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John 20 v 19 - 23

It is probable that the disciples continued to meet in the same upper room where they had held the Last Supper. It had an owner sympathetic to their cause and it was in Jerusalem. It also offered them a little protection against the Jewish religious leaders: they had good reason to suppose that they would come for them next! They were terrified, yet suddenly Jesus was there! It was partly to comfort them, but also to commission them: ''As the Father has sent me, so I send you''. We can take three points from that invocation:

1. Jesus needs the Church. His message could not be delivered to everyone everywhere unless the Church was willing to do it. It was to be a mouth to speak on His behalf, feet to run in obedience to His commands, hands to do His work.

2. The Church needs Jesus. That may appear obvious, but it is hugely important that we as Church with a big C and each individual fellowship recognise that without Jesus we are nothing, a social club at best. We need someone to send us, a message to take and a power and authority to support that message. 

3. Just as the relationship between Jesus and God the Father was always dependent on Jesus' perfect obedience and love, the Church's fitness to be the messenger of Jesus Christ is the determiner of how much it loves and obeys Him. 

How can those few quailing disciples spread the message? Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on them. Imagine that? Take a moment and picture the scene in your mind. John is following a Bible-long thread with these words. Remember that God breathed into the nostrils of man to give him life-Genesis 2 v 7-and in Ezekiel's prophecy, God called the wind, Ruach, to breathe upon dead bodies to give them new life.

In verse 23 we have an interesting statement from Jesus. He is telling the Twelve that they are now entrusted to carry the Church forward and there will be attempts by Satan to destroy it-remember Ananias and Sapphira-and the Apostles will each have the gift of discernment to determine whether there is a true desire for forgiveness in someone's heart or whether they are still impenitent, for some reason seeking to trade on the love and mercy of God. 


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