Summary: The resurrected Christ assures us we have no fear of God's judgment because our sins are forgiven based upon His death for our atonement when we place our faith in Him. John 20:19-31, Acts 2:14, 22-32, and I Peter 1:3-9
From Fear to Forgiveness to Faith
After all the excitement and confusion of Easter morning…(the women saying an angel told them Jesus had risen, Peter and John checking out the empty tomb, but the crowd spreading the word that his body had been stolen) there was a lot of fear around.
The people who wanted Him dead feared He was alive and the people who wanted Him alive feared He was dead!
The disciples were huddled together in a room to sort out the details and deal with their disillusionment. They thought he would be king, not killed. They thought he would conquer, not be crucified. They were afraid the Jewish leaders would come and get them next because they had been his closest friends and might still be planning anarchy.
Then all of a sudden Jesus was standing in their midst!
He offered peace to them. (He could tell they were afraid!)
Suppose you had served twelve people for three years.You had cared for them and taught them. When they found themselves perishing on an angry sea you came and rescued them. They had told you how much they loved you and would even die for you. But then when the pressure got on they wouldn’t even pray with you. You asked them to pray but instead they slept.
When the authorities came to arrest you, you made sure they were safe and not arrested. You were about to be brutally beaten and crucified. One had betrayed you. One openly denied even knowing you. All of them have ran away and left you to deal with the problem alone. How would you feel about friends like that?
After your victory over the enemy would your first words to these people be, “Peace be with you?”
I think I would probably say something like this, “A fine bunch of friends you people are. With friends like you, who needs enemies? I’ve had it with all of you and doubt I will ever be able to trust any of you again. I hope you know how deeply you have hurt me.”
(They knew they needed forgiveness)
But Jesus was not angry with them for abandoning him. He did not scold them for their unbelief. He simply forgave them and offered to show them his scars so that they would be certain He was the same Jesus in bodily form as before.
Then again he offered them peace and said they must go in His same Spirit and make peace with others.
“If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” seems difficult to understand at first.
God does not forgive people's sins because we do so, nor does he withhold forgiveness because we do, but we are the way the good news is to be shared.
If you tell people about God’s forgiveness you are extending forgiveness to them. If they respond they are indeed forgiven. However, if you don't tell them, you are NOT extending forgiveness to them.
We preach a message of forgiveness based upon God’s promise that if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and if people receive this message they receive forgiveness. If they reject this message they are not forgiven.
2 Cor 5:18-20 says, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”
Jesus wanted the disciples to realize that everyone needs forgiveness and they must carry his message to the world by making peace and practicing forgiveness!
This is the commissioning by the Holy Spirit they received that day. And we are called to do the same. We’ve got to pass it on!
I read a story about a mother who heard her son screaming and went in the room to discover his baby sister had been pulling his hair. She explained that his sister didn’t understand that it hurt him. As soon as she left the room the baby sister began screaming and when the mother turned around the boy was pulling her hair and he said, “Now she does.”
Sometimes we forget the pain and suffering of the cross that Jesus endured for us. His scars are there so we will remember that Jesus really does know how it feels.
What crime is worse than killing Jesus?
Did the Romans kill him, did the leaders of the Jews kill him, or did we each kill him by our sins?
In Mel Gibson’s famous film, The Passion of Christ, it is Mel’s own hand that drives the nails into Christ’s hands and feet.