How would you describe an untroubled life? In the ancient world, philosophers would debate about how a person would achieve a life of serenity against the ‘shattering blows’ and ‘petty pinpricks’ of this world.
Today, serenity almost seems to be a lost possession. We are continually inundated with a technologically fast paced society and rat race culture. There seems to be a plethora of shattering blows and a massive gathering or cushion of pins waiting to jab us. However, even in a non-digital ancient world, two things were identified in the life of humanity which made it impossible to achieve serenity back then: inner tension and external worry. Have things really changed today?
The Bible tells us about a situation where the disciples were having a moment of inner tension and external worry. It came after the resurrection and is recorded in Luke’s gospel.
Luke tells us that Jesus shows up, stood among them and speaks ‘Peace’ (24:36). Jesus literally speaks ‘peace’ right in the middle of the disciples fear, worries and troubles. In a nut-shell, you could say that the disciples whole world had just been turned upside down and sideways due to the fact that Jesus was killed. Roman authorities and Jewish religious leaders would now also be all too eager to put away any people associated with this latest ‘Messiah’ movement. Rome had a way of dealing with Messiah-type people and all those who followed. They crucified every one of them. Jewish leaders would also like to rat out any potential blasphemers too. You could say that the crucible the disciples were in, could legitimately produce some inner tension and external worry!
Nonetheless, Jesus shows up and asks them ‘why’ doubts were arising in their hearts that He was alive?
Before they could respond, Jesus shows them living proof and allows them to physically experience the reality of His presence. However, Luke still admits that the disciples, even though they were joyous, could still not believe (24:41). It seemed as though the risen Jesus was almost too good to be true.
My take on this encounter is that the disciples were all a bit of an emotional mess. There was worry, doubt, fear, belief, confusion, extreme joy and disbelieve all at once! Talk about a thoroughly confused group of believers.
Thankfully Jesus does not leave them in this dazed and confused state. He opens their minds, teaches them, and eventually blesses them (24:45-50). He also reminds them that He will be sending them the Holy Spirit too!
So, in this situation filled with inner tension and external worry, Jesus stands, speaks, asks, shows, opens, teaches, and blesses. It all started with His original pronouncement of peace, and then tangibly impacts their situation by engaging with them. In other words, real peace is only found in His living Presence.
Today, we no longer live in only a post-resurrection world. We live in a post-Pentecost world. What does that mean? It means that the Spirit has been sent, and we are now able to experience the very same reality of Jesus’ living Presence through the power of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this is why Paul says that the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). It is God’s Spirit who makes the living reality of King Jesus available to you today.
If you are having moments of inner tension and external worry consider inviting Jesus into the middle of it. He seems to have that ability. Also, allow Him to speak to you through Spirit and Truth. Reading Scripture is a great way to accomplish both of those things together. During this Advent season, consider reflecting upon some passages filled with hope, peace and joy. I will include a link to an excellent resource below.
As you read Scripture be prepared for a conversation to happen internally as you dialogue with Jesus about the situation you are in. He may even open your mind to help you understand yourself and Him better than before. Imagine the possibility of your mind being transformed! What a novel idea.
Furthermore, the reality of His supernatural presence will be made known to you. This is something we all need and can only come via the Spirit’s power. Ask the Holy Spirit to make Jesus real in your life. Trust me, it’s a good thing and it will change your life for the better.
Finally, it encourages me that Jesus is not overly bothered by the range of human emotions running amuck in the room. He lovingly displays the realty of who He is and tangibly demonstrates the realness of His presence. This demonstration also does one vital more thing for the disciples: It allows them to follow Jesus out of the room. In other words, Jesus leads them away from the place of inner tension and external worry.
Luke ends his gospel by saying that the disciples were able to return to their community, worship with others and bless God (24:53). What a dramatic turn around. What was possible for them is possible for us. Jesus makes all the difference in the world. Literally.
Give Him the opportunity to lead you away from places of tension and worry. Allow Him to lead you forward and bring you into a better place. It is possible because of the reality of His powerful presence that operates in the world today through Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who brings life, joy and peace to all who, ask, seek and knock. It is yours to receive. Open the door and let Him in. Jesus can make all the difference in your world.
Click this link to view Andrew Gabriel’s Advent Readings for families: