the years to come, I have often exclaimed – at random moments – to my parents, to Melanie, to my kids, summoning my best Uncle Leon impersonation, “why are you looking for the living among the dead!” Every time I remember those words, I rejoice in our risen Saviour, and remember the faithful ministry of His servant, Leon Morris.