Jesus Walked Across the Upper Room
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 20:19 (Holman) In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, APeace to you!@
Death could not hold the resurrected body of Jesus. Doors could not stop it. Gravity could not detain it.
Before Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, they were terribly depressed. They refused to believe Jesus was alive, and even if He were alive, their joy would have been muted by remembering they denied Jesus. In His moment of need, they had all forsaken Him and fled like faithless cowards. None had spoken in His behalf; only one had stood at the cross.
They were disappointed at their failure, but Jesus, when He appeared, did not demand an explanation, or seek an apology. He could have said, AShame on you,@ but instead said, APeace to you,@ words carrying their own forgiveness.
John 20:20-22 Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, APeace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.@ After saying this, He breathed on them and said, AReceive the Holy Spirit.@
Doubts fled, fear died. Gladness filled the room. Threatening soldiers were still nearby, but all fear was gone because Jesus was alive, and they were forgiven.
Before this moment, for the disciples to do what Jesus had done would have been impossible. But now, Jesus breathed and created a new world by empowering a new people. The mission was His. Power to accomplish the mission was His. Jesus knew they and we would, in human strength, fail to carry on His mission. Thus He gave to His followers power they would need to be a blessing to others. Until we let God breathe into us, filling us with the Holy Spirit, we have no chance of being Christ=s body on Earth, of continuing the work He began.
Human life began in the Garden of Eden with the breath of God. Our salvation was won for us with Jesus= last breath on the cross. When Jesus breathed on His disciples He enabled us to be able to share the gift of His love with everyone.
The Holy Spirit has been breathed into believers, thereby giving us the chance to be Jesus= stand-ins, as it were. What an awesome assignment and privilege.
John 20:23 AIf you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.@
Only God can forgive sin, and His forgiveness reaches only those to whom His followers take the Gospel. God has no bearers of forgiveness other than Christians. If we do not tell people of God=s forgiveness, they will never hear it.
For a group of hurting people, Jesus walked across the upper room to bless, forgive, and give a sense of worth. Since His work is now to be our work, would we be willing to walk across a room to touch a person, to get to know them, befriend them, earn their trust, and down the road seek the right moment to tell our personal story of forgiveness?
Due to His power in us, Jesus= work can and must be our work. He looked around where He was, saw needs, and walked across the room to help. None of us has enough time to do this for everyone, but we can do it with a person across the room from us where we are at a given moment. We simply need to invest our time where it is already going. Jesus intentionally stepped forward to bless. Jesus made Himself available where He was. We must also.
We must care for people enough to walk across a room, engage them in conversation, win their trust, and pray God will ultimately use us as instruments of His forgiveness.
We carry not only a message of forgiveness, but also an atmosphere of forgiveness. Too often we do not exude this, but sinners must feel in us what has already been decided in Heaven. They best sense the forgiveness of God through other believers, but we are too often seen as judgmental and unforgiving.
What a privilege it is to be able to speak words of forgiveness to the hurting. After meeting God on Damascus Road, Saul was devastated for three days and nights. He began to sense healing only when Ananias came to bless him (Acts 9:4-18). Had Ananias not come, we wouldn=t have Paul.
Christ-followers have an awesome responsibility. We hold in our hands knowledge that unlocks Heaven=s gate. Like a pharmacist, what we do with what is on our shelf, determines whether or not a person will die or be healed.
At work, at school, in social settings, in meetings, learn to look across the room. Try to find someone you can walk across the room to engage in conversation.
This is hard to do. For many of us, we have trouble getting past AIt=s about me@ when we walk into a room. It takes a special breath from Jesus, as described in our text, to focus on others. Prayer is required. Pray without ceasing for God to open doors across a room, to help you pinpoint someone in need
Some people need forgiveness. Many simply need an encouraging word. Some struggle with loneliness. A few moments of our time, of being willing to walk across the room to bless, can make a huge difference.
As we get out of bed every morning, we need to intentionally ask God, AWho is my mission field today?@ Is it the grocery store clerk, the coffee shop worker, a committee meeting co-worker, parents I will see in a parent/teacher conference, patients I will examine, customers I will call on? Pray for God to help us look around us, see needs, step forward appropriately, and seeing it=s not about us, walk across a room to be a blessing.
Because Jesus is alive and His Holy Spirit lives with us, we Christians must be on mission everywhere we are, every single day. We will talk more about how to interact with others during these next seven weeks.
What keeps us from walking across the room? We hide behind many excuses: fear of rejection, not knowing what to say, fear of invading someone=s private space. Jesus didn=t worry much about boundaries. He walked into people=s lives, and found a way to help.