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Jesus Can't Be Locked Out: Reflections on John 20:19-29

He has a body, and he has come not just to visit but bearing gifts that can heal a hurting, hostile world.

Peace

The first gift is peace. He promised in John14:27 to give his followers peace, and now, as the risen Lord, he does so. Three times in this passage, he says, "Peace be with you." An ordinary greeting. An extraordinary greeting. The number three is a familiar number in the gospels. Jesus undergoes three temptations by Satan. Jesus prays three times in Gethsemane that "this cup pass from me" in Mark's version. Peter denies Jesus three times. Then, at the end of John's gospel, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him, and offers him forgiveness. Jesus offers peace and forgiveness even when we've yielded to temptation.

Purpose

"I send [from verb apostello] you into the world. As my Father has sent me so I send you." Jesus commissions the disciples to be those who are sent, just as he has been sent to bring God's love to the world.

Power

Then he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." This is John's Pentecost. No rowdy crowd. No tongues of fire. Just a resurrected savior with a spiritual body who can pass through walls breathing the Spirit into our tired, fearful bodies.

"Knock on any door in your community," says Gordon Lathrop, "and you'll find some kind of agony." We are called to knock, emboldened by the knowledge that we bear the peace and purpose and power of one who bears the scars of his own pain but who can pass through walls. We knock, empowered by the one who has never been locked out. He is the one who stands in any fearful situation, with any fearful soul, bringing peace, purpose and power.

4/9/2012 4:00:00 AM
Alyce McKenzie
About Alyce McKenzie
Alyce M. McKenzie is the George W. and Nell Ayers Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.