Summary: In His second resurrection appearance, Jesus commissions His disciples and breathes the Holy Spirit on them. Will we let Jesus breath His Spirit into us also?
Dare to Receive Again – “Up From The Grave” series, Lent 2003
John 20:19-23 March 15/16, 2003
Friday afternoon I was driving home after spending much of the week at a leader’s retreat at St Paul’s Anglican up the road, and for the first time in a long, long time the sun was shining, it wasn’t minus a million, the snow was melting (or more like the frozen mud on the roadway was melting), and I just had this need to open all the windows in my truck and feel the fresh breeze. Of course, driving along the Whitemud the fresh breeze smelled a lot more like dirt, but at least it was that refreshing cool breeze and not the biting wind of last week, and not the stale air we get so accustomed to during a long winter. I got home and literally ran through the house, throwing open every window in the house, longing for that fresh air to blow into all the stale corners. I turned the furnace off first, not wanting to pour numerous gigajoules of gas out the window at $8.54/Gj, and not feeling the need to needlessly inflate my gas bill any further, but definitely feeling the need to feel the freshness of the breeze blow out the stale winter air.
That’s a metaphor for what I want to talk about today. I believe God wants to breathe some fresh wind into us today.
Turn to Jn 20:19-23. Last week we looked at the story just previous to this, where Mary Magdalene hears Jesus call her name into the midst of her grief, and she dared to believe again. This week, as we read this passage, I want to ask the question: will you dare to receive again? (read).
It is still resurrection Sunday, but now it is evening. The disciples, and by this we should likely understand this not just the “official” disciples but rather “disciples” in a more general sense, were gathered together. Undoubtedly they had heard from Peter and John, and their discovery earlier in the day, and it is likely that Mary had reported to them as well. So you can imagine the buzz in the room – is it true? Could it be?? Is Mary crazy, did the Romans steal the body, or is it possible that Jesus really IS alive??? They are afraid – with good reason after seeing what happened to Jesus – they lock the doors.
And suddenly Jesus appears. He shows them the wounds, proves it is Him, and then speaks to them. Let me show you how what He says here compares to the promises Jesus made just before His crucifixion:
The Promise (Jn 14; 16) The Fulfillment (Jn 20:19-23)
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (14:18)
Jesus came and stood among them (20:19)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (14:27)
"Peace be with you!" (20:19)
Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! (20:21)
Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. (16:22)
After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. (20:20)
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. … the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things. (14:16-17; 26)
And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. (20:22)
There are essentially four things Jesus says: 1. He proclaims Peace. 2. He sends. 3. He breathes. 4. He gives authority.
The Gift of Peace:
Jesus says, “peace be with you,” twice in this short passage. We need to notice that this is the typical Hebrew greeting, “shalom.” So it could simply be Jesus saying, “HI!” But since He repeats it twice, and since it is clearly the fulfillment of the promise in 14:27, we are correct to understand this as far more than a simple greeting. Jesus is here giving the spiritual gift of peace, which He had promised.
I believe this is the gift of peace which Jesus promised in 14, and which Paul described as “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7). It is a spiritual thing which Jesus is gifting.
Do you have that gift? I’m convinced that what Jesus is giving here is not the peace we usually think of, as what we experience when all of life is going good and things are calm and happy – that kind of peace doesn’t “transcend all understanding.” I think this is the gift of a heart of peace in the midst of messy life. When you are told you have cancer, when your teen is out four hours after curfew and hasn’t called, when you sit at the funeral of a loved one, when everything around you is in the midst of a storm. At those moments, Jesus comes and says, “peace be with you.” He says, I’m Alive! I have risen from the dead!! It’s ok, I’m still God and I’m still on the throne, and I am in control. “Peace be with you!!!” I’m here.