Summary: The disciples were afraid. Sometimes we are too. Let Jesus in.
John 20:19-23 – Let My Love Open the Door
So I’m told of a man who had been visiting a therapist because he had had a fear of monsters living under his bed. The man had been seeing this doctor for months, and every time he would come in, the doctor would ask, "Have you made any progress?" And every time the man would say "no".
The man decided to go and see another doctor. Well, when he went back to his first doctor, and the doctor asked the usual question, "Have you made any progress?", this time the man said, "Yes, I am feeling all better now. I don’t fear monsters under my bed anymore." Well, the doctor asked, "What happened?"
The man said, "I went to another doctor, and he cured me in one session.” The doctor asked, "What did he tell you?" The man said, "He just told me to cut the legs off my bed".
Today we are continuing our series called I Serve a Risen Saviour: Studies in John 20-21. We find ourselves in v19-23, which tells of Jesus, the once-dead Saviour and the alive-forevermore King, showing up to His disciples. They have locked themselves into a room, and they really are confused about what has been happening. Some people had been seeing Jesus – Mary Magdalene, a couple of disciples on the road to town called Emmaus, and even Peter – all had said they had seen the risen Jesus. But rumours and reports of what Jesus has done for others doesn’t compare at all to experiencing Him yourself. Let’s watch this section of scripture from the Gospel of John movie, using the Good News Bible word-for-word. And just to let you know, if any of you are fans of the TV show “Lost”, yes, that’s Desmond playing the role of Jesus.
The passage starts off with the picture of Jesus’ followers hiding out. The doors are locked shut because they are afraid. Now, I want to come back to this thought. It’s the first day; it’s what we call Easter Sunday or Resurrection Day. It’s the 1st day of the week, and Jesus had been killed only 2 days before. Now, something you have to understand about death: it’s usually permanent. The disciples were not expecting Jesus to be seen again. They were in shock about it. No wonder the first words were: “Peace be with you.” As in, it’s OK. Relax. You’re not hallucinating, and you don’t need to be afraid of me. He showed them His hands, and His side where the spear had pierced Him.
And He gives them some directions. In fact, He gives them 3 gifts. The 1st was the gift of peace. Peace, in the mind of Jesus, was not the absence of conflict. He was not offering a struggle-free life. He had said to them earlier, as John 14 tells us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” That is, in the world, peace is about a lack of wars. The peace that Jesus gives is a sense of well-being in our hearts. It’s a sense that even though we are going through hard times, God is still with us. It’s a deep heart knowledge that no matter what we go through, God’s in control. That’s real, meaningful, lasting peace. That’s the 1st gift Jesus gave them… and us, for that matter.
The 2nd gift was the gift of purpose. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Each of us has a purpose, a reason why we are here. At prayer meeting the other night, someone shared about a loved one who just wanted to go be with Jesus in heaven. And she asked her pastor, “Why won’t God just take me yet?” And the pastor said, “Because I love seeing your face looking back at me every Sunday, and I would miss that.” Folks, you are here for a reason. You are here to live for Him in front of your family, your co-workers, your loved ones, and all those around you. You are here because God wants you here… period. Your job, your mission, is to glorify God – to worship, to adore, to lift up, to point people to… God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” That’s why you are here.
Pointing people to God was part of what Jesus meant when He said, “If you forgive people of their sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t, they’re not.” That sounds a lot like we decide if a person is forgiven or not. Not really. It means that we share the good news. We say, if you ask Jesus to forgive you, and you believe that He died and rose again, and you ask Him to give you a new start in life, and you want to live for Him, then you’re forgiven. Not because we say so, but because Jesus said so. It’s not about granting forgiveness – it’s about announcing it. Helping people reach out to God is part of our purpose to bring glory to Him.