Summary: Motivation for the ministry and mission of the church.
Never Give Up! Never Surrender!
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." (John 20:19-21 RSV)
And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit." So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:4-8 RSV)
Tragedy: OKC Bombing 1995
Columbine High School 1999
and in the end we are left with more questions than answers; questions, for which it seems there are no answers.
Loss of Christ: great tragedy for the disciples
3 year investment
witnesses-raising of dead, teachings, healings
thought He was God’s Messiah
Messiah 1. turn heart of the Father (God) to His children (Israel); and the heart of the children (Israel) to their Father (God).
2. Redeem Israel nationally and militaristicly.
Promises had been given of resurrection, but not understood or accepted.
Peter rebukes Jesus
Women’s words (Mary, Mary, and Joanna) were not even believed when the news was given of an empty tomb.
Luke 24:11 "but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them." (RSV)
Disciples were in DENIAL
5 Stages of Grief
1. Denial & Isolation
John 20:19 "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews"(RSV)
These 11 men under the leadership of Peter, the man who was called "The Rock" by Christ. "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church" (RSV)
These 11 men who swore they would never leave Jesus nor forsake Him.
These 11 for which Jesus spent three years pouring His life into; to mold and to prepare them for the task of going "into all the world" and "making disciples of every nation".
These 11 men now sit cowering behind closed doors paralyzed by fear.
Fear can be a powerful enemy. An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from a fear (phobia) [Time Magazine. "What Scares You: Fear Not!" April 2, 2001., p. 52.]
Dozens can be debilitating.
Social fears, fear of heights, and fear of enclosed spaces can adversely affect ones behavior and ability to socially interact on a normal level. Fear can be generated by real threats, or by perceived threats.
The Disciples, who have been commissioned with boldness are now paralyzed by fear.
How many times have we as Christians ourselves been paralyzed by fear; whether real or perceived?
We who have also been given the great commission to "go into all the world and make disciples of every nation"; what prevents us from moving out of the comfort and security of our daily lives to witness to a lost and dying world?
Fear of change?
Fear of what friends might think?
Fear that we will be made fun of?
Fear that we will be rejected for our message?
"The attendance of most churches is either in plateau or decline. A few are growing," but some of these are merely "transfer growth." In fact more than half of new converts, that is those "who made first-time decisions for Christ were no longer connected to a Christian church within just eight weeks of that decision." [William Willimon. Http://www.preachersmagazine.org/20010422t.html.]
Jesus said to those fearful disciples long ago, "Peace be with you."
Instead of chastising them for their fear. Instead of rebuking them for their disobedience. He offers a word of affirmation.
Jesus knew their fear. Jesus told his disciples at Gethsemane, "My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death." (Mark 14:34, RSV) That night He prayed, "Father, if there is any other way, let this death pass from me."
But He doesn’t just give them a word of encouragement. He does something more.