In the historical church, the season between Easter Sunday and Pentecost is called Eastertide, a festive season for celebrating the risen Christ. Historically it lasted 40 days until Ascension Day, also called Holy Thursday, to mark the 40 days Jesus remained on earth before returning to heaven. In recent years, some church traditions have changed this season to include the additional ten days before Pentecost.
Celebration is an important element of our faith which we practice well at Christmas, but not at Easter. The question is how do we continue to celebrate Christ?
Without a guide for these days, we are a little lost. On our own we don’t know how to carry our Easter celebration with us past Resurrection Sunday. We also don’t know how to anticipate the coming church holy days—Ascension Day and Pentecost.
There is much to discover and learn in this 50-day season from the recorded appearances of Jesus after His resurrection and the last words He spoke on earth.
And there is so very much to remember.
Can’t you imagine the disciples in those early days and weeks after the Resurrection reliving it all over and over again? They must have said to one another, “How did we miss that?” Or “Do you remember Jesus said this to us?” And the one listening said, “You’re right! I do remember now! How could I have forgotten?”
And they must have asked one another, “Were you there when …” questions about so many events and miracles. And especially they relished those moments surrounding His last few days of life. To be near someone dying is to be on holy ground.
Hindsight can teach us a lot.
- What did He say to His disciples in each appearance after the Resurrection?
- What does the Resurrection teach us about our lives and our faith?
- What did the disciples learn and see and understand that can guide us today?
- What did Jesus reveal about Himself that will carry us forward on our journey just as it did the 12 disciples and the thousands changed by the coming of the Spirit?
So this year, to whet your appetite for the day when we produce a full 40-day devotional, we have one week of post-Easter devotions for our paid subscribers. We hope you will read these meditatively, learn more about Jesus, and continue to savor the Savior who gave His life for you and rose from the grave.
May you celebrate the Resurrection longer this year!
Day One: Remember the Emotions
Yesterday we marked the anniversary of the most miraculous moment since the dawn of time.
How would you evaluate the experience? This is not an evaluation of your church or pastor but your own heart. Were you distracted by the to-dos for your Easter brunch? Did you allow yourself to enter the experience of what actually happened that day in A.D. 33? In short, were you awed in any way?
Today, Monday, schools are back in session and the normal business of life has resumed. But is there any afterglow? Yes, there are tasks to be done, but while you are busy are you remembering the wonder of Easter? Or have you quickly forgotten because it’s the same every year? Is it just old news to you?
“Easter morning is the turning point of world history” writes Trevin Wax. So … let’s not leave the scene too quickly.
Come with me to gaze at a few details from Resurrection’s dawn with the clarity of hindsight and the Spirit’s illumination. Enter the story. To be changed by the miracle of it, we must keep it with us … closely, intimately, as a treasure.
As the sun crested the horizon on the first Easter morn, its warmth touched a group of women gathered in the morning’s chill beside a stone tomb. The four Gospels name them in various groupings. Naming women as witnesses was unheard of in that era, but God valued their faith! He valued them as much as men because “ … God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:11). By listing them God helped us see them and their hearts of faith that pleased Him. They were Mary Magdalene; Mary, the mother of James; Mary, the mother of Jesus; Salome; Joanna; and others.
But … wait … why were no men present?
Was it typically the woman’s duty to care for the bodies of the departed? Or were the men kept away by the facts—Jesus was dead and everyone knows death is final. End of story.
Jesus was like family to these women! It was unthinkable not to go to the tomb because women are devoted to their families. They went to be near the One they loved, “that they might anoint Him” (Mark 16:1-2).
A pause on our journey back to the scene … and a question: Have you been willing to go near to Jesus even when He seemed dead … or silent … or unresponsive to you? What do you think of these women who did not hesitate?
Let’s look again at the scene of the tomb … closely now … because of their love for Jesus, the women dared to go near … and …
… they were the very first to discover the tomb was empty (John 20:1).
… they were the first to hear the news “He has risen, just as He said” (Matthew 28:5-7, Luke 24:6-7).
… they were the first to see Jesus alive (John 20:14-16).
… they were the first to believe and worship Him (Matthew 28:8-9).
Here at the tomb we see Jesus honor His female disciples who were quick to recognize and believe the impossible. Their deep love and their eager welcoming faith was abundantly rewarded.
Then they ran to share the good news!
In John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb earlier than anyone else, and when she saw the stone had been rolled away she ran to tell Peter and John. Both got up and ran hurriedly to the tomb. Peter “saw” but John “saw and believed,” he wrote in John 20:6-8. Later, Jesus rebuked the disciples as a group for not believing the report of these faithful women. Mark 16:14 says, “He (Jesus) rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart.”
What can we learn for today from these brief glimpses into the scene of that morning miracle?
First, belief in God is supremely important to Jesus. Though we waver often between belief and unbelief, Easter reminds us to always lean toward belief even if we feel crazy doing so, just as believing Jesus was actually alive felt crazy on that first Easter morning.
Another lesson is that God likes it when we choose to go to Him, to be near Him. James 4:8 tells us, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” Will you take steps toward Him? Your turning to Him will not go unnoticed.
Another profound truth from the death of Jesus is this: The end of the story is never the end of the story. You may be facing a dead end in your life, but the Resurrection is a reminder that God knows how to raise the dead.
Choosing to believe keeps the door open to what God wants to do. Choosing to believe is one way we remain awed by Jesus every day.
Allowing the wonder and miracles of the Resurrection to influence your life every day this week is another way we can live in the wonder of the Resurrection.
Today God’s word says to us, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (Isaiah 60:1).
Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!!!
For Eastertide reflection:
1. Since the Resurrection is the pivotal moment of history, why are Christians on the Monday after Easter back to normal as if nothing revolutionary happened? Why is Easter just an event we celebrate, with any wonder or awe we feel evaporated by nightfall? What are your thoughts about this?
2. Are you open to remaining stunned by this incomprehensible miracle? How can you remain awed by Jesus even as you return to ordinary living?
For Resurrection living today:
Author and theologian N.T. Wright wrote, “Easter is about the wild delight of God’s creative power. We should light every candle … celebrate in creative new ways. This is our great festival! We shouldn’t allow the secular world to throw us off course with its schedules, habits and parareligious events. If Calvary is about putting to death things in your life that need killing … then Easter should mean planting, watering and training things in your life to grow and in due course bear fruit.”
In light of this rightly orienting quote, what might you add to your life that will produce growth in Christ? What can you avoid this week of the secular world’s schedules and habits that will help you savor the wonder of the Resurrection?
When Jesus showed up after the Resurrection, once the shock wore off I imagine the disciples burst into a volley of questions. They didn’t get on their knees to talk to Him in prayer. He was with them!
Jesus is with us, too, so may I suggest you practice talking to Jesus out loud this week just as they did? Don’t think of it as prayer, but as inviting Him to participate with you in your day.
As you talk to Jesus, thank Him for what He did for you; thank Him for the beauty of spring days. And as you interact with the people in your life, ask Jesus to guide you and help you be more like Him to them. At the end of the day thank Him for being with you and ask Him to make your heart like the women who went to be near Him even though they never expected a response.
Remember Jesus’ silence never means He’s absent.
P.S. If you’d be willing to give me feedback on this seven-day devotional I’d love to hear from you as I work and prepare to add additional days for next year. To give me your feedback, click here to fill out a short survey. I’d be very grateful to hear from you.