Easter Sunday – Followers
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” — John 20:19-21
The night of the resurrection of Jesus, He shows up to be with the very people that were His family, the people who, aside from John, abandoned Him at the cross. The disciples were fearful. They’d just spent three years doing life with Jesus, He’d been killed, and now they were wondering if the stuff He’d taught them, the things He had said, were going to come to fruition. As His followers, they wondered what to do next.
We often do the same, where we decide to follow Jesus but then when we need to actually do something, we get inhibited by our fears. Add to that our ability to fool ourselves into thinking we know what is best and you have a recipe for something that turns out to be less than ideal. We end up following ourselves, and then the process begins over and over.
If we contrast that with following Jesus, the picture not only changes, but the process does as well. Rather than trepidation overcoming us, it brings us to our knees in prayer, seeking answers and direction from the One who can give them. While fear may still be a part of the equation, it is supplanted by the peace that only trust in Jesus can bring.
Jesus’ first words to His followers give us direction, no matter where we are in our walk. This series of directions are simple, yet we so easily fail to do them. He always first reminds us that no matter the situation, He’s got it and we can thus experience His peace. We can then be remind that it was His obedience to the Father that led Him to die for us so we, in turn, can go when He says, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
We are sent ones, we are the ones whom Jesus uses to spread the gospel and be restorers of families, of neighborhoods, of cities. We are the sent ones who are to seek the welfare, the wellbeing, of those with whom we are in community. But here is where that inkling of fear and uncertainty can begin to creep in, the questions arise and loom like we cannot do it. Thankfully, Jesus gives one more command that will enable us to live in peace amidst the chaos, to go as light in the darkness, and to be become something we are incapable of on our own: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” When we realize that that is where the work begins, all the suffering and sacrifice begins to make sense.