Summary: Opening Sermon to an Acts series, although this passage is not in Acts but in John, the passage bridges from Resurection to the begginnings of the Acts community. Main Passage is John 20:19-23
Well, we have come out of Easter having taken some time looking at some of the area’s where God is calling us to follow in his steps. And we have seen how God is inviting us to walk with him in resurrection power, so we are now moving beyond the resurrection to see.
Into the bigger picture, because God had no intention of having us do this following of Jesus’ story on our own, but instead to be connected within community, and that is a part even of what we just did within Baby dedication. There is a biblical story that is a bit hard for us within our culture that talks so much about the individual, but a biblical faith is tied in to community, and that this community is itself a part of how the world sees that God is doing something special. A community built of so many different types of people, of all different ages, unified through Christ.
Out of Activity and into action in ACTS:
God is not just interested in us being busy, but in us being a part of the Action of God. How do we know we are a part of that action and not just meaningless activity? That is the big question that we will be 8looking at through this series.
For today, I wanted to start by asking this: Have any of you been scared? Have you ever been so scared that you couldn’t do something at all?
Working on the scaffolding a few years ago
For all of us who know a bit of what this fear is like, fear that stops you from doing something you might want to do, or you should do, this passage might make sense of things
19 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!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
A friend of mine, who is studying theology in England right now, so he might be biased, maintains that everyone is a theologian, in that theology is our understanding and beliefs about God, what He does, how it relates to our lives...
If everyone is a theologian, then I think every follower of Christ has an ecclesiology, which is one of those fancy theologian words for the beliefs and understanding of what is the church and what it’s here for.
All too often, the beginning of this passage can describe us, both individually and even at times, for the church. We are behind locked doors, busying ourselves with all sorts of things, but not really doing anything.
I think part of it has to do with how we understand the church, our ecclesiology (what we believe about the church, what it is and what it is for)
We have a pour theology so we have a poor ecclesiology, a pour understanding of the church. When we understand that God is the sending God, we understand that we are a sent people. We do not exist for ourselves, we exist for the world. What ails us as churches is that we have forgotten the theology of the missio dei, the sending God. As the father has sent me, so I send you.
So let us look at some of the factors that changed this group of people from a fearful group hiding behind locked doors into the people that transformed the whole world.
It is night – still in the darkness, there is still darkness gripping the disciples
But, it is the first day of the week – the day that would come to be their rejoicing, as well as ours. It would move the celebration and remembrance of the people of God to a new day, what would later be called the lord’s day. This is why many years ago, the early church chose to gather not on Saturday (Sabbath) but on Sunday. Because starting this day, a whole new creation springs forth, all through the work and new life of Christ. John is hinting that something new is beginning, and the creation he begins his gospel account with is being redone in a new way starting this day. But it is just a hint, because the door is still locked.
The door is locked for fear of the Jews – The disciples are afraid, their teacher and leader has been killed, they are personae non grata in Jerusalem, they fear the authorities and guards and what they are going to do, so they stay put, hunkered down in a place that feels safe – How often this is the case for us?