Pentecost Sunday – 31stMay 2020 — Gospel: Jn 20,19-23
Equipped for the Impossible Mission
In John’s Gospel Jesus does not impart the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (fiftieth day after Passover), but on the day of Easter, during Jesus’ first-post resurrection appearance to his followers. On this day of breathing of the Spirit there were no tongues of fire or a confusing, amazing, perplexing disharmony of voices (as in Acts 2), but the ‘peace of one voice,’ the shepherd’s voice, who bestows on his disciples the abiding presence of “I am”. The mission focus here is, “as the Father has sent Me, I also send you”; it is more on the identity and sending of a community.
However there will be a feeling of inadequacy: How can I go out to the world just as the Father sent Jesus into this world? Jesus was God in human flesh; I am not. Jesus never sinned; I often sin. Jesus had intimate fellowship with the Father; I do not. Jesus never made mistakes; I make all the time. Like Paul, I often feel, “And who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor 2,16). Our Lord makes this impossible mission possible through his followers. The feeling of inadequacy is overcome by Paul’s explanation: “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor 3,5-6). In this manner, He always equips and sends his followers. That is, in the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ followers receive the fullness of the glorified Son. They accomplish many things in their lives similar to Jesus insofar as they reveal God.
The believers can confidently proclaim the gospel to all people because the Risen Saviour has called and equipped all his followers. He equips them for his mission in five ways. 1) He has given us great peace (20,19 & 21). To those who were hiding behind locked doors the Lord graciously extends his peace and strengthens them through his abiding presence. Indeed they come out of their fear and rejoiced with him (20,20). Peace with God is foundational for our mission. In this new relationship of peace, we become ambassadors of reconciliation with this world that is hostile toward him and towards one another (2 Cor 5,18-19). Risen Saviour has given us peace with God, the peace of God, and peace with one another, so that we can carry out his mission. 2) He has given us great proof of His resurrection (20,20). This historical fact becomes vital importance for our witness to Christ and to proclaim the gospel with confidence. 3) He has given us a great purpose of being sent by the Father (20,21). Just as Jesus was sent by the Father so we have been sent by him. Jesus was sent to do the Father’s will and to bring salvation to the world. By sending us in the same way that He was sent, His purpose becomes our purpose. If Jesus’ purpose was to seek and save the lost, shouldn’t that be our purpose? 4) He has given us great power by His breathing (20,22). Jesus’ symbolic action here imparts the indwelling Holy Spirit that gives capacity to proclaim his gospel. His breathing on the disciples reflects God’s breathing life into Adam so that he became a living being (Gen 2,7). Like the vision of dry bones, the corpses coming to life with prophecy of the breath (Ez 37). 5) He has given us a great proclamation on forgiveness (20,23). The gospel that we proclaim is not so much about Jesus helping people with their personal problems but rather about God forgiving their sins. The ultimate mission of the Church in the world is to deal with sin and forgive sins. This is the assurance for every believer that “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10,43).