It was the third day after the crucifixion of Jesus. Early that morning Mary had rushed to the tomb, only to find that the body of Jesus was gone.
There were angels in the tomb who had told her that Christ had risen. Then, still in the garden, in what must have been a state of confusion and shock, she had met Jesus.
She had run to tell Peter and the Beloved Disciple (John), who had then verified the empty tomb.
The "Feast of Unleavened Bread" was still going on, and none of the disciples would have left Jerusalem until it was over.
By now, the disciples, and perhaps Mary, had told the others.
It was now evening, and all the disciples, except for Thomas, were together.
Verse 19: "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."
We aren't told that Mary or anyone else other than the disciples was there.
The doors were closed and locked for fear of the Jews, and suddenly "Jesus came and stood among them."
Jesus' first words with His disciples after the crucifixion, were, "Peace be with you." These were also the last words He had spoken, possibly in the same room, just before He went out to face the false courts and crucifixion.
Verse 20: "When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord."
Both peace and joy flow from the presence of Jesus. On the night of His arrest He had promised they would have joy when they saw Him again, and now they do:
"So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you," (John 16:22).
Wounds were sometimes shown as evidence in court; It was used here to prove to the disciples that it was He who had been crucified.
This appearance and evidence, was convincing. The ones who saw it never wavered or doubted afterward.
The disciples would later stand before a hostile world, and, in the face of death, deliver the message of Jesus on the Cross.
Verse 21: "Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you."
It is not the peace offered by men, but from God that passes understanding:
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:7).
Prophets often appointed successors to carry on their work, as Jesus is doing here. The sender would teach and authorize agents with his authority so that he could accurately represent him.
Jesus was issuing the Apostles their missions. He was sending them with full authority to pronounce the Divine prerogative, as Jesus would do Himself.
They were to tell the world they were no longer required to offer the blood of bulls and goats.
Their sins could only be forgiven through Jesus the Son of God; the One who had delivered the ultimate sacrifice by giving His life for the forgiveness of all sin.
Verse 22: And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
Many scholars see a similarity of Jesus breathing on the disciples, and of Genesis 2:7, when God breathed into Adam the breath of life. The word used in Genesis is, emphysao, and is the same word used here, interpreted by many to mean, a new beginning of life.
Although there is no Scriptural confirmation (that I am aware of), some see this as a special infilling of the Holy Spirit for the disciples.
The view I hold relating to verse 22, is that Christ sent them the Holy Spirit, and salvation, at this time; then later, on the day of Pentecost, filled them with the power of the Holy Spirit to go into all the world to preach the Gospel.
This is at the heart of the deeper things of God. I encourage everyone to read "Acts 2" repeatedly until satisfied with the meaning of this Scripture.
These are very deep Scriptures, aren't they! And, so are the ones to follow.
Verse 23: "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."
Some doctrines teach that a priest or preacher can forgive sins." My problem with this is that I cannot find enough substantial Scripture to indicate that was God's intention.
We can only trust answers found in God's written Word. His Word say's "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," (1st Tim 2:5).
If man could forgive sins, he would become still another mediator between God and man, however, as we have just read, there is only one mediator, and that is Jesus Christ.
We are repeatedly told in other Scripture, that Sins are paid for, and forgiven, only through the blood of Jesus; only God has that power and authority. The only unforgivable sin is the rejection of Jesus.
The Scriptural teaching concerning forgiveness is that since Christ has come, those who have been born again, can go directly to the Father with no need for a preacher, priest, or anyone else, and ask forgiveness.
This was also what Peter taught:
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit," (Acts 2:38).
Because Jesus, (our mediator), is seated at the Father's right hand, we can personally ask for and receive, forgiveness.
This concludes our study of, "Jesus Appears to the Disciples."
Our Next Study Is:
"Jesus meets with Thomas"