Summary: The earlier followers of Jesus were known simply as “followers of The Way.” The way of Jesus is a way of peace, a way of mercy, and a way of grace. Christianity is more than simply an ethic or a philosophy. The early disciples lived together and broke
The loaded station wagon pulled into the only remaining campsite. Four youngsters leaped from the vehicle and began feverishly unloading gear and setting up a tent. The boys then rushed off to gather firewood, while the girls and their mother set up the camp stove and cooking utensils. A nearby camper marveled to the youngsters’ father: “That, sir, is some display of teamwork.” The father replied, “I have a system. No one goes to the bathroom until the camp is set up!
In today’s reading we see the next chapter unfolding in the life of Jesus disciples. The disciples had gathered together out of fear of local religious leadership. The Pharisees and the other religious leaders had put Jesus to death. And they wondered, “Are we next?
They were brokenhearted and defeated. The man who they had followed for the previous three years… the man who they believed to be the very Son of God… had been put to death. And not only that, he had been beaten and humiliated on the Cross. Defeat had brought them together and fear had kept them there.
It was then… in the midsts of their hopelessness and despair… when they were at the very end of their rope... when in walked the Lord of mercy… the resurrected Jesus. And He said to them, “Peace be with you. Even as the Father has sent me, so too I am sending you.” And then He breathed on them and said, “Be filled with the Holy Sprit.”
When Jesus had been crucified the disciples had scattered. They were afraid for their lives… and probably rightly so. They knew how brutal the Romans could be and they knew that the Jewish religious leaders were unlikely to forget that they were followers Jesus.
Though defeat had brought them together and fear had kept them there… hiding in a room… the overwhelming grace of God and the power of one another is what fueled them for the journey ahead.
They embarked together on a journey of faith that turned the world upside down as they witnessed miracles… saw great triumphs… and intense resistance.
It is amazing in fact that in the face of brutal opposition and persecution the church actually grew! All but one of the disciples, John the Beloved, was martyred for their faith and proclamation of the gospel of Christ.
All suffered persecution… and yet none of them rejected the resurrection of Jesus… they had seen Him resurrected with their own eyes… Thomas had even placed his hands in the side of Jesus and touched the wounds still evident on His hands
The early Church Father Turtullian wrote that, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” In a very real sense this is true. In spite of vicious opposition, the church grew and flourished. The early church had partnered for the journey of faith. They had come together… in one accord…
The story is told of a horse-pull in Canada. One horse pulled 9,000 pounds, another 8,000. Together you would expect them to pull 18,000 pounds. Not so! When teamed together, they pulled 30,000 pounds.
The principle is called synergism. By definition, the simultaneous action of separate agents working together has a greater total effect than the sum of their individual efforts. More can be done in a team effort than can be accomplished solo. In order for the principle of synergism to work like it should, there has to be teamwork.
Everything we do takes teamwork and trust. Every person in the local church is valuable and needed. The church is a team, and together we can build for the Lord.
I recently read a story about four people: Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. Somebody got angry because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody knew that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Somebody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody because Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
I remember when I was a young Marine going through basic training in San Diego, California.
One of the most challenging parts of the training was a several mile hike wearing full equipment with a rifle and a rucksack (backpack) in excess of 26 pounds… which culminated in climbing to the top of a very steep mountain peek which bears a name which is unrepeatable in church!
By the time you get near the top of this mountain you are literally on hands and knees climbing because the mountain is so steep. And it’s the most amazing thing… as you near the top you see young Marines dragging other young Marines up this hill…