April 10, 2012

Jesus is Still Alive!

Another Easter has come and gone. And now we wait 51 more weeks before returning, once more, to what is often called ‘the most important Sunday of the year.’

I understand why people think of Easter in that way – ‘the most important Sunday of the year’. It is, after all, the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, without which there would be no Christianity! That is what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15.14. “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” So it’s no wonder Christians everywhere make a big deal out of Easter. The whole of Christianity rests on the fact of what happened on that glorious Sunday so long ago! And so it is right that we hail that day with glad songs, and special services, and a particular focus on the emptiness of the tomb!

And yet, in all our particular emphasis on this particular Sunday, we run the risk of doing exactly the opposite of what we intend. That is, if we leave our resurrection celebrations primarily to Easter Sunday, we miss 51 other opportunities for remembering that Christ is risen indeed. That’s right! According to the New Testament way of doing things, there are actually 52 Easter Sundays every year. That is to say that, while we have no evidence that New Testament Christians had a special resurrection celebration on a particular Sunday each spring, we have ample evidence that they celebrated the risen Jesus every Sunday of the year!

As you read the New Testament, it becomes fairly clear that the apostles and their contemporaries began observing their sabbaths, no longer on Saturdays, but on the first day of the week (see 1 Corinthians 16.2 and Acts 20.7), which they began calling “the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1.10). That was a major departure from Old Testament Judaism – worshipping on Sunday rather than Saturday! But why would the early Christians have made such a radical change? Almost certainly because it was on the first day of the week (Sunday) that Christ had risen from the dead! Sunday was (and is) “the Lord’s Day” because it was the day on which Jesus conquered death once and for all!

So what am I saying? The early Christians celebrated Jesus’ resurrection, not just once a year, but every single Sunday! And we should too!

That is not to say there is anything wrong with having a special celebration on what we call Easter Sunday. In fact, there is at least one unparalleled benefit to this national festival – we get more visitors in church on Easter Sunday morning than on any other day of the year! So I am grateful for Easter Sunday! And yet I want to remind you that Jesus is still alive and well, even now that Easter Sunday is past! The resurrection is just as glorious a fact today as it was this past Sunday! Men and women ought to stream into church on April 15 the same way they did on April 8. And we ought to be just as eager to invite friends this Sunday (and every Sunday) as we were last week!

Every Sunday Jesus deserves our best efforts and our maximum praise! Every Sunday He is risen and reigning! Every Sunday is a resurrection day! Let us, therefore, give our best efforts to make sure that we live like it is so!

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