The disciples rejoice at having Jesus alive among them. When
he appears among them, he shows them his hands and his
feet, offers them peace, and sends them to proclaim the good
news of his resurrection. Then he breathes on them, giving them
the gift of the Holy Spirit.
With this gift comes an admonition that the disciples now
have the power to release others from sin. Jesus also makes
it clear that his followers can likewise choose to leave others
in their sin. These are fearful gifts. Jesus gives to his disciples
powers once reserved for God alone. Jesus accepted the power
of offering forgiveness that had been given to him. In various
controversies, Jesus claims this divine power as belonging to
his own vocation. In Luke’s Gospel, he prays to the Father to
forgive those crucifying him.
Here, Jesus widens the scope of responsibility for freeing
others from sin. By breathing his Spirit upon his disciples, he
empowers them to release others from bondage. For us, the gift
of forgiveness can bring an additional gift—inexpressible peace.
When we receive the Spirit of God, we can cease our endless
fretting over who is in the right and who is in the wrong, knowing
that we are all under judgment. (See John 3:19.) We can
hope in our being made right by Christ’s own work among us.
We shift our gaze away from blame or self-blame and recognize
the miraculous gift of God’s forgiveness, which reconfigures the
meaning of our entire lives.
Gracious God, we pray for the gift of your inexpressible peace that enables us to forgive even those who have wronged us and to love all those you have given us to love. Amen.
Psalm 16 and Acts 2 fit together, since the latter quotes the former. Both celebrate God’s presence in human life and the powerful expression of that presence. In his Pentecost sermon Peter sees a messianic application of the psalm to the resurrection of Jesus. First Peter affirms that resurrection creates community, stressing the faith and love of Christians that arise without the experience of physical contact with Jesus. For later generations, belief and commitment are born out of the witness of others.
• Read Acts 2:14a, 22-32. When has a life experience made you, like Peter, feel that your faith was a sham? How did you move past that experience into renewed hope?
• Read Psalm 16. When have you perceived God as refuge? How has your faith in God steadied your life? What is your “goodly heritage”?
• Read 1 Peter 1:3-9. What act of power and grace on God’s part allows you to reconfigure or reinterpret your life story?
• Read John 20:19-31. When have you employed the power to release others from their sin? to leave them in their sin?
Respond by posting a prayer.
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