"A Joy No One Can Take"
March 6th, 2019
19 In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, "Peace to you!"
20 Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." 22 After saying this, He breathed on them and said, "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."
That evening, apparently after the Emmaus appearance in Luke 24, Jesus finally appears to the Eleven. They are locked away in fear, assuming that they might be next to be arrested. Jesus greets them with a very ordinary "Shalom leka." He will repeat the greeting twice. Notice that he does not point to his familiar face but rather first shows them the scars in his hands and side. Jesus, the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world, is always recognized by his scars. In John 16:22 Jesus had promised them this moment, a time when they would experience the transforming joy that no one would ever be able to take away from them. This is that moment!
In verse 21 Jesus passes the key of his identity on to his disciples. Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus has been the One who was sent, the Father was the One who had sent him. Now Jesus tells the Eleven he is sending them. They will be clothed with his authority. They will bear a concealed dignity. They are now the sent ones.
In a symbolic gesture he breathes on them saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit." He had spoken so much about the Spirit during their last hours together (Jn 16:5-15). Now he imparts the Spirit by his breath (see Get 2:7; Ezek 37:5).
Their principal assignment? To forgive sin. Jesus' death and resurrection has made such forgiveness possible. Now his sent ones must proclaim and offer that forgiveness. He closes with a warning. If they do not forgive, if they refuse to display his forgiveness in their lives, people will not find forgiveness, and it will not be displayed at all.