I watched my Facebook feed with some humor this past week as several individuals reminded their readers: “Pretend it’s Easter. Come back this Sunday. Jesus is still alive!”
Yes, Jesus is still alive, and this reality should make a difference in how the Easter worshipers in our communities approach the following Sunday … and the ones after that. But it should impact our lives as Christ-followers, too.
Recently, our Lord has me wrestling with the reality of the post-resurrection appearance He makes to a handful of disciples in John 21, the final chapter of the fourth Gospel. In a nutshell, these Christ-followers led by Simon Peter have returned to Galilee to go fishing, after having experienced the resurrected Lord themselves in the previous chapter of the book. On the banks of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus confronts them and challenges them with some realities of life “after Easter.” Perhaps He is challenging us with these realities, too.
Our life “post-resurrection” should be different than it was before we met Jesus.
The personal encounter Simon had with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee (Luke 5) was a pivotal moment in his life. It should have marked him forever. He had grappled with his own sinfulness and had acknowledged his unworthiness to follow Jesus, only to see Christ’s grace and forgiveness extended to him. Yet, now the implication of Scripture is that he was back to living his old life, his-pre-Jesus life, as though none of that, nor the power of the Resurrection, made any difference.
Jesus challenges his followers to realize He knows what is best for them.
“Throw your net off the right side of the boat,” Jesus says, “and see what happens.” These men, one-time experts in the field, had to humble themselves under the counsel of the Master. When they did, the result actually produced hope in His followers, even as it challenged them to trust Him more. Their obedience, and ours, results in Jesus doing “exceedingly abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).
Our love for Christ should be greater than ever as a result of what He has done for us.
Is your love growing for Jesus? Our Savior challenged Simon Peter with this very thing after breakfast as they sat around the fire. Christ’s death, burial and resurrection was for us – and it should profoundly and deeply prompt a growing love for Him that becomes richer and deeper as we understand and appreciate Him more. When our love for Him is greater than it is for “these” (people, experiences, really anything else), Jesus suggests it will show itself in action toward others. Love is a verb.
Finally, get out of the comparison business; just seek to make Jesus happy.
When Peter hears Jesus speak of his future and, in protest, asks about the disciple John’s future, Jesus reminds Peter to stay focused on following Him. This is what all of us need to remember. It’s so easy at Easter time to look around and compare our experience with Jesus to that of another, when in reality, we need to just keep our eyes on Him, and follow to the best of our ability. He will take care of all the rest.
Yes, Easter is special, and we are annually reminded of the glorious truth of what He has done for us. But the reality is that every day after Easter is different, infused with hope and meaning as we live out our lives for Him.
Yes, Jesus is still alive! How will this truth impact your life for Him today?
Dr. David Jackson serves as the director of church planting & strategy at the Baptist Convention of New England.