Growing up, I heard a lot about Johnny Appleseed.
For a short time, that was my nickname. My friends thought it was funny. I remember learning his name as we all studied history. To my young mind, Johnny gave America all its trees. I use to wonder if he ever made it to the shores of Galveston–maybe he planted that tree outside our window.
I know now that Johnny Appleseed is a mixture of reality and legend. Most of what I remember about him likely falls on the legend side.
Several years ago, I read an article about John Chapman. He’s the real Johnny Appleseed. The article talked about his life outdoors and his adherence to a least-traveled strand of Christianity. Johnny shared his faith as he went planting trees. What struck me was that Chapman decided to help build his legend as Johnny Appleseed along the way.
He intentionally shaped the Johnny Appleseed I grew to wonder about.
I’m writing this devotional on Good Friday morning. My church and I haven’t worship today yet. As the cross becomes unavoidable to us, we will tremble. Then, of course, resurrection!
By the time you read this, we’ll have shouted, “Christ is risen!” As a reminder, Easter is an entire season of the church, not only a day at church. So, you should still shout with joy and boldness, “Christ is risen!”
Sometimes, it feels like the only thing left over from Easter day is all the confetti from the cascarones. I bet your church had special music yesterday and even decorated the sanctuary in beautiful splendor. There were people there you haven’t seen in a while and everyone had on their Easter Sunday best.
The apostle Paul addressed two questions about resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15: How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come? His response comes as part of a longer conversation about resurrection. As Paul saw it, he was arguing with fools.
How are the dead raised? The simple answer is God. What kind of body? An imperishable one. In a ways, Paul reminds us that Johnny Appleseed didn’t plant apple trees. He planted seeds. Seeds become something different than what they are. Seedtime and harvest remain two distinct seasons.
And so it is with resurrection.
Something changed about Jesus, apparently. People didn’t recognize him and now he’s floating through locked doors. Let’s also remember that Jesus didn’t raise himself. God did.
Before, Jesus had to make the decision to be obedient to God. I don’t see how that was a choice after his resurrection! How can you experience resurrection and not recognize God’s power? Not change?
I’m not saying get rid of the lilies in church or the special music. I do think we can let the fluff of Easter get in the way of resurrection power. I’m asking you to be willing to intentionally cultivate your walk with God. You don’t have to create a legend of yourself. Just consider if you’ve experienced new life as a result of the resurrection of Jesus.
If you haven’t, why not? How do you even know for sure? If you have, then what? If you walked into worship yesterday, how does the resurrection of Jesus make you new today?