Today’s Author: Carol Swanson

Who hasn’t seen a painting such as this of Christ knocking on the door?  It is inspired by Revelation 3:20. “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” There is no door handle to show that Jesus won’t enter without invitation. “Love is patient; love is kind; …it does not insist on its own way” (1 Cor. 13:4). Yet our text this week (John 20:19ff) offers a different scenario.

 It was the evening of Easter, and the disciples were hiding in great fear of the authorities who crucified Jesus, and so the doors were locked, we are told.  And then, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Imagine if Jesus had knocked on the door first. What would be the reaction of the disciples? Could they comprehend it was Jesus knocking, even if he called out to them? Instead, Jesus came into their presence, offered Peace, and showed them his wounds. We are told, “the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” Experiencing the risen Jesus, seeing him, hearing his voice, their fear and sadness were replaced by great joy. 

 In her commentary on John, Karoline Lewis stresses the importance of the details. The NRSV and other translations say the disciples were in a house, but the Greek literally says, “the doors being shut where the disciples were.” Neither house nor room are mentioned. The door is the important focus. This is what stands between the frightened disciples and danger. And so we recall in chapter 10, Jesus said, “I AM the door” (translated in NRSV as gate), the door to the sheepfold. When he was arrested, he was the door that stood between the soldiers and the disciples, protecting them. And he was the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. 

In chapter 10, when Jesus said, “I AM the door,” he also said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (10:10).  Lewis writes concerning 20:19, “Abundant life has just entered the ‘room.’ Moreover, it will be in this moment that Jesus will bestow on the disciples abundant life now in the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The Comforter, the Advocate, the Spirit of truth.  Lewis points out how different the Gospel of John is from the Acts account where the Spirit appears like tongues of fire and with the gift of speaking in many languages—a very public and exciting event.  Instead, in the Gospel of John, Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Lewis describes it as “quiet, intimate, and personal, much like the nature of the Holy Spirit… the character of its role and work according to John.” (244-245) “This resurrection appearance is a moment of re-creation, of new birth, of abundant life, of becoming children of God (1:12-13).… That the Holy Spirit is … breathed into us also heightens the intimacy between God, Jesus, and the believer. The mutual abiding (15:4)…. God’s very breath inside of us. It does not get more intimate than that.” (246) 

As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” Jesus commissions.  May we be empowered by God’s love—by God’s breath—to invite the world into relationship with God.  Please, sit for a few minutes, close your eyes, and breathe in the Spirit’s love, and breathe out empowers me.

Breathe on me, breath of God; 
Fill me with life anew, 
That I may love all that you love
And do what you would do.  –Amen.  (LBW hymn 488)

Mid-week devotions are authored by members of our community.  If you are interested in creating a trio of reflections to be shared on an upcoming Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, contact Pastor Peter.