Contend Earnestly: Easter is Over...Now What?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter is Over...Now What?

The following passage of Scripture is possibly one of my favorites because it continually convicts me of a correct understanding of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one thing that I truly hate about both Christmas and Easter is just the plain overemphasis placed on what I receive and what I give, instead of what Jesus should receive and what he gave. We, as parents, can even get caught up in this as we give things to our children or others on these days. We can secretly take pride in being such a great giver. That is really take pride in giving...sad...but true. I had the opportunity to teach our 4 and 5 year-olds this year during the main service of Easter and was truly amazing. The first thing one of the kids asked was, "Are we doing an Easter egg hunt?" To his surprise we said, "No...but we will be painting crosses red to remember the blood that was shed for you."

We are just like this little one that asked, "what about the egg hunt?" Because we all have the traditions that we hold on to for these celebrations. I once was told by a wife of one of my leaders that she was a little upset that we were having youth group the week before Christmas this year, because, she said, "Christmas should be about family." it shouldn't be. It should be about Jesus. This morning I took my son to pre-school and I asked him the most terrifying question a parent could ask his five year old: "Caleb. What do you think is the most important thing to your mom and dad?" He, without hesitating said, "Jesus." I was glad to hear that mommy and daddy had portrayed this to our son. I did quickly add that, "yes, Jesus is the most important, and also understand that mommy and daddy love you very much too." It was a scary question, but the answer gave me some hope that we are "on the right track." So, why am I giving this long monologue? Because as Good Friday and Easter has come and gone, what should we do now? This, in my opinion, is why most Easter know...the people that only show up once a year to church, don't understand Easter. That is...Easter is an everyday worshipful experience for our Lord Jesus Christ, it is not a once a year celebration where that huge, scary pink bunny hides eggs in your yard and breaks in your house to give your child an edible bunny in a basket. It is always about Jesus. Here is where I want to get...the text. Look at how the people of Jesus responded to the first Easter. By the way, I do find it funny that because of Easter, the Jews could now eat rabbits (they were prohibited before because they 'chewed the cud'), but that is a different story.

Jesus, just opened the minds of those around to understand the Scriptures, He gives a sermon about his death and resurrection, gives them the application of the sermon, which is to evangelize and then notice what their response is, to this first Easter:

And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.
Luke 24:50-53

Is this not the most correct response we can give in understanding Easter? The first thing we find out is that the people that were there were worshiping Christ. What is your Easter filled with? Is it filled with egg hunts and ham, or is it filled with worshiping Christ? This is not just on Easter either, but it is after you get home, take off your tacky sweater vest and get in your sweatpants. It is always worshiping Christ for what he did on that first Easter day. It is realizing that the only reason that we have hope is not laid up on anything besides what happened that first Easter. The correct response is a life of worship to Christ, because of him conquering death, the just dying for the unjust, the one who was righteous becoming sin for us so that we could become righteous and he could bring us to God. The only correct response to this is to completely worship him for it. Question is: Are our lives, lives of worship or are they filled with something else?

Second. Notice that those who were there, returned to Jerusalem with great joy. Is your joy full of the knowledge of the conquering Saviour? Now, emotions are okay, but do the things of this world steal your joy? On Easter, if you drop your honey baked ham on your sweater vest, does this ruin your day? If your child eats his chocolate bunny too quickly and throws up on his sisters pink frilly dress, do the eyes of Satan come upon them? Or do we understand that these things are not the most important thing on Easter. Is our joy full because of the knowledge of Christ our Saviour? People come to church once a year for this occasion but they really miss out in an understanding that the other 364 (365 this year) days of the year are as important to our joy as this hour and fifteen minutes once a year. In John 3, John the Baptist said that his joy was full in just hearing the bridegroom's voice. We must ask ourselves, does 1 Peter 1:8 describe us?

and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
1 Peter 1:8

Does it? Now, this joy is BECAUSE OF this one time occurrence, but doesn't only happen once a year, but is continual. And notice that it happened after they had worshiped. Once you worship Jesus correctly, the only thing that you can do, is have a joy inexpressible.

Thirdly. After worshiping Jesus, having joy inexpressible, the third is that the people went continually to the temple, praising God. One of the most depressing things about Easter is the week after. Just the week before the sanctuary was packed, with well dressed, hell bound people. The week after, the sanctuary is back to normal. The people are back to normal. But this was not the call of the first Easter. The call of the first Easter was to worship, fullness of joy and then to continually praise God in the temple. This was probably two fold for the early Christians. One was to simply praise God for what he did on Easter, but the other was to be in the temple to evangelize to their Jewish brothers. Easter always seems special when we meet together to celebrate that Christ conquered death, but every Lord's day should be special. We should always be asking our friends, family and co-workers to join us in this celebration, not just this one time occurrence. Plus, if they come on the other days, they don't have to wear that light blue cardigan, they can come in jeans and a t-shirt. They can see that the church isn't closed for the rest of the year. They can see that the church isn't like a traveling carnival, only showing up once a year and giving away candy and trinkets, with a clown in the pulpit (that one might hurt some of you that do this at your church).

Notice what the people did. They continually praised God! Continually. I can't repeat that enough. So, today, as you are at work reading this instead of doing work, like you should be doing, understand that Easter didn't stop yesterday, but is a life long love of what the Saviour did. Once we understand this, we will understand that we should be continually praising God. Go home tonight and praise Jesus with your family. Relive Easter again tonight. Gather your family again, to make sure they understood what just happened this past weekend. Make sure that they understand that we are going to talk about Easter, often, not just once a year.

We must ask ourselves, "Are we as excited as those at the first Easter?" Are we excited as must as those that Peter is speaking to in 1 Peter? Do we understand that when we truly see Easter for what it is, that we should worship, have a joy inexpressible and continually praise God?

I pray that this post would just serve as a reminder to what just took place this past weekend. It is all to point us back to the cross and the empty tomb, and without a correct response, you should just go buy another chocolate bunny for half off and feed it to your kids tonight...cause that is all Easter is, if we don't respond to it in a correct way. It is just a stomach ache with leftovers.

Soli Deo Gloria.


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