In John’s Gospel (John 20), we read the account where Mary Magdalene discovers that Jesus was alive and the tomb where he was laid after his death from crucifixion was empty. She returns to tell Jesus’ disciples, “I have seen the Lord” (John 20:18) and relate Jesus’ own words to them. Yet, apparently Mary’s good news did not strengthen them. This is seen in John 20:19, “the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews.” It is quite ironic, isn’t it? Mary’s message meant Jesus had conquered death but they were only concerned with self-preservation. If we were to form a Disciple Search Committee to look for disciples to carry Christ’s message, I doubt these disciples would be high up on the list of candidates. Yet Jesus did not shunt them aside but continued to entrust his Good News to them.
Jesus’ action, in standing by his disciples, demonstrates the truth of the saying, “God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” Nowhere is this seen more clearly than here. Jesus appears before his disciples and gives them the Holy Spirit. From now on the Holy Spirit would live in them and empower them to do the task he had assigned them – “as the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” This is the life to which they were, as we today too are called – to extend forgiveness in his name thereby bringing life to others. There can be no higher calling than that. With God there is no Plan B. He calls us and empowers us through the Holy Spirit to fulfill our calling. When we receive the Lord Jesus as our Saviour, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us forever. That means Christian ministry is not just for the strong, the powerful and the qualified because God works in and even through our failures and weaknesses. When we move beyond fear of circumstances and uncertain outcomes to embrace our calling, God’s Spirit empowers us to participate in HIS mission.
In Rick Warren’s book, ‘The Purpose-Driven Life’, his opening words were ‘It’s not about you’. That’s right; it’s about the Holy Spirit working in and through us. So when we are called to serve, we need to remember; it’s not about us. It’s about the Holy Spirit working in and through us as we humbly submit to his leading and guidance. We walk in faith. We do not think of what we cannot do but what God can do through us.
This is the way I look at it. God is sovereign over all things meaning he will accomplish his purpose for his creation, with or without us. Yet, out of love, he has called us to partner him in bringing life to others. Imagine a millionaire who invests resources in training and developing our talents by sending us to the best schools of learning. After we have been trained, the same millionaire goes on to use more of his resources to open up markets to enable us to use the talents he has developed in us. He willingly gives all that we need to succeed. That’s grace - it’s not about us but God working in us.
Resurrection Sunday bids us “Arise”. Jesus Christ did arise from the dead about 2 centuries ago. He gave the Holy Spirit to his disciples so that they would arise and bring his message of forgiveness far and wide without fear, which they did. How about us? May each one of us arise to fulfil all that God has called us to do!