Summary: Jesus gives a proclamation of peace and which includes the commission, the message and mission of the Church.
7 31 2016 “The Mission of the Church” John 20:19-23
We continue to look at the day that Jesus arose from the dead in John 20. Jesus’ work for which He had come to earth is nearing completion, and on that first day on which He had been victorious over sin, death and the grave, He commissioned His disciples to be bearers of this Good News, available only by faith in Jesus Christ as the Resurrection and the Life.
Look at John 20:19: “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, (literally, “the first of the Sabbaths” or “the first of the weeks”.) when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." (Remember that Jesus had said to His disciples in John 15: 18, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” The Disciples already were in fear of the Jews because they had killed Jesus and so they would seek to kill them as well.
John mentions Jesus’ appearing among His disciples, implying that Jesus did not enter through an open door but through a “shut door”. He merely materialized in their midst, demonstrating to us His God-nature, having abilities not available to mere man. Jesus’ resurrected body is far superior to His crucified body, as will ours someday.
Continue in verse 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 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send 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 retain the sins of any, they are retained."
The disciples “were glad” when Jesus showed them His Hands and His side. The marks of His wounds identified Him as their Lord but His wounded bodily presence also proved that Jesus was not a ghost. He had been crucified and a sword had pierced His side to prove that He was dead, but now Jesus was alive. He had come back to life and the mark in His side was the confirming sign. Jesus had promised that the disciples grief would be turned into joy (John18:14, 16:20-22) and now His promise was being fulfilled in His resurrected person and presence.
A Powerful Post-Resurrection Proclamation
"Peace be with you" were no doubt welcomed and powerful words to the disciples’ ears. Jesus probably used the common greeting, “Shalom”, but this time it came as a powerful post-resurrection proclamation. At this time the disciples who had gathered were probably more than the original twelve (minus Judas), but remember that most everyone had abandoned Jesus in His time of need; instead of a reprimand, Jesus spreads out his pierced hands and says, “Peace be with you.” “Peace” was what they had needed when Jesus told them, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” “Peace” was what they needed now, carrying the fear of persecution by the Jews. So “Peace be with you” was a powerful proclamation to these gathered in fear behind locked doors.
Peace: New Assurance
Peace had always meant security, safety and prosperity, both personal and political. It meant the absence of war; but it had also been associated with brotherly harmony and unity. But now the disciples would know a “peace that surpassed understanding.” They would know a peace with God after being the enemies of God. Sinful mankind had received a death sentence after yielding to the temptation of challenging God’s authority. This cosmic treason against the Holy Almighty God meant eternal punishment and separation from this God.
But now the promised Messiah had come as the “peacemaker” between the Holy God and sinful mankind. Jesus became the peace offering as the perfect human sacrifice, the only sacrifice which would be acceptable to God. The Messiah’s peace was a perfect peace because His peace was the only way which led to salvation. His peace brings assurance of salvation through Christ to the believer’s soul. There is peace to one’s soul and contentment with one’s earthly situation, no matter what it might be.
The Peace of God through Christ is experienced through only faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross
and over the grave. That Peace” is the firm assurance that Jesus has achieved His purpose on the cross as our “peacemaker”.
The Commission of the Church
Look again at verses 21: “So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." The Commission of the Church is to be sent out by God. Jesus again extends the Peace of God to His Disciples and gives a divine example for them to follow: In the same way that God the Father sent Jesus to the world with a message (“apostello”), Jesus is commissioning the disciples to carry a message to the world.