Lesson 114

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

20:19 When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were locked where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be to you."

20:20 When he had said this, he showed to them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad when they saw the Lord. 20:21 Jesus therefore said to them again, "Peace be to you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." 20:22 When he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit! 20:23 Whoever's sins you forgive, they are forgiven to them. Whoever's sins you retain, they are retained."


 Today's Lesson 

After Mary Magdalene returned and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord. She gave them the message that the Lord told her, but it is not certain that they believed her. Her story was incredible. She had seen the Lord and they all knew Him to be dead. It was more likely in their minds that she was hysterical. Surely her grief had overwhelmed her.


But when they come together that evening, something amazing happens. They had come together in one place. We are told that they lock the doors, "for fear of the Jews." They were probably concerned that soon they all would be arrested and interrogated about where the body of Jesus was. In the middle of this scene enters an unlikely person. They turn and find Jesus in their midst. And He says to them, "Peace be to you."


Imagine how disconcerted they were, how taken aback. They knew that He had died, some of them had seen Him die on the cross. All of them knew that Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus had buried him. Yet, here He stood before them!


He showed them His hands and side. They saw the scars that the nails had placed in His hands and feet. They saw where the soldier had pierced His side. But He was alive! Though He should have been dead, He was alive. And it could not be another. They touched Him and spoke with Him. He said to them, "Peace be to you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."


Then He did a most amazing thing. He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit!" He had told them that when He went to the Father He would send the Spirit to guide them and live in them. Now He returns from the Father and brings the Spirit to them.


Here are the two greatest doctrines of Christianity intimately combined. Christ is risen and the Spirit of God has come to dwell within God's people. Without the resurrection, there would be no Christianity. If Christ is not risen, we hope in vain. The resurrection validates the message and the messenger. On the cross our sins were judged and condemned. In the resurrection we are given new life with Christ.


And this new life is the life of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of God that comes to us and brings Christ alive within us. It is the Holy Spirit who teaches us about God and about ourselves. It is the Spirit that sanctifies us for use by God. It is only by the Spirit of God that we are given the power to live the Christian life.


This passage ends with an enigmatic phrase, "Whoever's sins you forgive, they are forgiven to them. Whoever's sins you retain, they are retained." I've never heard an explanation of this saying that does not create more difficulty than it explains. But, such are the ways of God's revelation. God grants us wonderful gifts, but in this life we will never fully understand them. It is enough that we walk in faith by what God has revealed to us that we can understand.


Christ is risen! The Holy Spirit has been given to men! Has Christ entered your locked room yet? Have you seen His hands and His side? Have you received the Holy Spirit?


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