“19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Last time we saw that we need to expect His presence and embrace His peace but many of us are tempted to respond by saying, it’s just not that easy. It’s the same struggle that the disciples had, how do I trust in the trying times? But the reason you have not embraced His peace is because third you haven’t:
- Examined His Proof
Jesus offers evidence to His doubting disciples. If you want to forsake your fears then you need to pay attention to the proof. Christianity is not just a system of rules and regulations; it’s a relationship with the living Lord. Mary missed Jesus because she mistook God for a gardener; here the disciples miss Him because they mistake God for a ghost! Fear creates a false perception, it pervert your perspective causing you to miss the Messiah. Many of us are living in the panic instead of the promises because we haven’t taken time to examine the proof. We are living in the Fear instead of the finished work. Phobia comes from the Greek word for fear, but it refers to a panic that is completely out of proportion to the perceived threat behind it. They were afraid of people because they had forgotten about God’s power. I think today we need to come back to the cross, to ponder the proof so that we can live in the power. Are you living in the reality of the resurrection or the ruin of religion? If you believe the proof then it should change your practice. Instead of being consumed with panic we should be concerned with proclaiming. Because examining the proof should lead to:
- Exclaiming His Plan
Jesus not only provides us with His presence, His peace and with proof, but fourth He calls us to pursue His plan. Christ doesn’t just comfort us, He commissions us. Recognizing that His followers are still fearful, Jesus once again declares in verse 21: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” His peace is given so that we will be about His purposes. We are saved in order to be sent, we were not saved to sit but to share about the Savior. It’s here that Jesus dispatches His disciples, His plan is not for you to live in a locked room fretting over the future but to engage His plan in the present. We have a mission and a message that cannot be kept in a locked room. It’s time to stop cowering and start caring, people are going to hell and we are hiding. Christianity doesn’t put out a sign and say ‘come’ Christianity puts on its shoes and goes. The first use of the word “peace” in verse 19 was given in order to quiet their hearts, the second “peace” was given to prepare them to pursue God’s plan. Fear distracted the disciples from the mission, and it can cause us to hold up and hide the hope of God. Worry is a tool of the devil to derail you from God’s plan and get you to waste your life instead of using it to witness. Christ didn’t conquer the cross so the church could cower behind closed doors but so that the church could courageous confront a lost culture with the hope and healing of the Lord. Like the disciples who were living behind locked doors many of us are living with locked lips. Instead of being a witness to the finished work of the cross we are a witness to worry. When the church stops living in the hope it starts hiding. If we are going to exclaim His plan then we need to:
- Engage His Power
Jesus not only calls and commissions, but He provides the power of Holy Spirit as a companion. When it comes to the great commission this passage reminds us of the:
Method – People, God could have use any method He wanted to declare His message to a messed up world and He chose you and me. Now we often say that the message never changes but the method does yet in reality neither the message nor the method changes, because the method is people not programs. Today we are trying to rely on programs because we have forgotten the power of personal connection that comes through people.
Message – That salvation only comes through Jesus as Ephesians 1:7 says: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
Motive for ministry – LOVE, Jesus told His disciples “as the Father sent me so I send you” We may be motivated by the desire for reward, recognition, financial gain, promotion or even pride. On the other hand, our motivation may be fear of punishment, failure, rejection or getting caught. Those are the lowest forms of motivation, but Jesus set a higher standard, His motivation was love. We may have various motives for serving him, but the only one that will prevail against all discouragement and setbacks is love.
Means – His power, God never sends us to do a work for which he does not equip and enable us. Living in the reality of the resurrection means rely on His resources. You see Jesus didn’t just bless His disciples He breathed on them. This is the only time that the word “breathe.” Is used in the New Testament but it appears at least four times in the Old Testament, where the word “breath” also means “spirit.”
Genesis 2:7: “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
Job 33:4: “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
Psalm 33:6: “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”
Ezekiel 37:5: “This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.”
Just as God’s breath made the first creation, so likewise the breath of Jesus makes the new creation. We don’t have to be filled with fear because we are filled with His Holy Spirit. The resurrection gives us hope, it’s the harbor that anchors our hearts in the hard times of life. As believers we don’t have to live lives of fear we can live lives of faith. While the world relies on its locks we rest on the Lord. What about you are you going to be a fearful follower or a faithful one?