“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!’ After He said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.'” John 20:19-23 NIV.

Such familiar words! But they conjure up all sorts of pictures in our imagination, and many questions too.

‘Shalom! Hello!’ The common Jewish greeting but now loaded with new meaning! This was much more than a “Hello! Nice to see you again,” greeting.

Can you imagine what that one little word meant to those eleven fear-filled men, cowering behind locked doors? Every footfall, every sound sent their hearts racing. ‘Have they found us? Have they come to arrest us? Are we to suffer the same fate as Jesus? What are we supposed to do now?”

Jesus did not announce His arrival with a knock on the door or a “May I come in?” He simply appeared, in their midst, just like that! As silent as an owl on the hunt, He came. One minute He was not there and the next He was, in the middle of the huddle of men whispering together in case their hiding place was discovered.

‘Shalom! Peace!’ was His greeting. Peace, the inner calm and confidence that secures the heart in the midst of turbulent circumstances. It was a wish, a prayer, a command, and a promise. He had taken on the adversary and won. He had returned from the grave to tell them that they were back on the road to wholeness. For them, a new life was just beginning.

He had not only won the victory over the devil; He had also set in motion the process of renewal that would come through the Holy Spirit’s presence in them. The Spirit of God who had been removed from the human race when Adam chose against God, and who had only sporadically visited His people since then, was coming back to fill the earth with His presence and to take up residence in the lives of everyone who received Jesus.

Imagine Jesus’ excitement and joy! He was able to tell them that a new era had begun, and they were to be part of the biggest scoop in history. He had played His part in setting it in motion. Now it was their turn to go, and wherever they went, to tell the story and to invite the wayward sons of God to return to the Father’s heart and the Father’s home.

There was one great obstacle to experiencing this new life — the guilt of sin. It was their task to declare to whoever would listen, that God had finally and effectively dealt with sin. No one need cower in the presence of a holy God, ever again. Sin had been atoned for, guilt removed and everyone who believed in Him could face God in the shalom of a new heart and a clean slate.

He had now entrusted them with the precious message of forgiveness. Unless they shared the good news, people would remain in their sin, their guilt, their shame and their fear of death and they would never know that God had forgiven them and that they were free to come home.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” Romans 5:1 NIV.

Luella Campbell

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