Reading: John 20:19-29
Many of the events of these days, and the days to come occurred in a room where all the disciples were gathered. It may have been the same room for every event, or three different rooms—we can’t know for sure. Both Mark and Luke mention a large “upper room” where Jesus kept the Passover, and instituted the Lord’s Supper. (Mk. 14:15; Lk. 22:12) After the crucifixion, until the resurrection, the disciples all began to gather in a room; but we aren’t told anything about it. John tells us that they were “inside” and that the “doors were shut.” (John 20:19, 26) The location must have been known among the believers, because the two men Jesus met on the road to Emmaus knew exactly where to find the disciples to report the news. (Luke 24:33-36). Finally, there was the “upper room” where the disciples were staying after the ascension, until Pentecost. (Acts 1:13-14; 2:1) One room? Three rooms?
The important thing to remember is that there was a room. After the shock of the arrest and trial and crucifixion, their first impulse was to scatter. Find some deep, dark hole to crawl in—and stay there! But some unseen force began to draw them back together. One by one . . . they all showed up. In the room—apart from the noise of the outside world—but connected. This was the time for them to be insulated—but not isolated. They had to have a Quiet Place.
It seems significant to me that during the time Jesus was in the tomb, the disciples were in the room. And the Spirit of God was at work in both places. For one thing, we read of no more arguments about who will be the greatest. They finally learned that lesson—in the room. I’m sure a lot of old ideas were finally laid to rest—in the room. The disciples were experiencing their own kind of Gethsemene and Golgotha experience. Every unworthy personal goal—every expectation that wasn’t aligned with the Kingdom Jesus taught us to pray for was being crucified and buried, just as surely as Jesus had been crucified and laid in the tomb. And then there was the emptiness. And the silence. The Quiet Time. All of that happened in the room.
But on the third day, Jesus met them—right in that same room. The place that had been the place of brokenness, and the death of so many personal agendas was suddenly transformed into the place of life—and hope—and renewal. After the light of the world stepped in—that room could never be dark again.
It all began early on that day with the story brought by the ladies. Peter and John had run out to see for themselves, and returned to report what the saw—and what they didn’t see. And the speculation had begun. Old ideas are always hard to lay down; and new ideas are always hard to pick up. Each disciple was in the midst of his own personal transformation—when Jesus appeared, stepping past all their locked doors, into the middle of their confusion, as their hopes fought with their doubts still. Suddenly, there he was.
In that first encounter, Jesus began the resurrection process within the disciples who had gathered, out of fear, in that room. He began by speaking “Peace.” In fact, he kept repeating it to them. (v. 19, 21, 26) I believe this went beyond just the conventional greeting. This must have been more like he had spoken the word into the blackened, wind whipped waves on the Sea of Galilee. Then he showed them his hands and his feet—to reassure them that it was indeed he who stood among them. This hadn’t been just a bad dream. It was all very real. He had been very dead—and now he was standing there—very alive. It’s all true. He is risen indeed! Shalom.
He also began their commissioning. “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” (v. 21) And, in preparation for that work, he began the process of their infilling with the Holy Spirit. First, he breathed on them, and then he spoke, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (v.22) I say this was the beginning of a process, because the commission will be repeated later and the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit would not occur until the Day of Pentecost. But something was beginning to come to life within the hearts and minds of the disciples on that very evening. The Spirit was already doing his deep work within them—and he would continue to do his work for the rest of their lives. Everything they would need was being restored, and everything they didn’t need would be left behind, in the room.
We all need a room. Not for perpetual isolation—but a personal retreat. A Quiet Place where we can reflect, and be healed, and restored, and rebuilt, and energized. And, yes, commissioned. Or re-commissioned, as the case may be. God will always do his greatest work in the deep—quiet places of our soul. From those hidden places, a light will shine, and life will flow, until the rivers of living water touch everyone we encounter. We must first disconnect—in order to connect more powerfully than we ever thought possible. Go to your room.
Reading: John 20:19-29