Faithlife Sermons

Locked Rooms

Year A - 2019-2020  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  18:49
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After weeks of somber reflection, after witnessing the brutal crucifixion of our Lord, after grieving his body that was laid in a tomb—something happens! Something that brings about the jubilant cries of Psalm 150
Psalm 150 CEB
1 Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary! Praise God in his fortress, the sky! 2 Praise God in his mighty acts! Praise God as suits his incredible greatness! 3 Praise God with the blast of the ram’s horn! Praise God with lute and lyre! 4 Praise God with drum and dance! Praise God with strings and pipe! 5 Praise God with loud cymbals! Praise God with clashing cymbals! 6 Let every living thing praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord in every way possible, with every instrument imaginable. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” We rejoice as we unbury the “hallelujahs” that have been silent for weeks. We rejoice in the breaking of fasts and great celebration because he is risen! He is risen indeed!
Yet, in the midst of our jubilation, in the midst of celebration and song, in the midst of our great rejoicing, we often forget the confusion of that first Easter. The women were there early in the morning, and they witnessed the miracle first hand—yet there were others, afraid, locked in a room with their hopes dashed and their rejoicing silenced, wondering what was to become of them.
Were they fools for following this man they thought was the Messiah?
Was he just the first of all of them to come to a brutal end at the hands of Roman officials?
These were wanted men now—wanted by political leaders for their association with the rabble-rouser, Jesus; wanted by religious leaders for their blasphemy. They had just watched their friend, leader, and Messiah die. There was no denying it—they saw the bruises, they heard the cries, and they watched as the spear pierced his side. They knew he was in a tomb somewhere—only, it was probably too dangerous for them to visit. While Easter morning gets all the press, here they are, that first Easter evening—afraid and hopeless—when, suddenly, they witness the miracle of all miracles as they see with their own eyes that “he is risen!”
On a day filled with rejoicing, with hallelujahs, with praise—and rightfully so—I wonder how many of us are still sitting locked in places of hopelessness instead of embracing the risen Christ standing before us? Are we embracing the peace Jesus offers us, just like he offered to the disciples, or are we still sitting in our confusion at what happened in days past?

The disciples had a reason to be locked in a room, afraid.

Jesus was put on trial by both the political leaders of the day and the Jewish religious leaders.
Pontius Pilate (Luke 23) was the Roman governor of Judea at the time.
The law at the time declared that “Caesar is Lord,” so Jesus’s claim of being Lord was in opposition to the Roman law.
Jesus would have been viewed by many as a political enemy, potentially an insurrectionist building up a rebellion.
Herod (Luke 23) was the Jewish king of Judea.
Though Herod was in the pocket of the Roman Empire, he was considered the ruler over the Jews.
Jesus would have also been seen as a threat to Herod’s throne with his claim to be the King of the Jews. This was Herod’s title.
Caiaphas (Matthew 26) was the chief priest.
Caiaphas was part of the plot against Jesus.
Jesus would have been viewed as a blasphemer because of his claims to be the Messiah and because of his breaking religious laws, like healing on the sabbath.
Jesus encouraging others to reinterpret the law could also be a challenge for religious leaders like Caiaphas.
As followers of Jesus, the disciples were also in danger.
Look at the first part of verse 19
John 20:19 CEB
19 It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.”
They were seen as guilty of the same political issues.
There is a great likelihood they were viewed as plotting a rebellion.
They were also seen as guilty of the same religious issues.
Claiming that Jesus was the Messiah meant they were guilty of blasphemy too.
The lives of the disciples hung in the balance. They were guilty by association.
This could be why Peter lied about his relationship with Jesus.
This is likely why they were together in a locked room.

Our reasons to live in fear are also—at times—valid.

Look at the world we are living in today. A microscopic virus, something that we cannot see has turned our world upside-down. We are celebrating Easter in a parking lot. We don’t know if that person who was in-line in front of us at Walmart is infected but not yet showing any signs. We don’t know if we have been exposed to that virus.
Some are living in fear because their job was deemed not critical so there is no work. When will the unemployment kick in. Am I eligible for food stamps, will I get the stimulus check and will it hold us through until I can go back to work?
There are so many things that can cause us to live in fear.
We have been hurt by others or circumstances.
Sometimes those “others” are unmet expectations.
Sometimes those hurts are from churches.
We have been hurt at times by those who should have loved and cared for us the most.
Sometimes we are hurt by tragedy.
We also know that following Jesus is sometimes difficult, as it was for the disciples.
People misunderstand us.
But we also sometimes stand in opposition to the political powers of our time.
An example of this would be the civil rights movement.
We stand up against oppression and the ways the powerful oppress the weak.
We know that in many countries and places, saying “Jesus is Lord” is punishable by death, much like it was for Jesus and his followers.
We sometimes stand in opposition to the religious leaders of our time.
Just like the religious leaders of Jesus’s day, religious leaders today sometimes get things wrong.
When religious leaders are pushing legalism over love and grace, we often find ourselves fearing repercussions for speaking out for love.
If we allow these fears to overcome us, we can also be locked in rooms of fear and confusion.
We can feel alone alone and hopeless.
Roger Fredrikson wrote:

How often the contemporary church finds itself behind closed doors, fearful and ineffectual, living on the wrong side of the resurrection. The problems are so vast and the enemy so overwhelming and all the talk about Jesus seems futile. What can be done but hide in the sanctuary discussing how desperate the situation is?

We can be left wondering where God is in the midst of these hardships and trials.

Jesus doesn’t admonish the disciples for their lack of faith but meets them in their fear.

Mary and some of the women had gone to the tomb early that first Easter morning and found it empty. They run to the disciples and tell them all that they had seen and heard. We know that Peter and John run to the tomb and find it empty just as the women had said. They return to that upper room with the other disciples and wait in fear. They wait through out the entire day, worried about what was going to happen next.
That evening the were behind closed doors, locked away in fear.
Jesus appears in a locked room.
This could say a lot about resurrected bodies, but the intent seems to be that Jesus appears among them.
Jesus could have waited for them to come to him, or he could have stood outside and knocked on the door. No locked door was going to keep him out. He loved them to much to wait.
In the midst of their fear, he chose to be present in their midst.
The first words Jesus says are not words of admonishment but words of peace.
“Peace be with you” are the first words the resurrected Christ speaks to his disciples.
This isn’t the first time Jesus speaks peace. He commanded the wind and waves to be at peace.
We see a message of “do not fear” and peace throughout Jesus’s birth narrative.
Peace is part of what Jesus brought about through his death and resurrection.
It was obvious to Jesus that the disciples were doubtful, confused, and afraid. He declared peace over them.
Jesus says, “Peace be with you” not once but twice.
There is an emphasis on the peace that Jesus seeks to bring them.
That word means:
A pervasive concept in the Bible that most commonly relates to a relationship of love and loyalty with God and one another. There is the concept of wholeness or completeness. There is also a pointing towards the coming of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah wrote:
Isaiah 32:15–18 CEB
15 until a spirit from on high is poured out on us, and the desert turns into farmland, and the farmland is considered a forest. 16 Then justice will reside in wild lands, and righteousness will abide in farmlands. 17 The fruit of righteousness will be peace, and the outcome of righteousness, calm and security forever. 18 Then my people will live in a peaceful dwelling, in secure homes, in carefree resting places.
But Jesus also declares that, as the Father has sent him, he is now sending them into the world.
The world has been a scary place for the disciples, and Jesus is declaring that they are to be sent into the world in peace and power.
Can you imagine the thoughts that ran through their minds when Jesus said to them that he was sending them out into the world? That had to have been a scary thought. Jesus had just been killed in a very brutal way and here is standing right in front of them telling them that they were being sent out into the world.
Jesus is telling them that they don’t need to live in fear and confusion but can leave the locked confines of security to do the work Christ is sending them to do.
They don’t go alone but with the peace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
John 20:22 CEB
22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Jesus mission was to reconcile creation to God. Do you remember at the beginning what God did?
Genesis 2:7 CEB
7 the Lord God formed the human from the topsoil of the fertile land and blew life’s breath into his nostrils. The human came to life.
God breathed the breathe of God into Adam and he came to life in the very image of God. Jesus breathed on those disciples and said “receive the Holy Spirit.” He said receive God. They were being made anew, new creation. Paul wrote:
2 Corinthians 5:17 CEB
17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!
The resurrection emboldens the disciples to continue the work of the Lord.
The disciples are overjoyed at seeing Jesus.
They are renewed in their mission and purpose.
They still have a choice, though—to be sent into the world or to stay in the room.
We know they chose to leave the security, pick up their crosses, and go into the world, even though the world would hate them.

Jesus meets us in the midst of our fear, doubt, and confusion too.

One of the great hopes of resurrection is that we do not walk alone.
Christ walks with us in our grief, our pain, and our suffering.
This is a great message of the cross. We do not suffer alone.
Jesus meets us where we are.
Jesus is not standing on the outside looking in, or waiting for us to come to him, but shows up in the midst of the mess.
He is just waiting for us to embrace him.
Despite our fear, doubt, and confusion, we are called and empowered by Christ to do great things.
Jesus speaks peace over us as well. He desires us to find peace in our hearts and to be peacemakers in our homes and in our world.
Jesus gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit and empowers us to boldly walk into places to see them transformed as well.
We are called to give a message of forgiveness and to share forgiveness with others.
We have a choice to continue to live in fear and confusion or to leave those spaces in the power of the resurrection.
This does not mean the path will be easy—it wasn’t for the disciples. We will still face hardships.
Speaking truth to power often leads to hardship.
Doing the right thing in a world that applauds the wrong can also lead to hardship.
We, however, do not fear the hardships in the same way because we know we have one who walks with us.
We ultimately know the power of resurrection. Even if the worst (death) happens to us, we will rise again, in the same power that Jesus was raised.
It is resurrection Sunday. Some of us come here in celebration, singing all the hallelujahs. We come with rejoicing, with praise, and with joy in our hearts and on our lips. But we know that’s not the whole story. We know many of us are still living in a locked room—confused, afraid, without hope.
The message of resurrection is for you too! Jesus does not reject you for your fear, your hopelessness, or your confusion. Instead he draws near. He draws close and declares words of peace over you. He longs to give you the power of the Holy Spirit and to send you to join him in his redeeming work in the world. Let’s leave whatever locked rooms we need to leave, and truly learn to live in the hope of resurrection.
We are people of Easter, we are Easter Christians.
Lent for Everyone: Mark, Year B Easter Saturday: John 20:19–31

message both of forgiveness and warning, of faith that confronts and conquers doubt, and of hope that overcomes fear (verse 19). We go out, in fact, as people of new creation

Bishop N.T. Wright wrote
Lent for Everyone: Mark, Year B Easter Saturday: John 20:19–31

We new-creation people are to fill our lungs with Jesus’ powerful breath, to fill our minds with the truth of his resurrection, to fill our hearts with love for him and his world, and to go out, not knowing where we shall go or what we shall do, but only that a new day has begun which will never end. We are to remind ourselves, again and again, that the love which was shown on the cross (revealed once more here in the mark of the nails, verse 20) is the same powerful love that will carry us forward, through all the suffering and sorrow that we too will meet, to the point where not only we, but a great company that nobody could count, will say ‘My Lord and my God’. There are, as John says, many other things that he could have written in this book. But this is enough: enough for us, and for the world, to believe, to find life. Easter life. Here and now.

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