Scripture Reading--John 20:19-23
It’s an interesting scene. The first Easter evening, the disciples are gathered behind locked doors, still afraid. They have heard reports of the empty tomb, but did not yet know how to understand those reports. They assumed that they were still being hunted by the Roman authorities—and they were probably right. But into this anxious, fear-filled situation, the risen Christ appears. John doesn’t report Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, in the same way Luke does in Acts. John says that Jesus breathed on the disciples and told them to “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Elsewhere in John’s Gospel, Jesus told the disciples he had to go away so the Spirit could come. In other words, if God’s universal presence was to be available, the earthly Jesus had to depart so that his Spirit could come and be with all people in all places at all times. Jesus’ presence is not validated in the world by the exercise of miraculous powers. It is evident where the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed and practiced. That was finally why Jesus came and why he died and why God raised him. However we construe what happened on the cross and why it happened, whether Jesus was an example or a sacrifice, the heart of the matter is the same—Jesus came because God wanted the world to know that we could all be forgiven. If we as the people of God have anything to say to the world worth hearing, any gift to offer worth giving, it is this, “You are forgiven!” How have you experienced this gift of forgiveness? How are we as a Christian community offering this gift to the world?
Thought for the day: The Holy Spirit's presence in the world, more than anything, makes forgiveness a possibility for all of us.
Prayer: O God, help me to experience your Spirit's presence as true forgiveness, and through your Spirit, allow forgiveness to flow through me to others. Amen.