Every Lord’s Day Is Resurrection Sunday
This is a week in which religion in America will reach its zenith. We have only to look at the daily newspapers to see the enormous emphasis placed on “Holy Week.” The god of “church on Sunday and live as you please the rest of the year” will never be more alive and well.
This view of “Easter” would have astounded the early Christians. The followers of Jesus were avowed enemies of institutionalized religion. They had no time for formalism, for pious “Holy Days.” Instead, they celebrated the victory of Jesus’ risen presence each and every Lord’s Day.
It is an insult to Jesus and a shame on our churches that “Resurrection Sunday” has been reduced to a once-a-year solemn ritual. The whole New Testament makes it clear that it is in the Lord’s Supper – not in Christmas or Easter – that Jesus seeks to be remembered and honored by His people. You will recall that the first Christians, in accordance with Jewish custom, met in the temple (Acts 2:26; 5:42; cf. Luke 24:53). Their precedent was Jesus Himself, who had taught frequently in the temple precincts (cf. Mark 14:49). Yet at the same time the Jerusalem disciples came together in particular houses to “break bread” – in an upper room (Acts 1:13) and in the house of the mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12), for example. Outside of Jerusalem we read of house churches in Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:19), Rome (Rom. 16:5), Colosse (Philem. 2), and Laodicea (Col. 4:15). The early Christians selected the first day of the week as the day of observing the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7; cf. 1 Cor. 16:2).
And why did they choose Sunday? Because every Lord’s Day was a celebration of Christ’s resurrection, the day on which Jesus rose from the dead. During those gatherings the Lord’s Supper took place in the setting of a full meal, the central characteristic of which was exuberant joy (cf. Acts 2:46). Eating and drinking with the risen Christ was of paramount importance in the first Christian communities. We think of Him breaking bread with the Two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:30) and with the Eleven (Luke 24:36). We see this emphasis also in Peter’s speech in Acts 10:40-41, where he says: “God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He should be made visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.” Thus the Lord’s Day was closely linked with the resurrection appearances of Christ at meals.
This significance of the Lord’s Supper is repeatedly forgotten today. For the earliest Christians, a community meal occupied a vitally important place between Christ’s resurrection meal and the future messianic banquet (“until I will eat it anew”). It seems to me, therefore, that we must abandon this idea that God is pleased with our setting aside “Easter” with its pomp and pageantry, its “piety” and slavish ritual. I believe we are brought to a point where we can and must get our “Easter religion” straight.
Let us call a spade a spade and boldly affirm, with Scripture, that this is not “Holy Week” and this Sunday is not “Resurrection Sunday.” Every Lord’s Day ought to be a day to remember that the Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!
April 11, 2006
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.