by Duane Maust
Evangelism & Church Planting Sunday
April 3, 2005
John 20: 19-31
Just last Sunday we were celebrating Jesus’ resurrection. This whole experience left the disciples very nervous. Jesus being crucified and the coming out of the grave like he did. Everybody didn’t quite know what to think. Did the disciples steal Jesus’ body just to make it look like he came back to life? They didn’t do that.
Today we read about the disciples together again. It says they had the door locked. I suppose if they had dead bolts, they had that on too. Maybe they even had a chair pushed up against the door just to slow down an intruder. They were meeting in terror. They were listening fearfully for every step on the stair and for every knock at the door. They were scared. They were afraid the Jews might take care of them the way they tried to finish Jesus off. They knew the Jews had a great deal of bitterness toward them also. The Jews meant to have finished Jesus off. But they didn’t really finish Jesus off, did they? They just started him over again onto something better.
Jesus came back with his glorified body.
They had the doors locked and Jesus came in. That is right. Jesus came in through the wall or door. They had that place secured and He just walked in.
No wonder Jesus has to start out by, “Peace, be with you!”
Right away Jesus shows them his hands and side. They knew right away that it was Jesus. “Look at those scars,” Jesus says. When the disciples saw the scars, verse 20 says that they were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. In other words, they freaked out when they realized who that was.
Then Jesus says some simple words with heavy meaning. He says, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
You can study that verse for hours and still get more from them. Here God is sending Jesus and Jesus is sending us. Sending us for what?
Jesus is not sending us unequipped. He is giving travel kits in verse 22. He is giving us the Holy Spirit.
In the Layman commentary it reads this way, “Having commissioned them, Jesus also empowered them for the task he had called them to do. He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The power they would need for the mission of revelation and redemption was through the Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised them his Spirit of holiness and power. Now he had both equipped and empowered them for their mission in the world.”
We are able to receive that same Holy Spirit power today for our mission. We have that Holy Spirit power in our daily lives. Let’s think about that verse some more. “Even as the Father sent me, so I send you.”
Jesus is sending his church. He needs his church to be his messenger. Jesus came with a message for all people and now he was going back to his Father. His message could never be taken to all people unless the church takes it. The church was to be a mouth to speak for Jesus, feet to run his errands, and hands to do his work. Jesus is depending on his church today. Jesus is depending on us to do his speaking.
But we need Jesus. The church needs Jesus. A person who is to be sent out needs someone to send him; he needs a message to take; he needs a power and an authority to back his message; he needs someone to who he can turn when he is in doubt and in difficulty. Without Jesus, the Church has no message; without him we have no power; without him we have no one to turn to when we get into trouble. We can see how he lived in the world. His life is an encouragement to us. We, the church, are dependent on Jesus and the help of the Holy Spirit.
In the last century the Christian church have abandoned their role of carrying the gospel to the world by lay people in some case, and leaving that role to so-called experts. We continue to teach the Christian life but our light is hidden under a lamp stand in our building and meetings. We start to think that people need to come to church to meet God, when God is really out there at work in the world.
As Howard Snyder put it, “Church people think about how to bring the world into the church. Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world.”
“As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” Jesus is sending the church into the world. The church is where we work. The church is at school. The church is where we live.
Loren Mead of the Alban Institute reminds us that we are called to be evangelists. But he also reminds those of us who aren’t good at talking about our faith that evangelism means more than verbal witnessing to bring people into the church. In New Testament terms, evangelism means “proclaiming the good news.” Each and everyone is called to proclaim the good news, to announce the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus always spoke his good news in response to the bad news in people’s lives. To the blind, he brought healing; to the lepers, he brought cleansing; for Lazarus, he brought victory over death; and to the woman at the well, he brought truth and a new beginning.
True evangelism always relates to the reality of people’s lives. It is about supplying the good news that heals the hurt in people’s lives.
Our job as evangelist has two meanings: being the instruments with which God builds his kingdom, being part of His restoring, reconciling and redeeming mission, and modeling what it will look like. We are to live lives of examples here on this earth for God.
A closing story tells it well: Wishing to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy got up and went exploring. He found his way through a door marked “NO ADMITTANCE.”
When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing. Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage.
In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.” Then leaning over, Paderewshi reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was mesmerized.”
The Holy Spirit working with us will transform the world and mesmerize it. As we allow God Holy Spirit to control our lives we will be able to transform the world around us. We can’t do it alone. So when we are sent, we are not sent alone.