THE REPENTANCE PROJECT / AN AMERICAN LENT
"So I Am Sending You"
WEEK VII / DAY VII
Sunday, April 1, 2018
Scripture | John 20:19-23
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
“Christianity is all about the belief that the living God, in fulfillment of his promises and as the climax of the story of Israel, has accomplished…the finding, the saving, the giving of new life — in Jesus. He has done it. With Jesus, God’s rescue operation has been put into effect once and for all. A great door has been swung open in the cosmos which can never be shut… In particular, we are all invited — summoned, actually — to discover, through following Jesus, that this new world is indeed a place of justice, spirituality, relationship, and beauty, and that we are not only to enjoy it as such but to work at bringing it to birth on earth as in heaven.” (Simply Christian by N.T. Wright, 2010:92)
God loves the world. God loves the people of the world, each one. When God created the world in the first place, God made it so that it would be a place of shalom and flourishing for all creation, and for each and every person. The design was not for division and oppression among peoples or between each other, but rather for the people of the world to be one family, God’s family, a community of diversity marked by and living in love.
But that’s not the way the world turned out. When sin entered the world and the Fall happened, everything broke, and we’ve been suffering the ravages ever since.
God could have left us to our own devices, but He didn’t. In the words of one of the old prayers, The Great Thanksgiving, “When our disobedience took us far from you, you did not abandon us to the power of death. In your mercy you came to our help…”
In love, God the Father sent Jesus the Son so that sin and greed and death would no longer have the last word, but rather so that God’s great design and hope could once again be realized. It was the cross that enabled our forgiveness. And it is the resurrection that makes “Thy Kingdom come” now possible. Thanks be to God!
It was Pope John Paul II who said, “We are an Easter people and Hallelujah is our song!”
So today we say….
Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed!
The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. Yes, it offers us the hope of eternal life, and is a pledge and portent of our resurrection too. And yes, it means that the powers of darkness, brokenness, division, oppression, and death have in fact been defeated. It may be that it will take much time for that victory to be made final, but that it can be and will be is now assured.
The resurrection also means that we, frail and weak and human as we are, are invited — called actually — into Jesus’ great work of “Thy Kingdom Come.”
It’s a stunning statement He says to his disciples, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
Really? Now we share in the vocation and the mission of the resurrected Christ?
There’s no other way to read His words. What the Father sent Jesus to do, now we are called to, as well.
Jesus came into the world to intentionally confront the effects of the Fall, to take on the suffering of the world upon himself, and by the power of God redeem it, with His body being a conduit of God’s grace and the revelation of His glory.
And that’s what we are to do.
As followers of Jesus and his very body on earth, we are to intentionally confront the effects of the Fall, take the suffering of the world upon ourselves, and by the power of God redeem it, with our very bodies being a conduit of God’s grace and the revelation of His glory.
‘He breathed on them and said to them “Receive the Holy Spirit.”’
This task is too much for us. We cannot do this on our own strength. This is why Jesus breathes on his disciples: to empower them with the Holy Spirit, His spirit. At Pentecost that same Spirit is given to all the disciples, and He’s now given to us, as well.
We have a mission. We have a calling. We have a task. We have work to do.
And we’ve been given the power of Jesus himself to do it.
“The more we find out about Jesus, and particularly about his death and resurrection, the more we are then energized by the Spirit to reveal God’s love to the world. In John 20 Jesus breathes on the disciples and says to them, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit.” And suddenly we see the whole vista of what God did in Jesus, through his healing and his suffering, through his parables, his celebrations, and ultimately his agony. And, with that, we discover that the story of Jesus’ ministry is not only the story of what he did in history, but encompasses also the vocation that comes to us in the present: that we should be, in the power of the Spirit, the presence of Jesus for the whole world. This discovery brings the most remarkable joy and the most remarkable sorrow. This is our vocation: to take up our cross, and be Jesus for the whole world, living with the joy and the sorrow woven into the pattern of our days” (Reflecting the Glory by N.T. Wright, 1998:9-10).
Reflection and Response
Take some time to ask God the question directly: “Lord, in light of this journey I’ve taken these last 50 days, what are you calling me to do?” Take some time to listen to God, write down what you hear. Commit to doing it, ask for God’s help, and then pray,
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen”
Written by Bill Haley