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This week, and last, we are focussing our devotions around the Easter theme.
What explains the incredible transformation of these first dispirited Christians? From them, the church will be birthed and the message of Jesus will go around the world. Jesus’ resurrection, His appearing to them and empowering them is what turned them and the world upside down. Nikki Gumbel has written,
‘The explosive growth of Christianity from the most discouraging start imaginable – a crucified Jewish manual worker and a handful of ordinary people – requires an explanation. The only satisfactory solution is that this extraordinary expansion was created by a combination of three extraordinary things: The person of Jesus, the phenomenon of the resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit.’
‘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!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.’ (John 20:19-21)
Jesus’ presence changes everything. This text points to three effects as ‘Jesus Himself, stood among them, today we’ll deal with the first two: peace and joy.
Like many in this current crisis, ‘the doors locked for fear …’ However, when Jesus came to them ‘The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.’
Jesus repeats His promise of peace twice. He really wants them and us to get this. We have two forms of peace:
I) Peace through justification - Christians are forgiven and accounted righteous through Jesus. We have peace with God. There is now no condemnation for you!
II) The experience of inner Peace – Jesus’ presence gives us peace in place of fear. Jesus promises us,
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
PRAY: ‘JESUS, STAND AMONG US’. Draw near to Jesus in your worship and praying. In this Coronavirus crisis, ask Him come in with his joy peace. Let’s come and meet with the risen Jesus every day. As He promises for 2 or 3, and I’m confident that it’s also true if you come alone:
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY – JESUS, STAND AMONG US
What do you love most about Spring-time and why?
Introduction - please read in your group
Everything changes in Spring-time because of the presence of the sun. The blossom and flowers grow profusely. The trees begin to grow their leaves. It's a time of greater light and hope.
This is true, to a greater extent, when Jesus stands among us. Those first followers of Jesus all doubted the resurrection. The women, the disciples and those on the Road to Emmaus, are all grieving and not expecting Jesus to fulfil His promise of rising from death. However, when Jesus stands among them, His presence gives joy, peace and power.
Please read John 20:19-21
Please discuss/share together:
Peace: Jesus makes the promise of peace, twice in John 20. What does this promise mean?
Joy: It says that 'the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord'. What does this promise mean?
Power: Jesus 'breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit". This is an enacted promise that would be fulfilled at Pentecost. Please also read Luke 24:49. How does the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit enable us to have peace, joy and thrive in challenging times?
The risen Jesus gave peace, joy and the empowering of the Holy Spirit to those first grieving, limping disciples. Let's pray for one another to experience these things in our lives.
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