SENT OUT FROM CLOSED DOORS
“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 after 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 and 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. And “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” (Lk. 24:44-45). “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). “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….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 after that, Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.]” (Mk. 16:15-20).
The paraphrased message Jesus gave them 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.” Then, He gave them the Great Commission to risk everything and step outside those closed doors and onto the streets to share the Gospel with the very Jews they were hiding from.
This was not rebellion against the governing authorities—they were still to obey the leaders so long as it did not conflict with the mandate their Lord and Savior had given them. With this in mind, they ventured out without the fear that they had before, even though the lives of their families and friends was on the line by association with what they were doing. This was no easy decision by human standards—it was very serious because even by associating with the people they ministered to, they were potentially bringing the threat of punishment and maybe even death upon them also.
But their confidence came from God, the knowledge of the resurrection from death, which 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 Jesus’ 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!