Practicing Resurrection: Peace (John 20:19-23)

A series of reflections on Jesus’ resurrection appearances, contributed by past and present Pepperdiners. Today’s post is from a Pepperdine graduate student.

John 20:19-23 Jesus brings the Holy Spirit to his fearful disciples

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 (ESV)

We call him fully man, fully God.

Night was coming when Jesus appeared. He showed his disciples his hands: they could see where nails bore holes into his palms, straight through to the backs of his hands. He showed them his side: it was gashed when a spearhead plunged into his flesh.

The doors were locked when Jesus appeared. They were scared of people outside—afraid that their contemporaries would say, “I see you, I know you.” In his resurrected body, Jesus walked through their barriers. He saw them vulnerable and he knew their fear.

Pain is here at Pepperdine, too. I do not see nail holes, but a friend who had to bury her beloved father this spring. I saw a dear lady who suffered from both shingles and chemotherapy. For over a decade, I endured intense headaches that no medication or doctor could lift.

We know this is part of the human experience, but why is there pain? Jesus is the only man who could have avoided pain, but he took on the full human experience. Why would he do that?

God could have programmed human robots: perfect, but mechanical. Instead, knowing this would make the cross necessary, he allowed human choice. He gave Adam and Eve freedom to decide: to walk in joyful holiness or “in the knowledge of good and evil.” They chose poorly. That one trespass introduced evil into the human experience; sin causes pain in creation itself.

Rescue was needed when Jesus became fully human. Just as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so his one act of righteousness on the cross leads to justification and life for all men (Romans 5:18). When Jesus showed the disciples his wounds, he spoke, “Peace.” Jesus was pierced for our transgressions. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). As he conquered death, we see that he is fully God!

Romans 8 says that creation groans as it waits for the hope set before us—as it looks for the unending glory God will reveal, when he returns to earth and gives us glorified bodies as Christ received in his resurrection. In our community at Pepperdine, we know what it means to groan. Yet we also know that the price for new life is paid. We live knowing the end of the story.

We exalt Jesus, because he is fully man and fully God! He is our Redeemer—the one who saw our helpless estate and stood in the gap for us, as the strong warrior and tender shepherd. To the God who purchased my whole life with his death on the cross, and yet still allows free choices, there is one joyful response. It is to lay down my life, grasp my cross, and follow him.

This way, in my suffering and in my new life, perhaps others will see the God who took on human form. They will have a way to understand the Christ who brings forgiveness and rescue.

I count this all joy.

Today’s writer requested I withhold their name, but I am grateful for their contribution to this series and to the community of faith on this campus and their colleagues. Christian fellowships among our graduate programs include Pepperdine’s Christian Legal Society, an active group of students who meet regularly to encourage one another in faith as they prepare for service. We have also been very blessed by students who recently initiated the Graziadio Christian Business Society.

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