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THE GREAT COMMISSIONING

Read­ing Time: 7 minutes

(Ref. Texts: Acts 4:32–35; 1John 5:1–6; John 20:19–31)

As God has not made any­thing use­less in this world, as all beings ful­fil oblig­a­tions or a role in the sub­lime drama of Cre­ation, I can­not exempt from this duty, and small though it be, I too have a mis­sion to fill, as for example: alle­vi­at­ing the suf­fer­ings of my fel­low­men” (Jose Rizal).

Introduction

Again, happy feast of the resur­rec­tion of Jesus! I hope you are still enjoy­ing the bless­ings and grace of the resur­rec­tion? As the psalm­ist says, it is the Lord’s mak­ing. It is mar­vel­lous in our eyes. Cer­tainly, the Jews regret­ted their action, see­ing the out­come of the cru­ci­fix­ion of Jesus. If they knew what would have been the after­math of their plot to kill Jesus, I sup­pose they would have thought twice (cf. Acts 3:17). In his second volume, Luke provides us with a detailed account of the mis­sion­ary cum pas­tor­al activ­it­ies of the apostles after the resur­rec­tion and ascen­sion of Jesus. Unlike the instruc­tion in Mat­thew 10:5–6, the Gos­pel can now be taken out­side the ter­rit­ory of Israel (cf. Matt 28:19–20). God’s gift can­not be mono­pol­ized. Fol­low­ing the ascen­sion of Jesus, the first offi­cial act of the Elev­en apostles was to replace Judas Iscari­ot (cf. Acts 1:15–26). Hav­ing done this, they remained in pray­er as instruc­ted by Jesus until the great day of divine empower­ment (cf. Acts 2:1–13). The fruits and effects of Christ’s resur­rec­tion are gradu­ally unfold­ing. Those fruits are recor­ded espe­cially in the Acts of the Apostles.

Jesus shows himself

In the even­ing of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the dis­ciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, peace be with you” (John 20:19). Accord­ing to John, in the even­ing of his resur­rec­tion from the dead, Jesus appeared and showed him­self to the dis­ciples. How should we under­stand Jesus passing through closed doors and win­dows, and appear­ing before his dis­ciples? The fact that Jesus showed the dis­ciples his pierced hands and side means he was in his real phys­ic­al body. How then did Jesus in his phys­ic­al body pass through doors and win­dows that were locked? The answer to this could be found in Acts 12:10. Since John did not say how, the implic­a­tion is that, at the pres­ence of Jesus, the doors mira­cu­lously opened. This in fact, added to the joy and amazement of the dis­ciples (cf. John 20:20).

Peace be with you – Sha­lom aleikhem! With every door and win­dow locked, Jesus appeared to them and greeted them. The words of Jesus, his assur­ance and encour­age­ment were all sum­mar­ized in the greet­ing – Sha­lom aleikhem! The Greek word trans­lated as peace means har­mony, tran­quil­ity and peace. In the Hebrew lan­guage, the same word trans­lated as peace means wealth, health, suc­cess, pro­gress, peace, and everything good. In the Chris­ti­an sense, peace refers to the mes­si­an­ic sal­va­tion. What Jesus wished the dis­ciples was both the Eng­lish, Greek, Hebrew and Chris­ti­an mean­ings of the Greek term rendered as peace. It is the same things that God wishes his chil­dren and cre­ation, now and always.

The Great commissioning

As the Fath­er has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). Imme­di­ately after the greet­ing, fol­lowed the great com­mis­sion­ing. Once resur­rec­ted, Jesus appeared to his dis­ciples and com­mis­sioned them to con­tin­ue what he had star­ted (cf. also Matt 28:18–20). Jesus, the One sent by the Fath­er is now the Sender. To be noted is that in this com­mis­sion­ing or send­ing, the three per­sons of the God­head are involved. As the Fath­er sent Jesus, so Jesus sends his dis­ciples, fur­nish­ing them with the Holy Spir­it (John 20:21–22). After the com­mis­sion­ing, Jesus for­ti­fied them by breath­ing unto them, say­ing “Receive the Holy Spir­it. If you for­give the sins of any, they are for­giv­en them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:22–23). With these words, Jesus sealed the com­mis­sion­ing. The dis­ciples can now begin their mis­sion without fear. Hav­ing defeated evil and injustice, Jesus con­tin­ues his evan­gel­iz­a­tion and the spread­ing of the mes­sage of life. Those who killed him thought they could silence the truth. But they were wrong. Once resur­rec­ted, Jesus appeared to his elev­en dis­ciples and com­mis­sioned them to con­tin­ue what he had star­ted. Hav­ing killed their Mas­ter, the dis­ciples were so frightened that they locked them­selves up in a room, so that what happened to Jesus may not hap­pen to them. From the Sent, Jesus is now the Sender. As the Fath­er sent him (cf. John 3:17), he is now send­ing his dis­ciples (cf. John 17:18). Like Jesus, they must remain faith­ful to their mission.

Receive the Holy Spirit

When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘receive the Holy Spir­it’” (John 20:22). After show­ing him­self to the dis­ciples, and wish­ing them well, and after send­ing them as the Fath­er sent him, Jesus breathed unto the dis­ciples and empowered them with the Holy Spir­it. This is inter­est­ing! Note also that he waited for Thomas to be present before com­mis­sion­ing them. Often, we hear people shout­ing ‘receive it’; ‘receive the spir­it’; ‘receive the Holy Ghost power’; ‘receive the anoint­ing spir­it’; ‘receive the spir­it of anoint­ing’; ‘receive the power from on high’; ‘receive power.’ Now, those who say such things base whatever they say on the words of the Scrip­ture includ­ing Jesus’ words to his dis­ciples to receive the Holy Spir­it. Some of these people even go to the extent of breath­ing on oth­ers before pro­noun­cing such words. now, the ques­tion is “can any­one breath on oth­ers and ask them to receive the Holy Spir­it?” Cer­tainly, there are series of spir­itu­al abuses in the con­tem­por­ary Chris­ti­an churches and among Chris­ti­ans. Some people ordain, qual­i­fy, approve and present them­selves as being cap­able of breath­ing on people and giv­ing them the Holy Spir­it. These people arrog­ate them­selves such spir­itu­al capa­city. The con­fu­sion and spir­itu­al mis­be­ha­viour in and among Chris­ti­ans speak clearer.

Jesus could have breathed on the crowd. But he chose to breath only on the group of the selec­ted dis­ciples. John 20:22 is a fore­taste of the incid­ent of Acts 2. Does this mean the dis­ciples were deprived of the Holy Spir­it? Def­in­itely, no! On the last day of the feast of Shel­ters, Jesus invited those who were thirsty and those who believe in him to come to him and drink, because from his heart flows the streams of liv­ing water (John 7:37–38). John explains that Jesus was speak­ing “about the Spir­it, which believ­ers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spir­it, because Jesus was not yet glor­i­fied” (John 7:39). Again, while con­sol­ing them, Jesus prom­ised his dis­ciples that he “will ask the Fath­er, and he will give you anoth­er Advoc­ate, to be with you forever” (John 14:16).

Con­cern­ing this spir­it, Jesus cla­ri­fies that “this is the Spir­it of truth, whom the world can­not receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you” (John 14:17). There­fore, what the dis­ciples received was the spir­it of glor­i­fic­a­tion, the spir­it of the resur­rec­tion. This spir­it is the spir­it of truth that will accom­pany them in their mis­sion. Like Jesus said, the world can­not receive this spir­it because it neither sees him nor does it know him. Such spir­it is only for those who know and believe in him. Now, know­ing and believ­ing in Jesus and there­fore, in God does not neces­sar­ily mean pro­fess­ing with our lips that Jesus is Lord. It is not even claim­ing to have received the spir­it of anoint­ing. It is not the capa­city to work or fake mir­acles. It is abid­ing in the truth. It is bear­ing wit­ness to the Gos­pel. It is tak­ing the good news to the afflic­ted; pro­claim­ing free­dom to the cap­tives; restor­ing sight to the blind; and set­ting the oppressed free (cf. Luke 4:18–19). Con­tin­ue.…

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