"SHINE: Embracing, Connecting, Engaging, Transforming"
Pastor John Montgomery's Weekly Sermons:
Sunday, January24, 2021
Morning Worship Service 10:15 am
Dear Church Family,
Since the Governor of the State of Florida has removed many of the restrictions regarding the Covid-19 virus, for the safety of our members,
Cedar Creek Baptist Church will maintain the following guidelines:
1. Sit 6 feet apart from one another.
2. Refrain from the practice of handshaking and hugging.
3. No more than 2 people in the bathroom at a time.
4. Sanitize your hands as you enter the worship center.
Wearing a mask is optional.
Dr. John Montgomery, Pastor
February 21, 2021
“When Jesus Comes in the Midst”
Series, Growing Together in Jesus
John W. Montgomery, DDWhen Jesus comes into our presence, He gives peace, purpose, and power. His call is greater than my fall.
There is someone who changes our lives when He comes into our presence, that person is Jesus. And since we know that Jesus is in our midst this morning because He has promised that where even two or three gather in His name, He is present, that means that Jesus wants to change your life in some way today. And it might very well be that the changes He wants to make in your life are exactly the same ones He made when He came into the midst of His disciples the evening after He rose from the dead.
This morning this message is about the 40 days of the encounters Jesus had between His resurrection and His ascension to the Father. Today we will look at His third recorded appearance after His resurrection. We are going to look at John’s account of that encounter.
Read John 20:19-29 - “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Jesus Appears to Thomas 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:19-29
I want to focus our attention this morning on a phrase that appears in both verse 19 and again in verse 26: “…Jesus came and stood among them…”
In spite of the evidence of the empty tomb and the witness of Mary and the other women to the words of the angel that Jesus was alive and apparently even an appearance of Jesus to Peter some time that day, the disciples are hiding behind locked doors because they are afraid of the Jewish officials.
And while they are cowering in fear, Jesus appears right in their midst. He does not toy around with them by knocking on the door or calling out to them through the wall. He knows that their faith is wavering, and He passionately wants them to see Him and believe in Him because that is the only way they are going to be enabled to carry out His mission for them.
And in the space of a little over a week, we see one of the most significant transformations in history because Jesus came and stood among them. Not only does He overcome their fear and their sense of defeat, but He sets them on a course to go and change the world in the name of the risen Christ. And here in this passage we find a pattern for how Jesus wants to come into our midst and change us so that He can then send us out to change the world.
Here is how we are going to summarize that transformation: When Jesus comes in the midst, He gives peace, purpose, and power.
Today, we are going to discuss What Jesus’ presence Gives.
1. Jesus Gives Peace, v19
Three times in this passage Jesus uses the common Jewish greeting: “Peace be with you.”
The word translated “peace” here means something quite different than the way we tend to use that word in our culture or even the way it was used in the Greek and Roman cultures of Jesus’ day. We tend to think of “peace” as “the absence of conflict or war.” But Jesus and His disciples were all Jews who would have understood the idea of “peace” in a way that is consistent with the Hebrew word for “peace” – “shalom”. “Peace” (Hebrew shalom) = “a state of complete well-being that comes from a right relationship with God.
Once we understand that, we see that peace is the antidote to both the fear of the disciples and Thomas’ doubt because both fear and doubt were just the symptoms of the underlying problem of a lack of peace that resulted from the fact that their relationship with God was not whole yet.
In order for that relationship to be made whole, Jesus did a couple of important things to teach His disciples about the significance of His death and resurrection.
The first thing He does is to show them His hands and side. And we also know from Luke’s account of this encounter that He asked them for some food and ate a piece of broiled fish before them. Both those actions were to prove to the disciples that they were not just seeing a ghost and that Jesus had physically risen from the dead. This is consistent with the other accounts of the resurrection where Mary and some of the other women physically touched Jesus.
As we have talked about before the physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus is important for at least 2 reasons.
First, a physical resurrection proves that Jesus did actually rise from the grave to prove His mastery over sin and death. It means that the disciples were not just seeing what they wanted to see or having some kind of hallucination.
Second, Jesus’ physical resurrection guarantees that one day all of us who have put our faith in Jesus will also experience a physical resurrection. We are going to receive glorified physical resurrection bodies that will one day be reunited with our spirit and our soul and live eternally in a physical world of unimaginable beauty and glory in the physical presence of Jesus.
The kind of shalom peace that Jesus was pronouncing for His disciples here is only possible for us when we believe and understand the significance of Jesus’ physical resurrection. I am reminded of this familiar verse from Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome: “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
We know from Luke’s account of this same encounter that Jesus did something else that was crucial to the disciples’ ability to have shalom peace. He took time to show them how the Scriptures pointed to Him and His suffering and resurrection for the purpose of their sins being forgiven. This just reinforces the idea we developed last week about the importance of seeing Jesus in all the Scriptures.
Jesus did much more than just wish that the disciples might have peace. He showed them and taught them what they needed to do in order to appropriate that peace.
That brings us to the second blessing that comes when Jesus comes into our midst:
2. Jesus Gives Purpose, v21
After the second time Jesus says, “Peace be with you”, He gives them a new purpose for their lives: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
One of the main themes in John’s gospel is the idea that Jesus was sent by God to the earth. In John’s gospel Jesus refers to “the Father who sent me”, “the One who sent me”, and “He who sent me” over 20 times and that idea reaches its pinnacle in Jesus high priestly prayer in John 17 that the disciples had heard just a few days earlier: “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” John 17:18
Jesus gives His disciples a new purpose – they are to carry on the work that He has been doing on earth for the last three and a half years.
That purpose is further explained in the very difficult language that we find in verse 23:
“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
This is one of those places where it is absolutely crucial that we view this verse in light of everything else in the Bible and not just take this one verse out of context.
Unfortunately, the Roman Catholic Church has failed to do that and as a result they have used this verse to justify the idea that human priests have the ability to forgive sins and to establish the idea of apostolic succession. Neither of those two ideas is supported anywhere else in the Bible. In fact, the Bible is clear in both the Old and new Testaments that only God has the power to forgive sin. No man can do that – not even the Old Testament priests had the power to do that. All they could do was to act as a mediator between man and God so that God would forgive sin.
It is not that hard to understand what Jesus is saying here if we keep His words in context. He has just told His disciples that He is sending them out as His ambassadors and here He is giving them some details about the message that they are to proclaim as they do that. As they proclaimed the gospel, they could honestly tell people who believed in that message that their sins were forgiven, and they could honestly tell people that did not believe in the message that their sins were not forgiven and that they stand condemned in God’s eyes.
Pastor John Piper explains Jesus’ words this way: “…Jesus is saying…” When you tell people about what I have done, speaking my word, about my work, in the power of my Spirit, I am the one speaking through you, so that if anyone believes your word, I forgive their sins. And if any does not believe your words, I do not forgive them. And since you are my voice and my truth, I speak of you forgiving them, and you withholding forgiveness.”
Our purpose is to continue the mission that Jesus began of bringing the good news of God’s saving, redeeming, and restoring love to the world with both our words and our deeds.
But the problem with that is that none of us can do that on our own, and Jesus knew that, so when He came into their midst, He also supplied His disciples with…
3. Jesus Gives Power, v22
“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
This verse generates a lot of confusion when it is considered along with the giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost that occurs nearly 50 days later.
But most likely it is best understood to mean that Jesus literally gave the Holy Spirit here. This was probably more like the way God gave the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, when the Spirit would come on a person for a specific purpose for a specific time. Jesus, knowing that they would permanently receive the Holy Spirit in just a matter of weeks, provided them with the power of the Holy Spirit for that period of time as He continued to teach them and prepare them for the mission, He had just given them.
One thing we can be sure of is that neither these disciples, nor us can carry out the mission that God has given us in our own power. We need the power of the Holy Spirit, working in us, to carry out that mission. Jesus reminded us of that with His last words before he ascended to the Father: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8.
When Jesus comes in the midst, He gives peace, purpose, and power.
While Jesus makes those three gifts available to all, obviously not everyone receives them. Even in the case of the disciples to whom Jesus appeared, not all of them received the gifts right away. In particular, Thomas was not willing to accept the testimony of the others and refused to believe until he saw Jesus with his own eyes. And even when the disciples received these gifts, they were not exactly rushing out to use them. The same disciples to whom Jesus appeared on the night of the resurrection were still in hiding eight days later in spite of the fact that Jesus had blessed them with peace, purpose, and power.
But, in spite of those shortcomings, I think there are some practical things we can learn here about how to be blessed and how to bless others when Jesus is in our midst.
Gather in Worship
Most of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus occurred when His disciples were gathered together. He did appear to Mary Magdalene when she was alone and there are references in both Luke and 1 Corinthians 15 of an appearance to Peter, although we have no details on that appearance anywhere else. There is also a mention of an appearance to James in 1 Corinthians 15. But other than that, Jesus came into the midst of His disciples when they were gathered together.
Since today, Jesus primarily appears to us in His Word, it is certainly possible for us to experience the presence of Jesus individually, and we ought to do that. But that is not a substitute for gathering together corporately to worship Jesus and to hear good Bible teaching. That is why the Bible consistently stresses the importance of gathering:
Expect Jesus to Bless you
Even though the disciples were hiding out in fear, and even though they were skeptical of the testimony of the women who told them that the angel said Jesus was alive, the very fact that they kept gathering together leads me to believe that there was a sense of expectation among them.
Why did you come here this morning? Did you come to church because that is just your Sunday routine? Or did you come here today because you were eager to experience the presence of Jesus? Did you come because you think that is what God wants you to do? Or did you come today expecting that because Jesus is in our midst God would speak to you and change you in some way today? As you sit in your seat right now are you distracted by thinking about where you are going to go to lunch today, or what sports event you are going to watch when you get home or some task that you need to take care of later? Or are you eagerly expecting Jesus to bless you with His peace, equip you to carry out His purpose for you and pour in His power to enable you to do that?
Believe that results to Action
The disciples were certainly slow to believe Jesus even though they had plenty of evidence that should have caused them to believe.
• Jesus had told them on numerous occasions that he was going to die for their sins and then be raised back up to life.
• Mary and the other women had reported the empty grave and the testimony of the angels there that Jesus was alive.
• Peter and John had come back and testified to the fact that the grave was empty.
• The two disciples who had met Jesus on the road to Emmaus had testified to their encounter with Jesus
But Jesus is really patient with them. Instead of rebuking them for their unbelief, He gives them what they need in order to believe. The word “believe” means more than just an intellectual assent to a set of facts, but rather the kind of belief that results in obedience and action. And while they might not exhibit their belief immediately, all these disciples eventually end up giving up their lives for the sake of the gospel.
This is why it is so important that each one of us make some kind of personal application from the message each week. If we do not do that, we can say that we believe Jesus and that we believe the Bible, but that is not the kind of belief that is going to bring peace, purpose, and power.
Go Share the Gospel
Jesus did not want to change these men just to bless them, but rather because he wanted to bless the entire world through them. The same thing is still true for us. Every week when we gather with Jesus in our midst, He does want to change each one of us individually. But that change is not just for us. It is also so that we can take the peace, purpose, and power that Jesus bestows on us and use that to leave this place and take the gospel to the world around us.
Cedar Creek Baptist Church
Jacksonville, Florida 32205
February 21, 2021
Sermon Notes is a Ministry of the Cedar Creek Baptist Church,
1372 Lane Avenue South, Jacksonville, Florida 32205,
904-781-9151 - Johnmontgomery@ccbaptist.org