Summary: How was it that the disciples of Jesus went from locking the doors in fear of the Jews to giving them the message about what a mess they had made of things, how do we boldly approach our faith?
Sermon: from fear to boldness.
There was a shift that occurred in the lives of the disciples.
I remember as a young boy doing things for the first time and a lot of them involved overcoming fear, swimming across the Maitai River, riding a bike, riding a bike no handed, riding a bike down the Nayland Road hill no handed, visiting people I didn't know for the first time, having a go on a flying fox, sailing a P Class yacht on my own. When I was a little older there were things like phoning a girl I liked Elizabeth Dyer, just to talk to her. This didn't even involve asking her out or anything, it was just I wanted to talk with her, scary stuff. As I got older there was joining the workforce, tramping trips, spending time alone in the bush, kayaking new stretches of white water, sitting my driver’s licence and the like.
These were all turning points in my life, they all required me to move from a place I was to a place where things would never be the same again, the things that concerned me and to be honest made me a little afraid were mainly firsts. Facing up to these things and many others have helped to form my character. Overcoming these firsts, you could say defeating them has led to new understandings and the ability to face bigger challenges with resolve and an understanding of what I can achieve or at some stage might be capable of achieving. That was a little of my life story and you will all have your own stories of overcoming things that may have had you anxious as you grew up.
I started the sermon with a sentence, “There was a shift that occurred in the lives of the disciples.” Just a bit of ground work on these blokes, I don’t believe Jesus disciples were very old. I have spoken previously about how Jesus and Peter were required to pay the temple tax. In Matthew 17:24-27 there is a story of how Jesus gives the nod to Peter about going fishing and that inside the fish will be a four drachma coin which enough to pay both Jesus and Peter’s temple tax, you had to pay this tax if you were older than twenty. Also if we look at the dates that some of the disciples died we see that: “James the son of Zebedee: He was put to death by Herod Agrippa I shortly before the day of the Passover, in the year 44 or about 11 years after the death of Christ. Simon Called Peter by Christ died 33-34 years after the death of Christ. John” who died of natural causes “No death date given by early writers. Death date is by conjecture only and is variously assigned as being between 89 AD to 120 AD”
(http://amazingbibletimeline.com/bible_questions/q6_apostles_die/#sthash.U7onh5GK.dpuf, sighted 09/04/2015).
Looking at John’s age if we say he was in his late teens say seventeen when Jesus died and resurrected we would be able to say he died somewhere between the ages of 73 and 104 years of age. If he had been older than his teens when called by Jesus he would have been a very old man when he shuffled off. Here endith the history lesson.
My reasoning for bringing this up was that these disciples were young men when Jesus was put to death by a method most hideous, being young having lost their teacher in the way they did I would say and most of us would that they had every right to be scared. John’s gospel finds the disciples these young men afraid, John 20:19 states, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Until Jesus appeared these blokes had the wind up, they were scared for their lives. If we look at the account of Thomas meeting Jesus post resurrection, I think he was more afraid than doubting, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand in his side, I will not believe.” He was not just going to listen to the rest of the disciple’s witness, was it fear or was it doubt or a combination of both? Perhaps it was safer not to believe, was he elsewhere when Jesus appeared to the disciples as it was a safer option? Who knows?
Then we get this account from the book of Act’s and a good way to think of the book of Acts is that the gospels are an account of Jesus earthly work, mainly with his disciples / the apostles. The book of Acts is an account of Jesus work through the lives of the disciples / the apostles. Incidentally it is believed that Luke the gospel writer wrote Acts also.