Based on a talk by Peter Maiden, director of Operation Mobilisation, at the Keswick Convention 2013, on John 20:19-31
God is completing a plan and purpose for his world, which can be traced back to the beginning. It's clear in scripture that God calls all of us to play a part in his eternal plan.
We can see in verse 19 and 21 of this Bible passage, that Jesus speaks words of peace to his disciples. But immediately after that word of peace, Jesus issues a clear command: "So I'm sending you".
Look at some of the emotions that are evident in this whole chapter. In verse 11, Mary is weeping. The disciples are living in fear. The behaviour of Thomas shows that doubt and unbelief have settled in his heart. The hope and the expectation of the past three years spent with Jesus has been very quickly replaced by hopelessness.
That's why I love the words of verse 19. In that context, Jesus came and stood among them and spoke words of peace.
"Peace be with you" - are those the first words you would have expected? Remember these were his friends, who had fled from him just days before. You might have expected he would remonstrate with them - but no: "peace". He enters our brokenness, fully understanding our pain, bringing resurrection power, bringing his extraordinary grace and peace. The peace he brings is not just the absence of stress. This is that familiar Hebrew greeting, shalom, which means wellbeing in its fullest sense. True peace, true reconciliation with God is available.
Thomas's words when he touched Jesus' side, 'My lord and my God' - this is the conviction at the heart of all Christian mission. The presence, the life, the truth of the risen Jesus changes everything. Mary's sadness turned to joy. The disciples' fear turned into a joyful conviction that nothing can silence.
That's why I'm desperate to get the message and life of Jesus into this world, because we know when we do that, broken lives will be mended. Hopeless scenarios will be transformed, and situations of sorrow will be turned into joy, even in the middle of the pain. Are you not longing to get this message of the truth and life of Jesus in to Syria? Are you not longing to get something of the presence of the life of truth of Jesus into refugee camps? They can be transformed into places where hope and joy reigns.
As we go to hopeless situations, the Holy Spirit can transform. Fear can be replaced by confidence. Sadness replaced by joy. Doubt replaced by assurance.
Don't you want to carry that message into broken, fear filled situations of our lives and our day? Don't you want broken individuals to hear this cry, this Shalom – the battle is over, reconciliation with God is yours through faith in Jesus Christ!
As Jesus sends, he also empowers. In verse 22, he says; "Receive the Holy Spirit". The mission of God in this world is not to be left to a select band of heroes. It's given to ordinary people like you and me. The disciples after the resurrection showed themselves to be very much like you and me. They doubted, feared and scattered.
Yet, tradition has it that Thomas eventually took the gospel as far as India. A few years ago I spoke to the largest crowd I've ever spoken to in India, a church with 100,000 people sitting on a dry river bed. It made the Keswick Convention look like a house group.
Thomas was a very ordinary guy, empowered by the Holy Spirit, with a message of incredible authority and hope. Preaching the good news of Christ, some will respond, you can state with absolute conviction, that their sins are forgiven. Others, tragically, will not. If they refuse to respond, their sins will be retained. That's the awesome responsibility of gospel ministry, but it's also an awesome privilege. To be burdened by guilt and hopelessness, and to speak in Jesus' name, to speak his peace, his forgiveness, to those who will repent of their sins and trust in Christ.
Let's pray. Lord we want to thank you for your gracious calling. What a privilege it is to pour out our life for you. We ask for a blessing on those who are responding to your calling. Help us to respond, for your glory.