23 April 2017John 20:19-31
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’” (v. 21)
Psalm: Psalm 16
The work of mission doesn't wait. Resurrection day hasn't finished and the risen Jesus is already reminding the disciples that this new reality is not served by hiding away in their meeting room.
The writer uses that strange phrase "the doors of the house … were locked for fear of the Jews" (v. 19) when we know that those behind the locked doors were themselves Jews.
Who are they afraid of? The NIVUK Bible renders "fear of the Jews" as "fear of the Jewish leaders" which makes more sense. Mob rule stirred up by those who had engineered the crowd's chorus of "Crucify him!" (Mark 15:11-15) would have frightened off most people.
But as they hide behind the locked doors the disciples encounter something even more scary. How do you handle a risen Jesus?
The writer of the Gospel doesn't give us any of the lead-in that Luke has in Acts 1. There the disciples are sent to wait in their room (Acts 1:4-8) for the gift of the Holy Spirit while Jesus ascends to heaven.
In John's Gospel, the risen Christ appears on the evening of Resurrection Day, breathes the Holy Spirit on his friends (verse 22) and signals the start of the new outreach campaign: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (v. 21).
Yet again the battle between dark and light, which has been a constant theme throughout the Gospel, is prominent. The people of God can't hide away when there's work to be done.
The disciples are now a sent people: apostles. They are no longer locked away, but released with a new story to tell.
- Can you think of something the Church needs releasing to do but feels 'locked up' about? What is it?
- Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on the disciples as the work of mission begins after the Resurrection. How can we show resurrection hope in our communities?