Grace and Peace to you.
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 people, 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 Loving One 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.”
— John 20.19-23
Jesus did not return from the dead to make a point, or evoke belief. He came back to give the disciples his spirit. He breathed on them (breath and spirit being the same word in Greek) just as God breathed life into the dust of the earth at Creation and made a living human. Filling them with the Holy Spirit, he created them anew. This is John’s version of Pentecost.
In the grief and shame of confronting our sin, we get the wind knocked out of us. In God’s forgiveness our old spirit of fear and anxiety is blown away. Our old, tangled lives are wiped out and we begin fresh. God breathes a new peace into us, the peace of knowing we are loved and forgiven and free, the blessing of being deeply at peace with ourselves and God and the world. God creates us anew, with a new spirit.
It is God’s one spirit, the same spirit with which Jesus lived. Jesus tells us it is the powerful spirit of forgiveness. In his wounds he shows us it is the willingness to suffer for the sake of love. His peace is not mere “peace of mind;” it is the confident, courageous serenity that enables us to bear love into a hurtful world. By it we may cross all kinds of barriers, as if walking through walls. It isn’t anything we have to muster up; it is a gift. He breathes it into us.
And he sends us forth. You are sent in the same was he was, the very same way. Breathe deeply of the love of Christ. It is powerful enough to overcome death. It is in you. How will you live?
Peace be with you.
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