JESUS HAS RISENand the disciples are hiding! That was the scene in John 20. You can read it for yourself. In one of the greatest chapters in the Bible, the phrase in verse 19, strikes me the most, "the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews." That really shocks me that the disciples didn't believe He had risen. Even though God had just displayed his might as never before through the resurrection of His Son, His people (the disciples) refused to believekind of sounds like many Christians today doesn't it!
While the power of God is moving, there are many who hide in their churches, afraid to engage culture, or some hide in their homes, refusing to be an active part of any church bodystill some hide through hurt feelings, bitterness, brokenness, un-forgiveness and anger and all the while, God is demonstrating His power in these final days! What do you think God has to say to those who hide? Just wait, I think the answer might surprise you.
Looking closer at John 20, we see that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb so early it was still dark only to find that the stone, whom the Roman soldiers had sealed, was rolled away. The body of Jesus was gone and she panicked. Distraught, she went to find Peter and John. They raced to the tomb, John outrunning Peter and I like the fact that verse 8 notes when John stooped in to see the empty tomb, it was then that John "believed." That's important because verse 9 says that he didn't understand those Scriptures that taught Christ must be raised from the dead.
All of this had taken place early in the morning, by late that evening where do we find the disciples? Cowardly hiding in a locked room! I wonder how that disappointed Christ! Should they have not been celebrating his resurrection? Should they not at least gather with Mary Magdalene to pray, or at least visit his mother Mary? But nothey were hiding for fear of the Jews.
Now, don't think I'm judging the disciples too harshly. They thought they were going to be put to death along with Christ! I remember when God called me to plant Preaching Christ Church. I wanted to lock myself in a room and hide too. How silly compared to what the disciples were facing! I remember giving God every excuse (and good excuses I might add) as to why I shouldn't start a church. "I'm too young," "I don't have any money," "there's already so many great churches around here," "I'm not married yet," "I've never been a lead pastor," did I mention I didn't have any money!? Those are good excuses, right? Logical ones! Now, 8 years later, after seeing God build His own Church and teaching me how to shepherd this precious flock, I'm thankful that God doesn't operate in the realm of logicHe operates in the realm of faith!
God could have passed over melooked at me and said, "Chad is so scared, I'll never be able to use him." But God didn't. Guess what, He reject these disciples either! Verse 19 begins by showing their fear, but look what happened at the end of verse 19, "Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be still.'" Jesus didn't rebuke them! He didn't call them names, like "Cowards." (I would havebut He didn't!) He lovingly said, "Peace be still." It goes on to say that He showed them His hands and His side and it says, "They were glad when they saw it was the Lord."
Everything changes when Jesus is near! Some of you reading this might feel like Christ has abandoned you. God's Word says He hasn't, "The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." Psalms 145:18, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5
Now the story gets even more amazing! He looks at these men who are hiding in a locked room and he says to them, "'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.' And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" WOW! Can you believe Jesus said that to the very men who ran from his crucifixion and is now hiding after his resurrection? You know what this leads me to believe? How much more grace does Christ have with you and me?
So what about you? Are you hiding? Are you running from God? Has God asked you to follow Him somewhere you don't believe you could go? Does Satan tell you there isn't any mercy for you? God has no forgiveness to offer you? Well, fearful disciple let your heart rest in John 20!
God delights in taking the unfit and making them fit! His joy is to take what is unqualified and make them qualifiedwant proof? Colossians 1:12-14, "Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
Pastor Chad Roberts
"But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere." 2 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)
Chad Roberts is the founder and senior pastor of Preaching Christ Church in Kingsport, TN. He has traveled to nearly 40 nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is a regular contributor to Common Ground Christian News. www.preachingchristchurch.com
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