John 21:25 - Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The week post-Easter in the church is generally one big sigh of relief.
The Sunday when we celebrate the day that everything began anew, Easter Sunday, is the pinnacle of the church calendar. In some ways, Easter is the culmination of everything that we’ve been working towards. We anticipate one of the biggest crowds of the year to celebrate the most important event of the year. That can also make it the most stressful Sunday of the year; when church workers say “hallelujah” after an Easter Service, it’s just as likely they are celebrating the resurrection as they are thanking God that Sunday is over. Monday comes, and everyone exhales, and it can feel a little bit like, well, a letdown.
The four accounts of Jesus life have a sense of that, as well. Every one of them ends with the resurrection, with only a few notes wrapping up some loose ends. The earliest manuscripts of Mark’s account, for example, end with the disciples running away from the tomb, scared out of their mind that it was empty. Matthew ends with Jesus final words to the disciples. Luke includes a couple of witness-events of the post-resurrection Jesus. And John closes his account with a significant reminder of how Jesus changed a group of fishermen into fishers-of-men. All in all, it feels like a bit empty.
Wouldn’t it have been way better if Jesus rose from the grave, had big muscles, long hair, maybe a hammer to reign down swift justice on his enemies, okay, I’m describing Thor. The point is, if the resurrection is everything it’s supposed to be, shouldn’t Jesus have done moreafter his resurrection than before? With the newfound power of the resurrection, shouldn’t Jesus have walked into Jerusalem and declared himself eternal king, sending his enemies running? Now thatwould have been an ending!
Actually, now that I think about it, that is the ending. We’re just not there yet.
I think the reason the Gospel accounts end with his resurrection is because in the next phase of the story Jesus is going to send out average, not-yet-resurrected messengers into the world to tell everyone that the kingdom of God is here. Luke is the only one who comes close to telling us about this phase in his account of the early church called Acts. For the most part the message was spread through unnamed, unrecognized voices who we never read about in our Bible.
Maybe the post-Easter problem is that the everyday messenger-work of the Kingdom doesn’t look all that exciting. It doesn’t look like huge crowds and important days. It probably looks more like the “many other things Jesus did” that John mentions as he closes his account. But that is precisely the way that the kingdom of God spreads until the day Jesus returns to complete the victory that was announced at the Resurrection.