“Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. And 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 withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.’”~ John 20:20b-23
Easter has now come and gone. Regardless of the frequency of your church attendance, I’d guess that you and most people you know attended an Easter service somewhere. And what a refreshing service Easter Sunday is! We get to sing hymns that are only sung on that specific Sunday, some come in their Sunday best, maybe you get to have a fancy Easter meal with family, and we get to celebrate the reality that Jesus Christ is risen today! We get to rejoice and exclaim “He is risen indeed. Alleluia!”
We are all refreshed, perhaps revived with a new spirit and fervor… until the meal is over and we have to clean up. Or until Monday or Tuesday morning comes around and we have to go back to work. Where did that newfound gusto of Easter morning go?
Like the disciples, we were glad when we saw the Lord. And you heard these words in the Easter service (and every service), “Peace be with you.” Even in our gladness, Jesus still comes to us and says the same thing as when we are afraid.
The reality is that even though we have that gladness on Easter morning, all too quickly the minutiae of the daily grind sets back in. This is not unique to us and our time. As the disciples were glad and rejoicing that Jesus had returned, Jesus gives them His peace, and in the same breath sends them out. “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
So what does it look like post-Easter for us? Is it just a morning celebration? A time to hide Easter eggs, eat too much candy, and then get back to daily living? Or has Jesus tasked us with a new duty in which to serve God and the world?
If that last question scares you, hear this: Peace be with you! Post-resurrection, we are now all called to go out into the world as the Father sent His Son, this is true. But Jesus doesn’t hang His disciples out to dry, nor does He do that to us. Rather in the wake of Easter, He breathed on them the Holy Spirit. It is in this Spirit that you are actually able to forgive the sins of the people!
Jesus does not wait for the disciples to peek out of the locked room. He does not wait for us to muster up the confidence to step out into the world. He tells us to be at peace, and then breathes His word of forgiveness on us. It is in that Word that we go out into the world! It is in that Word that we trust and faith is created. In that Word we have full confidence that as Jesus has taken our sins with Him to the grave and has risen, we too are given new life! Life to live at peace in the name of Christ now and forever.
This is most certainly true.