, , ,

As the Father has sent the Son so He sends us to be commercials for His reconciling love

Whether it’s been on the job or at home, I’m sure we’ve all encountered the same scenario – (either as a parent, a manager of employees; family members or an employee in general):  You explain the situation/expectations again and again, this is what needs to be happen. (Yard work, products manufactured, contracts signed, clients contacted, dishwasher loaded)  You explain you need to step away but will return momentarily and will check on things.  However, when you return, not much has been accomplished, but lots of excuses are ready!

For example, I can remember being 18 years old and being asked to take care of a yard while a family was away for a few weeks.  No biggie except that it rained off and on during that time and so every time I thought about mowing I decided the grass was ‘too wet’….until the home owner returned and found me furiously mowing his lawn and not caring too much for my excuses!

All of this leads into John 20 and the Easter resurrection concepts we talked about last week.  Everything about Good Friday and Easter Sunday is more about what we’re saved FOR rather than simply what we’re saved FROM.  In other words, Jesus didn’t just die/rise again to save us FROM sin death and hell (though true).  He died/rose again to rescue us and bring us back to the Father to live under the Lord’s rule and reign and to participate in making this world a better place.  In a way, it was step 1 of turning the entire earth back into a Garden of Eden.

Last week we used the phrase God has rescued us to be ‘commercials for Jesus’, as living examples of how God is in the business of healing lives and making all things new!

Do you remember the overall narrative of the Scriptures by which God is making all things new?  God created this world, calls it good and is madly in love with it, every part, every molecule.  Sin entered the world and it descended into brokenness and the worship of false gods.  But God promised to bless the entire world, beginning with Abraham’s descendants.  Which resulted in Israel and the promise of King David’s descendants serving forever.  Which brings us to Jesus as the Son of David, God’s Messiah King, being raised from the dead!

That’s why it makes little sense that as Jesus stepped away from the office to attend to some other huge task (wonder what that was?!?) – only to find the staff hunkered down drinking Kosher Coffee instead of out attending to the family business!  They should have KNOWN that God had a plan and had already been working that plan since creation of the universe!

IT’S EASY TO SEE THEIR REASONING WHY THEY LOCKED THEMSELVES INSIDE THEIR APT  (obviously they were simply inside their apt, all hunkered down binging on House of Cards or whatever their favorite Netflix show was, it was all totally innocent) – nope!!

1st, they were hiding for fear of the Jews – vs. 19.
In other words, “If this is what they did to Jesus, man, what are they going to do with us?”  The major reason for Jesus’ execution as coordinated with the Romans was blasphemy and heresy.  The disciples thought about they could easily be brought up on the same charges for having been with Jesus and probably influenced by Him and having drank His Kool-Aid.

The disciples were afraid because some of the Jewish religious leaders at this time were extremely zealous in the way the leaders were protecting the one true faith.  Just fast-forward a bit and maybe you’ve heard of Saul arresting and persecuting the earliest of Christians by having them committed to prison.  That’s the kind of treatment the disciples expected.

2nd, some of them were in hiding because they had their doubts re:  the risen Lord – vs. 24-25.  You think we have issues with ‘fake news’ now?  Fake news and planted stories have always been around.  Thomas heard the stories about the resurrected, risen Jesus and look at what he said, “I will never believe”.   It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in A resurrection.  Jesus might be raised at the end of time/resurrection day, but it certainly not now!

So rather than the disciples going out and about confidently living as commercials for the risen Lord, they were in hiding.  The disciples were behind locked doors afraid; some were doubting.  Either way they weren’t out and about confidently letting their little lights shine!

The disciples had forgotten God’s over-arching narrative that what happened to Jesus as Messiah was already part of God’s plan.  Nothing had taken the Lord by surprise, at the least the crucifixion of Jesus!  Rather He was taking the world by surprise Himself, raising Jesus from the dead and freeing the world from its broken system of bondage to idolatry.

GOD HAS NOT CREATED US TO SURVIVE IN HIDING, BUT TO THRIVE OUT IN THE SONSHINE!!  Notice that when Jesus showed up, He countered all of their reasons for not working the Father’s long-term plan that the Father had written from all of history.

1st, Jesus offered them peace.  Jesus’ point was to counter their fears and doubts and to encourage them to be out and about in society living as His commercials rather than cowering in hiding.  Only the peace that truly emanates from Jesus could motivate any of us to truly be His agents in a world desperately needing rescuing!  Biblically it was meant as a calming reminder the Lord is in complete control.

Jesus had already offered this peace once before to the disciples (John 14:27)  My peace is the legacy I leave to you. I don’t give gifts like those of this world. Do not let your heart be troubled or fearful.

2nd, Jesus sent them as He had already been sent:  to serve as evidence of the goodness of GodI love this little plan in John 20:21, because it’s the kind of simple plan we can all handle:  In the same way the Father sent Me, I am now sending you.

First, Jesus is sending them – like in the sense of “You people aren’t doing me any good sitting around here in an apt just surviving.  I need you to be out there; thriving; living for Me!”  And that applies to us, doesn’t it?  Active discipleship isn’t meant to be lived in a pew/seat.

To actively live out your faith in love means living your life at home, on the job, in the community.  Just as even God can’t steer a parked car, real Christian faith happens out there in society.  Out there is where real life happens and resurrection principles are applied!  To be a disciple is to apply mercy and grace to relationships not reading books about it all!

How about if I tried to play golf just by looking at and admiring this little golf ball all day?  But that’s not how one plays golf, is it?  You have to actually tee the ball, drive it down the fairway, take an iron and smack it up on or by the green.  You have to take a wedge and chip it up on the green and then finally putt the ball into the cup.  If all the ball does is hide in a pocket in my golf bag, it’s not really out there doing what it was created for.  It’s not really playing the game.

The Real Beauty of the Moment Is………….  All that I’m doing in playing that golf ball is ‘sending’ the ball to do just what it was created for.  That’s all that’s being required of it.I’m not asking a golf ball to be a soccer ball or rugby ball or a baseball or a hockey puck even.  I’m not asking it to move to a totally different stadium or field of play or arena.All that I’m asking of that golf ball is that it be a ‘commercial’ for me – I belong to Tim and that I’m playing that ball and using it in my round of golf that day, so no one better try to claim it for their round of golf instead.

I’m praying you can see the applications and correlations to our own day.  So Jesus comes back to us after His resurrection and where is He going to find us?

Living our basic lives as He created us to be – commercials for His goodness and mercy?  Would He find us living out His love, acceptance and forgiveness towards all?  Or would He find us sitting in our churches, in our pews, hiding from the ways of His Kingdom?  Would He find us sitting on our hands or using them to serve others, faith active in love?

You see folks, the Christian faith isn’t just about YOU believing in Jesus,  it’s also about JESUS believing in you to be the person He’s created you to be.  The person He’s created you to be in your home, neighborhood, on the job, at school, wherever your life takes you.  He just wants you to be YOU – that’s your vocation in life, Spirit-empowered.

The disciples weren’t doing much good for the Kingdom hiding in their apartments.  Nor can golf balls do much good hiding in the golf bag.  And we as disciples can’t do much good hiding in our churches in our fears and doubts either.  Therefore we need to be living like He’s risen in the power of His enablement and sharing that Good News of love and healing with a world that desperately needs it.  As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you.  AMEN.