Last week, we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus! As He declared, “It is finished!”. The penalty of all sin has been paid in full! The Old Covenant has been fulfilled; not abolished, not pushed aside, not abandoned, but fulfilled! The foreshadowing is a shadow no longer as the light of Christ has fully illuminated it! In Christ is the fullness of our salvation!
The disciples found themselves in an awkward place, though. Jesus said, “It is finished!”, but the disciples were asking, “Now what?” Jesus died, then rose again to life. But now what? Jesus had told them about this in-between place, but they didn’t understand it when He shared it with them then and they weren’t understanding it now.
It is in that in-between place where we either fall away or press on. It is there when our faith is tested and either built up and proven genuine or diminished and come to nothing. It’s in that in-between place where we don’t always see God and often miss out on what He is doing within our lives in that place.
Let’s flash back for a moment. Jesus said:
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
1 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
16 Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”
17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”
19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
Often in the in-between place, we experience grief and pain and mourning. We feel that we have suffered loss and do not see God in the midst of it. However, Jesus is always right there with us in the midst of the in-between. In fact, while the disciples were in-between the resurrection of Jesus and the day of Pentecost when they would receive the Holy Spirit, Jesus kept showing up. However, the disciples often didn’t recognize Him at first.
I often wonder how frequently Jesus is right there with us, but we miss Him. Just like Jacob came to realize along his journey, “Surely the Lord is in this place, but I was unaware!” (Genesis 28:16)
After his suffering, Jesus presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
Let’s turn to just a few recorded accounts of the resurrected Jesus being physically with His disciples while they were unaware of it.
On the Road to Emmaus
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
Jesus has a purpose for being with us and yet not being seen by us. He desires us to walk by faith and not by sight. He wants us to be real and genuine; living lives of integrity at all times. As we’ll soon see, He also draws out of us the truths that we know so that we learn to trust more in what we know of the Lord and less on our own understanding or senses.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Jesus was preparing them to trust their inner-voice where the Holy Spirit was soon to dwell and less on their senses. Jesus also showed up because they were wondering away from His plans for them. He instructed them to stay in Jerusalem, but they were seven miles away! Once they had eyes to see Jesus, they remembered and got back on track.
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
No word of God will ever fail! Every one of His promises will be fulfilled if we just have the faith and trust to persevere through the in-between until they come to pass!
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
The Ascension of Jesus
50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
Not only did they stay in Jerusalem, but their increased faith equipped them with a boldness and courage to go straight into the temple and to praise God there. They went to the very place were their enemies dwelt. They worshipped Jesus before the very ones who had just crucified Him and planned to also silence His disciples as well!
What enemy is keeping us fearful in the in-between right now? What promise of God has yet to be fulfilled in our lives?
Why not let faith arise? Why not allow the Spirit to give us courage? Let’s worship and praise God for that very thing right before the same enemy keeping it from us! Our voices declare where our trust lies and our actions proclaim it.
In our sickness and disease, praising Jesus, our healer. In our lack and need, worshipping Jesus, our provider. In our depression and anxiety, glorifying Jesus, our Joy and Peace. In our loneliness, giving honor to Jesus, who never leaves nor forsakes us. And on and on…
Now, on to another account of the resurrected Jesus being right there with His disciples:
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
19 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.”
The Purpose of John’s Gospel
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
We may be in the in-between, but that doesn’t mean that we are alone there and that certainly doesn’t mean that the in-between is our final destiny! All that we read this morning was written so that we may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. It was written so that, by simply believing in Him, we may have life abundant in the mighty name of Jesus!
Although the disciples were in-between the resurrection of Jesus and the infilling of the Holy Spirit, the outpouring was certainly on its way! Like Elijah, they may not have seen anything but opposition and impossibility at first. They may have only seen a cloud of hope in the sky the size of a man’s hand. However, Jesus gave convincing evidence and proof that the outpouring was coming soon and so is yours!