How do you deal with fear? What did the disciples do after Jesus was resurrected, and what can we learn from the Bible record?
[Darris McNeely] What do you fear? You fear growing up? You fear growing old? You fear losing a job? Having to go out and look for a new job? You fear another pandemic crisis or something even bigger happening to the world? Who do you fear? You see fear is the great crippler. Fear destroys more lives than any disease. Fear is the opposite of courage. We all want more courage and less fear in our lives. With courage, we can deal with the challenges that life throws our way. The story of Jesus Christ disciples in the weeks following His death and resurrection offer us a case study in overcoming fear, doubt, and unbelief. As we've progressed along this path to Pentecost, we have seen how they cast off fear and came to understand the magnitude of the events they had lived and what they were to do as a group.
Let's review. The disciples, after the resurrection, were paralyzed by fear. This one factor kept them from acting. On the morning after the resurrection, when the women went to the tomb, they found it empty. They were afraid. An angel who had rolled back the stone sealing the tomb said to them, "Do not be afraid for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He is risen as He said." The angel told them to go quickly, tell the others what they saw and deliver the message. It was as if action and a report of the events were the first steps that would dispel the fear. Again, He told them to get up, go into the world, preach the gospel to every creature. Action. Action was the antidote to fear. These men could not afford to let themselves be hardened against the lead of Christ.
Time their fear began to leave, but not all at once. With each appearance, we see faith and courage growing. Christ when he appeared, brought a spirit of peace into their midst, their fear began to subside. He explained to them what had happened and especially who He was. Their understanding deepened as He explained the scriptures and performed many signs in their presence. For 40 days, Christ appeared to the disciples speaking about the Kingdom of God. He pointed them to the feast of Pentecost. When they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, the power of God, the presence of God. "Behold," He said, "I send the promise of my Father upon you, but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."
On the day of Pentecost, the disciples were gathered. It was 50 days from the time Jesus had ascended to His father after His resurrection from the dead. Luke tells us in His account when the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting." Then there appeared to them divided tongues as a fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit, began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. The disciples began to speak in the language of the nations, represented by those who had come to Jerusalem for this great pilgrim festival. It was a miracle of speaking and hearing that amazed the throngs who heard and witnessed this moment. People heard in their own language, those who were from the far-flung regions of the Roman empire, they did not know what it meant, but they were amazed at the display of passion and excitement among the disciples. What is not mentioned, but obvious in this account of Pentecost is the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples while they were setting in the house, likely the same upper room that they had been using for weeks, the same room they were in fearful when Jesus had appeared to them earlier.
But the narrative clearly shows that when Peter begins to speak to the amazed crowds explaining what is happening, that occurs outside in the streets of Jerusalem or in the temple environments, they had moved out of their room. The living Christ through the indwelling power of His spirit was pushing these disciples out into the world with His message of salvation and the Kingdom. The Gospel of Christ and the Kingdom of God is not something hiding in upper rooms behind closed doors. The Gospel is not the secret knowledge of any small group of people. The Gospel of God is for the nations, for every race and group of humans. This is the Gospel He preached, the good news that ignited passion and fire in their lives. The living Christ was now forming up His church to march against the gates of hell. There was only one message that inspired a unity of purpose and doctrine and love for one another. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the hope of His returning glory to bring the Kingdom of God to this earth, heaven was going to come to the earth. The disciples had been transformed by the convicting power of the word.
Now, the Spirit was added to them and they took off. Peter was moved to give an impassioned sermon, explaining the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter who had formerly denied Christ out of fear gives a powerful sermon. The message that energize them and turn them into a group filled with spirit and power was the message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The book of Acts details the great works done in the early stages of the church. They conquered their fear through the presence of Christ during the 40 days of appearances and teaching, promising to be with them, showing them how the scriptures all fit together to explain who He was, what the Father was doing through Him and what they, the God family, the Father and the Son would do through the power of the Spirit.
That feast of Pentecost turned around the disciples, 50 days from the time that they were fearful and doubting to a moment when there was a complete makeover. How do we conquer our fear? How do we do a makeover, a change, create a new life?
We must submit in faith to God. To receive the power of the Holy Spirit requires a complete change in life and faith and the sacrifice of Christ. It requires us acknowledging our life is lacking this essential dimension. Are you ready to consider that you do not fully know the risen Christ and all of His fullness and glory? The path to Pentecost requires an examination of our life taking stock of what we are compared to what Christ is, Christ ministry was done by the power of the Spirit. He preached a message to people who were poor, both physically and spiritually. They did not understand truth. They lacked understanding of who they were and their purpose in life. Today people both poor and rich do not understand what God is doing in this world. They do not even understand the nature of the true God. They're not filled with the Spirit of God.
How can you be filled with the Spirit of God? How can you have a heart like your savior? The apostle Peter tells us exactly how. Now, when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Then Peter said to them, "Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Christ message in His ministry was to heal the brokenhearted. When you lack of knowledge of the true God and His purpose, when you are beaten down by life and just trying to survive, when you may allow fear and doubt to control your life, then you're part of those Jesus said needed their hearts healed and mended. Jesus came to create within the heart of man, a fire and a passion for a true life for a life that leaves its mark and is exceptional.
Christ came to live a life which enables a fully lived life. Think again about fear. Most of us are born without fear, with lives waiting to be experienced. Life begins to break our heart. In other words, it begins to break us down, to break our spirit, our passion. We often begin to just settle and accept mediocrity. The only way we can break out of fear and doubt is through the resurrected Christ in us, the life of the Son of God, who died for us to be reconciled to God. It requires repentance, which means to change our life, who we are and how we think, in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit creates a new heart within us. A heart created by the writing of the spiritual law. This is the power to men, to bind together, to restore beauty and an eye to see beauty and God. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God shows the path to restoration of a broken will.
The path to Pentecost, it's the path that creates a new heart within us, by the Spirit writing upon our hearts. We began the series, "The Path to Pentecost," to show you how the resurrected Jesus Christ worked with His disciples in the period after His resurrection. What He did with this group has big lessons for us today. The living Christ continues to direct His work through His Church today. Beyond Today is about help for today and hope for tomorrow. We believe you can live a successful godly life in today's world. God can give you His power of love, peace, and a sound mind.