Summary: At the first Easter we recognize many of the elements that we associate with our celebration of Christmas.
Jesus, the God-man: Gospel of John
“Christmas Comes at Easter”
Introduction: In less than 2 months it will be Christmas again. It seems like this time last year we were thinking that. For many, Christmas is their favorite holiday. The reason they give is because they can spend time with their families, the festive friendly atmosphere, and the chance to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. But we know why, don’t we? It’s the presents! Everyone likes to get gifts and to feel the love behind the giving of those gifts.
I like Christmas, but if it were not for the fact that Jesus rose from the dead then Christmas would not mean as much. At Easter we celebrate the gift of eternal life which was purchased on the cross for us. The first Easter we recognize many of the elements that we associate with our celebration of Christmas as we see “Christmas comes at Easter.”
1. Jesus gave gifts to His disciples. (vv. 19-23)
“same day at evening” – John uses Roman time so evening follows day rather than day following evening. Jewish time started in the evening which is why days of creation stated “evening and morning were the first day, etc.
Easter evening and the disciples were hiding out for fear of the Jewish religious leaders. The doors are shut and perhaps barricaded. But in the midst of this they discover something (rather Someone) that is scarier than that – a risen Savior!
Jesus stood in the middle of them. He did not use the door, He just appeared! YIKES!
He then gives the first of three gifts – “Peace”. He gave this because at this point they would have been anything but. It is terrifying to have the One you abandoned and thought dead to suddenly appear in front of you!
The Hebrew word is Shalom. He gave Shalom and not shame. He appears and the first word is “peace”, not rebuke, scorn, questions, or condemnation – Peace!
But isn’t that what was promised on that first Christmas 33 years before? What did the angels promise the shepherds?
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14
Of what are you afraid? What scares and frightens you? I guess that’s a good question for this time of year isn’t it? Jesus promises peace, but you will notice that peace only comes from the presence of Jesus. In the presence of Jesus there is peace!
v. 20 – He then shows them His hands and side. He is giving proof that He is real. He is not a ghost or hallucination. In Luke’s gospel He eats in front of them.
Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
THEN they were glad! I think this is funny. Up to this point they were terrified and still unnerved but after they examined Him and watched Him eat, THEN they were glad.
We too should be the same. When we are in the Lord’s presence we too should be glad.
v. 21 – He then gifts the second of three gifts – “His authority”. “Go as I have gone. Like I was sent, now you are sent.” We have His authority. We can go because he has sent us! We do it for Jesus and with His power and authority.
Illustration: A missionary in the South Sea Islands for a number of years was lying on his back in several inches of water reaching up in his boat, trying to repair the inboard motor. He had to get in that position to fix it, and it was a dirty, hot, scummy business. This doctor was lying there doing that so he could serve Jesus Christ in the South Sea islands, and someone came along and said, “Buddy, you couldn't pay me enough money to do that.”, and this doctor, who loved Christ, said, “I'll tell you something, Buddy, you couldn't pay me enough money to do it either, but I am doing it for Jesus.” (Tim Temple)
v. 22 – Here’s the third gift – the Holy Spirit. He breathes on them and tells them to receive the Holy Spirit. This reminds you of the first creation in the garden. God formed man from the dust and then breathed into man the breath of life – ruah (Hebrew) or pneuma (Greek).
This is Jesus empowering them for ministry. They are now new creations – they are “born again”. He gives them a down payment on the Spirit who will come in about 40 days.
v. 23 – They can proclaim with boldness and confidence the forgiveness of sins. They cannot personally forgive sins. That is something only God can do.