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Creating new life, “He breathed on them”

Posted Apr 18, 2017

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Daily Scripture

John 20:19-23

19 It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.”

Reflection Questions

Everything the disciples had believed seemed lost. Jesus, their leader and would-be Messiah was dead, and now his body was missing. The disciples hid, afraid the Jewish authorities would come after them next. But no one had stolen Jesus' body. He was still their Messiah, in ways that reached beyond their wildest dreams. “Jesus...stood among them"—it was really him, alive, and they were filled with joy. He gave them his peace, his purpose ("As the Father sent me, so I am sending you"), and his power ("Receive the Holy Spirit").

  • John kept including clues to remind his readers of the creation stories in Genesis 1-3. After Jesus commissioned the disciples in verse 21, “he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’”—a clear echo of Genesis 2:7. How has Jesus breathed new hope and purpose—new life—into you? In what ways can you tangibly bring peace and wholeness to those around you today?
  • Have you ever been "commissioned" to do something that seemed beyond you? Jesus told the disciples, “If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.” We may think, “Isn’t that God’s job?” The answer is, “Yes. Jesus ‘breathed’ the Holy Spirit into them (and us), and usually does his work through us.” How can you take part in Jesus' work of offering God’s forgiveness to others, and of warning them that sin is a serious, deadly disease?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I do not want to live a life that just goes through the motions. I ask that today, and every day, you will breathe your eternal life into me, empowering me to live the life that is truly life. Amen.

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Courtney Felzke

Courtney Felzke

Courtney Felzke is Chaplain of Silver Link, providing Pastoral Care to many within the Silver Link Ministry as well as doing work behind the scenes in the ministry. She coordinates care for those served by the ministry and recruits and trains new volunteers.

This is a hard week for me. Ten years ago, on April 19th, I lost my dad. I miss him a lot. I was a daddy’s girl. My dad and I had so much in common, we just loved walking through life together. So these last few weeks have been emotional, for I still miss him greatly.

As I read today’s Scripture passage, I clung to the words that Jesus spoke twice: “Peace be with you.” These words are important to me because it’s this peace from Christ that has helped me through some of the darkest times of the last ten years. There were times, especially right after dad passed, when I didn’t know how I could go on without him. Would the tears ever end? Could I do this thing called life without him?

I’d like to share a time when I felt the peace of Christ surrounding me. I was crying uncontrollably, praying to God for help. It was right after dad’s funeral, and his death had finally sunk in. I was lying in bed, feeling so alone and holding the precious teddy bear my dad had given me on the day I was born. Suddenly, as I was tightly squeezing my teddy bear, it squeezed me back. Now I know this sounds crazy. A stuffed teddy bear could give me a hug back? But yes, this happened. In that moment I knew that the teddy bear's squeeze was a sign from my dad and from God. I knew in that instant that dad was okay, was with God and was well cared for. This huge feeling of peace came over me.

This sense of peace is Jesus’ hope for all of us. Even when we are walking through the hardest times of life, Jesus wants us to know that we are not alone, that God’s Holy Spirit is with us. The Holy Spirit is the comforting, peaceful presence that comes over us, surrounds us and helps us know that all will be okay.

There may be times when it’s hard to feel God near to you. I know I’ve felt that way at various times. I would encourage you to keep praying and keep reaching out to God. Ask God boldly to comfort you and bring you peace. As I’ve done this, I’ve found that God has always answered this prayer in one way or another. This prayer may not always be answered in quite the ways I would have expected. Here are some ways God has answered my prayers for peace:
1) a comforting presence (I believe the Holy Spirit) comes over me
2) a friend reaches out to check in
3) I read a devotional or book that has the perfect words
4) the above teddy bear experience I shared

I would add that the above experience of my teddy bear hugging me was a one-time thing, which honestly seemed like a miracle to me. This miraculous type of happening isn’t God’s main way to deliver peace, but these special happenings do occur from time to time. What I truly believe in my heart is that God does answer our prayers for peace and comfort. It’s important that we are open to how God is at work, and ready to receive God’s beautiful gift of peace.

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