(Mary said that she had seen him alive; but, after all, she was upset and loved him...and love sometimes sees what it wants to see.) These disciples were together since misery loves company. Their future was uncertain. They would never again hear his laughter, know his wisdom, or share in his mission. These disciples had their dreams shattered, their hopes dashed on the rocks of reality, and their future was bleak.
They thought Jesus was dead...but Jesus wasn’t dead. And everything they lost was now restored because Jesus was alive and alive forever.
What was restored? There are seven basic needs that were met because a dead man—Jesus—got up and walked out of the grave.
When the disciples were without Jesus, they were without courage.
What was the before and after picture? Before, these disciples were the pictures of fear. They had seen Jesus die horribly on the cross and they didn’t want it to happen to them. But after, these fearful, anxious, and cowering disciples became the personification of courage. Peter somewhere found the courage to face his own crucifixion. James found the courage to be run through with a sword. John found the courage to face imprisonment after the age of 70. They found their courage in Jesus.
When Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace be with you” (John 20:21), the word for “peace” doesn’t mean being free of anxiety. It means, instead, “may God give you every good thing, and surround you with his perfect protection and well-being.” Courage isn’t found in circumstances; it is found in Jesus.
We all struggle with fear and the “What if?” in the middle of the night. If Jesus is who he said he was (and he is), then the words of Matthew 6:25-34 can be trusted: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on...But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you...”
The disciples found their courage in Jesus. We can too.
When the disciples were without Jesus, they were without meaning.
Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (Jhn 20:21). We represent Jesus. As a Christian, you have been given a reason to live, a purpose. We are the King’s representatives in our families, at our jobs, in our schools, and wherever we find ourselves.
That is what Brother Lawrence meant when he said that he washed floors for the glory of God. And when a homeless man in New York approached Dr. Barnhouse asking for money, Barnhouse reached into his pocket and said, “Sir, I’m giving this to you in the name of Jesus.” They understood.
The disciples found their meaning in Jesus. We can too.
When the disciples were without Jesus, they were without joy.
“When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20).
Do you know the essence of Christian maturity? It is the recognition that gladness comes when you see the Lord...because that is why you were created.
Almost everything of any worth in life is a side benefit of something else.
We all keep running around, turning from one thing to another, from one fad to another, from one distraction to another, and from one relationship to another...all the while hoping that the next thing or person will fill our desperate need and grant us joy that will last.
Finding Christ is like coming home. It is a joy that no one can ever disturb or take away. It is the very reason you were created. It is a joy in his presence that never changes, no matter the circumstances.
The disciples found their joy in Jesus. We can too.
When the disciples were without Jesus, they were without life.
There is something about watching a man die that reminds us of our own mortality. The disciples in the upper room were not only thinking about life; they were thinking about death.
Anyone who speaks about life after death is not speaking first-hand. When Jesus appeared before the disciples after he died, for the first time in human history, everything he said about death and life after death was factual. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life...” (John 3:36) is not only a nice and comforting statement. It is a fact.
As each of the disciples faced his martyrdom, they knew that it wasn’t the end, but the beginning...simply because they had talked to a friend who had been there. The disciples were turnips, to die and to return to the dust, until they met Jesus. In him, they found life—forever—because he promised.
The disciples found their life in Jesus. We can too.
When the disciples were without Jesus, they were without power.
It is not that we don’t want to be obedient to God; it is that we simply don’t have the power. When Jesus said to his disciples, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22), he gave them the gift of his power.
We can’t do this thing on our own. We just need to run to Jesus and stay close to him. It’s not a matter of hustle. Powerless before and powerful after.
The disciples found their power in Jesus. We can too.
When the disciples were without Jesus, they were without authority.
“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld” (John 20:23). This is a corporate power given to the Church, an authority based on the truth of what was already accomplished. In other words, people are not forgiven because we tell them they are forgiven. They are forgiven when we, in reference to the truth, pronounce that they are forgiven. Likewise, their sins are retained when, in reference to the truth of the Gospel, we claim that they are retained.
A man once came into my office, and hemmed and hawed for a long time. Finally he said, “I’ve got something to tell you and I don’t know how to begin.” After my urging him to speak, he confessed a horrible sin (about a 7 on a 1-10 scale). When the man finished, I asked him, “Have you confessed this to God?” He said that he had...every day. “Then,” I said, “you don’t have to confess it anymore. On the authority of God’s Word, you are forgiven.” Jesus gave me that authority—supernatural authority—and all the truth in the universe backed me up.
Jesus gave us his truth and his authority. When we look at the world, we see it the way it really is. When we look at people, we see them the way they really are.
The disciples found their authority in Jesus. We can too.
When the disciples were without Jesus, they were without forgiveness.
All of the disciples had one thing in common—when Jesus was in deep trouble, they had all, every one of them, failed him. The disciples could not forgive themselves. The only One who could forgive them was dead...and now they would have to live in their guilt forever. But then Jesus came and with him came forgiveness.
We have all failed Jesus...and yet he still entrusts us with his message, his mission, and his world. You file that under forgiveness.
You may have failed miserably and think, I can never be of any use to him or to anyone else. Let me tell you something. On the authority given to me by Jesus, get up out of the mud. Jesus still trusts muddy people (and that’s all of us).
The disciples found their forgiveness in Jesus. We can too.
These are all basic needs that we all have. Let me give you closing principle: Almost everything of any worth in life is a side benefit of something else. For example, you don’t find happiness by chasing it. You find happiness by being faithful. Happiness is simply a side benefit.
That is no less true of courage, meaning, joy, life, power, authority, and forgiveness. Those are always side benefits of something—actually, Someone—else...Jesus.
In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Faithful is mauled and battered by one too strong for him and it looks like he will not survive. Faithful then prevails because “One came by, and bid him forbear. I did not know him at first, but as he went by, I perceived the holes in his hands and in his side.”
Run to Jesus.
He has everything you need.
This blogpost is a summary of Steve's teaching on the Key Life broadcast this week. Click to Listen.