The Gospel of John: John 20.22, 23
Read and meditate on John 20.22, 23.
Jesus imputed real authority and power to His disciples, and through them, to His Church. We ought not neglect these.
22And therefore, when
He said this, then He breathed on them, and to
them said, “Receive the Spirit. 23And if you
forgive the sins of any, then those sins
will be forgiven; and if you the sins
of any yet retain, then are they yet
- John 20.22, 23
1. Meditate on Matthew 28.18 and John 13.3. What was the nature of the authority Jesus had been given? For what was that authority powerful? Complete this prayer: Lord Jesus, all authority is Yours, all power is Yours, I am Yours, and so…
2. In the same breath that Jesus sent His disciples (and us), He did something else as well. What? Can we fulfill our mission without this? Explain. Grant me Your power and Spirit, Lord, so that today…
3. This giving of the Spirit is a kind of “down payment” on the Spirit, Who is Himself a “down payment” of greater presence, promise, and power to come (cf. Eph. 1.14). That is, Jesus breathed the Spirit as a kind of token or foreshadowing of a greater giving of the Spirit to come (Acts 2), just as that giving of the Spirit is a portent of still more to come for all who believe. Reflect on John 14-16. How does the power of the Spirit work in us to help us fulfill the mission for which Christ has sent us? Fill me with Your Spirit today, O Lord, and let me…
4. Jesus assumes that there will be sin among His followers, and that His followers will need to deal with sin. These days we tend not to talk about sin very much, or to deal with it very effectively. We have a kind of “live and let live” or “sin and let sin” attitude about sin. But this is not in line with Jesus’ teaching. How, in a church, are sins forgiven? How are they retained? Why does this matter? Let there be no sin in me, Lord, or if there is…
5. Can a local church succeed in its mission without the filling of the Spirit or consistency in dealing with sin? Explain. Bring together into one your prayers from questions 1-4.
“[Christ’s disciples] were able to receive [the Spirit] on three occasions: before he was glorified by the passion, after he was glorified by the resurrection and after his ascension.… Now the first of these manifests him—the healing of the sick and casting out of evil spirits and so does that breathing on them after the resurrection, which was clearly a divine inspiration. And so too the present distribution of the fiery tongues. But the first manifested him indistinctly, the second more expressly, this present one more perfectly, since he is no longer present only in energy but … substantially, associating with us and dwelling in us.” Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389 AD)
The Church has been given real power and real authority for spiritual life and mission. How can we tell when a local church is wielding that power as the Lord intends?
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
Psalm 33.18-22 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
God watches those who fear His Name, who hope upon His grace and love;
He keeps their souls from death and shame who trust in Him Who reigns above.
God is our Helper and our Shield; upon us let Your grace descend!
We hope in You; to You we yield; we trust in Jesus to the end.
T. M. Moore
What does it mean to know Jesus? Order a copy of our book, To Know Him, and share it with a friend who does not know the Lord (click here). Need help learning to pray the psalms? Order the book, God’s Prayer Program, and discover why and how to realize the power of the psalms to transform your prayer life (click here).
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV a and b: John, edited by Joel C. Elowsky, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Verse translation of John by T. M. Moore.