Do you remember the first morning you woke up and knew for sure that you were a Christian? For some it’s a gradual realization and for others (like me) who searched far and wide for satisfaction and purpose, coming home was a never-to-be-forgotten, all-at-once relief and joy. That’s how I picture Easter Monday for Jesus’s followers. The Monday after Resurrection Sunday—the first morning they woke up knowing that Jesus was no longer dead, but alive forevermore.
Early on Easter Sunday they had heard the report that Jesus was not in his tomb. Still, they were locked in a room out of fear that Jesus’s fate would be their fate as well. But John tells us that Jesus barged right in—through the locked door—declaring peace and showing them his resurrected body with the wounds to prove it was really him. And there was more: Jesus breathed his Spirit on them and gave them a whole new purpose—”I’m sending you.” Yes, you of little faith, you of little strength, you of little wisdom: you are my plan to tell the world the good news that death is ended, and life forever starts with faith in me.
Easter Monday—the First Morning of Our Whole New Life
So Easter Monday was the first morning of their whole new life. Nothing would remain the same. They were off on the adventure of a lifetime. That’s how I felt when I knew for sure that I was a Christian. I remember thinking that my whole world had been upside down and now it was turned right side up. I was newly married (read the book!) and, against all odds, my husband became a Christian six weeks after I did, on Easter Sunday. We had found the pearl of great price, the treasure that was worth selling all we had to own, we were found by the Good Shepherd. All was well and all would be well.
We changed everything about our lives in just a few months. We started going to church. I started teaching at an inner-city school. My husband started seminary. We taught Junior High Sunday school. We had no money, and we didn’t care.
The things that we didn’t know would fill a very big book. Like Paul on the road to Damascus before we met Jesus we had plans and goals—and now they were suddenly completely different. And I can hear the words Jesus said about Paul, also being said to us—“I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16).
Before I became a Christian, the suffering I experienced was because of my own bad choices. I landed in many a mess of my own making. I hurt people, and they hurt me. So naturally I assumed that following Jesus would clear all of that up and suffering would be over. But, of course, it was just beginning. Now we would suffer for the sake of others (and, if truth be told, we would still suffer for often going our own way).
Can Easter Monday Joy Persist?
Amid real-life struggles, living out our suffering for Jesus’s name, can Easter Monday joy persist? On Palm Sunday in church, the children and adults acted out the Passion story. As I watched, I was struck by all the suffering that Jesus endured—not only the physical suffering, but the mocking, the spitting, the purple robe draped around his bloody shoulders, the crown of thorns pressed into his head. I thought about how bad I am at enduring any kind of suffering and how much I need what only Jesus could do. I thought about how wonderful Jesus is. It made me think of a song we sing in Africa with our friends there:
Sweet Jesus, sweet Jesus,
What a wonder you are,
You are brighter than the morning stars,
You are fairer, much fairer than the lily that grows by the wayside
You are precious, more precious than gold.
Our Easter Monday has stretched out into years and decades. Life is still a grand adventure—full of stories, both happy and sad. Sometimes it seems the sad has outweighed the happy. But then I am reminded of Jesus, who is still in our midst breathing his Spirit and pronouncing peace. His presence brings joy. What a wonder he is. I can’t wait to meet him face-to-face. My sister-in-law Jill whose daughter died the day after our son’s funeral, says to me every time we talk—maybe Jesus will come back today. And wouldn’t that be a wonder?
Dealing with Your Rebellious Teenager
When your teenager is estranged from you and God and is making unwise (and perhaps downright awful) choices, it’s natural to feel hopeless and helpless. Barbara Miller Juliani draws from her own experience of rebellion and also from decades of ministry to families to encourage weary parents that they can lean hard into the Lord for help in this difficult season.