Seeing and Sending

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

John 20:19-23 | April 19 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
April 19
Seeing and Sending | John 20:19-23
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Let’s pray as we come before the Lord’s Word.

So they came to Philip and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” God in heaven, this is our request as well. We wish to see Jesus. We can see the news. We can see our social media feed, we can see out our window, perhaps not much else, and we ask now that we might see Jesus as He appeared in resurrected flesh to the disciples on that Easter Sunday evening, may He appear to us now in His Word this Sunday morning. Give us eyes to see and hearts to believe and then feet to go where You send us. Sir, we wish to see Jesus. We pray in His name. Amen.

We come in our study of John’s Gospel to that Easter Sunday evening when Jesus appears to the disciples, John chapter 20, verses 19 through 23. Follow along. Hopefully you have a Bible wherever you are and you can turn to it as I read from God’s Word.

“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.'”

In 525, the Christian monk Dionysius devised a new way for marking out the years on the calendar. At that point, at least for that last couple of centuries in the Roman world, the calendar was marked as soon as Christianity was ascendant by the martyrs, and the calendar was based on the Diocletian martyrs and this monk, Dionysius, wanted to devise what he thought was a better way to sort of mark out your years by the martyrs was a good way of reminder, but over time perhaps seems not the most uplifting, or at least not the most, best way to mark out what is most central to the Christian faith. And so he wanted to mark out the years on the calendar with that most consequential event in human history, the incarnation, the birth of Jesus Christ.

And so this new era became Anno Domini nostri Iesu Christi, the year of our Lord Jesus Christ, or A.D., Anno Domini for short. And in English we know the years preceding the coming of Christ by the abbreviation B.C., which means “before Christ.” You probably knew all that.

At some point in my schooling, as I am an old man now lo these many years ago, in college at some point I noticed that the A.D. and the B.C. were giving way to C.E., Common Era, and B.C.E., Before Common Era. There have been alternatives to B.C. and A.D. for quite some time, but it wasn’t until really the end of the 20th century that C.E. and B.C.E. became very common for academic and sometimes even for popular works, thinking that to reference Christ in our dating system is antiquated or offensive to some. In 2007 the World Almanac switched to C.E. and B.C.E. for the first time.

Now the point of this opening illustration is not to weigh in on the abbreviations that academics use, but to point out that as Christians, certainly we recognize that A.D. makes a profound theological point, or at least it did when it was first instituted and it does if we think of it, with the coming of Christ, the year of our Lord, we entered into a new era. And on occasion, in very formal sort of promulgations or situations, someone may still refer to that, “in the year of our Lord 2020,” and it says something quite profound, that the time that we live in, though two millennia removed from Christ physically being upon the earth, is still marked out consequentially by His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection, we have inhabited ever since the time of Christ, a new epoch, a new era in human history, a new age.

And so it’s right from a Christian point of view that we would mark out “before Christ” and now “the year of our Lord.”

One of the underlying themes, it’s not there right on the face of it, but underlying themes in John’s Gospel, is that the coming of Christ signifies the dawning of a new day in world history. Now however historians will write about COVID-19, and surely they will and there will be articles and books upon books to be written about what happened and stories to be told in the aftermath that we’ve yet to even realize, but surely with all of that history that even now we are living in, the most consequential event in all of human history, the one that defines the very era we live in, this is not the era or the age of coronavirus, it is the age of Christ.

And we see in John’s Gospel this desire to put together all the pieces of Christ’s life, death, resurrection. We saw last week, on Easter Sunday, that already as He’s talking to Mary Magdalene, He’s thinking about His ascension. Now in one sense we’re right to think of them in discrete units. At first there’s the birth and there’s the life, the death, the resurrection, the ascension, the exaltation, and the session or the being seated of Christ, and then His coming again, these milestones on the history of salvation and the life of Christ.

And yet they really can’t be separated, because the incarnation is salvific because there is the crucifixion, and the crucifixion proves to be satisfying to the justice of God because there is a resurrection, and the resurrection is completed in a way when Christ then returns to the Father, and then at the exaltation of Christ we have the ongoing work and mission of the Lord Jesus with the sending of the Holy Spirit.

All of this in the work of Christ is connected to this short passage we just read, and connected to mission. There’s a reason that John records this episode on Easter Sunday evening, you notice the time mark in verse 19, “on the evening of that day, the first day of the week.” It’s because we are meant to see the new life of the disciples connected to the new life of Jesus. And we are meant to connect the mission of the church with the mission of the Son.

I want you to notice four things Jesus gives the disciples as He sends them out on mission, and yes, all four of these things start with a “P”: Peace, purpose, person, and promise. Note each of these things that are given by the Lord Jesus as He sends the disciples on mission.

First, peace. They need peace, don’t they? You need peace. They’re there in this room, perhaps the upper room where they had gathered before. The door is being locked for fear of the Jews, in particular the Jewish leaders, thinking well, the Romans have just executed the Messiah, it might be easy for the Jewish leaders to lead them now to the small, remaining band of misfits and just wipe out the whole sect. But as the doors are locked, Jesus appears in the room.

Interestingly, in John Calvin’s commentary, he says that Christ did not pass through the walls, but the miracle was that He opened the door, even when it was locked. Now, most commentators have took this to mean that the resurrection body of Jesus in some mysterious and amazing way is able to materialize through walls. It’s strange to think of. It is undeniably supernatural. And that seems to be the case because in the same way it appears Christ passed through the grave clothes then folded up the linen shroud upon His head as a sign that He was done with death.

But however He gets into the room, there He is, visible with His wounds in His hands and His side, and we’ll see more of that next week as He encounters Thomas. The wounds are there to remind and to convince the disciples, they’re there for us, and they’re happy to see Him, as you would think they would be happy to see the Lord is here among us. And He gives them that word, that familiar word, “peace.” It’s a way of saying “I’m here, it’s going to be okay.”

We had some thunderstorms pass through here a week ago. It went through many parts of the country. And perhaps you had younger kids scared in their room and if you’ve ever had kids scared in a thunderstorm or you’ve been scared as a little one in a thunderstorm, and you’re frightened and you call out for help and you may not know exactly what you need or what you want, but if mom or dad comes into the room, something seems like it’s going to be okay, “I’m here, honey, son, daughter, I’m here, it’ll be okay.”

So Jesus appears in the room with His frightened group of disciples, probably just ten of them here, twelve disciples, of course. Judas has gone, Thomas we will read in the next passage isn’t with them here, so ten of them, and He says “peace.” It’s a familiar greeting. It was a way of saying hello, but it’s more than that. It’s also shalom. It’s not just the absence of conflict or hello, it’s a way of communicating blessing, and the significance is underscored by the repetition.

Verse 19: Peace be with you.

Again verse 21: He said to them, “Peace be with you.”

Have you ever noticed in every single Pauline letter he begins with “grace to you and peace” or “grace, mercy, and peace?” Peace is there at the beginning of every one of Paul’s greetings.

What did the angels announce at Christmas? Peace on earth.

So, so don’t overlook this, don’t think Jesus is just saying “howdy.” Don’t think this is peace as we might say it, sort of “groovy, man” or “all we are saying is give peace a chance.” No, this peace is not as our world might understand a generic sort of well-wisher. This peace is irreducibly tied to the person and work of Christ.

If you have a Bible, just look for a moment. Two times related to this, leading up to this, that Christ issues “peace.”

Look at chapter 14, verse 27, in the upper room. He says to them there: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

So here’s what peace is: Don’t be afraid, I am with you.

And then later, in the same upper room discourse, in chapter 16, verse 33: “I have said these things to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

So this is what Jesus means when He appears and He says to the frightened disciples, “peace be with you.” He means, “Don’t be afraid; I will be with you. Don’t be afraid; I have overcome the world.” Jesus wants us to know that in this world you will have trouble, and He wants us to know after that and above that and beneath that, that in this world you will always have Me. And so you can have peace.

And isn’t it striking, going back to chapter 20, before He sends them, okay, we’re getting to the mission, to the sending, but before He does that, peace. First peace, then mission. And this is important. It was important for the disciples, it’s important for all of us in the church, it’s important for us as we think about all the things that we must do and minister, and before we do, before we go, before we preach, before we pray, before we work, before we Zoom call, peace.

It’s Christ’s way of saying to the disciples, “Here’s the very thing I want you to hear from me, your resurrected Lord.” Now He’s already met Mary Magdalene, but here He is, appearing now to the gathered group of ten disciples. “The first thing I want you to hear out of My mouth, peace.” May it go well with you, may you be blessed, may you flourish, may you be cheered, may you be confident, may you have assurance, may you be calm, may you rest.

So don’t pass by, before we get to all the missiological implications, that the very first thing Jesus wants His disciples to hear on the Easter Sunday evening, “Peace be with you.”

Here’s the second thing He gives. First His peace, second a purpose.

Now, before we go any further in this list of P’s, we need to see to whom exactly Jesus is speaking. When He says in verse 21 “so I am sending you,” who is the you? We tend to read the Bible constantly putting ourself right in the middle of it, and in a way that’s good. You want to hear the Bible, what God has to say to you in it, and yet from an interpretive standpoint, we must first realize what this was saying to its original audience. Before you hear “oh, you is me,” who are the you that Jesus was first speaking to? Are we talking about the ten disciples, is that the “you,” or are we talking about all disciples at all times and in all places.

Well, it’s true that there’s an implication here for all disciples at all times and all places, but it’s clear that John means to distinguish between those two groups, and that Jesus is directing His comments specifically to these apostles.

John 15:27: “You will bear witness because you have been with Me from the beginning.” There’s a unique witness that they were to bear because they had been with Him.

John 17:20. You remember Jesus prays for the disciples, and then He turns and He prays for those who will believe through their word. Jesus is operating with the assumption “I have these disciples who are with Me and will give eyewitness testimony, and then there are all those disciples to come who will believe on their account.”

Now obviously there’s still groups of disciples, but there is a distinction. You see it right here in chapter 20. Look down at verse 29: “Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,'” anticipating those who will come to faith through the words of the apostles.

Who have not seen? We have not seen. I have not seen the resurrected Lord. I have not put my, my fingers into His hands and into His side. Neither have you. We believe based on their eyewitness testimony. This is the purpose of the book.

Look at verse 30: Jesus did many other signs which are not written in this book, but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ.

The work of the Church, in other words, will continue if not directly upon the command in verse 21, then based upon the universal commands of God and the ongoing promises of the Son and the Spirit. We are the ones who have believed based upon their being sent, their being filled, their being faithful to proclaim the Word.

And so it makes sense that the community gathered around their teaching would share in the same kinds of practices and experiences, but the ones to whom Jesus is speaking most immediately are these disciples. And in fact, remember, John’s Gospel, we just saw the purpose statement at the end of chapter 20, is written to very new believers, or as an evangelistic document for proselytes, and so part of what he may be doing to highlight this from Jesus is to say “here’s our reason, here’s why we’ve been trying to share the Gospel with you. Here’s why we’ve been telling you about Jesus and calling you to faith, because this is what Jesus told us to do.”

Now go back to verse 21. This verse is often debated. What is the relationship between the sent-ness of the Son and the sent-ness of the disciples? As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.

It’s not drawn out explicitly in that one verse. What is the connection? What, what inference are we supposed to draw? “As the Father sent the Son,” what is it about that episode, that sending, that is then instructive for how Jesus means to send the disciples?

Let’s think about a few implications. One might be movement. Do you remember in a chemistry class or physics or some sort of science class, the difference between centrifugal force and centripetal force? Well, I’m sure I did, once I looked it up on Wikipedia again. Centrifugal force is what is spinning and the force is pressing out, and centripetal is when it’s sort of spinning and the force is pulling in.

Well, the movement here, Father – Son, Son to disciples, is both a centrifugal and a centripetal force. Think about it. The Son is sent from the Father to the world. That’s a, that’s a force going out. Now you might say, well, that’s what mission is. It’s a force going out. But there’s also a centripetal force pulling in, because the Father who sent the Son into the world was for what purpose? That the Son, John 6, might call those to Himself and all whom the Father has called would receive and hear the Word and come in. So there’s a centripetal force, the Father sends the Son out into the world, and then the Son calls the sheep as they hear His voice to come in to the fold and be saved.

And so in the movement of the disciples’ mission there will be those two forces: There is a sending, there is a going out, you can’t just stay where you are, and yet it’s not just a going out to say here we are and isn’t mission wonderful? We get to see parts of the world, when we could travel, but we are bringing now people in, called out from the world, to come into His marvelous light.

So there’s, we might think something about the movement, Father, Son, world, and now the disciples.

We also might think of the manner. How was the Son sent from the Father? As Jesus went in the authority of the Father, submitting to the Father, so the disciples are to go out in authority to Christ and in submission to Christ. Or to put it another way, in so far as Jesus was obedient to and dependent upon His Father and anointed in fullness with the Spirit, so Jesus then is the model for the disciples’ sent-ness.

So just as the Son went out, reliance upon His Father, obedience to His Father, so the disciples are now to go out in reliance upon Jesus Christ in obedient to Jesus Christ, with the power of the resurrected Spirit of Christ. So we think of something of the movement, the manner, and something about the mission itself.

Now we also want to be careful because we’re not called to exactly replicate Christ’s mission. We are not called to be an incarnation of God. We are not called to die for sinners. And yet think of how John pictures and portrays the mission of Christ in his gospel. Well, His mission was adoption, chapter one, that we might have the right to become children of God. His mission was salvation, John 3:16, that we might not perish but have everlasting life. His mission is redemption, John 8, freedom from slavery to sin and bondage to the devil.

And so in the same way the mission of the disciples is one of adoption, to bring those who are far away into the family of God, and of salvation, that by faith they would have eternal life in His name, and redemption to set captives free from bondage to sin and self and the devil.

Just as important as the relationship between the mission of the Church and the mission of the Son, is the relations of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in mission. All right, so think here, I know whenever we get into the Trinity, if you’re not careful, it can feel like a bad math problem, but John’s Gospel is relentlessly trinitarian, especially, well, the whole book is, but we say in the upper room discourse when the whole world is crumbling around them, and Jesus has one last evening to give a nice sermon to His disciples, He chooses to tell them about the Trinity, so that says something about the importance for life in ministry.

The shape of mission is, and must be, fundamentally trinitarian. This has been a deeply trinitarian book. It’s fitting that we come to the end, or almost to the end, it’s you, chapter 21 is a kind of an epilogue, that we come to the end with an explicitly trinitarian mission. Do you see this here? I hope it’s obvious to you. The Father sends the Son, and then the Son exhales the Spirit upon His brothers, the family of God. The shape of mission is irreducibly trinitarian.

As one book puts it, the Trinity in John’s Gospel explains how the world began, John 1, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Trinity explains where the redeemed world is heading, chapter 17, that they all may be one as the Father and the Son are one, and then the Trinity explains how we will get to this accomplishment and this goal here. The Father sending the Son, the Son sending the disciples, and then breathing the Spirit upon them.

The mission of the Church remains the mission of our triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We must always remember this. And I know we’re living in these strange times where mission seems very difficult, and it is, it’s hard to get on a plane and go somewhere, meet somebody in a coffee shop. You can’t do it right now. And we do the best we can and we lament all the losses that we have to endure in this season. But there will come a time, Lord willing, when we will be able to go in a more freer way, we will be able to sit down and be with people.

And it’s really important for us to think when we do mission, that it, it’s, it’s not like a track relay. You know, sometimes we can think of Jesus ran a really great 400 meters. Maybe He even ran the first three laps of the 400 meters, and then He passes the baton to the Church, and then we go and we run. Yeah, but no, because when you pass the baton in a relay, your previous runner stops. He, he’s done, he’s run his, he’s done his bit. “And so there, Church, I’m done, ” Jesus, “I’m going up to heaven, here you go,” baton, “I’m going to be with the Father having a great time. Go do mission, save some people. I’ll come back in a few thousand years.”

That’s not what we mean by mission. It’s not a track relay, passing the baton, Jesus now sits out a lap. I’ve been trying to think what, what sport then is it like, and here’s a very imperfect analogy. It’s not the track relay passing the baton, it’s like the Iditarod. You know that race in Alaska with the dogs and the musher and the, so it’s sort of, okay, I’m going to now harness, I’m going to give you some new power and energy and you’re going to go out and you are going to be active and you are going to be work, but I’m calling the shots and this is still my race, this is still My work to be done.

So we must remember that as He sends out the disciples, He is not sending them out because Jesus is now going to sit down on the bench, but as Acts tells us, that book is about what Jesus continued to do and to teach, now through the Church, now through His sent out ones.

So we’ve looked at the purpose, now quickly at the person.

The person, it could be the person of Christ, of course, but verse 22 the person is the Holy Spirit. This is also a confusing passage: “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'”

Well, we’re not at Pentecost yet, so how does this relate to Pentecost? It seems like Pentecost is the time where they received the Spirit, but here we’re on Easter Sunday evening and they still have to wait several weeks.

So what’s going on here? There’s two basic interpretations that I think can work, and maybe they’re, they’re even can go together.

Calvin says: “They were only sprinkled by His grace but were not filled with full power.”

So that’s one way to think of it, is that Christ is, is breathing out upon them a foretaste of the full indumenta of the Spirit that is to come at Pentecost. It’s obvious that they are not transformed in the way that they will be in Acts 2, because we look at the next section and again they’re going to be there in locked room, verse 26, eight days later His disciples were inside again, the doors were locked. So eight days later, these are not the bold sort of apostles that we’re going to see in the book of Acts. They’re still hiding out, they’ve seen the resurrected Christ, but they’re still scared. So they certainly have not received the Spirit like they will, so it could be a sprinkling and then the saturation’s yet to come.

The other way of interpreting this, which is maybe not mutually exclusive, is to think that what Jesus does here is not even a sprinkling, so-called, of the Spirit, but really a symbolic promise of the gift to be given later. We know that in Luke’s Gospel Jesus says wait in Jerusalem for the power to come on high.

And D.A. Carson mentions in his commentary that in the Greek, verse 22, “He breathed on them,” actually in the Greek it doesn’t say “them.” Now that’s not a wrong translation. Often times you have to supply words to make it make sense in its receptive language. And yet it could be that Jesus is not breathing on them, but simply breathing, sort of exhaling this promise. Perhaps the meaning is, “And with that He breathed and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'” That is to say, this imperative, receive the Holy Spirit need not have been received or experienced immediately. It may be that this is simply a symbolic, you’re going to wait and in just a few weeks receive the Spirit. It’s kind of enacted parable pointing to the full empowerment to come.

Now the important part is to realize that the gift of the Spirit is not ancillary, auxiliary, or optional in the disciples’ mission. They need the person of the Holy Spirit for power, power from on high to go and do this mission. They will be fundamentally different people because of the Spirit. They need the Spirit as the presence of Christ. It is the Spirit of Christ afterward who will be with them, and they need the Spirit for their inspiration. That’s what Jesus promised, that the Spirit will come and He will lead you into all truth. He will be the One inspiring you, which is why we have confidence that all of these letters in here are really red letters.

Now it’s okay if you have a red-letter Bible to highlight what Jesus said, as long as you realize theologically they’re all red letters. That is, they’re all equally inspired. And what the apostles say later is from the inspiration of the Spirit leading them into all truth about Christ, so they need the person of the Holy Spirit for the ministry and the mission that they are to fulfill.

And then fourth, the promise.

Verse 23 is a promise that if you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven, if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld. This sounds strange to us, this, as other gospel writers put it, this binding and loosing. But you really have to remember, quite simply, it comes through the proclamation of the word. This is not about casting spells, this is not I bind your sins in some elaborate formula and now I release you from your sins in some formal ceremony of absolution, but rather the forgiveness and the withholding of forgiveness come through the faithful proclamation of the Gospel.

Think about it. The free offer of the Gospel will mean forgiveness for those who believe, and it will mean punishment for those who reject such a gracious invitation. That’s what Paul will say in 2 Corinthians 2 that we will be the life-giving savor for some and we will be the smell of death to others. You have to remember that, Christians. When you go out and proclaim Christ in the world, it is, that is going to be an aroma, you are going to smell like cinnamon rolls to some people, you’re going to smell like coming home on Sunday afternoon and momma made the roast and it’s there and it’s wafting through. You’re going to smell to some people like baby back ribs, and you are going to stink to others. You’re going to smell like gym shorts and dirty shoes and you’re going to stink. That’s, that’s what’s going to happen. Because the Gospel, it will land on good soil and it will land on bad soil.

The apostles were given a ministry of reconciliation. The ministry of the Word is the appointed work from Jesus to the apostles.

Calvin says many other things are contained in the Gospel, but the principal object which God intends to accomplish by it is to receive men into favor by not imputing their sins. Later he says the difference between the Gospel and heathen philosophy lies in this: That the Gospel makes the salvation of men to consist in the forgiveness of sins through free grace.

Now you say, “Oh, Calvin, you’re so overdoing it, heathen philosophy. Just relax.”

But, he’s right, isn’t he? How many other Gospels, real Gospels, are there? Oh, there’s lots of easy living and it doesn’t matter and we’re all gonna just celebrate our differences. There’s lots of that. But when it comes down to it, you talk to most people on the street, why are you okay? Well, I’m a good person. Why are you confident that you’re going to go to heaven? Well, I haven’t done anything really bad.

You can go to funerals of people who were absolutely wicked people, and didn’t have and had hardly anything to commend themselves in life, and you’ll still have people stand up and say deep down he was a really good person. So deep down you never saw it. None of us ever encountered it, but if you spelunked all the way down, you found that goodness, and that’s our confidence.

No, there’s, that’s heathen philosophy. False gospel. Only in this message of Jesus Christ can we announce to people you can do nothing to be forgiven of your sins, and you have to do nothing. Christ calls you to repent and believe.

Remission of sins is the goal of the Father’s sending, the goal of the Son’s dying, and the goal of the Spirit’s coming.

Which reminds us, Church, reminds us of several important things. It reminds us what the problem in the world really is. Now, we, we all know what the problem in the world is right now. It’s all over our TV screens and it’s scientists working around the clock to try to solve this coronavirus influenza. But, Christian, remember what, and we want that, we pray for that problem to be solved. There’s a deeper problem. There’s a deeper issue, there’s a much more eternal issue, and Jesus here reminds us the problem in the world is sin.

And the message of the cross and the good news of the Gospel will never make sense. Right now you may be watching this and it doesn’t make sense to you. It will not make sense to you until you believe that your deepest problem is your sin. Until you recognize that the deepest problem with this world is that it is in rebellion to its Maker. And until we see that, this is just window dressing. This is just trying to get people to look like better folks or trying to fit in in some parts of Christian America.

It reminds us the problem is sin, because the good news is forgiveness. It reminds us what our task is as a community gathered around the teaching of these disciples, and in worship of this Christ – to tell other people.

Do you see what’s happened here? Just, just in chapter 20? Mary, “Jesus is alive.” What does she do? “I gotta tell somebody.” So she goes and she tells Peter and John. Later she’s with the angel. The angel tells Mary “He’s alive” and then he tells Mary “you gotta go tell some people,” and so she runs back to the disciples. And then what does Jesus say when He encounters the disciples on Easter Sunday? “You have to go tell somebody.”

All throughout Easter Sunday – He’s alive, go tell somebody. He’s not dead, go tell somebody.

How can you not tell somebody that a dead man’s alive and He’s the king and He can forgive your sins? You’ve gotta tell somebody.

And it reminds us what our message is. It’s not ultimately a message to clean up your life, a message that, you know, you’re going to have your best life now, a message that you and your family are going to be happy forever. It’s a message of death, resurrection, and redemption. It’s a message of history, it’s a message of fact, it’s a message of history plus theological interpretation. There was a man, He’s not just a man, He’s the God-man, and He lived and He breathed and He looked like and He was a human being and He died and death could not hold Him, and He lives and He reigns and He’s coming again. I gotta tell you about a guy who lived and now He is alive after He died. That doesn’t happen. Except it did.

And so the message that we have is the same message that Christ gave to those first disciples, to proclaim the good news of forgiveness in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came into this world that He might die. But He died that He wouldn’t stay dead, that He would be raised again on the third day, exalted to the right hand of God the Father, send His Spirit to equip us and to empower us for mission, and to come again to judge the living and the dead.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we thank You for so great a salvation. We thank you for the gift of the Spirit, the promise that You will be with us to the end of the age and surely that Great Commission promise is meant to be connected to this promise, because how will You be with us? You will be with us through Your Spirit. And so we pray that you would fill us with fresh power, you would blow, that the wind of Your Spirit would blow through this place and through our country and through the world, that we would not miss this opportunity to hear from You through Your Word, and that we would repent and believe and be forgiven, for the forgiveness of sins. Amen.