Reading: John 20:19-23
Verse 19: “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!'”
Even though Mary Magdalene has shared the good news of the resurrection and even though Peter and John have seen the empty tomb and even though Mary has seen the risen Christ, the disciples hide behind locked doors “for fear of the Jews.” They have not seen for themselves, so their fears and doubts still guide their thoughts and actions.
Jesus suddenly appears among the disciples and says, “Peace be with you!” This was a standard greeting in Jesus’ day. It is beginning with the familiar. Then Jesus shows them his hands and his side – the scars still fresh. The full realization of who this is brings great joy to the disciples, just as it had to Mary in her encounter with the risen Christ. Isn’t it funny how firsthand experience is so much more powerful?
Repeating the familiar, Jesus again offers peace. Then the commission begins: “As the father has sent me, I am sending you.” The ministry is being passed on. For 3 years these disciples gained firsthand experience in what it meant to be sent by God. Jesus has lived it day in and day out. Now it was their turn to do as Jesus had done. To enable the disciples to do this huge task, Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” as he breathed it onto and into these men. This living, indwelling presence of the risen Christ would allow them to do as Jesus did, forgiving as lives were changed by the power of God. The disciples were to minister as Christ had ministered.
This gift of the Holy Spirit is something that all who surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior receive. The Holy Spirit empowers all believers to minister to others just as Christ did long ago. The Spirit empowers you. May the peace of Christ cover you as you seek to be Jesus’ hands and feet and heart in the world today.
Prayer: Lord God, your power is in us. It goes with us. It leads and guides and shows us the way. It gives us the words to speak. Use us today to minister in your name. Amen.