After Jesus had risen from the dead He appeared to the disciples many times. In these scriptures we see Him appear to His closest disciples, the eleven (bearing in mind that Judas had gone).
This particular appearance is interesting for several reasons. Firstly, it was where He proved to the disciples that it was actually Jesus who was there and that He was there in the flesh. He showed them the nail holes in his hands and the place where His side was speared.
It was important that the disciples knew Jesus had truly arisen. After all, they were called to go out to the world and to preach the resurrection of the dead, so they had to know it was truth and that it was real. But there were four other things that The Lord showed the disciples in this appearance.
The first thing Jesus said to the disciples was, “Peace be with you.” He said this to them twice and this is important.
At that time before The Lord came to them they did not have much peace. The disciples were in a place of great upheaval. Their Lord and friend had just been taken away and killed in the most brutal and horrible way. A death that was normally reserved only for the most violent or heinous criminals.
Then they had the ongoing persecution from the Jewish authorities who were seeking to remove all traces of Jesus and His message. For some time after Jesus death and resurrection the Jews sought to capture and imprison the disciples of Jesus. We even saw Paul chasing disciples to other towns and cities with authority from the Jewish leaders to imprison them.
We also know that they were in fear and in hiding because of all of this, so peace was probably not where they were at.
Jesus tells them in those words, “Peace be with you,” that they need fear nothing. The peace of Christ and of God would be with them to carry them through all that was going on. God was on their side and He would protect them from all this stress.
The second thing Jesus tells them is that He is sending them out to preach to the world just as the Father had sent Him to to speak the words of God to the world.
It was in these words that Jesus was “passing the baton” to the disciples so that they would know they had His blessing and that of the Father to take the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. We know in other places we see the Great Commission where Jesus sent out the disciples, but it was here after one of His first appearances that they were actually commissioned in the name of the Father and the Son.
The Holy Spirit
The third point that The Lord made to the disciples was that they were prepared and ready to receive the Holy Spirit. He says to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Now they did not receive the Holy Spirit at that point in time but Jesus shows they were ready to receive it and told them as much. They actually received the Holy Spirit several weeks later on the day of Pentecost, but at this point they were told they would receive and were made ready to receive the spirit.
This was an important message The Lord gave to them at this time for it was not until they received the Holy Spirit that they received the boldness and courage to go out and preach to the world. It was after Pentecost that they became the mighty men of God that spread the words of Jesus that still echo and sing true to us today. It is in receiving the Holy Spirit that the disciples received the POWER to carry out the work they were to do.
Finally The Lord gives them great authority. He says to them, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” We know that only The Lord has the power and authority to forgive sins, and yet here we see Jesus giving that same authority to the disciples.
This shows how much He trusted them to do this work. It showed the disciples also that they had been given the AUTHORITY to do the work they were entrusted with.
To have the power to do something is not enough if you do not have the authority to do it. To be able to do a thing properly you need both the power and the authority. Some may try to take the authority or to force it in the world, but in Christ it cannot be taken. It must be given by The Lord otherwise there is no authority.
In giving them this great authority to forgive or retain the sins of others, they were being freed to do all things necessary to bring mankind to God. Nothing was left out of their control to carry out this work in the name of The Lord.
And it had to be that way. Jesus had to give the disciples the power and the authority to carry out the work. He did this for their sake, but also for ours. The power and authority to do His work has carried down into the church. No one man has this power and authority, but through ministries to teach, preach, pastor and so on in the church, Jesus gave us the ability to work with His people and to bring them to maturity in Jesus Christ. The work of transformation sits with the Holy Spirit, but the work of ministry sits with the church, and the church has both the power and authority to carry out the work Jesus gave to the leaders of that first church, the apostles and disciples who walked with Him and learned from Him directly.
(Clip art sourced from oChristian.com clip art files)
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