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Jesus Appears to the Disciples (John 20:19-23)

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 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. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

Yesterday we took a look at Jesus praying for His disciples, who were being kept in the world but were not of the world. Here, Jesus is sending them out into the world with a blessing (peace; the Holy Spirit) and a specific job (forgiving and retaining sins).

They tried to hide in a room, locked away from the questions that the Jews might have for them. After all, at this point Peter and John have seen the empty tomb, and Mary has seen Jesus! The Jews were probably doing their best to place blame on the disciples, accusing them of stealing the body. But despite the locked doors, Christ is suddenly in the room with them, giving them the blessing of peace and a commission to go into the world.

The response is not what you’d expect. I think I would be shaking with fear, but the disciples rejoice. It’s why this passage is the last of our joy verses in the Gospels. They are thrilled to see Jesus alive! They want to celebrate. They get another 40 days with Jesus, and then see Him ascend into heaven. Then it’s only another ten days and they are in the streets, preaching the good news to everyone!

I love reading this account of the resurrection this week, as we approach the celebration of All Saints on Sunday. This festival is a second Easter at our church, celebrating the resurrection of Christ and the assurance of heaven for all who have gone before us in the faith. It’s also an emotional day for those of us who have loved ones in heaven. Thanks be to God that He has promised that we will be together again, worshiping Him for all eternity!