For the second Sunday in Easter, Lindsey and Adam read John 20:19-31. “Receive the Holy Spirit.” With these words, Jesus breathes new life into his disciples. “Jesus Unmasked” seeks to remove the masks of exclusive theology and violent cultural lenses that obscure the truth of Jesus’s unconditional love. Scripture passages are read from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. “Jesus Unmasked” is a Raven Foundation production
For the second Sunday in Easter, Lindsey and Adam read John 20:19-31. “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
With these words, Jesus breathes new life into his disciples.
Shut up within that room, frightened after seeing their leader murdered and having their ambitions crushed, they are probably in a state of utter defeat. But suddenly, Love bursts through the walls.
With the assurance, “Peace be with you,” Jesus calms the storm of confusion and fear must have raged within the disciples in the instant they saw him. Jesus is not there to rebuke those who ran away at his hour of death, but to comfort them and reinvigorate them.
Jesus tells the disciples, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” This may sound like Jesus is giving followers – believers – the power to bless or curse. But with the Holy Spirit guiding them from within, there is only one real path they can take. Why, then, does Jesus mention retaining sins?
Thomas is not with the disciples when Jesus first encounters them. He is skeptical of the account the disciples give – and who can blame him?
The story of “Doubting Thomas” has been used to shame people into better, stronger belief. That tactic never works.
Jesus doesn’t shame Thomas. He gives his skeptical disciple what he needs to believe. But he does say
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
All of us have seen something, but none of us have seen everything. All around us, there is evidence of new life springing from the well of compassion and mercy that God opened to us by suffering with us and forgiving us for the suffering we have caused. But none of us have yet seen the fullness of the world living into perfect love. That is the Kingdom of God.
To believe is to trust God’s Kingdom is possible and coming into being, so that we can live into vocations as reflections of God and do our part to usher it in. That is the blessing that Jesus gives to his disciples and all of us in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.