Consider this scenario. Jesus had gone to the cross. He had died, rose again, and sent word for His disciples to meet Him in Galilee. They were reeling from defeat and failure. They were unsure whether He would give them a tongue-lashing or berate them for their failure. They were struggling with a bad case of guilt. The Bible says, “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.” (Matt. 28:17)
I had always seen their doubt as doubt related to the resurrection. Someone recently pointed out to me that their doubt could have been self-doubt. We could make a case for either form of doubt. Regardless of whether it was resurrection doubt or self-doubt Jesus’ next actions empowered his disciples.
Humanly speaking, His disciples did not deserve a second chance. We have people in our churches who do not deserve second chances. They deserve the scrap heap. Maybe we should learn from Jesus. What did He do?
Notice five actions Jesus displayed.
- Jesus believed in them. They came reluctantly creeping back to Him. He did not treat them like failures. He believed in them in spite of past failures.
- He showed grace to them. Jesus treated His men with grace. He treated them as if they had never denied Him.
I remember reading stories of Abraham Lincoln’s behavior at the conclusion of the Civil War. One story in particular stands out to me. Some asked Mr. Lincoln how he would treat the southern states after they had been away. His response was “We shall treat them as if they had never been away.” That is grace.
- He gave them authority. Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples.” (Matt. 28:18) He empowered His disciples to make disciples. He gave them authority.
- He delegated to them. Jesus delegated the whole world to His disciples. This passage blows my mind. Jesus’ disciples failed Him at His most important hour and yet He empowers them to carry His message to the entire world.
John Maxwell quotes Teddy Roosevelt as saying, “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
5. He gave them a vision. Jesus gave His disciples a vision. He showed them the whole world.
If I could display a small fraction of the grace displayed by Jesus in empowering those disciples that would be my prayer. He empowered others.