A Much Needed Source of Power
I bought my vehicle in May of 2002, brand spanking new, and drove it proudly off the lot. As of today, that car has carried me 197,600 miles on the highways and byways of my life. I wonder how many gallons of gas I’ve used and how much money I’ve spent on that gas? Yet without the gas, my car will not function. It will not carry me where I need to be unless it has the power to operate properly. Gas gives it that power. If I fail to pay EMEPA, they will cut my electricity off. There will be no source of light in my house unless there is the power of electricity. I can flip the switches til I’m blue in the face, but without the power, my lights are useless.
If I decide to quit eating, my body will get weak as a result of a lack of nutrients. Food and water are the source of power that gives me strength for living. And if I quit eating, not only will I grow weak but I will eventually die because I need the power of the food to keep me going.
Anything with energy has to have a source of power to give it that energy to work properly. Too many Christians are working without a source of power in their lives and they are virtually useless because they don’t have the spiritual power necessary to do the work of God. If I eat junk food for my diet, my body will work but not as it is created to work. It needs a proper diet in order to have the energy to live from day to day. Many Christians are attempting to live a godly life on an improper spiritual diet. God has provided us with the menu to order from so that we can be fed and strengthned properly but many of us are choosing the deserts rather than the entrée. And soon we find ourselves weak and unable to maintain a consistent walk with God. We need the power that only God offers if we desire to be effective servants for the kingdom.
According to John’s gospel, the disciples had not yet encountered the resurrected Jesus. John and Peter had seen the empty tomb and Mary had excitedly told them of her witnessing the risen Christ, but the disciples had not seen Him yet. It was on the evening of the first Easter, and they were all gathered in a room behind locked doors. They were gathered there and were in fear of what had taken place. If they tortured and crucified Jesus, who’s to say that they would not be next on the list of those to be executed? So they huddled together in fear, perhaps wondering if life would ever be the same again. And suddenly from out of nowhere, Jesus appears and says, “Peace be with you.”
We may not gather together behind locked doors for fear of losing our lives, but don’t we huddle together and discuss those things that concern us? Gas prices, our health, financial problems, the war, terrorism, family members, relationships, etc…
Like those disciple of long ago, fear still has a way of gripping us making us wonder if life will ever be the same again. Today, Jesus still appears among us and whispers, “Peace be with you.” He has conquered death and there’s no problem we may have that He can’t conquer today. He created the beauty and splendor of the heavens; there’s nothing that happens in our lives that He can’t handle. “Peace be with you”.
Hear those words and let them resonate in your heart. The risen Savior is very aware of your concerns and all He requests is that you trust Him.
The disciples are overjoyed to see Jesus and I’m sure they celebrated together as they witnessed this most glorious event. We too, need to continue the celebration of the resurrection of Christ each Sunday that we gather together. His death on the cross offers pardon for all and His resurrection provides us with the hope and joy of life eternal. That is something worth celebrating and worship should be a time of joy and anticipation of meeting with the risen Lord.
But then He gives the disciples the bad news- “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” “But Lord, they beat you and whipped you and crucified you”, they must have thought. “I’m not so sure I’m up to being sent out just yet.”
Jesus was not very well excepted by the world and had very few friends and no place to lay His head at night. The religious people scoffed at Him and He was under constant ridicule. Others had threatened to stone Him and some attempted to push Him off of a cliff. Most folks didn’t won’t Him around and asked Him to leave their presence. His life seemed to be constantly met with opposition. And finally, they whipped Him and nailed Him to a cruel cross. And now He says to the disciples and to you and me, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Surely the disciples must have thought, “I’m not sure I want that kind of life.” What about you? Are you ready for a life where you meet with constant opposition, where you’re not welcomed most of the time, where your way of life is not accepted by the world? Kind of scary isn’t it? But as Jesus whispers peace in one ear, He warns of hostility in the other ear. He says, “Continue my ministry, finish the job”; “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
You and I are safe here behind the closed doors of this room. We share common beliefs and values about our Lord so we’re comfortable. We don’t have to worry about being accepted because we’re family. But outside those doors, we’re being sent as sheep among the wolves of the world. They don’t believe our message, they don’t accept our lifestyle, they consider us foolish, they laugh at us, they ridicule us, and they will attempt to destroy us if they can. But inside this room, Jesus is in our very presence and He says, “Peace be with you.” So we’re ok, we’re comfortable, we’re unafraid. But then He says, “I’m sending you out, continue what I started.” Are you sure that you want to unlock the doors and leave this place?
As the sheep in God’s pasture, we don’t stand a chance among the wolves in our own power. We’re not strong enough and they will rip us apart. The powers of darkness are far too great for us to go to battle in our own strength. If we are to continue the ministry of Jesus, if we are to walk out of these doors, we must have something that will allow us to confront the opposition with the confidence that we can win. Just as our vehicles need gas, just as our homes need electricity, just as our bodies need a proper diet, we need an energizing power that will equip us spiritually to be sent as lambs among the wolves.
As Jesus has given us the command to go, as He has sent us to continue His ministry, He has also given us the necessary power to fulfill His purposes for our lives.
(read vs. 22,23)
Jesus breathes on the disciples the breath of life, the Holy Spirit, and fully equips them to continue His ministry of forgiveness.
From the dust of the earth, God created man. But it was not until God breathed into this man the breath of life that he became the creation that God intended for him to be. The breath of God brought life to the human and he was thus created in the image of God. He was the perfect creation, God’s final masterpiece of all His work.
Without the breath of God, there was only an empty shell of a man, incapable of living on his own. But when God breathed into his nostrils, it wasn’t just the breath of God, it was life that God was giving him. With the breath of God, Adam became God’s perfect creation, capable of being in a relationship with God and fulfilling the purposes that God had for him. God smiled at His creation, the only creation that was made with the very breath of God. God’s breath brought life to this man.
You and I must realize that we’re nothing without the breath of God in our lives. All that we have accomplished, all that we have and everything we do is nothing without the breath of God. The conception of a human being is nothing more than God breathing His favor upon that person and giving him/her life.
But somewhere along the way, Adam, the God breathed creation, became selfish and sin was conceived and the life God breathed into him died. He was no longer the perfect creation because of his own selfish choices. Thus, sin was born into the world and the curse was upon all of God’s creation. Throughout the ages, God provided a way for His creation to be redeemed, brought back into His favor. In the OT, the lamb was sacrificed and mankind was pardoned. But man continued to sin and the lambs continued to be sacrificed. Finally, God provided the world with His Son, the sacrificial lamb of the world, who died upon a cross so that all the world could be forgiven and redeemed. For those who have placed their faith in Christ, they have been born into the family of God. Yet sin and darkness continues to war against our souls and we feel weak and incapable of living the life God expects of us. Guilt and fear often seem determined to win the battle and we may feel like giving up.
But out of nowhere, Jesus appears and says “Peace be with you.” He breathes on us and provides us with the very life that God breathed into the nostrils of Adam. It is a holy halitosis, a moment of surrendering our weaknesses to the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a God-breathed moment that we desperately need if we desire to walk with God in this world of darkness and chaos.
This word “breathed”, is used only one other time in all the bible. The other place it is found is in our Genesis reading where God breathed life into Adam. Just as God breathed into Adam and equipped him with life, the breath of Jesus brings life to you and me. In a sense, it is the second great creation of God; humankind receiving the life that God intends for us to have.
The Holy Spirit is our life and equips us to live as God intends for us to, so that we might present Christ to all the world. It is now safe to unlock the doors of this room because we have been resuscitated with the breath of Christ. You dare not try to live this life on your own, you don’t stand a chance with out the God breathed power of the Holy Spirit in your life.
The Greek word for the Holy Spirit is pneuma. My Methodism professor was once asked what he thinks the greatest problem in the Methodist church is today and he answered, “we suffer from pneumaphobia”, we are afraid of the Holy Spirit.
We typically associate the Holy Spirit with the violent wind of Acts 2 at Pentecost where the disciple began to speak in other languages. We don’t want any of that Pentecostal stuff. We don’t want to talk in tongues and become holy rollers. Pentecost was the birth of the church and this church would not be here today were it not for Pentecost. For the child of God, the Holy Spirit is our life and without Him, we are as good as dead. As the physical body cannot survive without oxygen, the spiritual body cannot survive without the Holy Spirit. We desperately need the life breathing gift of Christ if we have any desire to faithfully serve God.
The church is in great need of a Christ breathing resuscitation today. For too long, we have been going through the motions and attempting to do things under our own power. For too long, we have run ourselves ragged trying to please God in our own strength. For too long, we have seen the church dry up and die when God longs to breathe new life into us and quench our thirst. The church is in need of the energizing power of the Holy Spirit and our prayer must be that Christ would breathe new life into us.
If we are to carry on the message of the forgiving love of God, we must be receptive to the life changing work of the Holy Spirit. He is the third person of the Trinity and is not to be feared but appreciated and desired in our lives.
When we by faith turn to Christ through the confession and repentance of our sins, we become a part of His family. He sends us out to be a witness to the power of His love and forgiveness and gives us the authority not to forgive sins (only God can forgive sins), but the authority to give the message of forgiveness. And to those who receive it, their sins will be forgiven. To those who refuse, their sins will not be forgiven. We don’t save people, only God does that. But through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we give the message and then step out of the way.
If the church is to carry on the mission that Jesus gave to it-to go and make disciples of all persons- it will be through the work of the Holy Spirit among us.
If the children of God are to bear the fruit of the Spirit, it will be because they are filled with the Spirit.
Aren’t you tired of trying to live the life in your own strength? We weren’t created to. Adam didn’t come to life until God breathed life into him. The disciples were gathered in fear but when the Holy Spirit was breathed into them, they became bold witnesses of the risen Christ and the church grew in astounding numbers.
We need a Christ breathed resuscitation in the church today. We weren’t created to live the life in our own strength but Christ will give us life when we ask Him to breathe into us new life. The Holy Spirit can and will transform this church but only if you confess that you have a need for Him. God will turn this church around if we stop doubting and believe.
Are your worries and fears causing you to have a lack of faith? Here the first words of the resurrected Jesus, “Peace be with you”. Then draw close to Him. The bible teaches if would draw close to God, He will draw close to us. He wants to meet us in a face to face moment, so close that we can feel His breath upon us. That is when your fears and doubts will be changed into a person of confidence and strength. That is when you will be empowered to carry on the work of the redeeming love of Christ. Would you dare meet Him face to face today?