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Worship and Resurrection

After the commotion from Artemis’ riot died down, Paul gathered the church to encourage them, and then left for Macedonia (where Philippi was), working his way through the areas where he had previously planted churches, strengthening the saints along the way. This was a ministry of Holy Spirit-ual encouragement, which Paul carried out “by means of many words”, through much preaching.

Paul then went to Greece (where Corinth was), and stayed there for three months, during which he wrote the book of Romans. In addition to offering encouragement, a major component of Paul’s work as he headed home from this missionary journey consisted of collecting funds for the persecuted church in Jerusalem from the Gentile Christians. After his time in Greece, Paul planned to go to Syria (where his home church in Antioch was) before heading to Jerusalem, which is what he did at the end of his last journey. This time, however, he got wind of a Jewish plot against his life and decided to take the long way home back through Macedonia.

It’s in verse seven that we first encounter a seemingly minor detail that has huge implications for Christian worship. The Christians in the city of Troas gather together to “break bread” (which is how Luke describes the Lord’s Supper) on the first day of the week. This is not the Jewish Sabbath; it is the day that Christ rose from the dead. The early disciples recognized in the Lord’s Day the beginnings of new creation, and they marked that transition from old creation to new creation by changing the day of rest from the Jewish Sabbath to the Lord’s Day. From this example, we learn some basic truths about worship:

When do Christians worship? On Sunday, the first day of the week.

Why do we worship on Sunday? Because it is the Lord’s Day, the day that Jesus rose from the dead.

What do we do on the Lord’s Day? We gather together to hear God’s Word and to break bread together, as the memorial of Christ’s death, until He returns.

This has been the pattern of the Church from her earliest days, and throughout her history. This pattern teaches that the most important event in the history of the world is not the creation of the world, but the re-creation of the world, which began through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Which makes it very fitting that the first time we see this connection between Lord’s Day worship and resurrection in the New Testament, we also see an actual resurrection! Paul began teaching in the evening, and the combination of hot lamps, a roomful of people, dwindling oxygen, a long sermon, and probably a full workday was too much for a young man named Eutychus (which means Lucky!). Lucky slowly sank into a deep sleep, fell out of a third story window, and was taken up dead.

Immediately, Paul rushed to him and threw himself on top of him, reassuring the saints that Eutychus’ life had been restored to him. What a strong demonstration this was that the same power that raised Christ was still at work in His church! Hearing this joyful news, they returned upstairs to commemorate Christ’s death and resurrection through the breaking of bread and further teaching.

At daybreak, Paul left Troas to continue his return journey. He decided to skip Ephesus in order to make it to Jerusalem by Pentecost. Pentecost was a Jewish agricultural feast that occurred seven weeks after Passover. What was promised by the firstfruits at Passover would be fulfilled in the end-of-harvest offerings at Pentecost, which Paul brought in the form of both money and seven men who served as representatives of the Gentile churches, the fruits of Paul’s missionary harvest.

But before a grain of wheat can produce a harvest, it must fall to the ground and die. This happened to Jesus, to Paul, and it is the pattern for our lives as well. This is why it is so important that we understand and remember the lesson of Lord’s Day worship, the lesson of Eutychus. We are called to spend our lives dying to ourselves, giving up our lives to serve others, but when we gather on the Lord’s day, we celebrate the great truth that our God raises the dead. We worship the God of resurrection life.

Posted on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 by CJ Bowen