Faith Over Fear | Hope Breaks In | John 20:17-23
Topic: Gospel Passage: John 20:17–20:23
Christopher Rich – April 19, 2020
Faith Over Fear
PART V | Hope Breaks In | John 20:17-23
Introduction | We need hope to Break in | Resurrection Recap
Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. During this time a of Global pandemic and local lockdowns we are doing a series called, “Faith Over Fear” where we are pursuing where true peace can be found in the midst of panic. We are still in a state of “Stay at Home” orders. We need hope to break in when we’re locked in. But I want to start with remembering that Hope has first broken out in the Resurrection of Jesus.
Last week was Easter Sunday, celebrating the Risen Hope of Jesus. Specifically, early in John 20 we see Mary Magdalene coming to the tomb early on Sunday morning, finding it empty, going back to the disciples (Peter and John) who rush back to investigate (John got their first) and they find no body, but the burial clothes left and face covering neatly folded in a “I’m not going to need this anymore” fashion. John believes, Peter marvels (he’s in process/it is MORE than ok to be in process) they both go home but Mary remains still distraught even after encountering angels who try to comfort and correct her. That is until she is met face-to-face by the Risen Jesus and her despair turns to delight as she called by name, comforted by Jesus and commissioned to go tell others what she’s seen and heard.
John 20:17-18 |17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
Mary has moved from wallowing in grief to beholding the Glory of Jesus. This is the moment that will define her life, she never wants this moment to end. When we’ve been met by Jesus, and believe in Him, our first inclination is to want to say where we are with Jesus. But we aren’t saved to say with Jesus but be sent by Him.
We don’t stay at the tomb. Our life with Jesus is not one where we’re stuck just outside of the tomb clinging to Jesus, holding on for dear life hoping He never leaves, or worried that we’ll be without Him. No! Later we’re told by Jesus “behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.” in the Holy Spirit empowered to live a new life. We don’t have to tremble in fear of losing Jesus if we don’t hold on tight enough. We walk in boldness with purpose, comforted knowing we’re held by Jesus. We don’t stay stuck at the turning point we move on and move outward. Mary is the first evangelist… Go tell ….. Don’t think Jesus is yours to keep to yourself. But to go and tell “I have seen the Lord” and “In Christ” we are God’s children.
Jesus is telling her (and us) the nature of who He is and who we are. Jesus is God’s Son that is who He is by nature. We call God our Father through adoption. Having our faith in the resurrected Jesus is our adoption day where we’re are welcomed into a new family, not defined by our sin and death, but by His sacrifice and resurrected life. Because Jesus is alive we can trust Him for eternal life because He has shown He is who He says He is (Christ, Savior-King, Son of God) and He can do what He has said he can do (forgive sin that leads to death and give us life everlasting) because Has conquered death. He’s alive, He’s ruling in Heaven right now… He’s coming back and He’s told us to tell everyone…. Joy of resurrected Jesus moves us away from a place of death to a purposeful life… Purposeful not perfect life… Following Jesus…Our lives now need to be encouraged by the foundational truth of the resurrection. Mary responded to Jesus call and commission with obedience to “announce” the Good News and they all started on mission…
PART I | Fear to Peace | John 20:19-20
John 20:19-20 | 19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
It’s still the first Easter Sunday…. Jesus is alive, Mary’s done her job, John already believes, you’d think the disciples would be celebrating and telling anyone and every one about the empty tomb and risen Jesus. Not quite. The disciples have been on a bit of a roller coaster you can forgive them for not processing all the implications of the resurrection of Jesus over the course of one day. It’s dark and they’re hiding.
Why is the door locked? Why do we lock doors? Fear. We know the world isn’t perfect. There is sin and brokenness that can and does harm us so we respond with self-protection. What can we do to keep ourselves from experiencing pain? How can we prevent harm from happening? Jesus’ disciples are called to be out preaching the Gospel (telling people about Jesus) but instead they’re paralyzed with fear.
Fear of circumstances and fear of man… the religious leaders were so opposed to Jesus they were willing to have him crucified by the Romans, what might they do to Jesus followers? This is a legitimate fear. This is more than concern people might not like them; this is a terrifying fear of attack and ultimately, it’s a fear of death. Because sin and death are real, we are used to having fear be a powerful motivator and driver away from harm and towards safety and security. We want to be protected from external threats. So they have gathered together (safety in numbers, opposite of now) and sequestered themselves for safety.
What doors do we lock out of fear? What keep us from engaging with the world around us with the message and mission of the Gospel? We are fragile people. Most of us experience some fear of others what we think other people might do to us, or say about us, or how they will respond to us. We don’t want to be rejected or ridiculed, we want to be received and respected. This causes us to seek places of perceived protection. We find “our people” and we wall ourselves off from that which is different, difficult, or challenging. So who have you latched on to in order to feel safe? What (or who) have you closed yourself off too out of fear for what might happen if you engage? External fear is powerful but there is a deeper fear inside us.
Fear…. There is an internal fear driven by the shame of sin. When we look ourselves in the mirror of our soul we know that what is there isn’t always that great. The answer for our fear cannot be us simply overcoming our fears with boldness as if we can simply will ourselves from cowards to courageous. They’ve all failed Jesus in some point or some way, we have all have sinned. Sin separates us from others, ourselves, and God. Now put yourselves in their place, they’ve heard Jesus is alive and He knows and remembers all the way’s we’ve failed to be faithful. How, if we’re confronted by Him, is He going to respond to us? Each of these disciples have had their personal courage tested in the past few days by the trial and execution of Jesus and they’ve all be found wanting. We doubt, we despair, we disobey and Jesus shows up, now what?
Jesus is present, no longer bound by earthly limitations. Jesus being who he says He is, means they’re accountable…. Jesus answer when meeting them is to let them know there is “Peace” with them. This is a greeting but it’s also a status they now possess. Peace, is not simply the absence of conflict but the concept Shalom wholeness with God. Sin has separate us from God placing us in conflict. Jesus here, in their midst to offer them reconciliation and restored relationship, not counting their failures and betrayal against them.
How does Jesus bring peace? How can the conflict between a holy and just God and sinners in rebellion from God? Did (does) Jesus just wink at sin or say “no big deal” No! God takes sin seriously. They were comforted. How? By being shown his hands and his side (Both pierced) This both proved this was the crucified savior AND showed Jesus has paid for their (our) sin by His sacrifice on the Cross. In Christ, your conflict with God is resolved because Jesus took the defeat (you deserve) for sin and you received the victory (you don’t deserve) of His resurrection. More than being moved to even you’re given His righteousness so when God see you He sees His perfect Son Jesus in your place. By His stripes we are healed. We are made whole with God by His broken Body and shed blood. How did they respond? It says They were glad… I am glad when I find another fry in the bag at Chick-Fil-A They were “overjoyed” Sorrow of Jesus death is turned to Joy. They’ve heard about the risen Jesus now they’re seeing him. They have been concerned about how God would deal with their sin and failure and now they’re confident in the work of Jesus in their place. By Jesus presence they’ve been moved from fear to peace.
PART II | Peace to Mission | John 20:21-22
John 20:21-22| 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Peace with God drives us to the mission of God. Jesus comes into our places of perceived protection in order to meet us with His presence and propel us on His mission. There is freedom and confidence knowing in the presence of the risen Jesus we’re not condemned for our failures but commissioned for His mission. You thought the best place for your survival was hiding together trying to protecting yourselves, I am here to… call you not to say in comfort, but go in confidence. If you have been saved by Jesus you’ve been sent by Jesus. To leave places of safety to be sent, Sent like Jesus is sent… What Jesus sent to do? In John we’ve seen Him sent to:
Do God’s will – To carry out God’s purpose in the world to bring Glory to God and flourishing for people.
Speak God’s words – The Gospel truth of calling sinners to repentance and faith with clarity and boldness.
Carry out God’s works – Serve people as agents of peace bringing healing and provision, while seeking mercy and freedom for those enslaved in bondage spiritually, emotionally, or physically.
Most clear part of Jesus mission is to call people into the kingdom of God… Win souls for salvation… Seek and save the lost. The purpose of being sent into the world is not as an agitator (although being counter cultural has that effect often) is true worship of God through Jesus Christ would in fact lead to Joy. Joy is found in Jesus, so the mission of God’s people to the world is one of not turning the world upside down as violent revolutionaries, but restoring it right side up, leading to joy fulfilled. If we truly believe the Gospel is Peace meaning our restoration of relationship with God and this relationship is where ultimate joy is found we should want to eagerly dwell with Him in in a world with no brokenness and no more tears. Yet, that is not Jesus immediate purpose for His people. We are sons and daughters of the King; let’s live in the perfect kingdom already!! But, we are not called to retreat from the world but to advance the impact and presence of God’s kingdom in this world. To be in Christ, by the work of the Spirit, is to embrace our identity as ambassadors. Good luck doing this all on our own. Yet this is what we try to do all the time. We have a “I’ll take it from Here Jesus.” Attitude so we charge off on a spiritual mission equipped only with our fleshly means and abilities forgetting our frailty, finiteness, and flawed nature. To attempt to do this on our own is not only foolish but it will fail. It Means all the pressure is on us to get it right and win people for the Lord, you better be really good. Means all the power used is ours, that is exhausting…. We need more than a powerful experience, positive enthusiasm, or personal endurance to drive the mission we need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. He’s not a nice addition but a necessary agent. When we’re exhausted.
If we’re going to be “Sent like Jesus” for His mission we need to first receive… When Jesus began His public ministry (being baptized) it says the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove. To paraphrase
“If Jesus needed the Holy Spirit for the mission, so do we.” - Jeff Vanderstelt
The Holy Spirit’s Power is Necessary - Jesus “breathed” this is like God in Gen 2:7 breathing life into people, without it there is no life. Later in Ezekiel 37, the same language is used in this prophetic imagery of the Valley of Dry bones (people who are spiritually dead) Breathed life on them, they became an Army (not of wrath and vengeance but) of life. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they are part of a Covenant of Peace, They are experiencing God’s Presence And God’s witness to the nations that God is with His people.
The Holy Spirit’s power is necessary to be Effective – Because without The Spirits work to move someone from spiritual death to spiritual life, the best we can do “on mission” preaching the Gospel is shouting at a cemetery telling corpses to walk and wondering why nothing is happening. Otherwise are relying our intellect, ability to communicate or manipulate emotions to get people to respond to the Gospel. What we are doing is not trying drive people to a decision but to announce and proclaim what God has done for them.
The Holy Spirit’s power is necessary for our Endurance – There is and will be great Difficulty living as a disciple of Jesus. There will be seasons of persecution and opposition, each of the disciples present ended up facing persecution, many were martyred the mission (and life as a disciple of Jesus) is a marathon. Without relying on the Spirit’s power when we have fear we will seek more control and experience anger.
The Holy Spirit’s power in mission is necessary for our Encouragement – Being sent means being on a journey through many seasons of wilderness, where there isn’t always direct opposition but dryness or lack of fruitfulness. If we’re relying on our own enthusiasm it will wain during long periods of discouragement. We will begin to think it’s our own effort and energy that will sustain His mission. Knowing it’s the Spirit is empowering the mission gives us so much peace and assurance that the mission will be as effective (dare successful) as the third member of the trinity grants. We have freedom of knowing It’s the Spirit that does the work so we can preach with Boldness and confidence knowing Jesus is the one who saves.
PART III | Jesus Saves |John 20:23
John 20:23 | 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
What we’re doing when on mission empowered by the Spirit is bringing a message of forgiveness and freedom. What is at stake is nothing less than the eternal destiny of individual souls. What we all need is forgiveness… This is the gospel.. Belief in Jesus is tied to forgiveness of sin…. This is the only place in John’s Gospel where forgiveness of sin is explicitly taught…. Non belief = No forgiveness…. Belief = Forgiveness. This is the great effect of this mission is people freed and forgiven. Through accepting the message of Jesus from people on the mission of Jesus. You are saved by Jesus and you are saved for Jesus to be on His mission. This has happened… Someone told you about Jesus … Someone called you to believe in Jesus… So you could be sent to tell other about Jesus. Withholding forgiveness is what happens when we don’t tell people about Jesus. We have life and we don’t tell people where it is. This isn’t to guilt but to encourage you. You’re sent but it’s God who ultimately forgives sin… So we can work, run, live, on mission and rest well knowing we’re not what is necessary but God has chosen to use us to tell everyone and anyone to simply Trust Jesus.
More in Faith Over Fear
June 7, 2020Faith Over Fear | Hope Acts | Luke 10:25-37
May 18, 2020Faith Over Fear | Hope Humbles | Philippians 2:3-11
May 10, 2020Faith Over Fear | Hope Unites | Philippians 1:27-2:4