Jesus was dead. Skin-blue cold. Emptied of blood and heartbeat. Reeking in a tomb. The disciples were in hiding for fear of the Jews, probably confused, definitely hurting, and a good chance they were angry at those who took their best friend away.

Sit in their pain for a moment. It wasn’t a fair trial; it wasn’t a gentle death. Right now, it didn’t matter that Jesus had given them a heads up. They were wrongly stripped of something, someone really special.

All of a sudden, a couple of days later, Jesus appeared in their midst. And you know what the first thing he told them was?

“Peace be with you.”

The guy who was wronged the most, fully alive, fully capable and deserving to say, “Let’s go wipe out these pieces of trash,” simply and calmly blessed them saying, “It’s okay now, I’m here.”

Maybe for a second they thought there would be justice. He even started to give them authority: “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” This was it; revenge was coming. As if knowing there might be these feelings, He again said, “Peace be with you.”

Jesus was revealing to his followers that He does more than bring peace, He was peace. The embodiment of rest and a quiet soul was literally in the room with them, and for the first time, they got to know this rest in its fullness. Within this, he was also expressing his plan of action. “Wherever you go, you will be peace. Not revenge, not hatred. The very calmness of God.”

There was probably some confusion, but they also probably couldn’t keep their eyes of this guy who just walked out of a tomb. The followers knew he was someone worth paying attention to. So after the room settled from all the rattling thoughts and adrenaline, Jesus did something so bizarre, yet sweet, only something you would do to your most intimate of friends: he breathed on them.

Like Aslan breathing to life those turned stone at the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Jesus exhaled the core of his nature—the slow burning flame of eternity, a power that plows through stars and earth and hell—his unconditional love, his spirit.

Their breathing slowed. They unclenched their fists. They let go.

The walls were no longer so tight around them, space started acting like itself again—the air was no longer dusty and filled with cobwebs. They started to notice the warmth of sunlight again.

To conclude this unforgettable moment, Jesus gave them authority to use what they had just been filled with: “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven in heaven; if you hold onto their sins and do not forgive them, they will be kept in mind.”

What weight and power Jesus gave. Because Jesus forgave, anyone who accepts this forgiveness will know complete fellowship and peace with the Father. All of heaven and earth will be made whole and good again. He has already forgiven all men, even the ones who physically took part in his murder, but he was letting his followers decide for themselves.

As followers today, we still have that freedom to forgive or not forgive.

The Forgiver is strong enough to forgive the ugliest sinner. He is strong enough to heal the victim and the destroyer. But will we?

Will we come beside Jesus, before the throne of the Father, and say, “forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing; they don’t know how it hurts you?” What if we, by pouring out the well of peace inside us upon those blinded by a whirlwind of darkness, silence the chaos in their life, wash the muck from their eyes and bring clarity? What if we, by agreeing with the One—who deserves to unleash every shard of metal and hurricane, yet gives a cool glass of water to his enemies—begin to change the culture of our cities and families?

What if we gave Jesus space to heal the spaces of humanity, and all it took to slow the breathing and unclench the fists of a person who has a mindset to hurt others, was to say “Peace be with you.”

 

Taken from John 20:19-23

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