John 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, 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." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

This passage describes Jesus' first appearance to his disciples as a group after his resurrection. It's a moment filled with profound significance and transformative power.

The scene opens with the disciples huddled together behind locked doors, fearing for their lives. Their fear is palpable, reflecting their state of mind after Jesus' crucifixion. But suddenly, Jesus appears among them, transcending physical barriers.

Jesus' first words to them are, "Peace be with you!" This is more than a greeting; it's a bestowal of peace in a moment of fear and uncertainty. He then shows them his hands and side, proving that he is indeed the crucified and now risen Lord. The disciples' response is one of overwhelming joy.

Jesus repeats his blessing of peace and then commissions the disciples. "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." This is a profound moment of empowerment. The disciples are to continue Jesus' mission in the world.

Then, in a gesture reminiscent of God breathing life into Adam, Jesus breathes on the disciples and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit." This is a powerful symbol of new creation. Through the Holy Spirit, the disciples are being transformed and empowered for their mission.

Finally, Jesus gives them authority regarding forgiveness of sins. This is not about personal power, but about proclaiming the forgiveness available through Christ and the responsibility of the church in this ministry of reconciliation.

We can learn quite a few lessons from this passage. One, Christ's peace overcomes our fears. Even in our moments of greatest anxiety, Jesus offers his peace, just as he did to the frightened disciples.

Two, the reality of the resurrection transforms us. Like the disciples, encountering the risen Christ should fill us with joy and change our perspective on life.

Three, we learn that we are sent by Christ into the world. Our faith is not just for our own benefit, but for a mission to share God's love with others. The passage shows that the Holy Spirit empowers us for this mission. We are not left to our own devices but are given divine help to fulfill our calling.

Four, we see that forgiveness is at the heart of our message. We are called to be agents of God's reconciling love in the world, extending the same grace we've received to others.

As we reflect on this passage, let's ask ourselves: Do I allow Christ's peace to overcome my fears? Has the reality of the resurrection transformed my life with joy? Am I living out the mission Christ has given me? Do I rely on the Holy Spirit's power? Am I an agent of forgiveness and reconciliation in my relationships and community?

May we, like those first disciples, experience the peace, joy, and empowerment of the risen Christ. And may we go forth boldly to continue his mission in our world.

God bless you.

More in this category: « John 20:11-18 John 20:24-29 »
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