Several months ago, while reading John 20:19-23, I immediately “saw” something I had not seen before. God has kept me coming back to this for such a time as this.
“That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” He said. As He spoke, He showed them the wounds in His hands and His side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”*
These verses cover Jesus appearing to the disciples after His resurrection. The disciples are gathered together meeting behind closed doors for fear of the jews. We have just come out of a crazy quarantined 2020 filled with much fear even among us “fearless” believers (2 Timothy 1:7).
At times, it seems like fear is conquering our faith, instead of our faith overcoming all our fears.
Jesus shows up where the disciples were gathered together. We are not only better together, but suddenly and supernatural God encounters are often experienced in the corporate gathering of faithful, worshiping believers.
While reading these verses, I immediately wrote down these words in my Bible:
PEACE, JOY, PURPOSE, and POWER!
Peace in His presence.
Joy in His presence.
Purpose in His presence.
Power in his Presence.
Jesus’ presence comes through the closed doors. Nothing can hinder His presence from reaching us (Romans 8:38-39; John 14:16). No closed door or wall that looks impossible to overcome.
What is the first thing Jesus says to them?
“Peace, be with you.”
Jesus speaks this twice in this passage. His presence brings peace. This is what He is still speaking today. I hear Him speaking it to me personally. I pray you hear Jesus speaking PEACE to your spirit too.
The presence of peace,
being led by peace,
and remaining in peace
amidst confusing, challenging and chaotic times.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6; Ephesians 2:14).
The enemy operates in strife and confusion – the opposite of peace.
Peace is a characteristic of the 9 fruit of the Spirit, just like love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This peace fills our spirit and affects our minds, our hearts, and physical bodies and our emotions. This peace transcends human understanding, especially when we walk in it while there is panic and chaos around us.
They saw Him. This word saw means to continuously gaze upon with intentionality. Jesus had their full attention and they were completely focused on Him, especially after his sudden, unexpected appearance (another message there – He still does beyond what we expect for those who have eyes to see – Ephesians 3:20-21). He showed them His hands and His side. Jesus wanted to make sure they knew it was really Him they were seeing. He longs for us to see and touch His presence and reveal His presence to others. His presence should be tangible to us; we can taste and see His goodness.
Psalm 34:8 The Passion Translation:
Drink deeply of the pleasures of this God. Experience for yourself the joyous mercies He gives to all who turn to hide themselves in Him.
Seeing the physical wounds of Jesus also serve as a reminder that He is all powerful over death, all our fears and even walls of opposition from our enemy that often seem insurmountable.
When they saw the Lord, they were filled with
Only our intentional and relentless pursuit of the presence of Jesus will fill us with joy that is needed for our strength to overcome in 2021 and until the end.
Psalm 16:11 The Passion Translation:
Because of You, I know the path of life, as I taste the fullness of joy in Your presence. At your right side I experience divine pleasures forevermore!
Next, in verse 21, Jesus tells them He is sending them just as the Father has sent Him.
Jesus is giving them a PURPOSE.
Jesus is giving them a commissioning, His mission and His purpose to fulfill.
As we encounter the presence of Jesus through worshiping, praying, spending time in the Word and staying connected in the family of God, our specific assignments that are in alignment with the Father and the Son become clear. This is something the Lord desires to reveal to us as His beloved son or daughter.
The most important part is in the last two verses where He breathed on them and said,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.”
We must “receive” His POWERFUL PRESENCE.
The presence of Jesus brings His POWER – anointing (enabling) and His boldness (bathed in love and humility) to be His witnesses, to carry out His mission and to fulfill God’s kingdom purpose.
This is not just a one and done for any of us.
Sometimes, we may feel like we are being locked behind closed doors, fearful, and perhaps worn out and weary from all that is going on around us. Again, without the POWERFUL presence of God, there will be no peace, no joy, or power to fulfill God’s will and purpose in our lives.
This POWER also enables us to receive God’s forgiveness, walk in forgiveness with others and, not only release, but be the demonstration of this grace message to others. There is so much more to be gleaned from each one of these verses.
More of our Father’s presence – His love, peace, joy and fresh firepower of the Holy Spirit is needed for all of us for such a time as this. People need to “see” that we have been with Jesus and we carry His presence and His power.
The PRESENCE of God is so important right now more than ever.
We are in the presence of so many other narratives, voices, and opinions. We have all experienced being drawn to certain people because of what their presence brings when we are around them. This could be true for many reasons. When we desire joy, we don’t want to be around Debbie Downer. When I enter a room, do I bring the joy and peace over the gloom? When we desire calm and rest, we do not want to be around someone who is agitated or angry. When we desire knowledge and guidance, we want to be around those who will give us wise counsel, even if it might not be what we prefer to hear. When we desire real help and truth, we are usually more open to receive. Even when God calls us to share a word of advice that might be hard and corrective, it doesn’t have to be delivered in a manner that is all gloomy and negative.
Hopefully, all of us can think of people who bring a strong presence of peace and calm, as well as those whose words and attitudes quickly change the atmosphere to anxiety, worry and fear. Some bring power, wisdom and authority. This is the good kind of power – with a godly goal as its objective. The powerful wisdom and authority of God is opposite of evil power rooted in pride and arrogance leading to the worship of self over God. Instead, this desirable power for good comes from experience, humility and wisdom gained through faithful obedience to God and His Word.
We who belong to Jesus are called to be the carriers of His presence.
Is there something that is hindering me from experiencing God’s peace, joy and His overcoming power to live victoriously?
Am I holding onto a grudge against someone? Am I forgiving others just as You, Lord, keep so graciously forgiving me?
Am I more focused on my own plans over fulfilling God’s purpose in my life?
Am I more interested in a platform where others applaud and follow me over the presence of God where others see the presence of Jesus and the graceful gifts of His Spirit flowing through me?
*John 20:23 commentary from New Spirit Filled Life Bible: The disciples are to preach both the way of salvation and the way of damnation explaining how sinners can be forgiven and the danger of rejecting the Good News. Whether or not the hearers’ sins are forgiven depends on their acceptance or rejection of Christ.
Other references from the Word of God: John 15:5; Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:8; Acts 4:13; Ephesians 2:14