There is so much anticipation leading up to Easter, but what happens after Easter, after all the festivities and celebrations?
I wrote the text for this blog post/podcast episode on Easter evening. My wife and I had an inspiring day. Church was full of celebrating Jesus’s resurrection and what that represents for the whole world. Jesus’s victory has opened the doors of heaven.
We also spent time with friends and family, in person and on Zoom. It has been a very special day. And I hope you had a very inspiring Easter this year.
But what happens now?
But what happens after you’ve gone to that sunrise service at church? What happens after the inspiring sermons and Easter activities. We greet each other at church with that wonderful salutation of the angel: “He is risen!” What happens next?
So here I am on Easter night thinking about this.
What happens after Easter?
When I was a student in France, people celebrated the day after Easter called Lundi de Pâques, or Easter Monday. It’s still a public holiday in France and many other countries.
But what about the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, after Easter, and all the days that follow? How long do we remember and hold onto the joy we felt on Easter morning? How long do we focus on and live the spirit of Jesus’s resurrection in our day-to-day lives?
Unfortunately, a week or two after Easter has come and gone, sometimes the very next day, we’re busy with all sorts of things that occupy our time, our actions, and the thoughts in our heart.
We get occupied with family activities, projects at work, planting the garden, planning a vacation. The list goes on and on. In and of themselves, these activities are probably good and needed.
But honestly, how much do we continue to remember and be inspired by the resurrection two, three, or six months after Easter?
Now don’t be too hard on yourself. You may not be thinking specifically about the resurrection every day of the year, but if you’re following Christ to the best of your ability, loving your neighbor as yourself, loving people the way Jesus loved his disciples, and honoring and glorifying God, then you are actually imbibing the spirit of the resurrection, the power of love over fear and hate.
But what would our lives be like if we constantly had the power and spirit of Jesus’s resurrection in our hearts and minds?
I don’t have that answer for you. The only way to really find out is to think and act more with this spirit of resurrection.
This is what I’ve been thinking about over the last few days. I don’t want my life just to go back to normal, after Easter, as if nothing significant has happened.
I want to experience the power of the resurrection all year long. I want it to change me from the inside out on, on a daily basis. This is what I called, in last week’s episode, # 131, the resurrection mindset.
What happened after the resurrection?
The Bible doesn’t say a whole lot about what happened in the days right after Jesus rose from the dead. We know he talked with Mary Magdalene and his immediate disciples that first day, as well as the two who ran off to Emmaus.
And he appeared several times to various groups of followers over the next 40 days.
Have you ever wondered what those meeting with Jesus were like? What did they talk about? We get some clues from passages like this one in Acts,
After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3 NIV
Can you imagine the questions the disciples had?
After what seemed at the time to be a crushing defeat and the loss of everything they had hoped for, when they saw and talked to Jesus after his resurrection victory, the disciples were undoubtedly overjoyed to see their Master again. Just being with Jesus again must have also given them immense hope and expectation for what the future would bring.
What will happen next?
But they must have had their share of uncertainties and doubts as to what would happen next.
In fact, just before Jesus ascended, the questions they asked revealed that they still did not completely understand the idea of what Jesus meant by the kingdom of God being at hand, even though he had preached about it during his three year ministry and was, during the 40 days he was with them now, once more telling them about the kingdom of God.
Jesus was preparing them for his earthly departure into heaven. He reminded them of the promise he had made at the Last Supper (see John 14:26 below)
“…in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Act 1:5-8 NIV
What’s in store for the disciples
Here was an indication of what was in their future.
They, perhaps, had still been thinking, to some degree, of an earthly, geopolitical kingdom where the Jews had their own sovereign nation, as in the days of David and Solomon. They were asking Jesus when that kingdom would be restored.
But here’s Jesus saying they’ll be bearing witness of him to “all the ends of the earth.” That doesn’t sound like the kind of kingdom David had.
Jesus is not talking about David’s kingdom or any earthly kingdom. He’s referring to the kingdom of heaven, which is present on earth but needs to be revealed to people. That’s what the disciples will be doing as they go out into the world.
This goes along with what Matthew says at the end of his gospel.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19, 20 NIV
Many Christians call this the Great Commission. And rightly so. Jesus gives his disciples, and that includes you and me today, the power and authority to teach people about him and how to be a disciple, or student, of his teachings, and how to put his teachings into practice on a daily basis.
40 Days with Jesus
In everything Jesus said to and did with his disciples in the 40 days he was with them before his ascension, their faith was restored and strengthened. Their hope and joy were blossoming. And their expectations of what would happen next were expanding.
But let’s go back to something that happened somewhere in the middle of those 40 days, we don’t know exactly how soon after the resurrection this occurred, but it gives us some insights into how the disciples were processing the fact that Jesus had resurrected and how they were trying to figure out what to do next.
One day Peter decided to go fishing. Well, that makes sense on one level. He had been a fisherman before being called by Jesus to be a disciple. He was doing something that came naturally to him. And several of the other disciples decided to go with him.
You can read this whole story in John, Chapter 21.
But on another level, I’ve wondered: Why is Peter going fishing, for crying out loud? He has just seen Jesus alive after the crucifixion, and he’s going fishing? Is he reverting to his former self? Isn’t there something better, something more purposeful for him to do than trying to catch a few fish?
More than a fishing trip
Well, maybe there was more going on than just trying to catch a few fish.
All the disciples were still processing what had happened. They were still trying to figure out what the resurrection meant to them, individually and collectively. And perhaps they, and especially Peter, were remembering how they had abandoned Jesus, in one way or another, at his darkest hour.
They had all fallen asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane. Some of them had run off when the Roman soldiers took him prisoner. And Peter had denied he even knew Jesus three times.
Of course they were overjoyed to see Jesus that first day he rose from the grave. And a week later, he appeared again to them, this time with Thomas present. But in the days that followed, they couldn’t really go looking for Jesus. He would just appear and disappear when he wanted to.
So in these in-between times, the disciples must have had much on their minds, repenting of how they had not been more supportive of Jesus, and pondering what would happen in the days and years to come.
This fishing expedition in John, Chapter 21, I think, is one of these times when they were finding comfort in each other’s company, and were collectively working through the events of the crucifixion, the days of darkness when they thought everything was over, the joy of seeing Jesus alive.
A spiritual support community
It was really not a fishing trip. It was a spiritual getaway, a retreat from society to be alone with each other, to think and pray together.
Imagine if you had been one of those disciples on that fishing boat. All night long trying to catch fish, but with no success.
Can’t you just hear them saying things like, “Why did I fall asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane when he asked me to pray?”
“Why did I run off when the soldiers took him away?”
And you can just imagine Peter asking over and over, “Why did I deny him? I love him so much. I can’t believe I denied him three times! Will he ever forgive me? Will he ever trust me again?”
And then someone says, “And why couldn’t we believe Mary Magdalene when she told us she had seen him alive? What is wrong with us?”
If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where you didn’t do or say your best, it’s all too easy to rehearse all the things you said and did wrong, to think of what you should have said or done. And we usually go over and over it in our minds. This may be what the disciples were going through on that boat or at some other point during that time period.
We can only imagine what they were thinking, but I think it’s helpful sometimes to put yourself in someone else’s position and consider how you would respond.
Whatever was going on in their minds and their conversation that night, the only thing we really know is that they didn’t catch any fish. Again, I can imagine one of them saying, “And to top it all off, we couldn’t even catch one lousy fish all night long. What good are we?”
in the early morning light…
Jesus, whom they don’t at first recognize, is standing on the shore and shouts out asking if they’ve caught any fish. He tells them to cast their net on the right side of the boat.
And all of a sudden they had so many fish in the net they couldn’t pull it into the boat.
This exact scenario had happened once before, at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry when he told Peter, who had fished all night without catching anything, to launch his boat out into the deep water, and cast his net again. Peter had caught so many fish the net broke. You can read about that in Luke 5:4-6 below.
John starts to put all the puzzle pieces together. He sees the parallels and suddenly realizes, and says to Peter,
“It’s the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. John 21:7 NLT
The rest of the disciples bring the boat to shore and Jesus has a meal prepared for them.
Jesus the Shepherd
And this one of those times we get some deep insight into the ways Jesus was constantly shepherding his disciples.
After the meal Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Peter answers that of course he does.
Jesus knew how terrible Peter must have felt for denying him three times. He tenderly gives Peter the opportunity to reverse those denials and reaffirm his love and loyalty.
Jesus knew Peter had to let go of this baggage of guilt before he could become the strong voice for Christ in the months and years to come as the gospel spread out into the world.
This is what happened for Peter after the resurrection, and it’s what can happen for us as well.
After Easter for us today
Is there some emotional baggage we’re holding onto that keeps us from fully embracing our God-appointed purpose to bear witness to and share with others, God’s love and the truths Jesus taught us?
Do we ever feel unworthy or incapable of sharing the good news of Christ with others? Have your words or actions ever abandoned Jesus or denied you even knew him?
I have to admit, I have felt that way many times. But the shepherding love of Christ has always come to me, as Jesus came to Peter, to reassure and strengthen me.
Peter then glances over at John and asks,
“What about him, Lord?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” John 21:21, 22 NLT
The important phrase here is “As for you, follow me.”
After Easter, it’s time to follow Jesus
This is the key to what needs to happen after the resurrection. We need to follow Jesus. We need to imbibe the spirit of Christ in all we think, say, and do.
This is why I said earlier that if you are following and obeying Jesus and putting his teachings into practice in your daily life to the best of your ability, you are living with the resurrection mindset.
Jesus did not want any of his disciples to carry around the guilt and insecurities they may have felt because of how they responded to the events of the crucifixion. He wanted them to be free so they could get on with the business at hand, preaching the gospel to all mankind.
If you had been there for the morning meal with Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he would have looked into your heart and tenderly flooded you with so much love, you couldn’t possibly hold onto any feelings of doubt, fear, unworthiness, guilt, or whatever else it might be that would keep you from fulfilling your spiritual purpose in life.
This is true today just as it was almost 2,000 years ago.
Christ tenderly comes to your heart and floods it with love so powerful that you can’t help but let go of the hurts, the doubts, the fears, the insecurities, or the pride – all the negative and egotistical self-talk we take part in.
Christ keeps pouring in love until you are spiritually baptized and every thing and thought unlike God in your life is washed away.
This may begin with a moment. But it will continue for a lifetime.
Easter not a one-time event
All too often we think of events in a historical context. We place them on a timeline of other events to get a perspective of how a particular story unfolds. And this has its place for us to understand what happened with Jesus and the history of the early Christian church.
But from a more spiritual perspective, Jesus’s resurrection is not a one-time event that happened centuries ago. It is continuous, ongoing manifestation of the power of life over death, good over evil, and love over hate.
In that sense, there is no “after” the resurrection, because it is always taking place. So maybe we need to change the question from “What do we do after the resurrection?” to “How can we participate in the ongoing resurrection of Christ in our lives and in the world?”
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James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
Acts 1:3 NIV
3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
John 14:26 NKJV
26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
Act 1:5-8 NIV
5 “…in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. [In other words, that’s not the right question to ask. And he added] 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Matthew 28:19, 20 NIV
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Luke 5:4-6 NLT
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”
6 And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear!
John 21:7 NLT
“It’s the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore.
John 21:21, 22 NLT
21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”