“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”” (John 20:19-22)
I wonder what you think of when you read these verses? Perhaps you find yourself reading the part about Jesus showing his hands and side, and think about Thomas, and that he doubted, and sometimes you do too? Do you skim read the first part, and get to the exciting bit at the end when Jesus gives the disciples the Holy Spirit?
As I read them this week I was struck by the first sentence.
The evening of the first day after Christ was crucified, behind locked doors the disciples were meeting. It was the locked doors that made me think.
They were scared. I can understand why. Their best friend, their Rabbi, the one who they were beginning to really believe was God had been taken, brutally beaten, crucified and laid in a garden tomb. Everything that they had come to believe was upside down. The people who had done this to Jesus were looking for those who followed him. Harsh punishment was the least that they could have expected. Death for them was a very real possibility.
How does that relate to us today. The truth is, certainly in the UK at the present time, believing in and following Jesus is unlikely to result the death penalty from the ruling authorities. I understand that this may well be true in some parts of the world, but it isn’t where I live.
But I wonder though if we are guilty of still locking our doors and hiding away for fear of what might happen to us? I don’t believe that we really are afraid of the authorities or of what others think. None of us like ridicule, so perhaps that might be seen to be a reason to be careful, but I think the reason lies much deeper than anything man can do to us.
A friend of mine recently shared about a wall in her garden that had fallen down following recent storms. The brick wall had stood firm for over 15 years, performing the purpose of a wall and appearing to be strong. After the winds from the storm hit and the bricks lay in rubble, it was discovered that the cement holding them together was largely sand rather than cement. She shared that perhaps this was a time to sift out the sand that wasn’t doing us any good out and allow Holy Spirit to bind that which was there together in a stronger, more lasting way.
I wonder if sometimes we are so afraid that sand might infiltrate our lives that we hide away and don’t allow anything in at all. We have our salvation, our version of doctrine and that will do us nicely thank you very much. We have been told that the world is ‘bad’ (and to a large extent a lot of what the world stands for is not helpful for the believer), so we lock ourselves in our holy huddles and pray as if by isolating ourselves from the world we will fulfill the Great Commission to go into the world and make disciples.
Sometimes I think that we are so convinced that we are going to be tainted that we are even afraid to listen to new thoughts and ideas from other Christians. We are so afraid that if we listen to someone outside our circle that we will be betraying that which we believe in and have ‘signed up for’ that we miss the new thing that God is doing in this season. It was once said that the biggest obstacle to the next move of God, is the current move of God.
It is vital that we weigh each and every new thought against scripture. There is a wealth of errant teaching available, so we have to be “wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16). Jesus himself did not come to abolish the law; he came to fulfill it. He didn’t come to change the heart of what God had revealed to Moses, but to show how there was a deeper meaning to what had been passed down. There are several “you have heard it said……but I……” sayings in the gospels. Let’s not shut our hearts to Jesus challenging our interpretation of things.
I pray you have been and will continue to be blessed this Easter, and in spite of the restrictions on movement and fellowship in place at this time, you will find a way to unlock the doors of your heart, and receive every new thing that Holy Spirit is pouring out at this time.