So it is Easter. Hallelujah and amen. He is risen, He is risen indeed. Great, grand, wonderful! So… now what?
We have been reminded of and celebrated the fact that Jesus conquered sin and death and rose from the grave. Churches around the world did their best to worship God and inspire people. Choirs burst forth in song, preachers gave their all, the faithful dressed in their best. And with that, Easter for this year is over.
So… now what? What will you do differently in light of all the assurance, hope, and inspiration you received on this glorious Easter morning?
We focus a great deal of attention on the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, as well we should! But we should never stop there. As important as those two events are, there is a third that is connected to them that when left out or ignored, has a huge impact on our thinking, attitudes, and actions. That third event is what we call, the Ascension.
Luke the Evangelist tells us about this all important event in the Acts of the Apostles (Chapter 1, Verse 9). We are told that Jesus spoke to the disciples, gave them their “marching orders” to take the Gospel into all the world, and then was raised up, ascended, into the clouds and out of sight. At that point an angel spoke to them and said that we would one day return in the clouds just like they saw him depart.
Okay, fine, what is so important about how Jesus was raised up into the clouds that it absolutely must be spoken of in the same breath as the Crucifixion and the Resurrection? Simply this; it is not how Jesus ascended that really matters but where he ascended to that is all important.
In the Apostles Creed we affirm that Jesus is “seated at the right hand of God the Father” an idea found throughout Scripture. Perhaps the most complete and compelling of those passages is found in the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (specifically Ephesians 1:18-23).
The theological capstone on the Crucifixion and Resurrection was that Jesus was raised to glory in order to take His place at the right hand of the Father. The imagery of being at the right hand is that Jesus is now reigning over creation as Lord and Christ.He has gone from being the despised, suffering servant, to being the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the one to whom every knee will bow in Heaven and on earth and under the earth. He has been vindicated and is now ruling over His kingdom.
For us that means we can go through life with a confidence that is beyond measure. We can go forth into the world carrying out the mission of taking the Gospel with us and have no fear. We need not fear because Jesus has conquered sin and death. We need not fear because Jesus is enthroned in glory. We need not fear because he has sent the promised Holy Spirit to lead us and strengthen us and comfort us in all things.
We can also live in a constant sense of wonder. Easter is a day that reminds us of that wonder.
It is a wonder that the tomb was empty and Jesus appeared alive to the disciples. From the empty tomb, to the angels, to the grave clothes lying inside, to Jesus appearing to Mary, then to the disciples, then to Thomas who doubted, every detail is a wonder to behold. We rightly feel that sense of wonder and joy on Easter. But we can and should feel and walk in that sense of wonder everyday.
Every single day is a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. Every single day can and should be an acknowledgement that our King is ruling over all the universe. Such knowledge should take our breath away. It should constantly impact our decisions and actions.
This picture of Jesus on the throne as King should cause us to live each moment as an opportunity to love and worship Him like never before.
He is risen, He is Risen indeed. He is risen not only on Easter morning, but everyday and is ascended on high and rules and reigns over all Creation. So live like it!