Gospel of John #52: an exposition of John 20:19-23. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, February 19, 2012.
It’s a common problem. It afflicts most of those who serve on church staffs. It’s a little thing called “preacher’s tongue” or “liaritis.” Its symptoms are exaggerated statistics and inflated numbers. Those who suffer from this malady appear normal. The problem is they are compelled to exaggerate their own importance!
The malady is not limited to pastors or preachers, though they represent the largest single group of sufferers. This dreaded disease is no respecter of persons – it strikes the volunteer as well as the professional. Usually a sufferer can keep it under control until he gets around others who suffer as well. Before long the whole group is engaged in an all out war of statistics.
The sad reality is that no one needs to suffer from this dreaded disease. No child of God, no servant of the Church of the Lord Jesus needs to engage in such futile attempts to inflate their importance because every child of God is granted the privilege of being involved in the greatest enterprise in all the world! To us has been granted the privilege of taking the “good news” of the Gospel to a lost and hurting world. The world longs for meaning and significance. People long for a reason to live. We have the only message that can fill the aching void in their heart. We have the only answer. There is no more important task in the world. This morning I want us to consider the call and commission of the Church as found in John’s Gospel chapter 20 verses 19-23.
Text: John 20:19-23
We have been walking through John’s “history with a purpose.”
We spent that final night with Jesus and His disciples in the upper room.
We witnessed His agony in the Garden.
We saw His bitter betrayal.
We witnessed the injustice of His so-called trials.
We were witnesses of the horror of the cross.
We heard His triumphant shout – “It is finished!”
We saw the confusion of the empty tomb and the glory of the Risen Lord.
Now we come to what happened later in the evening of Resurrection Day!
In verse 19 we discover that the disciples were together.
We are not told for sure but it would be natural to assume they had met again in that same upper room where they had shared the Passover meal just a few days before.
We noted that when Jesus was arrested – the disciples were scattered. They fled for their lives. The only mention of any of them concerns Peter and John who followed Him that night and then John is present at the cross.
Peter had denied the Lord three times, as the Lord said he would, and then disappeared in sorrow and shame. John stayed until the bitter end. But now they are together. Why? What drew them back?
The day had been filled with strange rumors and growing excitement.
It began when Mary Magdalene came to Peter and John with the news that she had gone to the tomb and the body of the Lord was gone. Peter and John hurried to the tomb and found the grave clothes in place “still in the fold” or undisturbed and yet the body was gone. John, we are told, “saw” (the word means perceived or understood) and thus became the first to “believe” in the resurrection.
Mary then was given the privilege of being the first to see the resurrected Lord. Jesus said to her, “Mary, stop clinging to me and go tell my disciples that I am alive!”
We know from other scriptural accounts that Jesus sometime during that day appeared to Peter privately and encouraged and restored him.
We know that he appeared to two men traveling on the road to Emmaus. They did not recognize Him at first. It wasn’t until He had given them a Bible lesson and sat down at the table to eat. As He broke the bread they saw the nail prints and realized it was Jesus. Suddenly Jesus was gone. The men ran back to Jerusalem to tell the others. All of these stories were circulating, excitement was building and the disciples spontaneously met in that upper room to try and make sense of it all.
John says they met behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. Who could blame them? They saw the anger and the bitterness of the Jews. They saw what they did to Jesus. It was natural to assume they would be next. The Jews were already saying that His followers had stolen Jesus’ body.
John tells us that “suddenly Jesus was in there midst.” The doors were locked. No one let Him in but there he was. Jesus said, “Peace be with you.” That is the common greeting. It is the normal way Jewish folks greeted each other yet I would suggest it is something more! Do you remember Jesus promised to give them peace (John 14:27)? The reason I think He is making a statement is the fact that He repeats it in 20:21. He is saying, “I’ve done everything necessary to provide you the peace I’ve promised.” Peace, God’s highest and best, be upon you. It has become far more than a customary greeting.
He showed them His hands and His side demonstrating that He really was alive and the evidence is seen in His body. The body that had been nailed to the cross and that had been pierced by the spear.
The text says the disciples were “glad” when they saw Jesus. There is another one of those great understatements of the Bible. The word means to be exuberant. They were ecstatic – they were beside themselves. All the fear and anxiety were gone for that moment. Nothing else mattered in that moment because the Lord was alive.
That brings us down to verses 21-23 and that is where I want us to focus this morning. It is here that we discover:
Thesis: The risen Lord commissions every believer to service within His kingdom.
There are three things I want us to note.
- Christ’s Commission constitutes your call to serve. (20:21)
- The gift of the Holy Spirit enables and empowers your service. (20:22)
- The Gospel is the means/method of your service. (20:23)
The work of the church is a Gospel work.
I’m not suggesting there are not other, legitimate works to be done by the church but I am saying our primary task is the preaching of the Gospel. If we fail in Gospel work nothing else matters.