Easter has come and gone. I was reminded of this no less than ten times yesterday when I heard and saw numerous ads for Mother’s Day. Overnight, the stores have done away with all things bunny-related and have moved on in their push to get us thinking about the next thing.
Not so fast please. The resurrection is pretty much the culmination of everything we wait for as Christians, so where do we go now? Many settle back in and won’t be seen again until sometime in December. The story doesn’t just stop at the resurrection though… there are some amazing things that are about to happen.
Jesus had previously made Himself known at the tomb and to the disciples as they hid together in the room on Easter night. He “breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). Pentecost is still to follow which will empower them further to go out and witness for Him, but Jesus doesn’t wait 40 days to begin the work. After all, these were his closest friends, his loved ones, and they need help understanding.
So He shows up and speaks “Peace to you!” (John 20:21) because He knows they are in desperate need of it. Thomas doubts, demands to touch the evidence, and Jesus obliges him. It would be crazy to think that they had it all figured out at this point. Their Messiah has risen from the dead, to be sure, but what now?
Soon after, in John chapter 20, we have the story of the disciples returning to their fishing jobs, albeit unsuccessfully. I think they must not have known what to do with themselves, so they returned to what was familiar. Jesus shows up on the shore asking them some questions, and they don’t immediately recognize Him. I almost laugh when I picture Him yelling to them out on the boat, “Do you have anything to eat? No? Try casting the net out on the right side of the boat!” John is the first to yell out, “It’s the Lord!” (v. 7), but Peter, in typical fashion, is the first to act on this news by leaping out of the boat and hurriedly swimming to shore. Once together on shore, none of the disciples dared to ask Him who He was (v. 12), for they knew exactly who He was. They sat on the beach and had a meal together. I imagine this must have been both very comforting and somewhat confusing, but Jesus always has a purpose.
It’s now Simon Peter’s turn. In one of the most touching redemption stories in the Bible, Jesus turns to his beloved disciple and asks him three pointed and specific questions:
“Simon, do you love Me more than these?”
Yes Lord, You know that I love You.
“Feed My lambs.”
“Simon, do you love Me?”
“Yes Lord; You know that I love You.”
“Tend My sheep.”
“Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
Peter was grieved because He said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”John 21:15-17
Peter has been redeemed. His sins were paid for on the cross, like everyone else’s, but Jesus is personally coming to him and putting to rest an old wound. Jesus knew his friend needed some special attention, and He freely gave it.
The last verse in the book of John tells us the following:
“And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.”John 21:25
How interesting. What an incredible time this must have been! Jesus freely revealed Himself to the disciples, He understood their doubt, their hurts, their physical and spiritual needs.
Easter isn’t the end point, it’s just the beginning. Jesus could have just ascended right into heaven and that would be that… but He came back for 40 days. He returned so that everyone could see He actually was alive. He returned to prepare His disciples for what was to come and to commission them to go out into the world.
He returned to sit on the shore with them once again and have a meal.
Don’t let Easter be an end, but a beginning. The power and truth of what happened doesn’t have to diminish as we move into a new season. The 40 days after the resurrection are a fascinating and beautiful time to see and really soak in just how intentional and personal our Savior really is.
While He walked the earth, Jesus asked us to leave everything and come to Him. He shows us now that this isn’t a one-way street… He is back and He is coming to us. He showed up at the tomb in Mary’s grief. He showed up in the room while Thomas doubted. He showed up on the beach while the disciples fished.
These forty days are a reminder to us that our Savior lives, and that He actually wants to make Himself known to us. He could have just commanded us all to believe and gone away. He knows we are feeble and that we struggle, it’s ok. Pentecost is coming, the great commission is coming, and in order to go out and be disciples, we must first understand the magnitude of what just happened.
Happy post-Easter week, friends. Jesus is back and He’s back to stay. The disciples got another 40 days, but we all get a permanent presence through the Holy Spirit. Don’t live like it didn’t happen. He’s patient and willing to walk by our side through confusion and doubt. He most certainly doesn’t want us to remain there though, there is much work to be done. May the resurrection be true and powerful in our lives!