“…but Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.” – Luke 24.12
I would like to piggyback on a small part of my pastor’s Resurrection Day message. In his message, my pastor referenced that after Jesus’ crucifixion, a majority of the population in Jerusalem went home to their normal routine, while a small minority (those who followed Jesus) would huddle in fear, wondering if their lives would ever be the same.
I began to meditate on that thought this morning. What has changed? It’s Monday, Sunday has come and gone. Are you like the majority of the population attempting to begin the week as before, living a life as close to normal as possible? Or, has something changed, like Peter, “marveling at what had happened” or what is happening? As mentioned before in an earlier post, this generation is living in an unprecedented time. How is this changing you? How is the gospel changing you? How did the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection change you?
After Jesus was crucified, many went back to life as usual. They went home. Fulfilled their religious duty to celebrate the Passover and rested on the Sabbath then went back to regular life on Sunday. They got up, went to work, did their chores, went to school and carried on with regular business. But, for the followers of Jesus, everything changed.
Below I list some things that changed in the lives of Jesus’ followers and then I share how we should apply those things today. First, what changed?
The followers of Jesus experienced great loss. Their Messiah is dead. The One whom they gave up everything to follow was crucified as a curse on the cross. They had placed all their hope and faith in Him and now He is gone.
The followers of Jesus experienced guilt. Only one disciple, John stood by Jesus at the cross, the others abandoned Him. Peter went as far as to deny Jesus three times as Jesus said he would. Another disciple, Judas Iscariot, killed himself because he had betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
The followers of Jesus experienced an uncertain future. The disciples were scattered. They hid in the shadows of darkness. They huddled in fear. Their future was unclear. Would they be arrested for following Jesus? Would their fate be like His? Where would they go? Where would they live? Where would they work? Who could they trust?
Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, everything that these followers lived and hoped for was gone. So now what?
It is in this disparity of hopelessness and anxiety we see God at work. For Jesus’ followers, hours turned into days. Days seemed like an eternity. But, at the right moment, God proved to be faithful to His Word and acts on their behalf. Jesus who died and was buried in a sealed tomb rose again. Sure, His empty tomb raised anxious questions, but, could it be? He spoke of His death. He also spoke of coming back from the dead. He certainly raised others from the dead, was He able to do this for Himself?
For Peter, fear changed to excitement. Excitement to amazement. In a series of events as recorded by the gospel writers, everything changed. All the hopelessness and fear turned to joy and hope. One after another witnessed seeing, speaking, eating and fellowshipping with the risen Savior. The apostle Paul stated that more the 500 followers saw Jesus before He ascended up to heaven.
So what changed and how are we as followers of Christ to apply these things. In the book of Acts, Luke records all that changed for these followers of Jesus.
They were filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2.1-41). On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled each one of the followers of Jesus. They were empowered to proclaim with many tongues from every nation under heaven the good news of the gospel. This resulted in thousands of conversions of those who repented and were baptized in Jesus’ name. What changed? They were not given a spirit of timidity, but of power as Paul wrote, ” For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1.7).When we repent from our sins and receive Christ as Savior, God places His Spirit in us. God does this because as Paul wrote, “…we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” Ephesians 2.10. God gifts us with Spiritual gifts to serve Him not unto salvation, but because He saved us.
The definition of what it means to be a community of God changed (Acts 2.42-47).Luke records that there was a new Spirit of devotion in the collective. They were devoted to one another in Christ. They were devoted to the Apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. They demonstrated the love of God towards one another. They practiced sacrificial and benevolent love towards each other. They received a positive reaction by all around, praising God as He brought to Himself daily those who were being saved.When as followers of Christ we demonstrate our love for God, we then are able to show that love towards one another, proving ourselves to be His disciples (John 13.34). This love was demonstrated universally towards all in faith including orphans and widows, the sick and lame who were being outcast by the established religious leaders and people. The greatest demonstration of change in the life of a Christian is how he or she loves others.
The followers were not ashamed of the gospel of Christ (Acts 4.1-31). Paul wrote in Romans that “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1.16). There was a boldness that was not there before as the disciples went about beginning in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and eventually to the uttermost part of the world proclaiming the gospel of Christ. Many were persecuted and even died for the sake of Christ. A boldness that went beyond living the typical practice of religion. They were willing to live and die for the Kingdom of God rather than the kingdoms of this world.When Christians carry out the great commission of Christ (Matthew 28.18-20), they are obeying the will of God in Christ. This is another example of change in the person who bears the image of God in Christ upon their soul and heart. There is a willingness to obey and not be ashamed of God’s commands and will.
They lived a cross-centered life (Luke 9.23). One of the biggest changes in their lives centered around what was truly important. They became the kind of followers Jesus desired. Those who were willing to deny self, pick up their cross daily and follow Jesus (Luke 9.23). They became what Paul called, “living sacrifices” (Romans 12.1-2) or living letters (2 Corinthians 3.3).Jesus taught His followers that you can not love the world and follow Him at the same time. This was like living and pleasing two masters in your life. One will be neglected over the other. Lordship and a cross-centered life must be evident in the life of a follower of Christ. Either He is Lord of your life or the world is. You cannot serve two masters. This is one of those absolutes that must change in our walk as we commit ourselves to Christ daily.
Though, not an exhausted list, but an indication that something among the followers of Jesus changed from Friday to Sunday. The old way abandoned, the new alive. These followers were new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5.17). These were men, women, young, old, rich, poor, sick, slave, free, citizens, politicians, and people of every tongue and tribe under heaven. The world changed and so did a small band of followers who at first thought they lost everything, but gained so much more.
What does the resurrection mean to you? How is Monday different than Friday, or Sunday for you? Where is your hope? What do you live for? How are you being changed daily by the gospel and the Spirit of God who empowers you to live for Christ daily?
There is a lot that needs to change. What will change in you now that Resurrection Day has come?
Even though many have received Christ Jesus as Lord, they still need encouragement and hope for daily living. This blog serves to provide hope and encouragement, as well as to equip Christians to walk faithfully with Christ all the days of their lives.