BCP : 1st after Easter John 20:19-31
JN 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.
It was the first Easter Sunday. Jesus had already revealed himself to Mary near the tomb ( 20:10ff ), and to Cleopas and Simon on the road to Emmaus (Luke 25:13ff).
The disciples were fearful. They were closely associated with a revolutionary who had so upset the authorities that they had crucified him. They were fearful for their own lives. Perhaps they were planning how they might escape from the Jerusalem area without being seen by the temple guards or the Romans.
Jesus changed the disciples, and he can change us, through his resurrection.
Jesus brings peace to replace fear,
19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Jesus gives peace, he does not merely wish it. "Peace be with you" was a common Jewish greeting but Jesus is actively giving his peace to the disciples. It is a resurrection peace, a life without fear of death, safe in the knowledge that we, like Jesus can pass through physical death into eternal life. It is a peace that has overcome the violence and injustice of the world.
Jesus showed his hands and side showing the continuity of the resurrection and earthly body. Yet he was different. He appeared in a locked room having also passed through grave cloths and the tomb.
Believers will get new resurrection, eternal bodies like Jesus.
Jesus brings joy to replace sadness
Within moments the sadness of the disciples had turned to joy. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. ( Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. ) The risen Lord Jesus can bring his followers joy. This is different from happiness or pleasure. It goes much deeper than these emotions.
C.S. Lewis. "Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
Jesus brings going to replace staying
21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
Just as Jesus had left the glory of heaven to come to earth to reconcile human beings to God, so the disciples had to leave the security, if that is what it was, of their locked room. They forsook the security of their homes, families and careers to live for Jesus and minister in his name.
We are called to leave our 'comfort zones' to minister for Jesus. The church is called the 'body of Christ' with all of us being different, all of us contributing to the well being of the body. This may mean that we might have to consider supporting services that are not what we would choose, either in the liturgy or the time of the service, in order that the church might be built up.
Jesus brings the Holy Spirit to replace our own, fallen spirit
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
There is no immediate evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the disciples. We have to conclude, therefore, that this was an illustration of what would happen at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would be poured out on the disciples to empower them to proclaim Jesus and minister in his name.
That power is available to us today. Every believer has God the Holy Spirit living within them, Romans 8:9. We need to step out and trust in his power who can do more than we dare ask for or imagine, Ephes. 3:20.
Jesus brings forgiveness to replace alienation
23 Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.
Forgiveness depends on the response to the message of the gospel not on those who bring the message. So the disciples would affirm that someone is forgiven if they have turned to Christ. But they can also warn that people are not forgiven, that is to say still retaining their sins, if they do not repent.
People have a choice. To give their sins over to Jesus and let him take the punishment for them, which is separation from God. Or to bear the consequence of their own sins and be cut off from God themselves in this life and into eternity.
We were made to live for eternity with God. We have a choice. Belief or disbelief. Life or death. Look at the evidence. Look at the alternative. Choose life. Choose Jesus.