Summary: After Easter is over, what are we to do now.... What are we to do with it. Jesus shows us that this is not the time to hurry on to the next event in our lives, but a time to stop... reflect... and let the true meaning of what we have just experienced ch
Welcome to the Sunday after Easter…. I wanted to start by asking this question – “Now what?” What do we do now that Easter’s over.
If you look at our “church year” you will see a cycle that begins with Advent… preparing for the birth of Jesus. Then we head into Christmas… the birth of Jesus. Then we hang out in some “ordinary time” for a while as we study the life of Jesus…. Then comes Lent… which is the preparation for Jesus’ death and resurrection… then Easter… the celebration of Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection… majorly important… and next comes Pentecost – which is Sunday, May 19 – the indwelling of the Holy Spirit into the followers of Christ… and the traditional “birth” of the church.
So we see that Easter is only a step in the process… NOT the end result…. It is important to understand this concept… we don’t want to just sit back and take it easy now that Easter is over… do we? I mean… it sounds like the end of the process… we’ve gone from birth to death to resurrection… but there’s still another important step yet to come.
Here’s the deal… Jesus’ death upon the cross and resurrection… does not save the human race…. What it does do is provide the MEANS by which the human race can be saved. When Jesus is hanging on the cross and He shouts out, “It is finished,” WHAT is finished. Everything that needs to be done so that all might be saved… basically a “Plan of Salvation.” The job of taking that plan to the world is the job of the church – of you and I.
Take a look at John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that…” What does it say… “everyone who believes in Him… may not perish but have everlasting life.” “Whoever believes…” Jesus offers us the Plan… but we must accept…. Jesus offers those outside these doors the Plan… but they must accept. And the tool by which that happens is… US… the church.
So… today is the day that we all run out the door and put the plan into action… YES…? NO… or at least “not exactly.”
If you would like to go ahead and turn to Acts 1 in your Bibles or if your primary scriptural reference device is your phone then feel free to fire it up…. Lets just kind of walk through Acts Chapter 1 and you will see what I mean. Beginning at verse 3, “3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men 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. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” OK… first… what is this “gift” that Jesus is talking about? The Holy Spirit… He’s talking about Pentecost.
This does not mean that the Holy Spirit was not already active in the lives of God’s people…. The Spirit was with us… but not WITHIN us. I don’t want to dwell on this too long… that’s a sermon for another day… but in Psalm 51 King David writes, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.”
So the Spirit was active in the world, but not indwelling God’s people…. Today… for believers in Christ… the Holy Spirit dwells WITHIN us… the Spirit is always with us and can not be taken away. And that indwelling of the Holy Spirit happens at Pentecost. Lets look back at Acts.
As I read this I LOVE the fact that Jesus first and foremost gave His disciples “CONVINCING proofs” that He is alive. He is getting ready to leave them… He is about to put the plan of salvation into THEIR hands… and He wants to make sure that they are up to and ready for the task.
And Jesus still does the same for us today. He knows that the task of sharing His plan of salvation has been placed in our hands… and He is not going to send us out there without making sure we are up to the task.
BUT we have to LOOK for these convincing proofs… and we have to be ready to accept them. Like David said last week… many don’t want to accept the resurrection because if it is true (and it is) then your life CAN’T ever be the same. So today WE encounter Christ in a different way than the first disciples did…. Today instead of meeting Jesus… the Son…, we encounter the Holy Spirit… who now lives within us.