Text: John 20: 19-25
Text verse: John 20:19
Out of fear for the Jews, the disciples gathered behind closed doors. Since their Leader was killed by the Jews, they were rightly afraid that the Jews would want to kill them too.
Jesus repeatedly warned the disciples that the world would hate them because they were not of the world (John 15: 18-19; 16:33; 17:14). Now the hatred of the world has become a reality.
It is not uncommon for believers today to also experience something of this fear. The world often expects us to do things we know are not right. The world threatens that we will lose our jobs, that your relationship will fall apart, or that you will lose everything.
The consequence of all these threats is that we also want to lock ourselves in a room. We withdraw from the world by going out only for what is necessary. We are afraid of these threats, hatred and conflict. However, if we live in fear, it will paralyse us. We will not be able to live purposefully.
See how Jesus helps his disciples deal with the fear.
He pronounces peace on them
As humans, we tend to fear people while humans are the least of our problems. However, Jesus points out to his disciples that they should rather fear Him since he can cause their body and soul to perish in hell (Matt. 10:28).
That is why Jesus’ peace holds so much more than the world can offer us. Jesus died on the cross on our behalf. He bore the hell of godlessness in our place so that we may have peace in God. When we realise the glory of this peace, it dispels all fear (1 John 4:18).
He instructs them (vs. 21)
Jesus’s task is remarkable and holds great comfort. Jesus points out to us that we are sent into the world, just as the Father sent Him into the world. This is remarkable because He gives this glorious task to sinful people to perform. He trusts us to proclaim a message of peace and grace to the world so that the people can come to faith.
It is also comforting because we know that just as He overcame the world and all its threats, so too we will overcome. Even if our lives are taken, we remain victorious in Christ, for we too will rise from the dead like Him.
He equips them
The wonderful thing is that Jesus does not give us this responsibility without equipping us as well. He equips us with the Holy Spirit. In chapter 14: 15-30 the glorious work of the Holy Spirit is explained.
He also equips us with authority to forgive. This verse (23) is often misunderstood. This does not mean that we have the authority to forgive another person’s sins. Rather, it means that we can encourage new believers who accept the message of salvation by pointing out to them that their sins have already been forgiven. In the same way, we can testify to the world that no one who stubbornly refuses to accept Jesus as Saviour will receive forgiveness.
As believers, it is important that we live in the peace that Jesus has wrought for us. This peace makes us brave and determined.