Fear

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.”” (John 20:19, ESV)

It is not surprising that the followers of Jesus felt fear after his death and [some disciples claimed] resurrection.  If you were the Jewish authorities, who would you go after once the leader of a sect was killed?  His followers of course.  Despite the fact that there were fantastic stories of an empty tomb and at least Mary Magdalene had actually met and talked with the risen Christ; he was no where to be found and the Jewish leaders might be in search of his followers.  Accordingly, they were locked in a room.

We shouldn’t be too harsh on them.  What might we have done given the circumstances?  Gerald Borchert rightly points out: “Fear of world forces can often seize Christians who focus not on God’s power but on worldly might (cf. Acts 12:1–16).”

Christ’s sudden appearance follows a familiar pattern for those who were familiar with the Old Testament (Tanakh).  It had the pattern of a theophany.  Borchert comments: ” The basic elements of a theophany are (1) fear, (2) the calming word of “peace” or “do not be afraid” from God or Christ, and (3) a word of commission for the task to be performed.”

The followers of Christ were fearful.  Jesus suddenly appeared in their midst despite the fact that the doors were locked [how the disciples cannot say, nor can any commentator, John simply described what he personally witnessed] and calmed their fears: “Peace [shalom] be with you.”

The commission is found in vv. 21-23:

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. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”” (John 20:21–23, ESV)

The Sent One is sending his followers in the same manner in which he was sent.

Here’s the thing, we are all sent ones now because we are all followers of Jesus.

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