John 20:19-2219 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
I invite you to notice something with me here in this passage. It is simply the connection between the peace of Christ and the Holy Spirit. First notice with me that Jesus comes to us in peace. He came to the disciples in peace. He had many reasons to be angry with the disciples, many reasons to be disappointed in them, many reasons to scold them and to let them have it for the multiple ways they had deserted Him when He needed them most. They had lost focus. They had lost faith. They had given in to fear. It happens, doesn’t it?
Though my circumstances are very different, I can identify a bit with the disciples who were locked behind closed doors in fear. What lurked on the outside for them? They weren’t sure. How would they navigate life without Jesus being physically present with them? There were just going to be so many changes for them. What would happen to them if they moved about freely? They couldn’t know, and those unknowns kept them huddled together behind a locked door.
More than anything, they needed peace. Peace dispels fear. It has that kind of transforming power. This is what each of us needs and needs to seek today in order to be freed from anything that Satan might want to use against us to keep us locked up. And so, Jesus’ first word to the disciples was, “Peace,” and this peace was accompanied by an empowering by the Holy Spirit. In a moment that would foreshadow the Day of Pentecost, in a moment that was a sample of what was to come, Jesus breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit.
Let me make three observations about what I will call Pentecost Peace, the peace that is accompanied by the receiving of and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
1. Pentecost Peace will move through locked doors.
Jesus came to them through locked doors with His peace. There are all kinds of reasons that people are hiding in fear. There are all kinds of emotional and relational prisons that are keeping people from living free and from experiencing the abundant life for which Christ has died. People are walled in by un-forgiveness. People are living in isolation because of addiction. People have locked themselves in because of some kind of personal failure. People have distanced themselves from Jesus because it has just been too long since they had that connection with Him, and they don’t think they would even know how to get back if they tried, and so they don’t.
Listen, the Peace of Pentecost can move beyond the biggest of barricades right into the hardest of hearts and the most confused mind. There is no wall that the peace of Christ cannot penetrate. I understand that fear caused the disciples to hunker down and lock the door, which is natural and human, but when we allow our fears to immobilize us, we are doing the opposite of what the Peace of Pentecost does.
2. Pentecost Peace mobilizes us for God’s mission.
Notice verse 21 again, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Peace with God comes as we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, and the peace of God that is received through the Holy Spirit enables us to be bold witnesses for Christ. The fact that Jesus was sent by God was something He talked about a lot. In fact, 38 times in John’s Gospel, Jesus used the phrase, “Him who sent me.” It was an ongoing theme and for a strategic reason. Jesus never claimed to be an independent agent. He never said He was on His own mission, sharing His own agenda. He didn’t just say what came to Him naturally or fly by the seat of His pants. No. He said that He only communicated what the Father told Him to say (John 14:10).
This is important for us because Jesus is our example in all things. If He submitted Himself to the message of the Father, so should we. As He was sent by the Father to communicate the Father’s message, Jesus was sending us. In that same manner, Jesus sends us. We are not some rogue bounty hunters trying to drag people to God. We are agents of the Most High God, empowered by the Spirit, to share the Word of God in power and authority as Jesus did, and in order to experience the peace of God in fullness you have to welcome the Word of God in fullness.
Jesus said to His disciples in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Listen, the offer of peace in your own power from your own perspective will simply make people a disciple of you. But the offer of peace in the power of the Holy Spirit from the perspective of God our Father will make people disciples of Jesus.
Jesus breathed on the disciples and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. In that moment, He was providing a symbolic moment that was anticipatory of an even greater moment that would come on the day of Pentecost.
That day is recorded in Acts chapter 2.
2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.
My third point is simply this:
3. Pentecost Peace unites us into one body.
Acts 2 makes a point to tell us that God-fearing Jews from every nation on the planet were impacted by the Word of God that flowed from those who were filled with the Spirit. In fact, people from 16 different locations, 16 different languages or dialects were referenced. They had traveled to Jerusalem for the Jewish Feast of Shavuot, also known as Pentecost, which is the Jewish festival that commemorates the day the Jewish people received the Law via Moses, and the streets were teeming with people. The disciples who had gotten together to pray and wait for the Promised Outpouring of the Holy Spirit received it as the sound of a violent wind came from Heaven and filled everyone that was gathered in that house. Each one started declaring the Word of God in languages they had never learned. And as they did, that Word was heard in the streets by those who were there. Those gathered to celebrate the receiving of the Law then had an experience with the Spirit of God and 3000 of them became followers of Jesus. 3000 people who didn’t even speak the same language, but in one breath, as God’s Spirit was poured out, each one of them had the united experience of hearing God’s Word in their own language. The breath of God and the Word of God united those gathered, forming them into the people of God.
This is part of the message we must live out and declare. We are all one. God calls us to be one. God created us as one race, the human race, and those who are in Christ form one family. There is no Jew or Gentile, no white or black, no brown or red, no male or female, no distinction to be made for we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). Pentecost makes us family. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.
Hating someone because of a difference like the color of their skin or disregarding someone’s life simply because of your experience or power or position is heinous. The arrogance of anyone who thinks they are superior to another because of their privilege or upbringing, is not only ignorant, it is a form of idolatry. It is evil and anyone who ascribes to that kind of ideology is in an alliance with the devil. What has gone on and is going on in our country, with the taking of life and the discarding of life because of a prejudice heart, is simply an abomination. I’m telling you the Power of Pentecost is the change we need. While only God can transform a heart, I believe if we will faithfully declare God’s message in the power of the Spirit, we can see a uniting of people into God’s family the way it is supposed to be. Church, with Christ as Lord, and the blood of Jesus as our banner, there will always be more to unite us than divide us. We must not let hate win.
When Jesus offered His peace to the disciples and breathed on them, He told them to “receive” the Holy Spirit. God is not unwilling to breathe on us. God is not unwilling to pour out His Spirit on us, but we can sure be unwilling to receive the offer. Those 120 disciples that gathered in the Upper Room were willing to receive, and because they were, 3000 people were saved that very day. Are there 120 people reading this now who will refuse to be silent and instead be sent with Pentecostal Power to Proclaim Pentecostal Peace?