Jesus Brings Peace to His Disciples

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First Sunday After Easter
Jesus Brings Peace to His Disciples
April 11, 2010

TEXT:  (John 20:19-23 NKJ)  Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20  When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
This lesson comes on the first Easter evening—when the disciples were gathered together trying to make sense of the recent events they had witnessed—Jesus was arrested—He was judged by liars and thieves representing themselves as God’s servants—nailed to the cross—He died—He was buried—and now on this 3rd day they have seen the empty tomb—and some have seen Jesus walking and talking
They are gathered in a room with the doors locked—they know that the Jewish leaders had Jesus killed—and the Jewish leaders know who these disciples are—will they come and drag them out of the house and kill them also?—now Jesus comes and stands in the room—but He doesn’t open the door—He just stands there amongst them—these men were afraid—but Jesus came to comfort them and bring them peace—the peace of God that surpasses all human understanding—a peace that belongs to God’s people and God’s people only—Christian peace—Paul understood this peace
(Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ)  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit upon the disciples—He put life into the one Church on earth—much like God breathed life into the one man on earth when He created Adam from the dust of the ground
(Genesis 2:7 NKJ)  And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
It is through the eyes of faith that the disciples would see Jesus and understand who He is—the resurrected Son of God—their spiritual eyes could only be opened by the Holy Spirit—Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit onto these gathered disciples
(1 Corinthians 12:3 NKJ)  Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.
The disciples now would have the Holy Spirit—and the Holy Spirit would reveal all things to them—and the comfort and peace Jesus wants the disciples to have on this frightful evening is the peace of knowing that they are now citizens of heaven living on earth
(Philippians 3:20 NKJ)  For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
What greater peace could there be—no matter what will happen in the future—they have this peace and the Holy Spirit in their hearts—most of the men in this room will die violent deaths because they followed Christ into heaven—yet the peace Jesus gave them this night extends beyond even violent death—look at the example of the stoning of Stephen—he was stoned to death while he preached the truth of Jesus the Christ to the Jews—he dies a violent and painful death—and yet he dies in peace—a peace that he wishes the men killing him would understand—what an example of peace and love thy neighbor
(Acts 7:54-60 NKJ)  When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
That peace of knowing that this body in this world is only temporary—we Christian believers are in this world but we are not of this world—the things in this world—including death—have no power over us—we are here at the pleasure of our Lord—to do whatever He has planned for us—until He calls us home
And now let’s turn to the last verses of our text—and realize the peace of knowing that we are forgiven
TEXT:  (John 20:22-23 NKJ)  And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
Our Lord Jesus gives His disciples the Holy Spirit—and Jesus speaks of the forgiveness of sins—which is the difference between those who will spend eternity in heaven and those who will spend eternity separated from God
This does not represent a change in the teaching of Jesus—He consistently taught His disciples how to apply the Old Testament Scriptures—and we find this lesson of repentance and forgiveness in the Old Testament—God’s people were taught that there is a price for sin—but that sin is forgiven when we ask for forgiveness
(Numbers 5:6-7 NKJ)  "Speak to the children of Israel:`When a man or woman commits any sin that men commit in unfaithfulness against the LORD, and that person is guilty, 7 `then he shall confess the sin which he has committed. He shall make restitution for his trespass in full, plus one-fifth of it, and give it to the one he has wronged.
Jesus gave the Holy Spirit so these disciples could properly understand the events that they witnessed—Jesus paid the price for man’s sins—Jesus made restitution as God the Father demanded in the Old Testament—a Christian need only repent and ask forgiveness and they are forgiven—the early Christians understood this as recorded in the Book of Acts
(Acts 13:29-39 NKJ)  "Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. 30 "But God raised Him from the dead. 31 "He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. 32 "And we declare to you glad tidings-- that promise which was made to the fathers. 33 "God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:`You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.' 34 "And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus:`I will give you the sure mercies of David.' 35 "Therefore He also says in another Psalm:`You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.' 36 "For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; 37 "but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. 38 "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 "and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
John summed all this up in his first epistle
(1 John 1:9-10 NKJ)  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to remind these disciples of all things—consider a few of the many teachings of Jesus—and notice how consistent this message is with the rest of Scripture
(John 8:21-24 NKJ)  Then Jesus said to them again, "I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come." … 24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."
(John 9:41 NKJ)  Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say,`We see.' Therefore your sin remains.
God removes forgiven sins—He takes them far away
(Psalm 103:12 NKJ)  As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
(Micah 7:19 NKJ)  He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.
(Isaiah 43:25 NKJ)  "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.
The office of the Apostles was established by Jesus on that Easter evening—Jesus started the one Church on earth—today’s ministers of the Word—the preachers—are an extension of those apostles—as ministers of the Word—we are part of the army fighting in this world’s war of good and evil—and we are armed just as the Apostles were armed
We have the power of the Word—and we have the power of the Holy Spirit—the resurrected Jesus gave it to them—and it has been passed on from generation to generation ever since—at the time Jesus gave the power to conduct their preaching and teaching to help others understand that sins are forgiven when the sinner becomes repentant—a minister of the Word must help sinners understand that sins are confessed, forgiven, and removed—or sins are attached to the sinner when they face Christ on Judgment Day—that is what Jesus is telling the disciples
When Jesus said "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."—He is ordaining these men to the task of preaching the Word
When the Law is preached—it tells man what sin is—and that sin condemns them to the eternal death they deserve—when the Gospel of God’s grace and forgiveness is preached—and man repents and asks forgiveness from our gracious God—their sins are forgiven—just as Jesus here promises
When Jesus was condemned—died—and was resurrected—everything in this world changed--once the Word is preached—everything changes—the truth of the Word convicts the heart of the sinner—and one of two things have to happen
They confess their sins before God and He grants them forgiveness for Christ’s sake—or they remain eternally bound in sin unto death and condemnation
Thank God if you are a confessed and forgiven sinner who is going to heaven—and fear God if you are a condemned unrepentant sinner going to the eternal torments of hell