Years ago, I was pastoring a church in another state and we came to Florida for a vacation after Easter. In fact, we left right after church on Easter Sunday. Along the way, we had to travel through Atlanta. If you've ever done this, you know that you can choose the long, less-crowded way around the city...or you can fight the multiple lanes of traffic and go straight through the heart of downtown. I think it's quicker that way, and it's much more exciting because there is much more to look at. While we drove through, I was pointing out all of these sites to my wife - who wished I had been paying more attention to the road. I pointed to stadiums and arenas (the Braves and the Falcons and the Hawks) and headquarters (CNN) and restaurants (The Varsity). I tried my best to get her to look at them with me, but she wouldn't, because she was afraid of all that was happening around us.
Nothing bad happened to us on that trip. We made it through the city unscathed, we made it to Florida safely, and truthfully, we got a great reminder of what we miss out on when we don't look around and look ahead. Yesterday was Easter Sunday, and we had a GREAT day here at HighPoint Church! Tons of people came to hear about and worship Jesus. I admit there were times I saw so many people coming and going that my head was on a swivel - like it was that day driving through Atlanta. Today, though, that parking lot and church lobby and Worship Center are pretty much empty. And that has me thinking a little bit about what Jesus wants us to do now that we've already done Easter.
In Luke 24, two disciples were walking along the road and a Man (Jesus) joined them and started asking them questions about what they were talking about and about who they had believed in. They used words to describe Jesus like He "was a prophet" and "we had hoped He was the One...", but now things have changed for them. The crowds were gone (and they thought Jesus was, too). At the end of this encounter, Luke tells us what happened as they sat down for a meal together:
"When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it ad began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, 'Were not our hearts burning with us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?'" (Luke 24:30-32)
When I think about Easter, I think it is wonderful and worshipful for us to look at Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. I think those events are core pieces of our faith and the Bible tells us that so much happened when Jesus went through those events. But when I think about what should happen after Easter, I think about these two men on the road with Jesus. Even though they didn't recognize Jesus at first, they didn't give up. They didn't stop talking about what they believed and what they had seen. And, their disappointment didn't keep them down.
Easter isn't just this one-time event where we get together to celebrate what Jesus did and then just go our separate ways. It isn't just about wearing a nice new outfit and getting a basket with candy or gifts. It isn't just about eating a nice lunch with family and friends. None of those things are bad, but as Christians, there is so much more for us see and believe in and do - all because of what Jesus has done. As we emerge from such a great day yesterday, let's be looking ahead to the great days in front of us. Let's decide to keep following Jesus in the future - being willing to go wherever He is taking us. Let's be people who walk with Him and talk with Him and get stirred up to do His work, simply by the times we spend with Him.
My hope and prayer is that we will spend the remainder of our days with our hearts on fire for Him as we go forward with Him and we open His Word regularly. Let's be praying for Him to take us on some roads that we wouldn't be willing to go on by ourselves. Let's have some conversations with Him, through prayer and through reading the Scriptures, where He says some things to us that we might not have heard before. And, let's stay thankful and ready to go where He sends us - with our eyes open wide and on Him. If we will do that, we just might see some things we haven't seen before - things we would have missed if we had gone another way.