Sunday, June 08, 2014 — PENTECOST
“So I send you” John 20:19-23
1. The setting of the event in John 20: 19f is that of the night of the first Easter Sunday. The disciples felt like they were targets of resentment – and like them, when we experience resentment, we usually experience fear. Sometimes, we think that we may deserve such rejection and hostility. In this frame of mind, we adopt attitudes and actions devoted to defence and attack. In this way, our fears become self-fulfilling prophecies.
The scene in John 20:19-31 shows that the faith of Mary Magdalene has not penetrated into the group of disciples as a whole. In chapter 20 Jesus did indeed appear to the disciples, as he promised he would. In doing so, Jesus said to the disciples that peace IS WITH THEM, to which they respond with joy. Then Jesus repeats that peace is with them.
Then three important sentences follow.
2. The spiritual high point of the post resurrection activity of Jesus leads to a mission that is like the mission of Jesus. Jesus gives them their mission, which is LIKE JESUS’ mission. Jesus’ mission, in John, arises from him watching the Father. The Father shows Jesus everything the Father does, and Jesus does it. (This is like the young of swans or fowl or animals “imprinting” the behaviors of the mother.) So the disciples are to take note of everything Jesus is and does, and then to be and to do the same. This means that we are like apprentices to Jesus, who is mentoring us in our ministries.
3. Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit as God’s empowerment for this mission. This was the high point of Jesus’ post resurrection activity in John’s Gospel.
4. Through the Holy Spirit, there is power to effectively oppose sin in the community. This is not a foundation for the juridical power of church authority. Rather, it is the proclamation of the resurrected Jesus that in the community of faith the Holy Spirit gives power to effectively oppose sin in the baptized members.
5. There are a series of examples of faith in chapter 20 of the Gospel of John. They include the believing disciples, Mary Magdalene, and Thomas.
6. Jesus sends and empowers us for ministry in our own homes and workplace. When we tell the story of Jesus in our own lives, a door opens for real life among the people of our homes and places of work. In this way, Jesus gives those disciples, and us, the authority to minister (cf. Jo 19:22). Jesus gives the authority to minister, but do we adopt it?
What ministry belongs to the people of God? The three orders or ordained ministry summarize the ministry that belongs to all the people of God. When the church ordains a minister, this order of ministry does not exclude the remainder of God’s people from that form of ministry. Rather, that ordination is an icon, a living reminder of that form of ministry that continues among all God’s people.
A deacon is a living reminder that all God’s people are called to proclaim the gospel, and are called to loving service of human need in the community. A priest is a living reminder that all God’s people are the body and blood of Christ. A bishop is a living reminder that all God’s people are one, that authority is to be exercised with mercy, and that all God’s people are to guard the faith.
The ministry summed up by these three living reminders is the ministry that belongs to all the people of God. Nevertheless, ministry occurs only when the individual Christian adopts the authority to minister in Jesus’ name. Whether ordained or not, all of us are called to adopt the authority that Jesus gives us to minister in Jesus’ name. How we adopt Jesus’ authority to minister is comparable to how Thomas and the ‘beloved disciple’, or the ‘other’ disciple, adopted a resurrection faith in this chapter.
So with adopting the authority to minister. If we are lucky enough to already have the evidence of giftedness or talent, we must be clear, and make it clear, that those talents or giftedness belong to Jesus, our Lord and our God.
We are among those who have not seen Jesus in the flesh, yet we believe, and we are happy.
Archbishop Robert Gray will always be a reminder to me of this kind of faithful ministry. Robert Gray thought he was too unintelligent to be an Archbishop. Yet, being appointed to that office, he then offered himself wholeheartedly to that ministry. God through Robert and Sophie Gray set up such a light that all of us still rejoice in it.