John 20:21-23 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 his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
This passage has always been mind-blowing for me and still is, despite how many times I have read it. I’ve even preached on it repeatedly, but I still need to let it sink into my soul and spirit more. The very idea that Jesus would send us as He was sent trips all the circuit breakers, and then there’s the matter of forgiving sins. It’s too much! When you think about it, Jesus was at this point elevating His followers in much the same way He had done three days earlier in the upper room. “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12) God has given incredible power and authority to those who are His through faith in Jesus Christ. It is very foolish, even dangerous, to try to lay hold of that power and authority without understanding the context and conditions. In between saying He’s sending us and talking about forgiving, Jesus instructs us to receive the Holy Spirit. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Without the presence, guidance, and power of the Spirit we have no hope at all of fulfilling the commission we have been given. Recently Charisma Magazine has come out with a series of books called Life in the Spirit. I haven’t looked at it, but if the authors have been true to Scripture, I hope many people get it and apply it. We live so much of our lives without tapping into the power that God has made available to us. (Acts 1:8) Even those who have experienced the power of the Spirit are tempted to use it for their own ends, instead of submitting fully to the will of the Father as Jesus did. (Luke 22:42) I’d say the vast majority of Christians, God’s children, live out their time on earth without grasping more than the tiniest sliver of what God has done for them and made available to them in Christ. I count myself among their number!
I am challenged every time I read this, and that’s good. I have tasted God’s amazing grace and rejoice to share it, but I must remember that there’s always more. God never runs out of grace, love, or power! I need to operate more and more fully in the commission God has given His children, and lead others to do the same. I have squandered it pretty badly to this point. I have proclaimed that when Japanese Christians wake up to who they are in Christ, the nation and the world will change, but at the same time I haven’t walked fully in who I am in Christ! As God has told me personally, there is much in the world that is not as He wants it to be. I am to submit myself fully as His change agent, operating not in my own wisdom and strength but His, so that the works of the devil may be destroyed and people set free, (1 John 3:8) for their salvation and God’s glory.
Father, as I wrote this You reminded me that You had me start a book on this very subject. Help me get back to it. My words have no power, but when they are Your words through me, they accomplish whatever You intend. (Isaiah 55:10-11) May I be fully obedient, doing exactly what You desire of me, not running off on my own but not holding back either, so that all of Your plans and purposes may be fulfilled, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!