The day after

What are you supposed to do after the greatest day in the history of the world? When I was younger, I would debate within myself which day was more important to Christianity - Christmas or Easter. Christmas was certainly more eventful and the buildup was pretty intense, especially on the economic side of things. Imagine if proceeds from all Christmas sales went to fund mission opportunities! Beyond all the trivial hoopla, I knew that Jesus coming to the earth as God in the flesh was huge, yet I could not get over the magnitude of the resurrection. And I still can't.

Christ's crucifixion was a brutal event, prolonged by a public beating and flesh tearing flogging. He hung on that tree for several hours before succumbing to death. Movies and books focus on these horrific events and well they should, for this sacrifice is almost too incredible to even process. Yet when it comes to the resurrection, so little space is devoted to it. The empty tomb symbolizes the greatest victory ever won with the least amount of fanfare. The whole world watched Jesus suffer. God the Father and a host of angels had the only seats when the Son rose triumphant.

Everything that I believe and hold to as a follower of Christ hinges on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Think about what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15: if Jesus did not rise from the grave then we are still in our sins, our faith is worthless and without foundation, and we are the most pitiful creatures on earth for believing in a lie. The empty tomb means everything!

As we celebrated Easter yesterday locally with hundreds of others, I looked around and knew that many who were gathered there were probably there for one of the only times they will go to church all year. When I was a "seminary punk" wearing my Protestant Pharisee robe, I used to disdain those people who would only give God His due on certain holy days, but now I rejoice when believers and nonbelievers alike gather together to honor the King who is risen.  The more people who observe Easter the better because there are so many opportunities for them to hear the beautiful gospel message and to understand exactly what Jesus completed on the cross.  We invited some of our neighbors who don't go to church to attend with us yesterday and it was fantastic sharing this incredible time of worship with them.

But now it's Monday. Everyone is going back to work or school, the kids are recovering from chocolate overdoses, and churches are storing the wooden crosses and purple shrouds until next year. Like a sport's fan who is still holding on to the glory of past championships, believers can feel almost hungover from the festivities that surround the observance of the greatest day in history. What is it that was most memorable for us? Was it the excuse to wear big floppy hats, pastels, and seersucker (guilty!)? Perhaps it was the size of the gathering in your church that made you secretly swell up with pride by the thought that you might have had more in attendance than last year. Or maybe it was the large gathering of family and friends assembled around the table as the Easter ham (or hot dogs in our case) was consumed.

When you woke up today after observing the greatest even in all of history, what did you do? How were you changed? Are you still dwelling on the empty tomb? Do you find yourself continually blown away by the sacrifice of God in the flesh for sinful man? Is your zeal for others to know and experience this resurrection power in their lives burning as hot today as it was yesterday?

We can be critical of our culture all we want for secularizing sacred Christian observances, yet they have no say on how we honor and worship our Lord and our King. The world has very little input in matters surrounding the day after the resurrection, but Christians do. As you hang up your bow tie and pick up all of the green plastic grass from the depths of your shag carpet, I hope you take the time to glory in the fact that the tomb is still empty. I pray that it still moves you to awe and worship. The message of the gospel rings truer each day that we move forward from this most amazing and incredible of miracles. When someone asks you today "How was your Easter?" skip to the best part and tell them about your amazing Jesus.

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