After Easter Feasting, Part 1

Acts 1:1-3 NIV - In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 

According to Luke, his Gospel was simply an account of what Jesus began to do and teach.  The story continued.  Luke recorded what Jesus continued to do and teach in the companion book to his Gospel, The Acts of the Apostles (Book of Acts).  Given Luke’s opening line, it seems it would have been more fitting to call the book, The Continuing Acts of Christ through the Apostles.  Christ impacted a small group, a limited geographic region, and became noteworthy in a small section of the Roman Empire, but it’s what He did after Easter - through His Church and its leaders that turned the world upside down.  

The Acts of Christ through His Church continue in the 21st Century.  While none of us will ever have a role like the original Apostles (who were uniquely gifted and empowered), we should expect that the acts of Christ will continue to occur in our world and in our midst.  Easter was the ultimate victory and validation of Christ and His Kingdom, but it also marked a new beginning.  What principles can still apply to us now that Easter is over?  If anything, the work of the Church didn’t fully begin until after Easter.  Jesus provided a feast of information from which we will take note.  How can you be an After-Easter Feaster?

 1.  Resurrection Apologetics.  After Easter, the most important thing that happened was the confirmation that Jesus Christ was indeed alive again - risen from the dead!  Throughout the Book of Acts, telling the story of Christ crucified (to pay for humanity’s sins) and resurrected (to verify His deity, message, and kingdom) was central.  Read through Acts (and 1 Corinthians 15) with fresh eyes to see the real apostolic message.  Many begin their witness by jumping to Acts 2 (Day of Pentecost), but the apostles did not skip the Gospel - they highlighted the resurrection.  

How proficient are you at defending and presenting the reasons why we can reasonably conclude that Jesus rose from the dead?  How proficient are you understanding why the resurrection is foundational to our hope, our salvation, and our witness?  Now that Easter is over, why not become more knowledgeable and comfortable presenting the reality of the resurrection?  In a post-Christian America that does not accept the divine inspiration of Scripture, the historical reality of Christ’s resurrection will become more and more vital if we are to help people know God and find freedom/forgiveness from sin.  Don’t let the resurrection drift to the background now that Easter is over! (In addition to Scripture, consider the following resource:  “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus” by Gary Habermas and Mike Licona)

2.  Instructions about God’s Kingdom.  Read the Gospels and Acts with a fresh set of eyes, and you may see something interesting… how much emphasis is placed on the term “the kingdom of God/heaven.”  Before His crucifixion, Jesus proclaimed and taught extensively about “the kingdom”.  After Easter?  Jesus continued to teach and instruct about the kingdom!  Too often we assume that “the kingdom of God/heaven” refers to that intermediate state of “Heaven” where Christians go after we die (but before our eternal state in our resurrected bodies).  That’s not it.  The “kingdom” refers to Christ’s rule - on earth as it is in Heaven.  His emphasis on the importance of the kingdom is an understanding that He is King over all, and His rule will impact every decision, every relationship, every view that His followers (subjects) should have.  As Christ and the Apostles proved, living as a subject of the kingdom of God will not always make you very popular in the culture of mankind.  A fitting after-Easter feast would be to do a personal New Testament study on the Kingdom.  What did Jesus mean?  How did the early Church understand and respond?  How does it apply to you today?  (In addition to Scripture, consider the following resource:  “How God Became King” by N.T. Wright)