Well Easter is over and sadly for many Christians overdosing on chocolate for a week or two will be the main direct influence of Easter. For the first generation of Christians the Risen Christ was very explicit about what they had to do in response to his, life, death and resurrection and it didn’t involve chocolate
John 20:19 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. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
I always think this scene is a bit like the start of the old Mission Impossible programmes when the agents were given their instructions. These are the instructions for agents of the Kingdom of God
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” .... The most fundamental fact about the church of the Risen Christ is that God’s people are a sent people. Jesus was creating and commissioning a people movement. Let’s just remind ourselves agains Church is not a building, its not a service, church is a movement of people sent into the world to join God in his mission of transformation. As Alan Hirsch says, its not so much that the church of God has a mission but that the mission of God has a church.
“As the Father has sent me” …. This mission is to be inspired and shaped by Jesus mission. Jesus entered our world, entered a specific culture and communicated God’s love in relevant and understandable ways. He came to serve those who were in physical and emotional in need and save those who were spiritually lost. Our mission is to go as Jesus went, incarnationally into our culture, to embody and carry out our mission in away that is both counter cultural and relevant to culture. It’s a lot more than organising an event we like and inviting people to it.
“Jesus came and stood among them and said, …. he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” …. The risen Jesus stood before his disciples showing them the scars of sacrifice. This is the Christian message in a picture. Jesus, is risen, he has triumphed over death and sin and His sacrifice means that we can we can experience the joy and forgiveness that comes with salvation. We share that message by who we are and what we say.
“And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” …. We will only be able to carry out our mission, inspired and shaped by Jesus’ mission if we are empowered by the Spirit of Jesus. Only when we are connected to the Holy Spirit can we genuinely join God in His mission to the world. Jesus actions seem to anticipate Pentecost, we by our actions need to participate in the implications of Pentecost, relying on the power of the Spirit.
Jesus sent the Spirit, He sent the first disciples empowered by the Spirit out into the world, they sent those who came to faith through their mission, that unbroken line of Christ followers sent by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit to join God in His mission of transformation reached us and now Jesus words echoes down the centuries,
ITS YOUR TURN NOW live out the implications of Easter …. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. …. he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”