Day 291: John 20:19-29
When I was about 4-5 years old, we lived in Salisbury, North Carolina in a neighborhood where the homes had large wooden front porches. These porches had to be painted periodically. I had a friend whose name is “Thing.” In those days, we roamed the neighborhood and ‘stay-at-home’ moms kept an eye out for all the children.
On this particular day, Thing and I were outside playing and noticed the wet paint on one of our neighbor’s porches. For the life of me, I cannot tell you why in the world we thought it would be fun to have our little bare feet and toes on that wet paint – but we did. In fact, it must have been so much fun that I can still remember it today.
On the first day of the week, Jesus Christ has risen!
In John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene is the first to get to the tomb on that third day after Jesus’ crucifixion and death. When she gets there, the stone has been rolled away and the tomb is empty. After speaking with whom she first thinks is the gardener, Jesus calls her by name and tells her to go and tell the disciples I am alive and that He will be ascending to the Father – Your Father and Your God! Mary finds the disciples and tells them everything she has seen and heard from Jesus.
But they are afraid. They are afraid that the radical Jews who crucified Jesus will come for them and crucify them. And so, that evening, they go into the house and lock all the doors. In all honesty, I cannot fathom what must have been going through their minds and hearts.
But I do know for me, that when horrific events happen in my life – I tend to replay them over and over in my head. I think about the things I said. I think about the things I wished I had said or had not said. I think about what I had done, should have done, or not done. I think about that if only “Hindsight were 20/20” that I could go back in time and make it right. And so…I wonder if some of their conversations sounded like this:
“What were we thinking?” We let Jesus go all by himself to the cross! And Peter: I denied Him after He told that I would. But I love him so much – Why did I do that! I told him I was willing to die for him!
We have lost our brother, Judas! His guilt was more than he could bare. If Jesus really is resurrected and alive. What are we going to say? What will we do? And, in the midst of their fear, guilt, and confusion, Jesus appears before them! He comes through the locked doors and stands among them!
Think about that!
Not only do they now have an opportunity to tell Jesus how much they love Him – but they also have the opportunity to ask for forgiveness. It’s like when we have a loved one or a dear friend that we have wronged and before they leave this earth – we are grateful for the opportunity to clear the air – to forgive each other! And here Jesus is – standing before them in the flesh and blood!
But here is the thing. Jesus already knows…He already knows their guilt and shame. He already knows how much they truly love Him. He already knows what is in their hearts. He breathes on them and says to them:
Peace be with you. Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they will be forgiven. If you do not forgive the sins of any – they will not be forgiven.
He gives them the keys to the KINGDOM…The Keys to their SALVATION. He tells the REASON for the death and resurrection of their LORD – our LORD! Jesus knew that if we have sin – we cannot know God. And so, he entered into Hell – to face the devil on our behalf! Jesus changed our FUTURE! Jesus made us into EASTER PEOPLE! He made His disciples into Easter people!
Jesus breathes on them – Freely gives them the Holy Spirit!
Just as I was sent into the world – Now I send you!
Jesus gave his disciples the power to forgive the sins of others! YOU NOW HAVE THE POWER TO FORGIVE!
You now have the power to even forgive yourself. Because…Jesus says…I forgive you for denying me, Peter. I forgive you for not walking to the cross with me. I forgive you for not standing up for me.I forgive you! His breath – infuses our bodies with grace upon grace – overflowing and bubbling up inside each one of us! This peace I give you is a peace that is deeper than a wish or words that can even be spoken. And now, because of Jesus’ resurrection – Nothing else even matters. Nothing we have done – it’s all forgotten about. Today – Right NOW – the NEW CREATION has BEGUN!
Our NEW LIFE BEGINS!
I remember being home that evening when there was a knock at the door. A man was standing there, and I specifically remember standing behind my mom listening to the man. He told my mom that two children had walked all over his newly painted porch and left little foot prints all over it. My mom stood up for me. She said, “Well, I don’t think my daughter would do that.” The man then says, “Well whoever did it, will have red paint on the bottom of their feet.” I’ll never forget the shame and guilt I felt at that moment. I honestly do not remember too much what happened at that point except that I was proven guilty because I had the red paint on the bottom of my feet.
Walking on someone’s newly painted porch as a child is a small offense – but the guilt and the shame are the same. But, here is the Good NEWS! The dead Jesus is alive, and He stands in the midst of our guilt, shame, and fear. – and even all of our hopes and dreams. Jesus’ peace – is a gift of sheer grace!
That day as Jesus stands in the midst of His disciples with all their fear, guilt, shame, and confusion – He brings them a peace that passes all of their understanding. He brings us a peace that passes all of our understanding!
It’s all OK. I forgive you.
You are my disciples!
You are the Salt of the Earth.
You are the Light of the World.
You are a Child of God.
Just as I have been sent into the world, I now send you!
My Lord and my God!