John 20:21-22 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.”
The whole Easter story is so glorious that every verse of the record is worthy of deep meditation. However, in some ways this passage takes the cake. I find it so meaningful I’ve even written a small book on it! This was the moment of the disciples’ commissioning and empowering, whether they realized it or not. Some scholars have called it the “Johannine Pentecost,” because of Jesus breathing His Spirit onto the disciples, but it is clear from the record that they weren’t aware of the impartation and all it meant until after the actual day of Pentecost. The commission, however, I’m sure they thought about a great deal, from soon after the shock of Jesus’ appearing to them wore off a little. These men had been with Jesus for over three years, and they knew well what sort of lifestyle He kept. They had seen His expressions of love and of power, and realized He was sending them to do the same. What they didn’t realize, in all probability, was that He was empowering them for the task by the impartation of His Spirit. God never tells us to do anything that He doesn’t enable us to do. We often have trouble grasping or really believing that. We tend to think, this task is too big, or too hard, but that can’t be the case, because nothing is too big or too hard for God, and He is in us by His Spirit. A case in point is that of William Carey, whom a friend has been studying for seminary. William Carey was a cobbler, and neither a scholar nor a rich man, but God used him to spark what is called “the modern missionary movement” (though it was hundreds of years ago), imparting awesome intellect and wisdom and providing sufficient resources. Had he looked at himself and what he had, he never would have launched out and accomplished all he did, but instead he looked at God who commissioned him, and the rest is history. We too need to receive and believe our commission, trusting not ourselves but the One who sends us, so that His will may be accomplished for His glory.
This is personal to me in many ways. In terms of William Carey, my mother’s sister-in-law, Saxon Rowe Carver, wrote a children’s book about Carey, called The Shoeleather Globe. She and her husband, not to mention my parents, were foreign missionaries from before WWII. Missions is very much in my blood! For myself, I have been given the vision of the city of Omura again becoming the foremost Christian city in Japan, as it was 450 years ago. Humanly speaking that is clearly impossible, which is all the more reason I am convinced the vision is from God. After 40 years in Omura I see little if any movement in that direction, but again, I am to keep my eyes on my Lord and not on myself or my circumstances. I am to realize that here and in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) Jesus is imparting His authority, His power, and that is greater than anything that could stand against me – including my own weakness! I am to remember that the God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in me by His Spirit, and allow Him to do through me all that He desires, for His glory.
Father, thank You for this powerful reminder. Help me not slough it off, but indeed fulfill the commission You have for me personally, for the salvation of this nation and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!