Christ Assembly

May 3, 2011

John 20:21

“So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you;

as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.'”

The Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus

Part VII

“I Also Send You”

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Eternal Life

      Jesus used His post-resurrection ministry to strengthen and commission His disciples. They had their fears and doubts, and He blessed them with peace, peace like only He gives (John 14:27). Jesus has been following His Father’s plan all His life, and speaking His Father’s exact words (John 12:49), and doing the Father’s works (John 5:20; John 5:36). Jesus fully accomplished all the things set before Him by the Father (John 17:4; John 19:30). Jesus continued His ministry after the resurrection, and He comforted and prepared the disciples for greater service. Remember, Jesus Himself had promised the disciples, that after He had gone to His Father (John 14:12), they would do greater works than Jesus did before His crucifixion. During this time after His crucifixion and before He ascended, we see Jesus still at work with His disciples and lavishing His love upon them.

      When the Doors Were Shut.  In John 20:19,  we read that on the first day of the week, Resurrection Sunday, the disciples had gathered together and shut the door for fear of the Jews. As they hid in fear, Jesus appeared and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you” (“Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν“). We need to keep in mind the different ways that Jesus convinced different people that He had risen from the dead, and also taught them about their new mission in life. 

       He Showed Them His Hands and His Side.  In John 20:20,  we read about the first post-resurrection appearance to the ten disciples. As soon as He greeted them, Jesus showed them both His hands and His side. They rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus always loves to make people rejoice in Him. He always cares about boosting your mood and spiritual power in joy.

       I Also Send You.  In John 20:21,  we read that Jesus again said: “Peace be with you;”. One of the things I love most about Jesus is the way He is all about peace in my life.  At this moment of fear about the Jews, and the doubts about His resurrection, we see Jesus appear and bid His disciples peace. Jesus always cares about how I feel, and He loves to bring peace into my troubled heart. Not only did He bid them peace again, but He also commissioned them. Jesus in short words told them that just as the Father had sent Him into the world, so He sends His disciples (us) into the world. Directly tied to sending the disciples, He also promised them the gift of the Holy Spirit.

      Receive the Holy Spirit.  In John 20:22,  we read the words: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (“Λάβετε πνεῦμα ἅγιον“). This command from Jesus to receive the Holy Spirit related directly to His previous words to them concerning the future role of the Holy Spirit in their lives after He would ascend to heaven. In John 14:17, Jesus had taught them earlier in the same week that the Father would give them another Helper, just like Jesus. The original text makes it plain that this new Helper would be another of the same kind (“ἄλλον“) as Jesus, that is, they would both be divine, all powerful, all knowing, present everywhere and always, and never changing. The Helper would also love the disciples just like Jesus and the Father loved them and each other. The disciples already knew the Spirit of Truth, because He abided with them, but in the future, He will abide within them (John 14:17) and fill them and other believers (Acts 2:1-36; Acts 4:8; Acts 4:31; Acts 9:17; Acts 13:52; Ephesians 5:18). The Holy Spirit will also teach the disciples all things, and bring to their remembrance all that Jesus had said to them (John 14:26). Jesus had told them about His departure and the new ministry of the Holy Spirit in their lives, so that they would believe when it happened (John 14:29). 

      Forgiveness of Sins.  In John 20:23,  we read now about the mission of the disciples. Notice the progression here:  (1) Jesus has commissioned them and sent them in John 20:21; (2) Jesus has commanded them to receive the Holy Spirit in John 20:22; and now (3) He describes their mission to them, John 20:23.  We must always keep in mind that only God can forgive sins (Mark 2:5-11). Jesus had that authority to forgive sins on earth because He paid the price for our sin on the cross, and completely removed all eternal penalties for sin by His sacrifice once and for all people who receive Him and for all times. Now, He commissions the disciples to spread this gift of forgiveness of sins (consider Acts 3:1-9; and Ephesians 2:8-9). To whomever they gave this gift of salvation by faith through their ministry of preaching the word of God (Romans 10:17), their sins were forgiven. Likewise, whomever did not receive their gift of salvation, died in their sins (John 8:24). Jesus sent the disciples with the same authority to proclaim forgiveness of sins that He possessed, in the sense that He came to proclaim the good news of salvation. They knew the truth of salvation, and they were to share it with the entire world, in His name and with His authority. No one should be confused that the disciples had some special power to forgive sins by their acts or words, because only God can forgive sins, and He does that through faith in Christ alone. No disciple of Christ ever died for the sins of anyone, and no disciple ever removed sin by his life or death. Also notice the exact words used in John 20:23. The original text draws attention to the completed act of forgiveness (“ἀφῆτε“), and then the continuing state of forgiveness (“ἀφέωνται“). The disciples were not removing sins, but describing how God had placed sin upon Christ at the cross, and having been forgiven we hold the gift that keeps us in the state of forgiveness. The disciples should take away from this commission that they were vital to the plan of salvation as proclaimers of salvation. Jesus sent them to proclaim the good news of forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47), by the power of the Holy Spirit (compare Acts 1:8 for this same link between the coming of the Holy Spirit in power upon the disciples and then they witness to the world about Christ and His loving forgiveness). Conversely, if the disciples did not proclaim forgiveness of sins, then the sins would be retained. Without the communication of the gospel of salvation, the people would not be able to hear and believe (Romans 10:11-17). Finally, notice that not just Peter, but all the disciples were promised the “keys of the kingdom of heaven,” so that whatever they bound upon earth would be bound in heaven, and whatever they loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven (Peter–Matthew 16:19; all the disciples–Matthew 18:18). The keys of heaven imply the ability to open the door in a figurative sense, and that sense is through the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world for salvation. We see the promise that Jesus would build His church using His disciples to proclaim salvation in Christ alone by faith reiterated here in John 20:23.

         So we begin to learn about the Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus.

       ●  Jesus sent us as His disciples to proclaim salvation, just as His Father had sent Him.

       ●  Jesus has fulfilled the promise of the Holy Spirit coming, and now He lives within us and fills us.

       ●  Jesus has commissioned us to proclaim salvation in His name, so that people may be freed from their sins, and live in righteousness.

Application for Today

        Today I know that Jesus sent me to proclaim salvation to my friends and neighbors.  I will experience the Holy Spirit moving me, and giving me the words to speak in the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord of this universe.  I want to proclaim His gift of life today.  Will you be proclaiming Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit today?