The Resurrection of Our Lord!
April 17, 2022 Easter Sunday
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” y – John 20:19-23 NIV
Dear friends, greetings today in the name of risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! What a wonderful day this is as we remember and celebrate, with Christians throughout the world, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus! After three days in the grave and after paying the full price for our sin, God raised Jesus from the dead and, in so doing, gave to us the promise of life eternal in him.
The celebration of Easter is not one limited to this day. We celebrate our Lord’s resurrection every Sunday in which we gather and every day in which we remember and are renewed in what was accomplished for us in Him.
In the same way, the calling we have been given in the Church is one that is designed and meant to be lived out every day. Through us together, we offer a united witness to Jesus. We share the faith. We have a common and a unifying bond. We also hold to the same teachings and truth revealed to us in Scripture and in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord. The same is true of the calling each of us have been given in Christ. We are all called and commissioned to speak his name and to witness to our faith. No matter who we are, what we do for a living, and what part we play in the Church, we are each responsible for sharing our faith and for passing on the Good News of Jesus to those who are part of our lives.
Today’s passage speaks to the calling and commission we share in Jesus. It comes on the evening of our Lord’s resurrection. The truth and the implications of what happened earlier that day had not yet sunk in. The disciples were afraid. John says they were gathered in a room with the doors locked. They had no idea what to do, let alone what they were to believe.
In the midst of their fear, Jesus came and stood among them. We can only imagine what was going through each of their minds and hearts. This One whom they had watched, only a few short days before, suffer and die upon a cross, was now among them. John says, “He showed them his hands and his side…and they were overjoyed when they saw the Lord!” We can only imagine how they must have felt.
And that’s when it happened. Jesus gave them His peace. He empowered them with the Holy Spirit. He gave them the ability and the authority to forgive sins in His name. And He commissioned them, until the day He was to return, to go into the world and tell others of the love God has for them eternally in Christ
So important is this commission that each of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each have their own version of that same calling. The same is true in the Book of Acts, right before Jesus was to ascend into heaven to be with His Father. He commissioned his disciples to teach. He called His disciples to preach and to speak. And He told them to do this throughout the world until that day comes, known only be the Father, when Jesus will return again.
That commission of our Lord given to the disciples is also one we share in the Church. Together as a body, we witness to the faith that is ours in Jesus. And individually, in each of our lives, we share that faith through our actions and our words. None of us are exempt. None of us are to be left out. The commission is for us, and the calling is to each one, as is the assurance and the comfort and the peace that comes from knowing we have been called and commissioned by the One who was raised from the dead.
As you celebrate Easter today, do so with thankful hearts, knowing that Jesus’ death and resurrection were for you. And as you live out your faith each day, do so with a passion and an urgency that shows to the world how much they are loved in Christ and how important the Easter message truly is for them.
We are recipients of the faith, passed on from those first believers, for more than two thousand years, to us today. It is now our calling and commission to pass on that same legacy of faith to the generations that follow.
Happy Easter to all of you! May our Lord’s resurrection give you encouragement, confidence and peace as you live in the resurrection hope that is ours in Christ..
Prayer: Almighty God, for the gift of Your Son Jesus and for the life we have in Him, we give You our thanks and our praise. We thank You for the reality of our Lord’s resurrection and for the promise of life we have eternally in Him. Help us, through Your Holy Spirit, to be bold in our witness, confident in the words we share, and at peace in this life, knowing that we belong eternally to You. Work in us and through us that the legacy of faith we have received might be passed to the generations that follow, today, tomorrow and forever. Amen