This is the sermon for Wednesday, May 19th, 2010.

John part 86

Appearance.

John 20:19-23.

John 20:19-23 NET – 19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” 22 And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.”

INTRODUCTION

There are a couple of expressions that are often used: “Seeing is believing,” or “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  These are usually said when something they feel is outlandish is being explained.

Well, in our text tonight we are going to see the outlandish happen.  Before we begin to unpack our text, let’s look at the background information which will provide us some context.

  • Jesus had died, and was buried.
  • Three days later, as prophesied, He rose.
  • Mary Magdalene visits the tomb, sees the stone rolled away, and goes and gets Peter and John.
  • Peter and John go to the tomb, find it empty and return home.
  • Mary has an encounter with the risen Christ and He tells her to go tell His disciples.

Let’s now begin to unpack our text.

Fear and locked doors.

John 20:19a NET – On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders.

Here we see the disciples gathered together.  Probably to discuss the news of Christ’s empty tomb and “possible” resurrection.  Plus they were behind closed, locked doors, fearing the Jewish leaders.  Maybe they were afraid that the Jewish leadership was going to accuse them of taking Jesus’ body.

There is an important principle to be learned here.  Sometimes fear can lock the doors of our hearts.  And for the unconverted, sin locks the door of their hearts.  But when Christ is ready to enter the locked doors caused by sin and fear, He comes right on in….unhindered.  Therefore, pray for those bound by fear and sin that Christ would come in.

Jesus appears.

John 20:19b-20 NET – 19 Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

However Jesus came through the locked doors is really unimportant; we just know those locked doors could not stop Him from appearing.

Jesus says to the disciples, “Peace be with you,” a standard Jewish greeting.  Though I’m sure there wasn’t anything standard about the greeting because more than likely the disciples were quite startled at the appearance of Jesus.

Jesus shows them the scars on His hands and side and the Scriptures says, “the disciples rejoiced.”

Jesus breathes.

John 20:21-22 NET – 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” 22 And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

Here is a very difficult passage to interpret, but we will try too as accurately as possible in such a short amount of time.

Jesus again says, “Peace be with you,” possibly to silence the rejoicing of the disciples.  Next, Jesus says, “Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” Jesus came to this earth with a mission from the Father.  Jesus now commissions the Eleven in the same mission.

All believers in Jesus are commissioned in this mission

Next, Jesus breathes on them the Holy Spirit.  Are there two fillings – one here and one at Pentecost?  Well, I believe so.  I believe the disciples were converted here.  The NET study notes says that there is a lot of Old Testament imagery here.  Jesus is recalling God breathing into Adam the breath of life (Genesis 2:7); and the resurrection of dry bones in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:1-14).  The NET notes says, “Jesus at this point breathed into the disciples the breath of eternal life.”

An important principle here:  All people who are truly saved are converted by Jesus breathing into us the eternal life-giving Spirit.

Jesus commissions.

John 20:23 NET – If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.”

I don’t think that Jesus is saying the Eleven had the power to refuse a repentant person the forgiveness of sins.  He is commissioning them to preach the Gospel – forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ.  Those who repented, they could declare their sins forgiven; those who refused to repent, they could declare them unforgiven.

I believe that all true believers in Jesus Christ have this privilege as well because we have been converted by the same Spirit and commissioned by Jesus Christ at our conversion.

CONCLUSION

Principles:

  • Fear and sin can lock the doors of our hearts.
  • Christ, in His timing, breaks through those doors.
  • When He does, He brings peace – peace with God for the unconverted, and peace during trials for the suffering Christian.
  • He has commissioned all believers to share the hope of the Gospel – forgiveness of sins and peace with God.
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