So much happens when the young church is gathered and huddled behind locked doors trying to make sense of all that has happened over these days. All of this happens on that same day, the evening of the first day of the week – Sunday. The Sunday that we call Easter Sunday. And then a week later.
As they gather, still in fear and confusion, Jesus is suddenly there among them. He greets them in the way that he often does – peace be with you. But they are not feeling much peace right now. So Jesus needs to ramp this up. He shows them his hands and his side – that is the wounds that are there from the nails in his hand and the spear in his side. It is only then that they begin to work out who this strange man is. This is Jesus. He is no longer dead, but alive.
Although Jesus had already greeted this larger group of disciples (not just the remaining apostles) with the standard greeting within rabbinic Hebrew – shalom alekem – “Peace be with you” – it is only after they begin to recognise him that his peace can do its work and begin to change them. Its only when they have moved from doubt to the first baby steps of faith that they can hear what he wants them to do. ‘As the father has sent me, so I am sending you.’
All of these disciples, through their faith in the risen Lord, and with the gift of his peace, are now able to be sent, that is to become apostles of the risen Lord, just as Jesus had been sent by the father.
How on earth are the disciples to do such an extraordinary thing? Only with this precious gift from heaven – the gift that comes through the breath of Jesus – the gift of the holy Spirit. The Spirit is precisely that which empowers this fragile community to continue the work of Jesus.
The Spirit-empowered mission of these disciples is to forgive sin. To sin is to be blind to the message of God in the person of Jesus. So the sending that the church receives is to continue to make the love of God in Jesus known in the world.
The gift of the Spirit comes so that we can continue what God sent Jesus to do. The gift also helps us move each day from doubt to belief.
+ Jesus, help us to stay in this scene for a while. No matter how many doubts we might have, come and be with us and breathe your new life and peace upon us, so that we can share in your life and share your grace with others.