April 21, 2017
Easter's Over! Now What?
By Skip Heitzig
Now that Easter's over, all kinds of things are on sale: marshmallow Peeps, chocolate bunnies, plastic eggs. Lenya, my wife, loves Peeps. But the weird part is she doesn't like them fresh—she prefers them after they've sat out for about a week and become kind of crusty and hard and stale. It reminds me of the teacher who asked a Sunday school class to write down what Easter meant to them, and one little boy said, "Easter means egg salad sandwiches for the next two weeks." Well, for my wife, Easter means stale Peeps for two weeks.
What does Easter mean to you? The thing is, Easter's not a day or an event—it's a season, and we should really think about what that means. Let me give you four words from the apostle Peter, a man who witnessed the resurrection, that describe what Easter is all about: mercy, life, hope, and heaven. In 1 Peter 1:3-4, he wrote, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you."
The first thing the resurrection does is show mercy. Notice it says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy" (v. 3). Since the fall of mankind, every generation has paid the price for its own sin in a monotonous, uninterrupted cycle of life and death.But the resurrection shows us that there is a God who, rather than letting that cycle go on and on, interrupted it with mercy—abundant mercy.
The resurrection also shares life. That's found in the little phrase "begotten us again" in verse 3: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again." Jesus enlivened you, so to speak, giving you new, eternal life in Him by being begotten again, or born again. Now, if Jesus had come and died but didn't resurrect, there would be no possibility of eternal life. How could He give eternal life if He didn't have eternal life Himself? But it was Jesus who said, "Because I live, you will live also" (John 14:19). The life He gives iseverlasting, age-abiding life—not just a certain quantity of life but a certain quality of life that starts now and lasts forever.
The third thing the resurrection does is shine hope. Notice the text says God "has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (v. 3). I love Easter because it's when we celebrate the anniversary of this true, transformative, living hope. Peter experienced it in his own life when Jesus rose again from the dead, and we can experience it, too.
Fourth and finally, the resurrection assures heaven: "To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" (v. 4). Jesus spoke a lot about heaven. When He rose from the dead, heaven probably became a lot more real to the disciples. What else would motivate them to suffer and die for Christ? If our faith in Jesus Christ only gives us hope for our existence here and now, we're going to be miserable. But what's coming later is much better, and that should motivate us.
Look at it this way: if the resurrection shows mercy, if the greatest enemy, death, has been defeated, then we've got nothing to fear. And if the resurrection shares the life of Jesus Christ, then let's really live and risk a little bit more, because we've got nothing to lose. And if the resurrection shines hope, then we should have nothing to regret. And if the resurrection assures heaven, then the best is yet to come. That's what Easter meant to Peter—and what it should mean to you and me. It shouldn't just be an event or a day or a holy party where we sing and shout and then it's over, but a lifestyle that lingers far beyond egg salad sandwiches and stale Peeps.
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