“Peace be with you!”
Today is the first Sunday after Jesus’ resurrection. We celebrated Easter last Sunday, and when we think about it, it is the greatest event ever happened in human history. Without the resurrection, without Jesus being resurrected from the dead, we could not have come to God; we would have all died because that was human destiny without Jesus. Heartfelt thanks and adoration are to be on our lips forevermore for our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. I asked one of the people I met at the hospital last Friday how she celebrated Easter. I was asking how she thanked God for the resurrection we have in Jesus, how the Christ love had uplifted her during the Easter season. She replied, “It was great, we all went to church, dressed prettily, and had great family time together afterward.”
We almost finished Romans at our Wednesday Bible study. I personally have learned a lot. It was my first time ever realized the mind of Christ before He became a human being. Apostle Paul cried out in Romans chapter 9, verses 1 through 3, “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience is testifying to me with the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have intense sorrow and continual anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. That’s Christ love for us!! Apostle Paul who was redeemed by Christ Jesus, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, had been restored to the image of God in which humans were created. That’s how Apostle Paul was able to have Christ love for his own people, wishing that if his fellow Israelites could be saved in return for him being cursed and cut off from Christ, he would rather choose that, he said. He was willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of his own race, the people of Israel, who had rejected and crucified Jesus. Apostle Paul had the mind of Christ, being restored to the image of Christ.
In other words, “having intense sorrow and continual anguish” over humanity that was lost and doomed was the mind of Christ Jesus. Isaiah 59:16, in Heaven, “He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.” Seeing there was no one who can bring salvation for the lost humanity, God our creator having “intense sorrow and anguish” over the fallen humanity, He Himself came down to bring salvation for us and died. That is Christ love. He died for people who were unworthy of his love. Romans 5:7, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.” But Christ died for all of us fallen sinners, no good for anything people. Having “intense sorrow and anguish” for the lost humanity that had turned against him following Satan, he came and died on the cross, nailed and tortured to the point of being disfigured. Isaiah 52:14, “…his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness.” He did not have the semblance of a human figure, but of a wounded animal when he was on the cross, and he died. Christ has loved us unto death.
This Christ Jesus has risen from the dead. On the resurrection morning, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and later that evening Jesus appeared to his disciples who locked themselves in a house out of fear for their lives. Today’s text John 20, Jesus says in verse 19, “Peace be with you!” and as he was saying, in verse 20, Jesus showed them his wounds, –his nailed hands and pierced side. We might have to wonder why Jesus showed his wounds immediately after he said, “Peace be with you.” Obviously, when Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace be with you”, it was not a casual greeting we say to one another when we see each other on a daily basis. Korean greeting, “Ahnyounghaseyo” which literal translation would be “Are you in peace and security?” is similar to Jewish greeting, “Shalom”. But as I said, it wasn’t a casual greeting when Jesus said, “Peace be with you”. We notice that Jesus’ saying “Peace be with you” is being paired up again with showing his wounds to Thomas eight days later. As we all know that Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them first. When Jesus appeared the second time, he said to Thomas, “Peace be with you” and said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put your finger in my side.” Jesus was showing the disciples the fulfillment of scripture. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds, we are healed.”
Jesus was saying that ‘I have brought peace to you, the peace between you and God. Because I was wounded and crushed, you have peace with God. The peace Jesus had brought is the peace of blood, his own blood. Because of His wounds, we are saved from the damnation we were destined.
As people of God, who are saved and have peace with God, Jesus gave us a mission to do in the world. Verse 21, Jesus says again “Peace be with you”, and says to them, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” God had sent Jesus to bring peace for fallen humanity by dying for us, by forgiving all our iniquities. This Jesus who had obeyed God enduring all the pain and suffering inflicted on him sends us to the world to bring peace to those people who do not know God’s salvation through Jesus. Jesus gave us a mission to bring peace through forgiving those who have inflicted wounds and pain on us. Jesus was saying that that is the only way to bring peace, –by forgiving those who have caused wounds and suffering to us. Those who persecute us, love them, those who have an ill wish for us, bless them, those who insult us, forgive them not retaliating them with our words and deeds in kind.
It is not an option; it is the mission for us to fulfill in this earth while we live if we are Christ’s disciples. Being Christ’s disciple is not an easy thing. Just attending church does not make us Christians, but those who keep the commandment to love one another and even our enemies. Some might say, I do not have enemies, and I help those people who are in need. Is it not good enough? We know that living in peace with one another in our daily living is complicated than that. I know a person who is generous, God-fearing person, giving tithe and helping others who are in need. But he does not want anything to do with his nephew because his nephew never thanked him for the used car he gave to his nephew in the past. How many of us are in conflict with our neighbors, co-workers, friends and family, our own children or parents just over small things? We have conflicts with people because we do not live according to the love principle Jesus has taught us to follow, –keeps no records of wrongdoings. We do not even say ‘hello’ to those people if we felt insulted by them. We have so many barriers against others because we cannot forgive them. We have to die to ourselves to forgive other people’s wrongdoings against us.
Verse 22, Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”. Jesus breathed on his disciples. Does that sound familiar? We see God breathing into Adam in Genesis 2:7, “Then the Lord God formed the man of the dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”
God breathed in the man he formed from the dust, and this dust- formed- figure became a living creature. The lifeless figure became a living being. In this context, what does this verse 22 our text try to tell us? We were lifeless, we were dead because of our sins, and Jesus breathed on this lifeless people and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”. According to Romans 8:6, this Spirit is life and peace.” Jesus who was and is life-giving- Spirit breathed unto his disciples and called them to “life and peace”. We are able to bring “life and peace” because of the life-giving- Spirit has been breathed unto us by our Lord and Savior!
Again, we are to bring “life and peace” by forgiving others. Verse 23, If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” From here, “retained” in its original word means to “seize, arrest, be strong, take possession of. In other words, if we forgive, we free others from their sins, if we do not forgive, sins seize them, and they are taken in the possession of Satan. In other words, forgiveness has the power to release people from their sin. If we forgive them, they become free from sins just as Jesus has forgiven us, and we have become free from sins. How important it is for us to forgive others so that they will become free, having peace and life. Thanks be to God!! Amen!