Lord, as I live this day for You, please help me to understand that a risen savior walks among his people.
Read John 20:19–23
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“I serve a risen Savior, / He’s in the world today! / I know that he is living, / Whatever men may say” (Alfred Henry Ackley, 1887–1960).
It is evening on the same day as yesterday’s reading. Can you imagine the state of mind of the disciples? Their conscience-stricken fear? Today we would call it Post-traumatic stress disorder. They were huddled together behind locked doors after what had happened on Friday. Imagine Peter, his heart broken at the crucifixion, crushed with the knowledge of what he had done to his Lord, yet uneasily back with the other disciples. At least, he might have thought, he had followed Jesus when the rest of them deserted him. Mary Magdalene had come with an unbelievable story. Peter then arrived with the news that the tomb was empty. What are you to make of his description of what he did see, the grave clothes? Can you imagine the conversations among them as they try to make sense of it all? Would you have believed Mary? Then, as if you were not unnerved already, how do you react when you realize that there is another person in the room?
His first word to you is “Peace be with you!” He is uncannily like Jesus. Were you expecting him to rebuke you? He greets you with a word that implies restoration and safety. Can this really be Jesus? Just as you were thinking this, he shows you his wrists, with the mark of the nails and his spear-torn side. What unspeakable joy!
It is not clear how Jesus’ command to “Receive the Holy Spirit” (22) relates to what happened at Pentecost (Acts 2). Maybe Jesus meant the command to be obeyed in the future. It is important to note that these words and the command to forgive are addressed here to the whole group—read “whole church”—and not to the disciples individually.
Enter into the joy of these disciples. Thank Jesus for the way he forgives. How is the Holy Spirit real in your own life?
Lord, Your Word plainly indicates that the same Holy Spirit received in the closed room is given to every believer thereafter. Speak to me today through Your Spirit.