When Jesus was crucified, the disciples, and the close friends of Jesus went to ground. They were scared: What’s going to happen to us? Will they hunt us down to? Will they try to do to us what they did to Jesus?
Some hid themselves away, others left town, they were laying low, not wanting to be seen or heard. One group of disciples gathered in a locked room together. They were really, really afraid. I guess we can be a bit like them; afraid of what people might say or do when we put our Christian selves out there too much. Not all of us are thick skinned and able to handle whatever other people say or do. In fact, that’s probably most of us.
But a miracle happened to those scared people that day. There they are, locked away in that room, and out of the blue, no explanations or announcements, and Jesus arrives and stands there in front of them. The last time they saw Jesus he was probably hanging dead on that cross – or being put in the tomb – and now here is standing right there in front of them. They know it’s him, the scars, especially those on his hands must have been visible to them all. He even offers to show them the scar in his side where they pushed a spear in and up under his heart.
So perhaps after their initial fear, and maybe even some terror when Jesus appeared, once they realized it really was him, their fear and terror is replaced by joy. The word says: they rejoiced to see him! And then he says something that might have once seemed to be the cause of more fear: ‘I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me.’
After Jesus had greeted them again, he said,
“I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me.” (John 20:21)
They knew what that meant, that Jesus was sending them to bring the gospel, to bring good news, to bring the presence of the Kingdom of God into the hearts, the minds, the places, the faces, of all of those people who did not know, or did not want to know, Jesus. He was sending them out there – back to those same people, that same religious culture, that had put Jesus to death: to be fishers of people!
And did they put up their hands and shake their heads saying ‘no way’? Well, they did eventually go – but not immediately. It took a little while. In fact, John’s Gospel in chapters 20 and 21 tells us about three separate appearances of Jesus. They had seen Jesus back from the dead. He has breathed new life into them. He had a also commanded them to stay in the city until ‘you are clothed with power from on high’ (Luke24:49), but they were still human and besides that, perhaps it made sense to let the anger and guilt of Jesus’ crucifixion ease in the community around them.
The Lord’s Spirit was doing deep work in their hearts and minds. He was preparing them to witness like never before. To leave their safely zone and go deeper as witnesses to Jesus and His Kingdom. That’s our challenge over these next weeks of the Easter season: to go deeper, deeper in faith, deeper in witness, deeper in love and mercy: all for the sake of the Kingdom.
Can we do this together? Will you travel with us as we explore, and God challenge us all in Deeper Living?
The Lord bless you with His peace.