Easter Sunday is the most significant day on the liturgical calendar for a Christian. It is the culmination of an entire week focused on the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christians around the world join together to worship and celebrate the risen Lord and their adoption into the family of God. All too often though, the festivities of Easter are followed by an adrenaline dump and a sense of malaise for believers. For most churches, attendance is traditionally low the week after Easter. We must ask ourselves if this is appropriate. Is there biblical precedent for this waxing and waning? How did the disciples carry on after the resurrection?
The first Easter for the disciples was not necessarily the end of something, it was the beginning. Acts 1:3 show us that, after the resurrection, it was another 40 days until Christ gave the Great Commission and ascended into heaven. From all accounts, the passion of the disciples only grew from that point on. It is important to note that the disciples, before spreading out to different areas of the world, only knew Jesus for 3-4 years. That short time left an indelible mark on these men. Their zealous impact for the Kingdom was realized in the years and decades after the resurrection and ascension, not before it.
What exactly did the future hold for the disciples? History offers us some insight. According to historical record, the apostle James was beheaded in 44 AD under the authority of King Agrippa and was the first recorded martyred apostle (~10 years of ministry). Simon Peter died a martyr’s death between 64-68 AD under the persecution of Emperor Nero (>30 years of ministry). The apostle John died in 100-105 AD after being exiled to the Isle of Patmos and finally traveling to Ephesus after his release (~70 years of ministry). The disciples went on to lead ministries that lasted decades in most cases. Suffice it to say there was no shortage of fervency among the disciples after the first Easter. They certainly did not rest on the laurels of the previous 3 years. They traversed the globe by land and sea to share the gospel of Christ, and often met gruesome ends because of it.
What kind of an effect has Easter had on us? It’s so common for us to treat Easter like any other holiday, forgetting the historical event that it commemorates. The encounters Christ had with those during his life and after His resurrection effectuated meaningful change that had the power to endure. The modern day “church fatigue,” that most seem to experience is more likely the product of buying into a secular understanding of Easter. A biblical understanding produces something very different in the life of a believer. This year, may we line ourselves up with Romans 12:11, so that the typical fatigue we have grown so accustomed to would be replaced by an irrepressible excitement, fervor, and zeal to serve our Lord.