“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!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20.19-23
This is the good stuff. It doesn’t get any better than this. We’ve just endured Jesus on the cross, suffering, beaten, crucified for our sins. The pain, the agony and the grief of those who loved him most. But now, it’s different. Now, it’s the good stuff.
What is this good stuff? It’s his appearances after the resurrection. First we saw how Jesus appeared to Mary and blew her mind! Now, Jesus is appearing to his disciples who were gathered in a room together. They had doors locked because they feared the Jews. But Jesus can open locked doors by simply by passing them and appearing in the room. This is the good stuff.
And when he came and stood among them he said, “Peace be with you!” They must have freaked out! He was dead and now he is alive! We don’t see that happening today any more than they did back then. He showed hem his hands and his side and when they saw him “they were overjoyed.” “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” These were his first words to them. Even before they knew it his appearance meant commissions.
And then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sin, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Commissioning, filling of the Holy Spirit, and acts of ministry and grace. This is what Jesus offered when he met them hiding in the upper room.
Jesus could have said anything at this moment. He could have rebuked them for abandoning him, he could have talked about the pain of the cross or their betrayal. He could have given them all kinds of instructions and directions but what he does is filled with peace and consistent with his nature. He gave them the Holy Spirit by breathing upon them, he sent them forth, he offered them the ability to forgive sins which was huge in the Jewish understanding because only God forgives sins.
We’ve weathered the defeat of the cross and now arrived at the good stuff. Jesus is risen. He is alive. He overcome sin and death and now is equipping his disciples for what comes next. Thanks be to God.
“O Lord, you are good. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for saving me and redeeming me from my sins and brokenness. Thank you for the power of the resurrection and for the consistency of your message. Those who claim to know you yet speak against you do not believe your word or read it with faith. You are not dead but you are alive and are sending us forth to make disciples. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill us with your power and grace. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen