Surprisingly enough, I have tomorrow off. I don’t usually get Sundays off unless I request for them off (i.e. the last half of winter term due to homework), so to have Easter Sunday off is a pretty good deal. And with as much as I have been reflecting over what Easter really means (these last few days), I’m looking forward to celebrating it all with my church family and friends.
A couple years ago, on this day in between Jesus’ cross and empty tomb, I wrote a Facebook note about how the Disciples must have felt when Jesus was dead and presumably gone. Now that I think about it, it was much similar to yesterday’s post – imagining what it might have felt like to be one of Jesus closest followers, expecting Him to overthrow the Roman Empire single-handedly, and yet wrestling with His sudden and gruesome absence. This day in between is easy for us to deal with; we know Jesus rose on the third day. But from Peter’s perspective (or James or John or even Thomas), it had to have been a different story.
Shock was spiritually and physically felt when Jesus died – the Scriptures indicate us much. The earth literally shook and the Disciples were spiritually and emotionally rattled that their King was killed. But the day in between provided some time for the shock to settle a little; the Disciples probably didn’t get much sleep, but had plenty of time to think about other things. Should we go back to the way things were before? – they may have thought. Or do we just wait and see what happens tomorrow?
John’s Gospel gives an interesting story about Peter and what he decided to do – even after Jesus had been raised. Instead of carrying the movement on, he said to his fellow disciples, “I’m going fishing,” (21:3). No, there isn’t an indication that fishing was on Peter’s mind on this day in between, but with as quickly as he decided to revert back to his old way of life it’s difficult for me to think this wasn’t on the back of his mind while he wondered where Jesus was.
Our comfort zones are hard to detach from – especially when it comes to figuring out where our lives are heading. I’ve been thinking over this “What-do-I-do-now?” question with my graduation coming up. Formulating a plan has been difficult – so difficult in fact that so much of me wants to revert back to the lifestyle I had before college even began; working two part-time jobs as often as possible. It was simple, the jobs weren’t hard, and I liked the stability these two jobs provided me with. But God called me somewhere else.
This day in between is spent much differently for us in the 21st century knowing, or at least believing, that Jesus rolled out of His grave. We can’t ask what we’re supposed to do without Jesus because we know that tomorrow is Easter – the day that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. What then is the value of this day since we know that Easter is arriving tomorrow? As the disciples probably thought about their lives in the wake of Jesus’ death, perhaps we should think about our lives in the wake of His resurrection.
Do we merely take on the Christian title tomorrow by showing up to church with our annual or bi-annual commitment (can’t forget about our Christmas appearance)? Do we maybe send “He is risen” text messages to all our friends if we decide not to show up to church? Do we continue on with the stability of our old jobs? Or do we face the same, harsh reality that Peter faced in John 21; that, because of the empty tomb, our lives are never going to be the same? Do we spend the rest of our lives coming face to face to the reality that we weren’t meant to be the same person as we were before we met Jesus?
Paul’s testimony (or the testimony of any of the disciples) is evidence that we weren’t supposed to be the same. Jesus rose not so that we might have the same life we’ve always had, but that we’d have spiritual life – and have it abundantly. And while we might try to make the old life work, Scripture speaks clearly that Jesus wants all or nothing. Peter tried to make the old work and nearly had his boats sunk by the call of Jesus. We would be wise to take the implicit advice: Make the commitment.
Make it now, make it tomorrow, make it the next day, and every day thereafter until you breathe your last and are able to say, “I have run the race with everything I had.” Even though we know about Jesus’ resurrection, we still have other questions to mill over. We should not ask, “How do I go back to living my old life?” but rather, “How do I redefine everything about my life?” Paul was a violent persecutor of the church, but redefined his life as an Apostle because he met Jesus – because of the empty tomb.
Knowing Jesus was raised, how do you define your life now? Not having to work tomorrow, I hope to spend some quality time contemplating the answer.