On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”John ch 20 v 19-23
It was the first day of the week. Peter and John had visited an empty tomb. All the disciples were together except Thomas. They had been told by Mary Magdalene that she had ‘seen the Lord’. Despite knowing this they were in a locked room out of fear of the Jewish leaders – not exactly a great witness to the risen Lord Jesus.
Remember that the last time they had seen their Lord he was hanging, dying on a cruel cross. They had witnessed his broken, dead body being taken down off the cross and placed in a tomb and yet they did not know where that body had gone.
They had just spent three years in his company. He had been their friend and companion. He had taught them. They had listened to him, hanging on his every word; not always understanding what he was telling them but yearning to understand. They had followed him about the country, watching as he performed signs and miracles, watching him calm the sea, heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead and forgive sins. They felt cared for and nurtured by him. They felt listened to by him. They felt loved by him.
His presence had given them a life of abundance, a life different from the life they had experienced before or ever dreamt of experiencing. His life had given them a life full of hope for the future, of certainty, of love and unity with each other, of meaning. And yet now he was gone. Imagine the inconsolable grief in that locked room. The sense of loss of the one person who had made everything worthwhile, who had given meaning to everything.
However, it was to this room that the risen Lord came and ‘stood among them’. And what a difference that made. We are told in John 20 v 20 that the disciples were ‘overjoyed when they saw the Lord’. Their reason for living was standing in front of them. He was not dead. He had risen. The joy of all their hopes and dreams was realised as he breathed his Spirit on them and sent them out (v21-22).
And that same joy is ours to have. The same risen Lord stands among us. The same Lord breaths his Spirit on us. He is our constant companion, our friend, our comforter, our fortress of safety, our dwelling place, our mentor, our guide, our teacher, our everlasting Lord. He allows us to be ourselves and he places no expectations on us other than to look to Him and allow Him to be our everything.