There’s often post-event-let-down when we no longer have something to look forward to. It can seem that way with Easter too. We look forward to the focused worship, Bible preaching that unpacks the significance of Jesus rising from the dead, feasting with family and friends, and then all of a sudden . . . it’s just over. And life rolls back in upon us like an ocean wave, with all of its concerns, demands, and predictability.
Doesn’t Easter, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, change things? In church we say that it changes everything. Why does that feel like more of a spiritual soundbite than a demonstrable fact? Why do we get post-Easter blues?
Here’s five observations – mostly from 1 Corinthians 15 (a great passage on the resurrection) – on why you might be feeling a little let down in the days following Easter:
1.) You might have over-cooked the grits.
The resurrection isn’t the last divine act in the drama of God’s redemption. Don’t act like it is. Don’t think like it is. Don’t see the world as if Jesus’s words, “it is finished” somehow means that Jesus is finished. He isn’t.
Theologians refer to this as “over-realized eschatology.” Eschatology is a fancy theological word to talk about how God will bring human history to an end. It’s usually associated with the book of Revelation. We have to realize that the resurrection ins’t the end. It’s more like the end of the beginning.
The world didn’t suddenly turn from black and white into a million brilliant shades of vibrant color following Jesus’s resurrection. Jerusalem was just as corrupt the day after Jesus rose from the dead as it was the day he was crucified. The resurrection marks a massive turning point in the plot, but we can’t see it as setting all things right. There’s plenty of wrong all around us to remind us there must be more to the story.
2.) You might have downplayed the pull of the world.
What does the Apostle Paul say we should do if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? In 1 Corinthians 5:32, Paul says if the resurrection isn’t real, “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” Why would he suddenly go there? It’s kind of like saying, “Hey guys, if this resurrection thing isn’t real let’s head to Vegas and make the most of things. YOLO!”
We find in this wonderful passage on the resurrection of Jesus a rugged look at the tug of war Christians face in seeking to live life in light of the risen Lord. Paul uses this kind of language because he knows his audience, and himself, well enough to know that the main thing keeping them from a life devoted to the pursuit of earthly pleasures — is the belief that there is more to life than earthly pleasures. There’s more.
3.) You might have underestimated the sting of death.
You may have heard your pastor quote 1 Corinthians 15:55 in his Easter sermon, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” It can be easy to rush in and wrongly apply this passage if we don’t look at the broader context. The truth is, this saying has not yet come to pass. This verse isn’t talking about the resurrection of Jesus. Sorry to burst your bubble.
Read the context. The preceding verse says, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” If you read the fuller passage you will see that Paul is talking about Christ’s return (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). When Jesus comes back this saying will come to pass: death will no longer sting.
Right now death does sting. The grave is still victorious. We grieve, Paul says, yet not as those without hope. But we do grieve. Still, a day is coming when God will wipe every tear from every eye. That day is coming, Easter assures us of that, but it hasn’t come yet.
4.) You might have overlooked the nature of labor.
Paul ends this great chapter with these words, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
He tells them to remain steadfast. Why? Because things are going to be tough. Church history shows us that. Every day life reminds us of this.
Paul describes their post-Easter lives with the word labor. Life after Easter looks a whole lot like work: Good, old fashioned, sweaty, gritty, lackluster, work. You might experience the blues if you think Easter ushers in an easy Christian life. It’s almost exactly the opposite.
5.) You might have ignored the feeling of vanity.
“Your labor isn’t in vain,” Paul tells them (and us). He wouldn’t have to say that if there wasn’t a real sense that sometimes serving the risen Lord, who we love even though we can’t see, can feel like vanity of vanities. If at times you face the sense that your labor for the risen Lord might be in vain, welcome to the club. Paul anticipated that. My hunch is he also experienced it.
We can only overcome our Easter blues when we face the real world head on with real hope. We should expect the pull of temptation. We should anticipate the whisper of the world telling us that what we do for God is in vain. We shouldn’t downplay the grief of living in a fallen world where really bad stuff happens all the time. We can’t live as if the Kingdom has fully come on earth. Yet.
Jesus’s resurrection was the start of something beautiful. Like the The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Aslan is on the move the deep frost of winter begins to thaw. But this only preceded a final battle in which Aslan took the Witch to task. The same is true in our world. The curse won’t be undone without a battle. Easter shows us which side will win.