This past Easter Sunday, I was bummed out. I typically don't feel elation on this day. I understand that Jesus had risen from the dead, but how does that knowledge translate to me? What about persecuted Christians around the world? Since Jesus is alive still, after almost 2,000 years, does God expect me to always walk around in a state of emotional frenzy? Should I feel guilty if I don't? Even Paul wrote that he despaired of his own life.
"For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life."
2 Corinthians 1:8 KJV
Does Jesus walk with me while I go through my busy day? Is He with us as we get chewed out by bosses, or as we steal time at the water cooler? Is He with us while our spouses loudly discuss finances again, or what to do about our children again? Is He literally with us as we visit the doctor anticipating bad news? Is He more than an imaginary friend?
We know He is, but why should His resurrection be important to us? We read the historical record about Jesus' closest disciples, and how they didn't know what to do next. Jesus appeared to as many as 500 witnesses at one time, and they also had those who resurrected at the time of His death, but what did it mean? Why did He have to he ascended to the Father? Only 120 of His followers obeyed Jesus's command to wait. So what next? Jesus was here and now gone? Who would believe this insane story? Lots of questions, little instruction. He did promise to send a Comforter (John 14:16 John 14:26).
"But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, 'Whither goest thou?'
But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Of sin, because they believe not on me;
Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged."
John 16:5-11 KJV
I always thought Jesus was referring to His crucifixion. I now think He was also referring to ascension. He purchased right standing with God through His blood. He became the better, perfect, final and eternal sacrifice. This new and final propitiation gave right for man's claim to live in union with God. God came to live with man via The Holy Spirit. It was at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit began to indwell the church. When Peter preached the first Gospel message on the streets, three thousand men decided to follow their messiah, and took up their cross. It was after the church received the Spirit that the message of “The Way” filled Jerusalem. Jesus's prophecy about mistreatment and martyrdom came true. The infilling gave men the courage to preach the message of peace with God through Jesus. God now indwells His people. We now can love sacrificially as God does.
Satan still wars against man and God. We listen to the world warring against the Church. We all heard of Notre Dame burning. Did you hear of two thousand churches burned or desecrated in France in the last few years or so? Did you also hear of the Churches and hotels which were bombed this Easter? Did you know that there were more Christians martyred in the last 100 years than since the Crucifixion?
Even so, let us be about our Father's business, to love our neighbors and warn them of the coming judgement. Let us love our wives, children, then love our neighbors.
Ours is a heavy mantle. Let us shoulder our cross. Let us serve our bosses as if we were working for Jesus. Let us serve our wives and children with the same mindset when at home. Let us schedule our time so we can reach out and love our neighbors being free from other things which weigh on our hearts.
Lastly, I am glad for the resurrection of the dead. However, the disciples did not go to the world until they received the Holy Spirit. Scripture says:
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
Luke 11:13 KJV
Let us remember to ask loudly and often. Not to seek signs and wonders, but to be in the business of harvesting souls, to lead others in holy living, and discipleship. Let us hear and obey God's call to labor in the fields of harvest. Let us imitate the Apostles who went boldly into the world not caring about their personal reputation, nor their reception by the world. Jesus promised us that since the world hated Him, we can expect the same treatment from the world. Peter writes that there will be mockers and scoffers in the last days. I don't think we should tailor the message to appease them.
In life, we are to live by what we KNOW, not by what we FEEL. We know some things for 100% guaranteed certain. Through His resurrection, Jesus proved beyond any reasonable doubt that He has all authority, even over life and death. He now sits on His throne having full authority. Even more than that, He has and given us the Holy Spirit by which we can courageously go into all the world and preach the Good News. It is this which keep us going. I can now love my neighbor enough to warn them of the coming judgement and the way of escape.