The Eighth Day

resurrection-background-400x400The story is told of a Sunday School teacher who decided to quiz her class on what they knew about Easter.
The first little fellow suggested, “Easter is when all the family comes to the house and we eat a big turkey and watch football.” The teacher suggested that perhaps he was thinking of Thanksgiving, not Easter.
Next, a pretty little girl answered, “Easter is the day when you come down the stairs in the morning and you see all the beautiful presents under the tree.” At this point, the teacher was really feeling discouraged.
After explaining that the girl was probably thinking about Christmas, she called on a lad with his hand tentatively raised in the air. Her spirits perked up as the boy said, “Easter is the time when Jesus was crucified and buried.” She felt she had gotten through to at least one child, until he added, “And then he comes out of the grave, and if he sees his shadow we have six more weeks of winter.”

Unlike the kids in the Sunday School class, we ought not to get Easter mixed up with other celebrations of the year. Yes, like Thanksgiving, it’s a time to express our thanks especially for the blessing of salvation through his Son (1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 Corinthians 15:57). Yes, like Christmas, it reminds us of the reason why he was born in this world (John 3:16; Hebrews 2:9-11). And it might even be like Ground Hog Day in the sense that the Easter event is a shadow of things to come, namely the resurrection of believers to immortality (Romans 6:4).

And yet, Easter time is the pinnacle of all other events, both religious and secular, that we could ever celebrate. The Apostle Paul declared,

Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19, New American Standard Bible, NASB)

In the Christian faith, the celebration of Easter primarily recognizes the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. All other festivities having to do with the Easter bunny, Easter eggs, baskets of candy, Easter bonnets, parades, lilies, and the like, are more for fun and family time than anything else. But they should all take a backseat to the true meaning of the holiday—or rather, HOLY DAY—that points to the hope we have in Christ.

Easter, the most holiest of days, comes only one time a year. And it’s usually the one Sunday out of the year (except for Christmas) that most Christians see fit to attend church. In fact, Easter has been called, “The Super Bowl of Church Attendance.” According to one source,

Easter is, by far, the most attended Sunday of the year for many U.S. churches, according to LifeWay Research, a Southern Baptist research center. A study released in 2012 asked 1,000 Protestant pastors for the three highest attendance Sundays, and 93 percent picked Easter, followed by Christmas, with 84 percent, and Mother’s Day, with 59 percent. http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2013/03/easter_ranks_first_in_church_a.html

Whenever I see statistics like this I am concerned because it indicates, to me, that many people do not understand what all other Sunday’s of the year are really all about. If they thought of every Sunday as “Easter in miniature” perhaps more effort would be put forth to worship every Sunday. This is what Dr. Alva Huffer called it in his book, Triumph of the Resurrection:

The New Testament Church proclaimed its faith in the risen Christ by assembling for worship on the first day of each week. Every Sunday is Easter in miniature. What Easter is to the year, the first day is to each week. When believers assemble for worship on the first day of the week, they are showing in action form their belief that Christ has risen from the dead.

This is why Sunday is usually considered as the Lord’s day. It was upon the first day of the week—the day he was resurrected from the dead to never die again—that Jesus appeared to his disciples (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19). In fact, it’s believed that Psalm 118:22-26 is actually a messianic prophecy that Sunday would be the day to rejoice for “the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.” Some assert that it was on Sunday, the Day of Pentecost, that the early church was born, (Acts 2:1; Leviticus 23:15-16).  Assembling on Sundays, therefore, set a precedent for the early believers who gathered for fellowship, celebration of Christ’s resurrection, offering of gifts, and worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2).
NOTE: For an interesting study of this, link to, “21 reasons why the first day of the week, Sunday is important to Christians,” http://www.bible.ca/7-sunday-significance-for-christians.htm

In John 20:26, John wrote that it was on Sunday that the risen Lord appeared to his apostles and, this time, Thomas, was among them. Up until this time, the “doubting” Thomas couldn’t bring upon himself to believe that Jesus was actually resurrected. He stated, “Unless I shall see in his hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe,” (John 20:25).

Although it was the first day of the week that Thomas finally had his eyes opened to the truth that, indeed, Jesus was alive again, John describes the day this way: “After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you,'” (v. 26).

In reference to the “eight days” Dr. Huffer commented,

Christian writers during the early centuries often referred to Sunday not only as the first day but also as the eighth. Why did they do that? Easter Sunday was the eighth day, of course, after Palm Sunday. The Sunday following Easter was called the eighth day when Thomas was with the apostles and their risen Lord appeared to them….
Early Christian writers referred to Sunday sometimes as the eight day to indicate its superiority to the seventh day. The weekly anniversary of Christ’s resurrection was far beyond, above, and superior to anything that the seventh day symbolized. (ibid.)

It was on this “eighth day”—Sunday— that God’s new work of creation began. Although God ceased from his work on the seventh day (Gen. 1:1-2), he promised that a new day or age would dawn when his Son returns to rule and reign over all the earth (2 Peter 1:19). The account of the women rising before dawn to discover the empty tomb is a vivid reminder of the new day dawning when Jesus triumphantly comes in power and glory.
Christ, “the firstfruits of them who slept” (1 Cor. 15:29; also Colossians 1:18, Revelation 1:5) arose from the sleep of death on that eighth day to receive immortality from God his Father. This is most significant to us for it is through faith, repentance, and baptism in the name of our living Lord that a believer dies to the old life of sin and puts on the new life in Christ, (2 Cor. 5:17).

Thus, we have the living hope of being resurrected to immortality just as he was on that first Easter Sunday. By faith, we have this hope for we believe that Jesus was raised to life and that he is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25-26). Remember what Jesus said to Thomas after he was finally convinced that Jesus did, indeed, live again: “Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed,'” (John 20:29).

May this Easter Sunday be only the beginning of renewal as we remember what this Holy Day is all about. May it be the start of making every Sunday HIS day when we assemble, remembering and celebrating our risen Lord. And may we keep on seeking his Kingdom every day, according to the promises in his Word.

The beautiful message we proclaim to others is, He Lives! https://youtu.be/qF6aBDS3drA

Good News to YOU!
And have a blessed Easter!
Pastor Michael

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