Friday, April 22, 2016

It's Still Easter!

Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: April 22nd, 2016

The Church is well-prepared for the coming of Easter. For 40 days, pastors, preachers, and Church leaders will call their flock to fast, to pray, to seek God more, and to observe a sense of holiness as one reflects on Christ’s journey to the Cross. Then comes Holy Week and voila! Christians are united with one voice to sing: “Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!” That was more than three Sundays ago. This coming Sunday is the Fourth Sunday.

Nice Summary of Eastertide
The same cannot be said for the periods after Resurrection Sunday. After all the excitement; the disciplines of the 40 days; the preparation for Palm Sunday; the solemnity of Maundy Thursday; the painful trials and sufferings of Good Friday; and the pinnacle of Easter, the days following the Resurrection Sunday remembrance seem to become an anti-climax. The traditional Church calendar puts out 7 Sundays (including Easter Sunday) as a season of Easter, or Eastertide. The 8th Sunday is the Pentecost. How then do we celebrate and live out Easter? One way is to search the Scriptures to learn how the disciples responded to the Resurrection.

1) Remembering the Promise
6“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ” 8Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. (Mark 16:6-8)
Jesus had promised that He would be killed, buried, and on the third day rise again. The disciples didn’t believe, let alone the women. That was why Mary Magdalene and Salome did not expect to see an empty tomb. That was why they were afraid. That was why they didn’t know how to react. They had forgotten what Jesus had said about Himself. If only they had believed Jesus meant every word He said.

Easter is about remembering that whatever Jesus had promised, He will do it. He proved it in the First Coming. He will do the same, and even more in His Second Coming. That is glorious reason for hope!

2) Obeying the Great Commission
16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
Jesus appeared to hundreds of people after He rose from the dead. The Great Commission is one of the most memorable post-Easter message. We are to obey the commands of God. Based on the authority of Jesus, we too have the authority to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations. We are to make disciples of all nations. This means we do not stop at simply sharing the gospel. We disciple. We take in apprentices of faith. We train others even as we are trained. We must maintain a focus on obedience to God’s command as more important than personal sacrifices for mere programs. Easter is about obedience to the Great Commission. It is a response to this Call.

3) Witnessing
You killed the Author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.” (Acts 3:15) 
It takes one to know one. How can we speak of something passionately when we have not experienced it? The early disciples were able to declare that Jesus was raised from the dead emphatically. Sometimes, people might say that they cannot believe because they have not personally seen Jesus rise from the dead. My response is this: The facts have been testified not only by eye-witnesses then, the evidence of His Resurrection continues to pile up now. The very fact that there are witnesses is an opportunity to give thanks. It is because of these witnesses, Christ’s good news is shared and spread. Imagine if the disciples failed to share. We would become even more suspicious. In the same way, if we do not share, our children and our children’s children, and all of the coming generations will lose out in terms of hearing our own testimonies. We are witnesses of what we had experienced. Witnessing is simply speaking out what we have seen and experienced. It is about our own walk of faith. It is about declaring the praise of God, who had called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.

4) Powerful Testimony 
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.” (Acts 4:33) 
As I look around the churches, sometimes, I see people simply worn out after much programming and worrying over various aspects of the ministries. Is that really a testimony of God’s grace? If the Resurrection is central to our Christian living, should not all of our Christian ministries be a testimony to the power of Jesus? We need to let the power of the Holy Spirit embolden us to testify of the kingdom of God. I suspect the reason for much fatigue and anxiety in ministry is because people had tried to build the Church rather than God’s kingdom. They have substituted programming for gospel witnessing. They have reduced the work of God into programs for people. As the social club attitude increases, the gospel living decreases. Easter is none of that. Easter is about testimony of faith that it is not about what we have done or not done. It is exactly about what Christ had done at the Cross! Our starting point of ministry is at the Cross, and not at our cross-roads of ministry.

5) Defending the Gospel
11Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. 12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor 15:11-19)
The Resurrection is central to our Christian faith. Knowing this, the evil forces of darkness will always try to destroy, downplay, diminish, or distract believers from emphasizing this. That is why we need to continue to stress the truth throughout our Christian lives. We must testify of the gospel to all generations. The Apostle Paul declared that without the Resurrection, our faith would be in vain. If there is indeed the Resurrection, our faith would eminently powerful, exciting, and beautiful.

Easter is about this amazing grace being held up high for all the world to see. It is not about us and our whimsical fancies. It is about Christ and His coming Kingdom.

My friends. It is still Easter. In fact, all of life is Easter. Let us not wait until that one Sunday each year for the popular bunnies and chocolate eggs to remind us. The Bible had already reminded us of this great truth of the Risen Christ. We must proclaim the truth of Easter each Sunday and every Sunday!

Here are some really good Easter quotes to reflect through Eastertide.

  • “Easter is the only time when it’s perfectly safe to put all your eggs in one basket.” (Evan Esar) 
  • “To the Christian, Easter Sunday means everything, when we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
  • “The great gift of Easter is Hope in Jesus Christ.”
  • Jesus said: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.” (John 11:25)
  • "Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there." (Clarence W. Hall)
  • "Here is the amazing thing about Easter; the Resurrection Sunday for Christians is this, that Christ in the dying moments on the cross gives us the greatest illustration of forgiveness possible." (T.D. Jakes)
  • "Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song." (Pope John Paul II)
  • "The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world. Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice. But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice." (Henry Knox Sherrill)
Remember that hope must be anchored on the Resurrection Promise. That is the beauty of Easter. The song, "Because He Lives" is the essence of what it means to be a Christian.

“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone,
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living, Just because He lives!”


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