S (Scripture): John 20:19 On the evening of that day (when the disciples discovered Jesus’ tomb was empty), the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” 22 And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.”
O (Observation): Jesus’ resurrection appearance was a huge surprise, even for the disciples. They believed in Jesus…just not the part about the cross. The cross wasn’t in their plans. And now they are scared of the same people that put Jesus on the cross. In fact, they have now locked themselves inside a room to hide in safety from those Jewish leaders. They thought they were next.
Then, in walks Jesus (through the walls? Does he simply appear?). And he brings a gift: The Holy Spirit. The Spirit brings peace to them in the midst of their anxiety. And as they receive peace, they are commissioned to go back into ththe world.
Just as Jesus was sent by God, so too are the disciples sent. The road will be marked by opportunities to live into the gift of the Holy Spirit. They will be challenged to forgive sins as they go. But they do not go alone. They go with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
A (Application): Back’s against the wall. What do you do? I guess it depends on the context. Do you lash out? Get defensive? Get curious? Pray?
We have lots of options when our back’s against the wall. When I think about the disciples, they didn’t choose violence. Instead, outnumbered and afraid, God shows up. God provides.
Should I arm myself? Or am I armed already with the Holy Spirit? Should I motivate myself? Or is that what the Spirit does on my behalf?
In this season of Advent, we look for God breaking into this world. We catch glimpses of God’s activity in the world. We need practice with this. And so we worship and read the scriptures and give and serve and such. In doing so, we are more likely to see what God is already up to. And we will likely see that even though our backs are against the wall and fear is creeping in, we have an Advocate to help us make the right decisions, and to seek forgiveness when we make the wrong ones.
P (Prayer): Lord, remind us that you are with us, even when we don’t believe we can see a way out. Amen.