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.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  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 20:19-23
Have you had any life changing events happen in your life? Something that totally changed who you are and how you live. Maybe it was a move, or a sibling was born, or you started going to church. Maybe it was after some youth group event. Maybe you won an award. Whatever it was for you, it changed how you live. If you haven’t had anything, I am sure you will some day.
I have had a few things in my life that completely changed. From going to College. To my parents passing away. Getting Married. And Eden being born. All these changed my life. They changed my identity. They changed who I was, and how I lived.
Even through out history there were life changing events. The flood. Wars. The great Depression. This pandemic. These events changed how we live as a society.
Jesus, His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, is one of those life changing events. Jesus came into the world, lived a sinless life, was crucified as payment for our sin, was resurrected conquering death, and ascended to the father to intercede on our behalf. Jesus is our salvation. And because of that our lives are changed. We receive a new identity through our union with Him. This union with Christ brings about all sorts of blessings. The disciples on that first Easter experienced those blessings. They have peace with God, they have a mission to accomplish, and they have a new identity. In Christ those blessings, among others are given to the disciples and they are given to us.
Our text this morning lets us know that the events that take place are still on that first easter. It is now the evening. The disciples lock the door to the room they are staying in. Why do they do this? Our text says “for fear of the jews”. Their teacher had just been crucified and now the tomb was empty. The jewish leaders could not believe that Jesus had risen. They were convinced He was still dead and that someone had taken his body and claimed he was alive. The 11 disciples would be the prime suspects. They would have had the most to gain in claiming Jesus was alive even if he wasn’t. So they hid. They were afraid. So they locked the door.
Despite the Door being locked, Jesus appears in the room with them. And spoke “peace” to them. He enters the room that is filled with fear and now astonishment and speaks to them “peace”. The peace that Jesus brings is a peace that is directly related to his last words, “it is finished”. Jesus went to the cross and took the payment for the debt of our sin. He paid the price. Because we sin we deserve death and separation from God, but in Christ’s life, death, resurrection (the disciples saw his hands and feet), and ascension, we can have “peace” with God. In Christ we have Peace.
This peace that Jesus brings is not to say that when we are united with Christ suddenly all of our problems go away and suddenly our lives are peaceful. This peace, through our union with Christ is a change of attitude despite our circumstances. The disciples situation does not change. They were still prime suspects. But they realized that in Christ their sins are forgiven and they are counted as righteous. He took all of our sin and gave us all of his righteousness. They stopped trying to control their situation.
Why do you think that they locked the door? They wanted to control the situation. But when they experienced the risen Christ, their savior. They surrendered to Him. They gave God control. They put their faith, their firm and certain knowledge of Gods goodness, in Jesus. Because of that they were able to experience joy and contentment in Christ and not be controlled by fear or try and control their circumstances, but where able to trust in Jesus and find peace because of who he is and what he has done. They had peace.
I experienced this first hand when I was in Middle School. Most of you have heard that I was bullied in middle school. I was bullied to the point where I did not want to go to school any more. I would cry for the first 10 minutes of the school day. One day I had shared about my fears and the bullying to my youth pastor. He shared with me how I can find hope in Christ. That evening I trusted in God’s goodness to me through Jesus christ. My perspective changed after that. I had peace. I knew my sins where forgiven and I was united with Christ. I had a life change moment. I surrendered to God and now my attitude went from avoiding the bullies to not being bothered by them. I was still bullied. but my fear was gone and I had peace. In Christ we have Peace.
Jesus then says, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” He is calling them to go and live as a people on mission. God had sent Jesus into the world, incarnate, in the flesh, to point people to the father and to live and die for those who put their faith in Him. Philippians 2:6–7 “ who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
Jesus came into the world on a mission. He came so that we would be justified, have our sins forgiven, and sanctified, made holy, through his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. In John 20, Jesus is calling his disciples to live as sent ones. As the father sent Jesus into the world, to live there and be on mission there, Jesus is sending his disciples. He is sending us. In Christ we have Mission.
Frodo Baggins, in the Lord of the Rings, went through a life change experience. He suddenly was the one who had the one ring of power in his possession. With that new identity. That union, we could say, with the one ring. He know had a mission a task. He was sent forth as the ring bearer to destroy the one ring in the fires of mount doom. With Frodo’s union with the ring, with his life changing moment of obtaining the ring. He was simultaneously sent on a mission. We too are sent on a mission when we are united with Christ.
Just as we saw last week, Mary set the example of what it looks like to encounter Jesus and help others to do the same. We too, as we grow closer to Jesus are called to go into the world and proclaim the truth of who Jesus is. The best way I have found to start is by talking with others about what we are learning as we draw near to Jesus. We simply share what we are learning with others and help them to see Jesus.
The message we share is one of forgiveness. Verse 23 tells us that “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” That is not to say that we have the authority to judge sins, that is for Christ to do. This is saying that our mission, our message is one that proclaims the truth of what happens if we go to God for forgiveness and what happens if we don’t. In Christ we have mission.
Jesus tells them to “receive” the holy spirit in verse 22. When you look through out the Bible every time someone receive the spirit they are a new creation, they have a new identity. The disciples here are now given a new identity they are made into a new creation. A new creation that is to be sent out on mission and have peace. In Christ we have a new identity.
This new identity is marked by our reliance on the Holy Spirit. By our Mission. And by the peace we have because of Jesus. Christ brought a new identity to those first disciples. He does the same for us. The old is gone and the new has come. “if anyone is iin Christ, he is ja new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
This new identity shapes everything about us. How we think, what we do, how we treat others. It changes us from the inside out. As we learn more and more about what this identity looks like we shorten the gap between our head and our heart.
Jesus came to this world. Setting aside glory in Heaven, He came so that we may know him. He came so that through his birth, his life, his death, his resurrection, and his ascension we no longer live as people who are separated from God, but that we spend eternity with Him, in glory. Trusting in God’s goodness in Jesus reshapes our lives.
In Christ We have peace. We can be in the middle of a global pandemic and have peace because we surrender control to God and trust that everything happens according to his good pleasure.
In Christ we have mission. Our union with Christ gives us belonging and purpose beyond ourselves. We are on a mission of sharing with others what Christ has done in our lives.
In Christ we have a new identity. We are no longer slaves to sin, but our sins are forgiven. We are made continually into the image of Jesus.
Have you put your faith in Jesus? Do you have a firm and certain knowledge that God is good toward us in the work of Jesus. That while we where yet sinners, Christ died for us.
If you have, be reminded that in the face of fear you can have peace. Stop trying to control and give God the reigns. You have a mission, so don’t just sit around and do nothing, but go and share with others how God is working in your life. Lastly remember that you have a new identity, your life is no longer a slave to sin, but a slave, bonded, to righteousness. Your sins are forgiven and you are made holy.
If you have not found redemption and reconciliation look to Jesus. There you will find peace, you will find purpose through mission, and you will find a new identity, marked by righteousness.
Find your identity in Christ. Find peace, Find mission. Be united with Him.