By Brooke Holt
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.’” (John 20:21–23)
This was a Sunday that the disciples would never forget! The man they had come to love, trust, and believe had overcome the grave. He was the true Messiah! They saw the wounds on his hands, his feet, and his side. Though Jesus had died, he was now alive. The risen Lord came to his disciples with a commission. But he also brought them the power to fulfill that commission.
Some commentators call this passage a “mini-Pentecost.” After Jesus ascended, the disciples were to wait for the outpouring of the Spirit. But on this day, Jesus breathed on them with his Spirit. Psalm 33 speaks of this breath in creation: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host” (Psalm 33:6). The breath of the Lord brings life, revelation, power, and spiritual awakening. The disciples who had not understood the Scriptures about Jesus rising from the dead would soon preach and teach this resurrection of Jesus with boldness and power.
Ordinary men would become great teachers, heal the sick, drive out demons, and hold their ground against religious leaders and authorities. The disciples of Jesus would become the men and the disciples the Lord created them to be through his Spirit at work in them.
As the Son of God, Jesus knew everything about this ragtag group of disciples. He could see beyond their blunders, their pride, their lack of understanding, and their human failings. Jesus knew their frailty—but he also knew who he was calling them to become. He knew what they needed to become great evangelists and build the church.
Jesus sees you. He knows who he made you to be, and he stands ready to breathe his life into you through the Holy Spirit. When you receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you receive the Holy Spirit. Then as a believer, you receive a continual filling and equipping as you surrender to his Spirit and seek to practice the gifts he has entrusted to you.
The Holy Spirit empowers you to live into your calling as a believer. It begins with your request: “Lord, come and fill me anew today. Make your vision my vision and your will my delight. I want to do your work, and I know that I cannot do it without you. Come, Lord, and have your way in me and through me to the glory of your name, I pray.”
Are you ready to pray this prayer? It can be scary to surrender before the Lord, but in humility, you will find grace. In dying to self, you will find abundant life. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a "gift" who will guide us, lead us, and empower us. Yet many believers don't experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This unique Christian small group Bible study provides a space in which we can explore what it truly means to "walk in the Spirit" on a daily basis. The Spirit-Filled Life small group curriculum centers on a 6-part video teaching series examining the life-giving and creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Begin to experience the gift today!
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