Monday, May 25, 2009

Behind locked doors (John 20)

Japan chased the Christian missionaries out of the country in the 17th century. The local Christians developed a three-man cell structure that included the candidate for baptism, his sponsor, and the baptizer. They endured for four centuries, until two America planes, manned by Christian crews, obliterated the two major Christian strongholds in Japan, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In seconds, our team was able to do more than the massed political opposition of the Japanese warlords had achieved in centuries. Not one of our prouder moments.

China chased the Christian missionaries out of the country in 1945. At that time, there were a few tens of thousands of Chinese Christians. Against all expectations, however, the persecuted church multiplied, quietly, under the radar, and vigorously. Some estimates assert that more than 100 million Chinese now follow Jesus of Nazareth rather than Karl of Marx. Christians leaders meet behind closed doors for worship, prayer, and training. Dozens may rent an apartment, hire a cook, and spend a month indoors absorbing intensified instruction.

After our Lord's crucifixion, his disciples had reasons for being nervous. They were still waiting "for the other shoe to drop," for word from the One who was dead, but had risen from the dead. They hid out behind locked doors for a week.
Joh 20:19 Haftanın o ilk günü akşam olunca, öğrencilerin Yahudi yetkililerden korkusu nedeniyle bulundukları yerin kapıları kapalıyken İsa geldi, ortalarında durup, "Size esenlik olsun!" dedi.
Joh 20:20 Bunu söyledikten sonra onlara ellerini ve böğrünü gösterdi. Öğrenciler Rab'bi görünce sevindiler.
Joh 20:21 İsa yine onlara, "Size esenlik olsun!" dedi. "Baba beni gönderdiği gibi, ben de sizi gönderiyorum."
Joh 20:22 Bunu söyledikten sonra onların üzerine üfleyerek, "Kutsal Ruh'u alın!" dedi.
Joh 20:23 "Kimin günahlarını bağışlarsanız, bağışlanmış olur; kimin günahlarını bağışlamazsanız, bağışlanmamış kalır."
Let's look at one sentence:
  • Size esenlik olsun! -- To you / peace, wholeness, health / may be!
  • Baba beni gönderdiği gibi, ben de sizi gönderiyorum. -- The Father / me / sent / as, / I / also / you / am sending.
The Catholic cathedral in Nagasaki that was used as an aiming point by the American bombing crew has been rebuilt from its ruins. Chinese rulers "look the other way" when local Christians demonstrate ethical business practices and help their neighbors to prosper. The frightened, hiding, demoralized disciples launched a movement that has transformed the world.

The One who appeared among the barricaded disciples is stil the One who has the last laugh[1] when hostile rulers run amuck.[2]


[1] "He who laughs last, laughs best" is an old English proverb, about the how easily temporary humiliation can be reversed. Or, as a more recent wit explained, "He who laughts last, didn't get the joke."

[2] amuck / amok is one of the very few Malay words that entered the English vernacular. It's always used with the English verb "to run."

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