Where do we get the energy, the strength, to be a peacemaker in the middle of a violent, chaotic world? My recent posts have discussed some of the hard teachings of Jesus about loving our enemies and turning the other cheek – radical teachings for sure, so how can we do this?
|Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”|
When Jesus met with his disciples in the Upper Room during the week before his trial and crucifixion, he said some remarkable things that the Apostle John recorded in his Gospel. But first let me set the context. After Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem during Passover week, he withdraws from the crowds who celebrated his donkey ride into the city. Instead of seizing the opportunity to mobilize the crowds who hailed him as a political liberator from Roman rule, Jesus orders his disciples to rent a private room where he pours out his heart to these twelve men.
|Caravaggio’s “Doubting Thomas”|
After his resurrection, the disciples are hiding behind locked doors because they fear they will also be arrested and possibly executed. Jesus enters the room and says “Peace be with you!” This was not a typical “Hello.” After showing his followers his wounds, Jesus breathes on them, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the “breath of God.” What Jesus had promised in the Upper Room, he gives them this night in anticipation of Pentecost, fifty days later when he poured out his Spirit in ways the disciples never expected.
Jesus gave his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit and he offers this same gift to us. Jesus knew that his followers would never be able to be peacemakers and reconcilers in a broken world without the power and energy that they receive from the Holy Spirit. We simply are not able to be people who live a life of shalom without the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. But with the presence of the Holy Spirit, we can do amazing things — in fact, Jesus said we will be able to do greater things than he had done (John 14:12)! Isn’t that incredible? Why are we so fearful and unwilling to take risks as peacemakers, when we have these promises from God?
- One of the key issues followers of Jesus face is whether or not we trust the promises he makes to us. God is a God of covenants, of promises, yet isn’t it easy to forget these when we face tough situations?
- Can you think of a circumstance in your life when you faced a difficult time, but chose to believe in God’s promises despite what others might be saying?
- We need to remember that God desires to use us to achieve his purposes in our world, but that our ability to be used for making the world a better place is not because of our talent, but because of the Spirit of God in us. Doesn’t this help us to relax?