The day my son was born changed everything for me. I was still me, but at the same time everything was different. Not only was there the addition of diapers, bottles, formula, pediatric doctors, vaccines, schools and sleep deprivation- lots of sleep deprivation; but I changed too. My outlook on life changed. The way I made decisions now always factored in my son and His future. There were things in my life that I stopped doing and other things in my life that I started doing because I had that little one to take care of. There wasn’t any going back and then I had my daughter and let me tell you, nothing was ever the same again.
It was the first day of the rest of my life.
For me, the first day of the rest of my life, that time, was brought about by a joyful experience. But there have been other first days as well that have come from a different kind of life change. Very easily, an illness changes everything or a loss changes everything or getting older changes everything. Your outlook on life changes, the decisions that you make and what you do and don’t do are different now then they were before. There comes a point in any of these life changes, either from joy or from pain, that a line is drawn and we have to say that is the past and this is now and its time to live the rest of my life.
Jesus’ disciples thought they had experienced a first day on Good Friday when Jesus died upon the cross. The time they had with Jesus was amazing. Filled with miracles, revelations and glimpses of heaven and they wanted that life with Jesus to never end. Then suddenly everything seemed to go horribly wrong. The days after Palm Sunday were filled with pain and tears, struggle, doubt and death. That day after the death of Jesus they believed it was, sadly, the first day of the rest of their lives. With Jesus’ death, all of the hopes and plans they had were shattered like so much glass on the floor. They slowly started to think about their old life, about their fishing boats and working and living, apart from Jesus. This was it they thought, back to our old life, no new life after all, only life now without Jesus.
But that wasn’t where the story ended. In Jesus, there is no going back. There was a new day still coming.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.
That moment changed everything for them. The actual, bodily resurrection of Jesus was not something they had planned on or expected. Even though Jesus had told them this would occur on the third day, they simply had no concept for the great things that God had planned in Jesus. From that day on Jesus in His glorified body sat, ate, talked, walked with the women, with the 12 disciples, with over 500 other disciples and more witnesses still, till He ascended into heaven.
That first Easter morning was the first day of the rest of their lives and nothing would ever be the same again. Through those people God created the first day of the Christian church whose job it was and still is to be a great big loudspeaker, telling the world that something new has happened, a new day has begun, Jesus has risen from the dead and nothing will ever be the same again.
When we read about those first Christians who were created in the Resurrection and the countless others who would believe all the way to the nearly 4 billion Christians celebrating Easter today, it’s hard to describe but there is a difference in their lives. Yes, they are still broken and sinful people, they still make mistakes, get angry and make bad choices. But there is something new there as well:
o They have a powerful hope that points them beyond their brokenness to a life being made new in the Resurrected Jesus. They want to share that hope with those who have no hope.
o Even though they still act selfishly, they also know that in Jesus, they are unconditionally forgiven and that forgiveness frees them from the shackles of shame and guilt. The resurrection of Jesus gives them the power to live for better things.
o Even though they experience the normal pain and hurt of life, the faithfulness of God shown in the Resurrection of Jesus reminds them that God keeps his promises and that there is a new day promised after this veil of tears.
o The freeness of God’s love shown in the Resurrection of Jesus reminds them again and again of just how precious they are in God’s eyes. When you know that God loves you unconditionally, you start to see your own worth and the worth of other people through the love of God.
This is where the Resurrection of Jesus on this Easter morning invites us to be. If Jesus had not been raised from the dead then there would be no forgiveness, no resurrection of the dead, no eternal life and no hope. But Jesus Christ was raised from the dead on that first Easter morning through the power of God and nothing has been the same since.
Being apart from Jesus and the things that take you away from Him is the past, now is the time to live the rest of your life with Jesus. Easter can be and is the first day in the rest of your life because Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia!