That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. John 20:19 (NLT)
The religious leaders of Jerusalem had conspired and in less than 24 hours they had apprehended, tried and executed Jesus. If they were so intent on killing their master, it would make sense for them to go after Jesus’ core disciples as well. They could make a clean sweep and be rid of this pesky sect that had caused so many headaches for them.
It is not surprising that Jesus’ followers were shut up behind locked doors fearing for their lives. They had nothing with which to defend themselves. They were uneducated men from the rural Galilee region in the north. They had no money, no political power, and they were in grief over the death of their master. They had alway depended on Jesus to lead them and tell them where they were going and what they should do. Now, they were distraught, afraid, leaderless and utterly without direction or hope.
So, what happened over the course of the following six weeks that changed this fearful, directionless, uneducated lot into a fearless, impassioned, articulate group of men boldly standing up in public to proclaim that Jesus was alive? In fact, all twelve would eventually spread out around the known world to experience persecution, torture and death in order to share with others the story of Jesus, His death and His resurrection.
Today I’m thinking about the fact that following Jesus and experiencing a relationship with Him results in changed lives. Death becomes life. Hate becomes love. Bitterness becomes forgiveness. Selfishness becomes selflessness. Prejudice becomes grace. I see that change in the story and testimony of Jesus’ first followers. I’ve seen it in countless others. I’ve experienced it in my own life, and I pray to experience increasingly more each day.