“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.” Philippians 3:10
What happened on the Monday after Easter? We have no time-table for the resurrection appearances in the New Testament other than the obvious appearances on Sunday. We know He appeared to Thomas “eight days later” which would have been a Tuesday, I suppose. The appearance on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (John 21) was apparently much later. Matthew’s account of His appearance on a mountain in Galilee is uncertain in time and place. The same can be said of several appearances in Paul’s list in 1 Corinthians 15 (i.e. to 500 believers, James, and all the apostles). We do not know what happened on the first Monday right after Easter.
We are left to speculate. Preachers often portray the resurrection as an earth-shattering event, and while it certainly was that, it also took some time to sink in. I’m not sure it immediately transformed every disciple. The appearance in John 21 (“Peter, do you love me?”) seems to have occurred because the disciples went fishing for fish instead of men. Of even greater interest, is Matthew’s note about Jesus’ appearance to the eleven on the mountain in Galilee where “they worshiped Him, but some doubted” (28:17).
Modern Christians suffer from “chronological snobbery” particularly when it comes to the resurrection. We shake our heads at the dullness of the disciples who apparently simply did not pick up on the “and on the third day He will be raised” predictions. We seem to imagine that we would have been out in front of the tomb in lawn chairs waiting for His emergence. We’re sure, at least, one appearance would have been enough, and we would have turned from that glorious experience to immediately and unflinchingly change the world! The truth is very few of us, if any, would have done any better than the disciples.
That Monday after Easter was likely filled with puzzling uncertainty. Like you, they had to return to the business of living. And again like you, they did so with a sometimes faltering faith. In fact, I would argue that is why Jesus returned a few more times, to convince them that He was alive and they had a real message to share. He appeared, and then left them to wonder and try to sort it out. The Monday after Easter may have been a bit . . . normal. The disciples had to go about somewhat normal daily activities. Like you.
In many ways, I am sure, all Christians face the same challenge: how do you live in the glory of Easter? Or as Paul put it, how do you “know the power of His resurrection?” The simple answer is that through faith, each day, you cling to the fact of His life. He is not just a memory, or a “spirit that is still with us.” Paul’s constant refrain is that Christ is not only alive, but that He is alive in you.
One overlooked and very striking characteristic of the resurrection appearances in the New Testament is their paucity. We have maybe 7-8 depending on how you count them. Only 7-8. Why? Wasn’t Jesus trying to wean them off of a physical presence? (“do not hold on to Me, Mary!”). In the same way God works in all events today, wasn’t Jesus forcing them to grow in faith, just as He is forcing you to have faith in His presence?
On Monday, allow the brightness of Easter to shine gently. While you will never on a moment by moment basis be able to sustain the brilliance of an Easter service, you can bask in the glow. He has proven that He rose. You have felt His presence before. You were reminded in Sunday services. Now live by faith. Hear Him say “Do not fear. I am with you, and I will never leave.” Knowing the power of His resurrection means that while life may still be daunting, it is also filled with joy, meaning, and purpose because He is alive in you, the Monday after Easter. And every day.
Dr. Terry Ellis