Friday April 10, 2020
28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”John 19:28-30 (NLT)
Jesus had completed his mission to spread good news, teach us how to live, reveal God’s nature and plan, and prepare us for the Holy Spirit. He had suffered ridicule and abuse to pay for our sins. All that was left for him to do was to give up his spirit. It was finished.
His mission on earth was finished but people’s mission on earth had only begun. We need to accept his good news and tell it to others. To live as Jesus taught, we need to change the selfishness, pride, and indifference that otherwise dominate us.
Let’s go back to the people whose mission began when Jesus’ life was finished, the disciples he left behind.
They were thrown into a time of distress. What they did could make or break them. Their fate hung in the balance. They needed help and a lot of it. In fact, although Jesus had done all he could to prepare and launch them, they weren’t ready. Therefore, Jesus did not just ascend into heaven when he died. He stayed here to guide, comfort, and encourage them long after he said, “It is finished.”
What was the first reaction of his disciples? They had become doubtful and confused and frightened. They went into hiding from the authorities. They did none of the work to spread the faith that Jesus left for them. After Jesus ascended into heaven, they still had to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and help them. It was (traditionally) fifty days, over seven weeks after Jesus arose from the grave, until the Holy Spirit descended on Pentecost. Only then, Peter led the disciples out of hiding and into the wonderful work of spreading faith.
When the Coronavirus first hit, we first responded with doubt and confusion and fright. Our response has been to hide from the virus, shelter-in-place. For many our work has stopped or been restricted. We may remain in this mode for fifty days. Does this sound familiar?
The disciples withdrew for a time, but that time passed and they burst forth with new spirit and direction. Their doubts, confusion, and fear were replaced by faith, direction, and determination. When we emerge from shelter-at-home, I believe we too will have a new sense of appreciation of life. With God’s help our doubts, confusion, and fear will be reduced. Death and danger will still be threats, but hopefully we will have learned how to fight this virus. We can look forward to faith, direction, and determination.
Let us pray that this time is a maker, not a breaker, of us. Let us pray that we do not succumb to the virus. May we find the return of freedom as an opportunity to do more for one another, in Jesus’ name.
Stay in touch. Share your needs. Let us help. Amen.
-Pastor Doug Donigian