After Easter, What?
Most Christians celebrated Resurrection Sunday—Easter—last Sunday, April 1, but Eastern Orthodox Christians will celebrate it one week later, April 8. (This is because in the east people use the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar.)
But whenever we celebrate it, Easter is the celebration of the fact, and reality, that Jesus of Nazareth, after having been crucified, dead and buried, rose from the dead the third day! This is the very heart of our faith!!
As a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “The Easter Effect and How It Changed the World,” https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-easter-effect-and-how-it-changed-the-world-1522418701 put it:
“There is no accounting for the rise of Christianity without weighing the revolutionary effect on those nobodies of what they called “the Resurrection”: their encounter with the one whom they embraced as the Risen Lord, whom they first knew as the itinerant Jewish rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, and who died an agonizing and shameful death on a Roman cross outside Jerusalem. As N.T. Wright, one of the Anglosphere’s pre-eminent biblical scholars, makes clear, that first generation answered the question of why they were Christians with a straightforward answer: because Jesus was raised from the dead.”
I had a bad cold Easter morning, and my wife and I did not attend worship outside our home. But part of our home worship was to view the “Jesus Video”. I was struck by part of what Jesus says to his disciples after his resurrection. In Luke 24:49 he says, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." (New International Version.) I think the New Living Translation makes it even clearer: “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven."
In other words, in answer to the question, After Easter, What?” the answer of Jesus is “Go wait until you are clothed in/receive the power of the Holy Spirit from on high.”
Some people tend to want to celebrate Christmas, the birth of the Son of God in human form, without celebrating Good Friday and Easter—the celebrations of his death for our sins and of his resurrection from the dead! Similarly, some people celebrate Easter without doing what Jesus said—looking beyond the resurrection to his giving his church the power of the Holy Spirit. We celebrate the giving of the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost—each preserves in memory and in hope an indispensable truth of Christian faith: God became human in Jesus and dwelt among us (Christmas); Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead (Good Friday and Easter); God sends us the power that is in Jesus through the Holy Spirit so that we may be his witnesses. (Pentecost).
In Acts 1:8, just before his ascension into heaven, the Risen Jesus said, “you shall receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The power by which God raised Jesus from the dead is available in our own lives to us as we serve him and proclaim him. We must continuously wait for and ask for that Pentecostal power—the power of the Holy Spirit!
Winfield Casey Jones is a retired pastor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column first appears in the Pearland and Friendswood Reporter News.