Monday, June 16, 2014

John 20:19-23

John 20:19-23
Therefore while being evening on the first day of the week, and the doors where the disciples were having been shut up because of fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood into their midst and He says to them, “Peace to you all.”  And after saying this He demonstrated the hands and His side.  Therefore the disciples were being made glad after seeing the Lord.  Therefore He said to them again, “Peace to you all.  Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.”  And after saying these things He breathed upon them and says to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you all should forgive the sins of anyone they have been forgiven to them.  And if you all should cause the sins of any to remain, they have been caused to remain.”

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

Let’s talk some more Greek.  If you recall back to the passage of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, I spoke about how the perfect passive is usually action attributed to God.  In that instance we learned that Joseph’s and Nicodemus’ discipleship was kept secret by God so that they could be in the perfect place to bury Jesus once He had died.  At the beginning of this passage we have another perfect passive: “the doors having been shut up.”  Note again that the cause for this is because of fear of the Jews.  What is John’s point here?  John is saying that God uses the fear of the disciples to put them behind locked doors.  Why would God do such a thing?  God wants them to be together so that when Jesus makes His appearance they are all there.  God wants them together so that Jesus’ appearance to them can validate Mary’s testimony about Jesus.  God can use our humanity – our fears and our doubts – to accomplish His will in us.

What fear and doubt do you have in your life?  How can God tap that to draw you closer to Him?

Second Thought:

 When Jesus comes among the disciples, two things happen.  First, Jesus declares peace.  This point is huge – perhaps the largest point to be made in the Gospel of John.  Jesus came to earth because our sins put us at enmity with God and in the direct line of fire for His wrath.  When Jesus came, we can be forgiven through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross.  We no longer need to be at odds with God, we can be at peace with God!  Then, the disciples receive the Holy Spirit.  This makes sense.  Now that humanity is finally at peace with God, the Holy Spirit can dwell within us!  The Holy Spirit doesn’t just dwell among us as it did in the Old Testament; it dwells within us because we are at peace with God.  What a wonderful message to hear and receive.

What does it mean to you to be at peace with God?  What does it mean to you to have access to the Holy Spirit?

Third Thought:

We have another perfect passive at the end of this passage.  When Jesus is talking about the whole “forgive sins” and “cause them to remain” we hear two more instances of the perfect passive.  Understanding them as perfect tense verbs under God’s action really sheds a great amount of light on the passage.  Here is what Jesus is saying.  If we forgive anyone, it is because God has already forgiven them and we find the power within us to forgive them because it first comes from God!  It also tells us that the retention of sin begins with God, too.  It is not up to us to decide if a person has been forgiven.  If God does not forgive in the past and the effects of that decision continue into the present, then we should be in a place to bring that to the person’s attention, too.  The grammar of this sentence helps us understand that what often gets interpreted as us making the decision and God following suit is actually the other way around.

How do you know if you have been forgiven?  How do you know if someone else has been forgiven?  How does this passage really emphasize our need to take our relationship with Jesus as seriously as possible?

Passage for Tomorrow: John 20:24-29
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