A study on “spoilers” done by the University of California a few years ago revealed that knowing how a story ends doesn’t really spoil it—on the contrary, it helps people enjoy the story more than the suspense of not knowing.
One of the researchers concluded that knowing how a story turns out made it easier to enjoy: “You’re more comfortable processing the information—and can focus on a deeper understanding of the story.”
In John 20, we see the disciples the first week after Jesus’ resurrection. They were together in a locked room where Jewish leaders could not find them. “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you’” (John 20:19-21, NIV).
How were the disciples so transformed from fear to confidence, from anxiety to peace? They encountered the risen Christ! If He lives, then they will live. Resurrection is the final word, not death.
Whatever the disciples were about to face in the uncertainty of their mission, the reality of their circumstances or the unknowns of the future, they knew that they were being sent out by Jesus from a position of knowing the end from the beginning. Victory had already been won. Jesus took care of that on the cross. The resurrection validated what Jesus did on the cross and proclaimed, “Here’s who wins in the end.”
Jesus made it clear that in this world, we will have trouble. You’ll have trouble. “But take heart!” Have courage. Have confidence. “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
If we begin from the position of having already overcome, then we have hope, no matter what happens in this world, and we can have confidence, even when things around us seem to be falling apart.
If we are starting from an already victorious position in Christ, then we have a peace, because we know how the story ends. We know who wins the war.
This changes everything. It may not seem like that now. It may not feel like it based on what you’re going through. But, here is how the story ends: Because He lives, you shall live! Therefore, we can go out with joy and be led forth with peace.
Prayer + Reflection
- The peace of God guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Does peace seem elusive to you right now? The resurrection makes the peace of God possible in your heart and serves as a guardian over your mind. Peace is a weapon in God’s arsenal. The unknowns in our life make us want to isolate and hide, but Jesus finds us where we are and speaks peace to us. Receive His peace today by exchanging your cares and expressing your underlying emotions for His shalom. Meditate on Phil. 4:6-7 and 1 Pet. 5:7.
- The joy of the Lord is our strength. The disciples were overjoyed when they confirmed the evidence of the crucifixion in the resurrected Jesus. His wounds were a comfort to them that the victory had been won. Rejoice today in the provision of the cross, and what was won there as our portion. Let joy be your strength today. Nothing can alter what has already been accomplished (Ps. 16:8).
- Jesus is sending you as He was sent by the Father. Who is in your line of sight today that you can believe for Jesus’ resurrection to come into their heart and home? The most important thing is still the mission of Jesus because He is our cause. As the Father sent Him, He sends us. Let’s ask Jesus to renew and send us into the world.
- Blessed are the peacemakers. We live in a world of anxiousness born out of insecurity regarding the future. We possess a supernatural peace, and Jesus said we would be blessed as we go and make for peace (Matt. 5:9). This is more than reconciliation; it’s a manifestation of the kingdom of heaven (Isa. 9:6-7). Let’s believe for the people of God to be carriers of peace in an anxiety-fueled world.
- Pray. Let’s intercede to the Lord on behalf of the elderly and immunocompromised, who need a hedge of protection around them right now more than ever. Pray for safety and boosted immunity for anyone at risk of illness (Jas. 5:13-16). Pray also for those whose daily work and lives have changed dramatically these past few weeks. Ask the Lord to give knowledge and ability to teachers, pastors, therapists and caregivers who are working remotely. Pray for grace and patience for all as we adapt to new routines, and for joy in the journey.
Foursquare Disaster Relief has combined forces with our Foursquare chaplains to provide credentialed ministers with emotional and spiritual care during this intense season of critical response. Email FDRcares@foursquare.org, and someone will get back to you within one business day with a proposed time for an appointment by phone or video.
The Center for Spiritual Renewal is currently offering free counseling via Zoom video call for credentialed ministers. Reach out to Robby Booth at CSR West at 209.402.5235, or to Paul Kuzma at CSR East at 805.501.1197 to schedule an appointment. Please note, it may take one to two business days to return your call; if there is a life-threatening emergency, call 911 immediately.
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