Is it Easter in excess?
If you read John 20 and 21, the last two chapters of the Gospel of John slowly and carefully, you are struck by how long he lingers over resurrection. He’s not content to tell and move on. John loves to recount the appearances of the risen Christ to his followers and disciples.
Several years ago I even read an article that delved into this topic. It was called “Easter in Excess?” The author noted that sometimes our holiday celebrations can be filled with excess that leaves us drained, worn out and ready for them to be over.
However, he argued, we need Easter in excess. This is because the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the event that changed everything and is the foundation of our faith.
John starts out by telling us about Mary Magdalene and her grief-stricken visit to the tomb of Jesus. She discovers that the stone has been mysteriously rolled away. As a result, she ran to Peter and John who then ran to the tomb and shared the same discovery.
Then the risen Christ shows up and calls Mary by name. That’s Easter!
But John is just getting started. The next week Jesus shows up suddenly and tells the disciples, “Peace be with you!” and sends them forward … But Thomas wasn’t there that day, so Jesus showed up yet again and pronounced, “Peace be with you!” before having a conversation with “Doubting” Thomas.
The tune of Thomas changed quickly. He excitedly exclaimed that Jesus is “My Lord and my God!” We have definitely gotten the picture.
But that’s not all. In John 21 the disciples go fishing and the risen Christ appeared on the shore to help them out. Then he has breakfast with them before a three-fold “reinstatement” of Peter.
Is it Easter in excess? No! John knew that we need to be reminded again and again of the implications of Christ’s resurrection. In a world where death and despair are always before us, we need all of the Easter we can get. So John lingers over resurrection, and so does the Christian church.
One of my favorite authors, Frederick Buechner, once observed, “…in the last analysis what convinced the people that he had risen from the dead was not the absence of his corpse but his living presence. And so it has been ever since.” This statement simply, yet powerfully, conveys the importance of Easter in excess.
I invite you to reflect on how, when and where you have experienced the living presence of Christ. When have you suddenly had the peace of Christ find you? When have you found your doubts suddenly overcome with a declaration of “My Lord and My God.”? When have you found the empty nets of life suddenly filled by the living Christ?
Jesus is alive! And he knows our names!