Easter has come. And gone. New clothes are back in the closet. Dinner leftovers are packed into the refrigerator. It’s back to business as usual.
Or is it? What happened on “Easter Monday”—and the following forty days—in the lives of those early followers of Jesus? John had entered the empty tomb; he believed but didn’t yet understand. Thomas needed physical proof. The women (whose resurrection story the disciples at first dismissed as mere female hysteria) returned to household duties. Or did they too set out on the 70-mile trek in response to the resurrected Jesus’ “meet me in Galilee” command? When the troupe faithfully and fearfully got there, Peter and six other disciples went fishing, perhaps in confusion, maybe in resignation.
Their faith had been bruised and battered, but Jesus had said that faith even as small as a mustard seed would produce miraculous results. Maybe, just maybe…
Jesus wasn’t finished with them. He too made the trek to Galilee. He needed to tell his friends “the rest of the story.” His purpose for coming, for living, for dying, for living again didn’t end on that first day of the week. Peter needed to hear that a lifelong ministry lay ahead. Matthew writes that the eleven who obeyed Jesus’ command to meet up with him in Galilee “worshiped him.” And in an oh, so human editorial comment, Matthew adds, “but some doubted.”
But it was to these doubters, to the ones tempted to return to the safety of fishing, to the betrayers, to the weak—to us—that Jesus gives a final command: Jesus, undeterred (by their doubt), went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 The Message)
Easter is just the beginning. Maybe your mustard seed faith is dry and shriveled. Maybe you doubt. Maybe you’d like to retreat to the comfort zone of fishing, or any other activity that requires no risk, no danger, no disappointment. Jesus says, “Easter is only the beginning. Now it’s time to go. And as you go—day after day after day—I’m with you.”