Gospel: John 20.19-23
We celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection throughout the 40 day-season of Easter; and you do so, you learn how His Resurrection changes your life by giving you a new beginning.
Our Gospel story today from John ch. 20 takes place on the evening of Easter Sunday, what John calls ‘the first day of the week’.
God created the world in 6 days and rested the 7th.
Jesus rises from the dead and appears to the disciples on the first day of a new week.
John is saying that the resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of a new creation.
The old creation – the world in the grip of death, fear, and sin – this old world has now been overcome.
It is a new beginning for the world.
It is also a new beginning for the disciples.
Just three days earlier when Jesus was crucified, the disciples had abandoned Jesus. Peter had denied Him.
Now we meet the disciples hiding in fear in a locked room.
In the beginning, after they had sinned, Adam and Eve hid themselves in shame (Gen. 3:7).
And just as the LORD came to Adam and Eve to find them, here the risen Lord Jesus comes and stands among His disciples.
The One they had abandoned and denied and thought to be dead was now back and standing right in front of them!
Imagine their shock and shame, their fear and trembling.
At first, for a moment, they must have thought that Jesus was back to punish them.
But Jesus says to them, ‘Peace be with you.’
Jesus speaks to them words of forgiveness and mercy.
And friends, Jesus says the same to you today. Whatever guilt, shame or regret you have, Jesus says, ‘Peace be with you.’
When Jesus said this, He showed them His hands and His side, the wounds from the nails of His crucifixion, to prove that it was really Him.
The disciples were glad when the saw the Lord.
Jesus, their beloved friend and leader, was alive again and did not count their sins against them (2 Cor. 5:19).
Jesus said to them again, Peace be with you.
And this time, Jesus empowers them to be sent out with a new and glorious purpose: to be His representatives in the world.
Jesus said, As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.
The disciples are to take the mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation they have received themselves – and extend that to all people for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22.2).
Friends, you are the heirs of the Apostles, and this is now your mission.
Your purpose in life is to show and tell others about the forgiveness, healing and new life offered by the risen Lord Jesus.
And Jesus gives you the power to do this.
Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’
In the beginning, God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life – and the man became a living creature (Gen. 2.7).
Here today the risen Christ, by the power of His living Word, stands in our midst and breathes His Spirit into you.
The Spirit of the risen Lord makes you a new creation: free of guilt, shame and regret; and thankful and joyful for the mercy you have received.
And with that, He sends you in the power of His Spirit to renew your home, your workplace, this church, this community, and the whole world.
Alleluia! Christusi makisimavuq! Christ is risen; and you are raised to new life and purpose with Him. Amen.
[Image: Daniel Bonnell, Resurrection]