He Is Risen… So Now What?

It’s hard to believe, but just a week ago, we celebrated Easter.  We went to church, sang ‘Christ the Lord is risen today…’, and thought about how Christ’s resurrection reminds us that, someday, we will be raised to new life, too.  Afterwards, many of us had a great meal and spent the day with family and friends.

But now what?  Does Easter and Christ’s resurrection have anything to do with how we live our lives today?

Empty Tomb 2 (K)Creative Commons License Kodi Tanner via Compfight

Let’s look at the very first Easter – and the days that followed – for some insights.

Five Ways Easter Matters Now

1. Knowledge alone doesn’t solve all our problems.  In John 20-21, Jesus appears three times to at least some of the disciples, but they’re still struggling with fear and hiding out behind locked doors because they’re afraid of the religious authorities (21:19, 26).  They ‘know’ that Jesus is risen, but they’re not living like it yet.

It’s the same with us.  Our world places such an emphasis on simply acquiring knowledge.  Reading books.  Formal education.  Listening to NPR.  But what are we doing with what we learn?  Is it making any difference in how we’re actually living?   I have to admit that the hope of Easter doesn’t practically shape most of my daily life.

2. Jesus is amazingly kind and understanding with our weaknesses.  Even when the disciples – and we – just don’t get him, Jesus is so patient.  Thomas, for example, didn’t believe the report of the other disciples that Jesus had been raised and says that he’ll never believe it unless he can see it with his own eyes (John 20:25).  Eight days later, he got his wish (26-29).  Jesus knows that we’re slow to trust him and incredibly weak, but he bears with us patiently.

3. But Jesus challenges us, too.  Even while Jesus bears with us, he doesn’t leave us where we are.  ‘Do not disbelieve, but believe’, he tells Thomas (John 20:27).  And us.  His resurrection invites us to look at the toughest places in our everyday lives and ask, ‘How would this be different if I remembered that Jesus is making – and will make – all things new?

Right now, for example, my wife and I are feeling totally overwhelmed with a bathroom renovation.  We’re doing a lot of the work and it’s been the (5,000 pound) straw that broke the camel’s back.  It’s not like knowing Jesus has been raised makes the work any easier, but it gives me a new perspective on what’s happening.  If Jesus can overcome death itself, our little project is probably not going to stop him, either.  He’s going to work this out.

4. We’re here to serve God and others.  Even though the disciples ditched Jesus when he needed them the most, right after appearing to them for the first time, he tells them they’ve got work to do: ‘As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you’ (John 20:21).  Despite our greatest failures, God’s grace apparently qualifies us to represent Jesus to a world in need.  We don’t have to be awesome; we just have to look around us and ask God to work through us.

5. There’s hope for absolutely every circumstance.  You know the places in your life you feel the worst about?  The fact that your career doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.  That you’re not half as smart as the other students in your program.  That you can’t seem to stay true to your diet or start to exercise.  Or pray like you want to.

Easter changes all of that.  When Jesus died, it seemed like everything was over.  Forever.  But the Resurrection meant that out of the worst circumstance ever – the death of God – God had triumphed. The early chapters of Acts – Luke’s sequel to his gospel – show how the disciples’ despair had quickly changed to unstoppable joy because Jesus had, in fact, been raised from the dead.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not like the Resurrection will add 20 points to your IQ or drive you to the gym.  But it matters now.  When you have to wake up for work tomorrow.  When you have to keep slogging as a single parent.  When you have to spend another night on call as a resident.  And when you have to keep facing chronic pain.

Because, Paul, tells us, God can ‘do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us’ (Ephesians 3:20).  That ‘power’ is the power of Christ’s resurrection, already present in us through the Holy Spirit.  The new life that Jesus entered into fully when he was raised from the dead is already yours now – in part – no matter what you’re going through.

So there you go.  Five ways that Easter is so much more than an obligatory hour church service and turkey dinner with family and friends.  Even if our circumstances don’t change, our perspective on them can.  And we can have hope, knowing that when Christ returns, everything really will be made right.

Let’s live it out: What is the hardest thing going on in your life right now?  How would looking at it from the perspective of Easter and the Resurrection change your outlook on it?