Do you recall the last time we talked it was about how when Mary met the Lord, she knew who he was when she listened to him say her name? Today we read from John 20:19-23.
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
Looking at Scripture
It’s Monday evening, scared disciples were sitting in a room with the doors locked. Their concern : fear of the Jews. On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,
Suddenly Jesus was there, standing among them, wishing them peace. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
He then proved who he was, showing them his hands and side. They would have known how he was injured during his crucifixion. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
Not so amazingly, the disciples were thrilled. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
The Lord Jesus wished them peace again and then said “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
He was going to send them out in the world, just as he was sent. As the Father sent, so Jesus sends.
When he said that, he breathed on them, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
Questions and Ponderings
In Acts we are told how the disciples received the Holy Spirit. They were in a room, breaths of fire came upon them, and they were so filled, ended up presenting the gospel to 1000’s of people. Yet here we find Jesus breathing on the disciples in a closed room telling them to receive the Holy Spirit.
I find it interesting that they are two different events. But I’m kinda thinking that one bleeds into the next. Receiving the Holy Spirit as a breathe from Jesus, and then later, having that rush of the Holy Spirit blazingly active.
Thrills and Steps-Forward
Can you imagine it? The disciples, sitting all scared in a locked room. And suddenly JESUS is there! Can you imagine their excitement? How thrilling it would be to have their loved one among them again. This thrill is part of the hope Christians have. Knowing that someday we will see our loved one. He’ll come back.
I wonder if Jesus threw them for a loop a bit though, telling them he was sending them out just as the Father sent him out. Then I wonder if they really understood what was going on there. He twice told them to be at peace… which to me implies excitement or fear. Peace to you (in my ears) is like saying settle down now, just settle down.
He was sending them out… Jesus their loved one, suddenly appearing, and telling them he was sending them out. Telling them to receive the Holy Spirit, breathing upon them. Then telling them they have the power to forgive (or not).
I don’t know… I feel confused by this passage in the end. Is this passage saying that WE as believers have the power to forgive and if we refuse to forgive that it’s never going to be? “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” Doesn’t that sound like a heavy load? And yet, if we have the Holy Spirit and are living by him, perhaps we would know what needs to be forgiving and what doesn’t? They are linked in this verse, so before we forgive we aught to be talking to God about it, and then following the leading of the Holy Spirit in regards to forgiveness.
At least that’s what I think makes sense. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for declaring something unforgiveable.
What do you think?