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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Sent by Spirit to neighbors

Raised up, Jesus opens way of life and takes us along

Often I am asked what my favorite Bible story is. It is not easy to answer because how the Spirit speaks through Scripture often depends upon what is happening and our context.

Yet frequently I return to the story of the risen Christ appearing to the disciples who were gathered behind locked doors on that first Easter evening (John 20:19-23). I have thought about how the disciples were terrified that they, like Jesus, would be arrested and killed if someone identified them as followers of Jesus.

However, more than wondering about what kept the disciples locked in fear, it may be more important to confront our own fears. How many of us lie awake at night worried that someone might identify us as disciples of Jesus? What evidence would be presented in court to determine our guilt or innocence?

Thankfully, how we answer that question is not the final verdict on our lives. Rather, we stand before God only on account of Christ.

When the risen Christ appeared to the disciples, he came to open their lives. Twice he said, "Peace be with you." It was a liberating word of forgiveness. One can almost imagine Jesus saying, "I could have appeared to a new group of disciples who will not forsake me as you did. But I am here. I forgive you. I send you into the world that crucified me. But you do not go on your own. I breathe in to you the gift of my Spirit. I give you the good news that God forgives sinners."


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