Archive for March, 2016
“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together” (Acts 20:7, ESV).
Well, Easter Sunday is over, now what? Many evangelical churches invested a lot of time, money, and resources to make Easter Sunday a special time for visitors, but what happens the Sunday after Easter? While Easter Sunday is usually the Sunday of highest attendance for a church, the Sunday after Easter is usually the very opposite. But if we really understand who Jesus is and what the resurrection means, then the Sunday after Easter should be no different than Easter Sunday or any other Sunday of the year. In fact, I would argue that for the Christian, every Sunday is Easter Sunday.
The reason I say that every Sunday is Easter Sunday is because from its beginnings the church gathered on the first day of the week, Sunday, to remember Jesus’ resurrection. Consider the historical record as laid out by Richard Bauckham (see R. J. Bauckham, “Lord’s Day”, in From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, ed. D. A. Carson, pages 221-250). Bauckham’s arguments are carefully made and humbly presented. At the risk of oversimplification, I want to summarize them in three points:
- The early church met on the Lord’s Day to commemorate Jesus’ Resurrection (Bauckham, 232-245): All four gospels emphasize Jesus’ resurrection on the first day of the week. Though it cannot be proven that this was the reason established for Sunday worship, early Christians did connect gathering on the first day of the week with the Lord’s resurrection (Bauckham, 236, 240). Early church history attests to this fact as well (see Didache, Justin Martyr’s, First Apology, chapter 67).
- By the end of the first century, “Lord’s Day” is seen to be a technical term already in use in reference to the first day of the week/Sunday, the Christian gathering day (Revelation 1:10; see Bauckham, “Lord’s Day,” 222-232).
- By the middle of the second century, Lord’s Day worship gatherings are the universal practice of the church (Bauckham, “Lord’s Day,” 230).
From such evidence, I have come to the conclusion that the Lord’s Day is the chosen gathering day for distinctly Christian worship because it was the day that Jesus rose from the dead. Therefore, every Sunday the church gathers, it remembers and celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. In other words, for Christians who understand who Jesus is and what the resurrection means, every Sunday is Easter Sunday! That means that we should gather again this Sunday to remember and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.
So join us (or another gospel church near you) this Sunday again as we confess together that Jesus Christ is risen and has been granted all authority in heaven and on earth. Join us as we humbly submit to His authoritative Word. Join us as we take the Lord’s Supper this Sunday. Join us as we encourage one another with the good news that Jesus is alive and present with us until He comes again.
Then join us on the mission to tell others that Jesus is alive, for He is risen. Join us as together we await Jesus’ return to consummate the kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace that He promised. Join us this Sunday, this Lord’s Day, as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection once again!