The Risen Christ and Joy in the Ministry
In John 20:19-23 we’re given two pictures of the disciples, remarkable by contrast.
In the first, we see a roomful of broken people, huddled together, sullen perhaps, speaking in hushed tones in a self-imposed lock down for fear that the Jews might do to them what had already been done to Jesus. Their fear, vivid with jagged edges of broken dreams and lost hope, holds them captive in a cell of disillusion and disappointment.
But, then, after an abrupt scene-change, we have a second picture. The disciples, who only moments earlier had been trapped by fear, are now described in the gospel as “overjoyed”—not just “feeling a little better,” not just “starting to come around,” but overjoyed.
What had changed in this dramatic two-act play?
Was it the scenery?
No, so far as we can tell, the disciples are still locked in the very same room.
Was it the situation?
No, there was still every reason to believe that the Jews would be most unfriendly if they were to find the disciples.
Was it the cast?
No, these are the same disciples whose battle plan only hours before had been very simple: “Hunker in the bunker.”
But now there is this one difference. We have a new figure on the stage: the Risen Christ. His presence in the room changes the entire tenor of the play from tragedy to triumph.
In which of these pictures do you see yourself today?
Maybe you are in picture number two: optimistic, overjoyed, expectant. Maybe you are in picture number one: scared, hopeless, unsure what to do next.
In whichever picture we find ourselves, the danger is that we will let the picture be framed by our circumstances.
The youth group is growing; we’re getting a new facility; the board passed my budget; the angry parent has backed off; the lynching has been canceled. Whenever we do that, we are still locked in a place too small and too dark for Gospel living.
The promise of the Risen Christ is not that He will reset the stage, change the scenery, add some props, or bring in a new cast. The promise of the Risen Christ is that no wound is so severe that He cannot overrule it, no fear is so great that He can’t banish it, no darkness is so black that He can’t bring light, and that no heart is locked up so tight that His presence cannot change it.
To our youth ministry friends, have a blessed Easter!
Duffy Robbins is professor of youth ministry at Eastern University in St. Davids, PA, and a 30-year veteran of youth ministry. He speaks around the world to teenagers and people who love teenagers, and is author of several books, including his newest, Building a Youth Ministry That Builds Disciples.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.