In John 20 Christ’s disciples are introduced to the Risen Christ. He is the same person they knew before – but different, almost a brand new Christ compared to the one they had just seen crucified days earlier. He had the same physical feature, including the scars from the nails and spear, yet he had just walked into a room through a locked door! In this moment it is of no doubt that everyone in that room believed that Christ is truly who he says he is. Yet Christ didn’t simple make an appearance, shakes some hands sign a few autographs and walk back through a locked door satisfied that he had made his point that he was who he said he was. He left them we a specific charge, calling, and purpose. It was a message that rose the bar for all those who believe and follow. What was this message? It was his same message as always. Go do what you have seen me do. Christ says it this way:
That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:19-23
He is telling us, those who follow him, that those who believe and follow are marked by specific characteristics that set them apart. Two of these are actions dependent of Christ’s gift to us and two of these are dependent on our active roll in following him.
1) Peace be with you. Christ says this twice and it is a gift that Christ extends to us. When we are not entering into a conversation, event or even a day with peace, it’s time to allow this gift to fill us.
2) I am sending you. We need to be moving in a direction with the desire and mission of God’s heart Christ sent us as God had sent him. Being static isn’t an option and neither is there room for our own agendas.
3) Receive the Holy Spirit. As Christ’s followers this is a gift that has already been given it is not something that some have and others do not. The Holy Spirit is to be a catalyst, authority, power, and discernment in our peace and our going.
4) Forgiveness. Forgiveness changes everything. That is why Christ came; to forgive and reconcile. This is the word that he sent his disciples with and may we be about the same business.
May we, as his disciples, allow the words of the Risen Christ motivate our beliefs into a living expectant lives of following him today in the very place he has us now.