JOHN 20:19 - Berean Lamp Devotional 264 - (Apr 15-22)
The Berean Lamp Memory Verse for this week is:
“So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’” (John 20:19).
The night of Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples were locked in their homes and did not go out for fear that they or their families would be harmed by the Jewish leaders. Their death and the death of their loved ones was certainly on their minds. If they ventured out, they might be seen as non-compliant with the Jewish authorities who were watching for Christ’s supporters. Their families would suffer as much as themselves.
But then something changed. Jesus rose from the dead and revealed himself glorified in their presence—remade without the ability to suffer pain or death. He told them not to be afraid. He spent 40 days with them teaching them the Word of God and comforting them. The paraphrased message was: I have work for you to do—it is time to put aside fear and convention and do the work I have for you by the Spirit. They still did not preach until the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost seven weeks later (or approximately 50 days). As was said above, it was during this interlude that Jesus strengthened and encouraged them for what lay ahead. Then, He gave them the Great Commission to risk everything and step outside the comfort zone of those closed doors and onto the streets to share the Gospel with the lost. They were still to obey the leaders so long as it did not conflict with the mandate their Lord and Savior had given them. And they ventured out without the fear that they had had before, even though the lives of their families and friends was on the line by association with what they were doing. Just by associating with people, they were potentially bringing the threat of punishment and maybe even death upon them.
Their confidence came from God, the knowledge of the resurrection from death - death no longer held the natural power of fear over them, and the mission Jesus had given them (all of which we share in as Believers, for their commission is our commission as disciples ourselves). Some would surely have accused them of selfishness, putting their families to shame and putting them at risk of death. But the words of Christ, His commandment to them, and the reality of His risen victory over the death everyone had feared now drove them out of those doors and into the dangerous world outside.
As we celebrate Christ's resurrection and victory over death this week, may we contemplate the drastic change in His disciples that His resurrection created. May we, in our time, consider our role as Believers who have that same commission in a world beset by fear of death. And may we ever look ahead to our own resurrection into glory from this body of death, or perhaps even our "catching away" to meet Jesus in the air, and so ever be with the Lord. Yes, Amen. Come, Lord, Jesus!
Other verses to consider:
“While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be to you.’ But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them. Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high’ And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God” (Luke 24:36-53).
“After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed’” (John 20:26-29).
“To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
“Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’ So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.] [And they promptly reported all these instructions to Peter and his companions. And after that, Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.]” (Mark 16:15-20).
“But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:16-10).