Easter Weekend provides rhythms for the Christian to reflect on the various elements of Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascent. On Good Friday, we remember Christ’s blood shed for us. Holy Saturday is a time to hope and wait. Sunday, we celebrate because the grave was no match for our King. And then we come to Monday.
Sometimes I wish we knew what the disciples did the Monday after Jesus ascended into heaven. Did they wake up, groggy with the joy of salvation? Were their conversations laced with praise for what they witnessed? Did Thomas stare at his hand, still amazed that it touched the pierced side of Jesus? We can only guess what they thought and felt.
In 2020, I did not wake up feeling the joy of salvation on Easter Monday. I felt groggy, but it was the kind that makes you pull the covers over your head and wish that you didn’t have to move. My church’s Easter service was haunted by an empty sanctuary, the table at my home was full of food but absent of friends and family, and by the end of the day, a friend cut me deep with hurtful actions. It was the perfect storm to knock me down and cloud my shaky gaze fixed on the cross. I felt a gnawing “Now what?” in my head and though I knew the truth, I didn’t have an answer.
We all reach these moments in life where we know the truth of the gospel, we know Christ is risen, we know He calls us to obey the Great Commission He gave us, but we feel paralyzed by the troubles of this world, unable to lift a finger toward obedience.
Christians are not strangers to uncertainty. For the last 2,000 years, Christians have been imprisoned for their love of the gospel and do not know if they will live to see tomorrow. The unmarried in our churches are often faced with repeated disappointments in relationships and unmet good desires. Powerful people abuse their rank and exploit us in every way imaginable. We lose jobs, can’t have children, battle anxiety, face persecution, and have countless other struggles we could never anticipate. It is a weary world.
We strive and strive and strive to keep our eyes where they should be. Our vision blurry from tears conceived by trouble, our lips trembling in fear of the unknown, our bodies heavy from the weight of sorrow.
Even if you don’t relate to this question today, it is reasonable to assume you either have in the past, or you will in the future. Whenever you face sorrow head-on, whether you’re asking “Now what?” today or five years from now, there are three words that will be sufficient for this question:
He is risen.
The very words you said yesterday in your joy are sufficient for your sorrow today or any day after.
Christ’s resurrection is always the answer to our deepest sufferings. You may read that and think the answer is too simple and too easy, and you would be right.
This is the miracle of the gospel! The fact that Jesus rose from the grave is the easiest and most simple answer to our most difficult and complex questions in life. The resurrection does not give us a five-year plan and it does not mean that everything is perfect right now. But it does give us everything we could ever hope for.
Jesus himself said, “You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33).
We are able to be courageous and press on through our struggles because Jesus conquered the world by overcoming sin and death. This doesn’t mean we won’t wake up and feel helpless tomorrow, but it does mean we will never wake up hopeless.
The fact that He is risen is the most important information we could ever know (1 Corinthians 15:3-8), it is our living hope (1 Peter 1:3), it is what compels us to love (2 Corinthians 5:14-15), it is what frees us from sin (Romans 6:5-6), it is what equips us to do good (Hebrews 13:20-21), and it is what will allow us to reign with God forever (Revelation 20:6).
Until we are reunited with Jesus, we will regularly ask “Now what?” We must forever return to the same three words.
He is risen.