Holidays in America can oftentimes feel more about than the lead-up the actual holiday itself. We love to decorate for the holiday and we do so weeks in advance: realtors have Christmas decorations out in October, the Christmas shopping season begins on Thanksgiving night, we’re tripping over the last holiday in our rush to get to the next one! And that’s how we often behave the day after the holiday; we look to the next one. We would be foolish to do this with Easter because the day after Easter is not an ending, it is the beginning.
Jesus rising from the grave, conquering sin and defeating death is not something we should relegate to one day of celebration. For the Christian, we celebrate Easter every day because it is the foundation of our faith and means life everlasting.
“After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3)
Acts gives us much more insight into the story after Jesus rose from the grave. We find that it wasn’t a quick resurrection and then ascension, but that Jesus met with people and taught, that he was around for forty days after the resurrection. During this time, John records a very important interaction between Jesus and Peter.
In John 21, we find about eight of the disciples are out fishing, and Jesus appears on the beach. Jesus asks if they’ve caught anything and they say they haven't. He then tells them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat; they do, and the nets are so full they can’t haul it in. John recognizes this miracle and says, “It’s the Lord!” (John 21:7)
Peter jumps out of the boat and swims ashore to find that Jesus has started a fire and is making some breakfast.
“After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter replied, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then feed my lambs,’ Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter said, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then take care of my sheep,’ Jesus said. A third time he asked him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, ‘Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Then feed my sheep.’" (John 21:15-17)
Remember what Peter had done the night Jesus was killed? He denied Jesus three times. Here, Jesus gives Peter three chances to declare his love for Him, redeeming each time Peter denied Him. The resurrection means redemption. Because Jesus paid the price for our sin and he rose from death, we have the opportunity for redemption through Him.
“‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.’” (John 14:15-18)
It is in Acts chapters 1 and 2 that we see this promise of the Holy Spirit come true.
“Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, ‘Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 1:4-5)
In Acts chapter 2, the Holy Spirit comes to a group of believers who were meeting together. The first ability the Spirit gave was the ability to speak in other languages. Some people who saw and heard this claimed the believers were just drunk. Peter uses this moment of doubt to preach what would be the first sermon after Jesus’ ascension. Peter cites evidence from the Old Testament to prove that Jesus was the Messiah prophesized about.
“Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’
“Peter replied, ‘Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 2:37-38)
And here Peter explains exactly what we are to do when we realize the truth of Jesus: repent of our sins, turn to God, and be baptized in Jesus’ name for the forgiveness of our sins. The Christian church has followed this procedure for over 2,000 years, and it began just after the first Easter. After this one sermon, 3,000 people gave their lives to Christ and the Christian church began and grew at the most hostile time against Christians in history. For a comprehensive look at the persecution of the early church, click here. Let us be bold to proclaim the truth and lead our neighbors to the Lord. What impact can we have on the Kingdom today?
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.