A Job to Do
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 his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Again, the Lord Jesus sweetly speaks “Peace” to His ragamuffin band of trembling disciples–peace, not blame; peace, not faultfinding; peace, not rebuke. His words of calm must have been as music to their ears, soothing their anxious thoughts and trembling hearts.
The very next words out of Jesus’ mouth are those commissioning the disciples as His ambassadors to go forth! Their real work is about to commence. He wants to dismiss the delusion that ease and reward have now arrived–that will come later. Their work as going forth to witness of Jesus’ saving work will not be accomplished on a bed of down or on a pathway of rose petals. They ware to be on a mission to preach His truth, in His Name, equipped with His all-achieving power–it is the ultimate and highest calling. They are to proclaim in Christ’s Name the forgiveness of sins to a lost world. This was the Apostle Paul’s passion! We find in 2 Corinthians:
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)
Finally, our Lord breathes on the disciples the precious Holy Spirit to ordain the great work in which He intends them to do. This action was remarkably and symbolically emblematic. In Genesis we discover God breathing the breath of life into man formed from the dust of the ground:
The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
Just as there was no life in man until God breathed it into him, it would appear that Jesus is teaching the disciples that spiritual life comes to the believer through the Holy Spirit being breathed into their hearts. The breath of the mighty Savior gives life to His ministers to begin a new work. The Spirit is the gift of Christ! Those Christ sends forth, He clothes with His Spirit who provides power. Wind is also pre-eminently the emblem used of the Spirit in Scripture. Paul tells us:
You are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:9-11)
Take It to Heart
Each one of us is a vessel God chooses to use. The disciples were to go on where Jesus left off. Every subsequent generation of believers is to do likewise. Will those who come behind us find us faithful?
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)