“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.'” – John 20:21
After the empty tomb and before the birth of the church there is “the locked room.” The Gospel of John tells us that the disciples were afraid and hid behind locked doors. There were many reasons to hope. Peter had seen the discarded grave clothes. Mary had seen the risen Jesus. John had “seen and believed” and yet they remained afraid. The disciples stayed behind locked doors for fear of what the authorities might do to the friends of Jesus. But Jesus knew they needed to go.
Jesus appeared in the room where they were staying and pronounced peace over them. He showed them his hands and his side as proof that he was real, that the past events had happened, and that life had overcome death. He then repeated his pronouncement of peace and added to it a commissioning, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” This is a simple equation; a one-to-one ratio, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” There are no caveats, no conditions. And it begs the question, how was Jesus sent?
Theologians talk about the incarnation of Christ. This idea is seen in John chapter 1, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” and is expounded upon in Philippians 2. The incarnation essentially means that Jesus put skin in the game. Christ invested himself into humanity and lived among those he served. Jesus did not just pop in every once in a while to help someone out of a tough situation, Christ got into the tough situation. He stood with, stood for, and stood shoulder to shoulder with those who had their hopes crushed, who held a hidden pain, and who dreamed of a better world. The Message version of the Bible interprets John 1 as saying, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
Jesus was calling the disciples to go out and to get involved. Jesus calls us to do the same. The Great Commission calls us to something more than simply understanding the issues, or even addressing the issues. We are called to build relationships with the least, the lost, and the lonely. It is through relationships that our compassion is built. It is through relationships that healing and transformation happen. We all know the difference between going through the motions, and doing something because you are passionate about it.
Being sent as Christ is sent is about getting our heart involved, it’s about moving from engagement with an issue to involvement in a friendship and letting the stories of others take root and crack the hard places of our heart. This can be difficult. Yet being sent in the same way that Jesus was sent is about more than the great effort it entails, it is also about the great gift we are given. “When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” – John 20:22.
Friends, it is easy to feel alone in our life. It is easy to feel like we carry the weight of the world by ourselves. It is easy to believe that it is solely up to us. But this wasn’t the case for Jesus, and it’s not the case for us. Just as the Holy Spirit was with Christ so is the Spirit of God with you. You are not alone in your efforts for compassion and justice. You are not alone in your work to forgive and repair. As you go out into this day know that the Holy Spirit accompanies you and empowers you.