Good Friday and Easter combine to create an emotional roller coaster of faith packed into a single weekend. Reflection upon Good Friday can bring darkness, conviction, grief, introspection, gratitude, and worship. And reflection upon Easter can bring wonder, fear, faith, hope, exhilaration, trembling, and deep joy. These days are two sides of a single coin of faith, one rooted in belief in a God who holds power over sin and death, for our sake and His glory.
But the depths and heights of these emotions cannot be sustained over life’s journey; there are plains among the valleys and peaks. This is why we remember these things regularly in communion, preaching, and days of remembrance. So we may find ourselves wondering how we should continue in Christian living following a weekend of such magnitude.
But we don’t need to wonder for long when we have God’s word to guide us. As disciples of Jesus today, we can always look back to His first disciples as examples of what to do, and what not to do, in the weeks following Holy Week. Although we have the benefit of hindsight to know how the story ends, we can still find ourselves in their sandals in many ways. As we consider their example, we may find ourselves:
1. Worshipping Jesus. “And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him” (Matthew 28:9).
Truly understanding and believing that Jesus rose from dead will lead to worship, for there is no one in heaven or on earth like Him.
2. Dealing with slander. “[The elders] said, ‘Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep’’” (Matthew 28:13).
Easter may arouse worship among followers of Jesus, but it may also arouse ridicule from scoffers and skeptics. We are a strange people, orienting ourselves around a God-man who is said to have risen from the dead, and the folly of the cross creates disbelief in the power of the resurrection. Sometimes, even those closest to us may grieve our hearts as they mock the roots and object of our faith.
3. Doubting. “So the other disciples told [Thomas], ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails…and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (John 20:25).
Faith doesn’t erase all doubts; it erases our penalty for sin. We are not a perfect people when we first believe, and God will grow us into Christ-likeness in a thousand different ways. Those among us who are skeptics at heart may find ourselves reflecting on Holy Week and asking ourselves, “Do I really, actually, truly believe this story?” When we encounter these kinds of questions, it’s good to ask Jesus to meet us in our moments of doubt. After all, He did not scold Thomas; he came wounded, inviting him to believe.
4. Finding wonder in the word. “They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’” (Luke 24:32).
The Scriptures are a limitless mine for amazement at the majesty of God in weaving a narrative across geography, people, time, and genre into a tapestry that reveals a detailed portrait of Jesus. Studying this word, meditating on it, memorizing it, hiding it in our hearts are gateways to wonder.
5. Receiving a commission from Jesus. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
“[Jesus] said to [Peter], “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep…follow me” (John 21:15-17, 19).
The Great Commission is for the Church, and as members of that Church, it is for us. But we’re also part of one body, and each of us has a specific role to play, so our means for fulfilling the Great Commission may look different from one another. Being close to Jesus will bring us our own small commissions to do this or that and follow Him.
6. Going back to work. “Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing…’ When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord…he threw himself into the sea [and swam to shore]” (John 21:3, 7).
There’s a kind of joy that comes from the brokenness of Good Friday and a kind of joy that comes from the hope-filled wonder of Easter. But then there is Monday, and Tuesday, and Wednesday, and the next week, and the week after that. The routine of life soon reemerges to confront our time of reflection. But Jesus will show up in the midst of our daily routines, and we do well to throw ourselves into His presence as He reveals Himself to us.
So what do we do after Holy Week? We continue our mission of being and making disciples of Jesus, living in community with one another, confronting our fears and doubts with the power of the word, being firmly rooted in faith that is made possible by God’s work on the cross, in hope made possible by God’s work in the tomb, and in love that is expressed by daily obedience to the word of Christ. We honor the glory of Christ in celebrating His death on Friday and His resurrection on Sunday, but we also honor Him in our daily steps of obedience on Monday.