Last week John told us that the doors and windows were locked and the room was dark. The air in the room was probably hot because there was no air condition. The disciples were gathered for fear of the Jews. So, everyone was quiet; whispering so softly.
The Jewish authorities had crucified Jesus just three days before. What would they do to them? They kept quiet so that no one would find them. Perhaps they thought of fleeing the city by night to escape.
That morning some women started babbling about Jesus being alive. The idea that someone had stolen his body had pushed them over the edge. The air was so hot with tension that Thomas decided to leave for a while.
Then someone knocked on the door. Everyone held their breath for fear of the Roman soldiers they might come to arrest them. But it was just two of Jesus followers who had left town that morning. They were also talking about seeing the Lord. Then the door was quickly shut and locked again and they continued to talk softly.
Suddenly, there was light in the darkness. The light wasn’t coming through the windows or the doors for they were still locked. It was from the middle of the room. And it was coming from Jesus!
Jesus was standing in the middle of the room; alive! He opened his arms and said, “Peace be with you!” They were shocked and terrified. Perhaps they had lost their minds. Or maybe they thought it was Jesus’ ghost come to haunt them for betraying him.
Jesus said, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
Even as they looked at his hands and feet they had trouble believing. Then Jesus said, “I’m hungry. Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him some fish and watched in amazement as he ate.
Then Jesus began to teach them saying, “I’ve already told you this but I’m going to tell you again. Everything the Bible says will happen must happen. It is written that I should die on a cross and rise on the third day.”
He continued, “It is God’s will that everyone hears about repentance and forgiveness in my name. Begin in Jerusalem and tell it to all the world. Be my witnesses! And tell all people they may have new life through me!”
So, they joke to each other saying, “This man must be crazy. If we go out openly talking about following Jesus, they will kill us! ‘Go witness!’ That is easy for him to say. He has been crucified, but I haven’t. I don’t plan to be.”
Then Jesus said, “Remember when the prophets promised that God would pour out the spirit on all flesh. That is about to happen! Just stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from above.”
They told people about repentance and forgiveness. And the church moved out of that hot dark upper room. So, at Pentecost they opened the doors and let some fresh air in. The fresh air of the Holy Spirit came in tongues of flame with power of Jesus repentance and forgiveness.
But the church today seems to have retreated to that Upper Room mentality. We no longer locked the doors and windows. Instead we hide behind carved doors and colored stain glass windows.
We need to open the doors and windows and let some fresh air in. But people are afraid to let in some fresh air. They are afraid that those outside will find out that they are disciples of Christ. They are afraid to go out and face the ugliness of the world and tell about Jesus’ love.
So, we hide in our Sunday morning Upper Rooms. And we keep quiet for fear that the neighbors will hear us. But Jesus tells us to be witnesses. To go boldly into the world and tell people of Jesus’ love.
Have you ever sat down and told someone about Jesus? Have you told them that Jesus died for their sins? Have you told them if they would accept him they would have eternal life? Have you taken the risk to love the outcast because God first loved you?
You might be afraid to let people know you are a Christian. They might think you are devoted. They might not associate with you. If you showed God’s love to the wrong people or spoke out against the wrong thing, they might not like you anymore.
If you are afraid, for whatever reason, you are not alone. Jesus’ first witnesses were afraid too. But God breathe on them the strength to face their fears. And God will breathe on you some strength and power to be his witnesses. Peace be with you! Simply Believe! Shalom and Amen!
Scripture: Luke 24:36-49