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!” Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”--John 20:19-21, NIV
Christ is risen, but Jesus’ appearance to his disciples on the Day of Resurrection may have raised more questions for them than providing answers. John’s Gospel does go on to provide us with reports of “doubting” Thomas, a fishing trip, and the forgiveness of Peter. Matthew’s account concludes with the moving and memorable Great Commission. Likewise, Luke’s Gospel depicts the glorious ascension of Christ into heaven. The ending of Mark is a bit bizarre with its commands about casting out demons, speaking in tongues, and handling snakes, and many scholars question its authenticity. Even so, the message is still, “Share the Good News.”
This passage from John really tells us all we need to know. Jesus presents his disciples with the missio Dei: “Even as the sending Father has sent me, now I send you to share the Good News.” The Spirit would come in power to give them strength, insight, and clarity, but the mission was now theirs to continue. Now it is ours.
I am not blind to the struggles that the people of God face today. Our most successful models of being church and doing mission seem to have lost vitality and effectiveness. Trying harder will not resuscitate those models.
We are rather like the disciples in this post-Resurrection meeting with Jesus: “What’s next? How are we going to do this? Is this really what we signed up for? “These are questions that the people of God have asked through the ages, and the Spirit of God has always spoken to them and given insight and direction for the future.
The questions are the same and even if the context and methodology change, the message is consistent: “Christ died for your sins and has opened the door for complete and unhindered fellowship with God. Get to work telling people about it.”