They have been with Jesus for more than two years. They have seen him do many miraculous things, seen him teach many lessons, and even seen him raise Lazarus from the dead. They believe he is the Christ (the Messiah). But they struggle with his talk of being betrayed, handed over the authorities, being crucified, and rising in three days. They just cannot put it all together in their minds. They reason that if Jesus is God, then how could any of those things really happen to him? Their culturally-shaped preconceptions about the Messiah will not allow them to see beyond those assumptions—even to believe what Jesus clearly said! (Do we have any culturally-shaped preconceptions that prevent us from believing Jesus?)
The Scriptures painfully describe the fears and failures of the disciples amidst the events surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection. Peter, James, and John cannot pray with Jesus in Gethsemane for an hour, but drift into sleep. Peter tries to use his one sword against a mob with swords and clubs. The disciples scatter and run for their lives. Peter denies the Lord three times before sunrise. Even after they hear Jesus is alive, they are still fearful and gathered together in a locked room for fear they are next.
But the risen Lord appears to them—twice (so Thomas could see him)—in a locked room. The Book of John records Jesus’ words…
“They were filled with joy when they saw their Lord! He spoke to them again and said, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ Then he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” – John 20:20d-22 NLT
The Book of John earlier records Jesus’ promise to send the Spirit (Counselor; 16:7) as does the Book of Acts (1:8).
“But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere - in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8 NLT
Along with the Spirit comes Jesus’ provision of BOTH power and purpose! Replacing fear and failure, we see the disciples emboldened to proclaim Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. They are beaten, thrown in jail and put in prison for doing so, but they keep on proclaiming Jesus!
As we celebrate Easter this year, are we open to recognizing the change receiving the Spirit of Jesus made in our lives so that we manifest power and purpose—instead of fear and failure? Are we willing to be emboldened like the disciples were? Are we willing to “tell people about [Him] everywhere” who have come to our universities from all over the world?
Next blog topic: Worldview
Doug Shaw with Derrah Jackson