Easter is now officially over.
The question is, what now?
The Resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. If Christ is not resurrected, then what hope do we have.
"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is worthless, and so is your faith. In that case, we are also exposed as false witnesses about God. For we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead but He did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If our hope in Christ is for this life alone, we are to be pitied more than all men."
1 Corinthians 15: 12-18
The greatest hope of the Resurrection is not that Jesus was raised once. It's that He remains alive. He is alive and omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. He is alive and at the right hand of the Father. He is alive and reigning on high.
And that is something we can and should celebrate each and every day of the year!
For too many people, Easter is the one time of year that the Resurrection is given any thought. It may be one of only a couple of times the enter the church, likely as a responsibility to family. It's the only time they hear the story of Jesus' death and resurrection. And with the Monday after Easter, everything is back to normal. Easter is over. The obligations are complete. Reality sets back in.
Sadly, I think this is the case for far too many Christians as well.
Oh, they can quote the verses. They sing "My Redeemer Lives," "He Lives," and "Resurrecting." They are in services every week, and they would say they believe every word of the Easter story. They believe in Jesus' death and literal resurrection.
They just don't live like it.
For far too many Christians, the Resurrection is brought out at Easter and then celebrated, but then Jesus is put back in the tomb or back on the cross.
Others may only be celebrating this one time a year; gathering with family for the annual obligation. Without being able to gather this year, what happened to that obligation? Did many still view a service out of habit?
Jesus on the cross is marketable. It's fashionable. It can be worn on t-shirts and jewelry. It can be put on Bible covers, hung on walls, and be used as an easily recognizable symbol. And when Jesus remains on the cross, when he remains a savior that died for our sins, then we have been saved and our present obligation ends. Likewise, with Jesus in the tomb.
The resurrection is something different. If Jesus not just rose again, but is alive today, then we have obligations to him. We have to recognize him as Lord. As the ruling King of Kings. And we have to live accordingly. Jesus as Lord requires more of us.
"For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you."
2 Corinthians 4: 5-12
Leaving Jesus in the tomb or on the cross misses out on the power that He can demonstrate in our daily lives. On the mission that He has for us today. Now. On the blessings, the comfort, and the LIFE that only He can provide.
This seems to be a great part of why the early church did not use the iconography of the crucifix. The cross was too recent, too painful, perhaps too close to the reality of what the crucifix did. It was seen as the instrument of torture that it was.
Instead, the imagery was focused on the Good Shepherd. Jesus with a lamb resting across his shoulders. Jesus with the shepherd's crook.
And to me, that really re-centers the focus of the Christian life. Don't get me wrong, the crucifix is still powerful imagery and represents the greatest victory that we have. There is, however, also a tendency to treat it as a one-time historical event, both in the life of Christ and in our lives. It's too easy for us to leave Christ on the cross. To stop at our salvation and not pursue sanctification - to just get "fire insurance" and that's it. To treat Jesus as just Savior and not Lord.
Focusing on the Good Shepherd reminds us that He is still watching over us. He is still guiding us and protecting us. And that we are still required to be listening for His voice. To follow His voice and His voice alone. To go where the shepherd guides us and to graze there. To lie down in good pastures, to drink still waters, to graze along the Paths of Righteousness.
It reminds us that the Good Shepherd is and should be a part of our daily lives.
So don't let your celebrating end. Don't let Easter be the end of your remembrance and celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. Don't keep Jesus in the tomb.
Now let's live like it on more than just Easter Sunday.
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