12 April 2015John 20:19-31
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (vv. 21-22)
Psalm: Psalm 133
What a tumultuous and traumatic few days the disciples had endured in Jerusalem! Jesus, their beloved leader and inspiration, had been put to death in such a cruel fashion and in the midst of their grief and anguish they feared that they may be next. Mary Magdalene had claimed to have "seen the Lord" again (John 19:11-18), but the disciples remained cowering behind locked doors, frightened and confused.
Many of the encounters with the risen Christ in the New Testament have a mysterious quality to them, this one included, as Jesus suddenly appeared amongst the disciples in the room with locked doors. His first words to the disciples were of peace (verse 19) - something of which they were in dire need - and his first action was to display his wounds (verse 20), helping to verify who he was in what must have been an incredulous atmosphere. There was much rejoicing! Jesus repeated his greeting of peace (verse 21) and began the process of restoring, resourcing and commissioning the disciples in their task of sharing his mission and ministry.
"As the Father has sent me, so I send you" are both daunting and yet hugely affirming words. To be sent in the same way as Jesus is to tread a difficult path, and yet to sense the confidence Jesus had in them must have given the disciples a tremendous boost. And they weren't to go in their own strength or to rely on their own fragile resources; Jesus "breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" The disciples would soon learn how significant a moment this was as they were transformed (Thomas included) from a small and fearful band into a growing and courageous movement. These are critical, transitional moments and days in the story of God's mission and the Holy Spirit is about to take centre stage.
- In what ways have you experienced God's peace and reassurance in difficult times?
- Try to imagine being in that locked room with the disciples, both before and after Jesus appeared. What range of emotions would you have experienced and what would you like to have asked Jesus?
- "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." How do you respond to these words of Jesus, spoken to the disciples but now also speaking to you?