One of the things that I love to do in these weeks after Easter is read again the stories of the risen Jesus appearing to his disciples. In Luke 24 and John 20 and 21 we get to look in on conversations between Jesus, groups of his followers and individual friends after the resurrection.
Before Easter we had started thinking about our rhythm of Receiving and Releasing God’s presence (I’ll write a bit more on that again next week). As I’ve read the resurrection stories this year I’ve noticed four ways in which Jesus enables his friends to receive and release the news of his resurrection.
Surprise – the stories often have an element of shock, a sudden realisation. Mary doesn’t recognise Jesus at first. Thomas won’t accept he’s alive, the disciples on the road to Emmaus don’t realise Jesus is with them until just before he’s gone. This is quite normal – imagine the shock of realising Jesus is really with you after you had witnessed him die. This is shocking news!
Intimacy – Risen Jesus invites people close. Often there is touch involved, often he shares a meal. This isn’t a distant experience but an up-close intimate one. As he comes close with his friends Jesus does some deep work with them, helping them experience forgiveness, challenging them about their unbelief.
Belief – There comes a moment when we’re told these disciples believe. They accept Jesus is alive. Thomas, for example, declares – “My Lord and my God.”
Commission – Jesus gives these friends jobs to do. Mary is sent off to the others, Peter is called to “feed my sheep”, all the disciples are commissioned to go into all the world. I
imagine though these followers are still dazed and struggling to make sense of things; even so, Jesus hands out tasks and helps them become participants and leaders.
As we’ve been praying about growth and provision together I’ve found myself thinking about these four themes. I think God wants to work in us in these ways too.