5 June 2019John 20:19-23
Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ (v. 21)
Psalm: Psalm 138
Our somewhat giddying Biblical tour this week lands us now on the day of resurrection and the third appearance of Jesus in John’s account. The risen Lord comes to a gathering of fearful disciples in a locked room, and he starts with a customary greeting: “Peace be with you”, which now has profound new meaning. He is visibly still the crucified Jesus, wounds and all, but alive in a whole new way, the locked door no longer presenting a barrier to his coming among them.
The disciples then have two foundational experiences in quick succession in the narrative: they are sent forth and the Holy Spirit is breathed on them. Thus the Christian Church is founded in a brief, understated moment of high drama.
The sending forth, making them apostles, is in succession to the Father’s sending of Jesus. There could scarcely be a stronger statement of the importance of Christian mission; it is nothing less than the mission of Jesus Christ himself. Just as Jesus represented the Father during his mission, so Christians are now to represent their Lord in the world.
As to the gift of the Spirit, it comes to them, breathed by God the Son, just as the gift of life is breathed on the inanimate human body of Adam in the second creation story in Genesis 2. This is new creation indeed. As a consequence, they gain the prerogative (as the classic commentary of R H Lightfoot puts it) to grant forgiveness, and to withhold it.
Singing the Faith 389 is a lovely brief poem of longing for the Holy Spirit of God, citing classic metaphors in verses 1, describing the Church in verse 2, and ending with the Godly effects of the Spirit’s presence.
Psalm 138 returns us to praise and thanksgiving by an individual after yesterday’s lamenting and imprecations.
- Is it a problem that John’s account of the giving of the Holy Spirit is so totally different from the Pentecost story in Acts?
- What do you think is the significance of the fact that the risen Jesus still bears the scars of crucifixion?