Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

What We're Getting Wrong


John 20:18–23

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “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.”

Mary’s Little Commission is completed in verse 18. Given that Jesus shows up later the same day, what’s so important about Mary’s Little Commission? Do the disciples need to be prepared for His showing up, so they won’t die of shock or something?

More likely, Mary’s news is why they’re assembled. Remember, Peter and John had returned to their own homes after discovering that He rose. Now they’re all together—a situation which necessitates security measures for fear of the Jews. Mary’s message is the only thing mentioned that could have triggered this.

And Mary’s message is that Jesus is ascending, not just that He rose. They don’t have much time.

So, Jesus shows up, seemingly without coming in through the door, and they don’t die of shock. Then He says, “Peace be with you.” This is no simple colloquial greeting. The risen Lord says very little here, so every word is crucial. Thus, it’d be useful to know exactly what Jesus means here. Specifically, is it in the imperative in the Greek? Is He giving a command?

The Greek is simply two words—eiraynay humin (ειρηνη υμιν). Eiraynay is simply “peace,” (or “harmony”) and humin is you, in the plural dative. So, a literal word-for-word translation could be just, “Peace to y’all.” That doesn’t help. Jesus is saying something important, but what?

The answer comes in the next verse, when He repeats, “eiraynay humin,” and adds, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” Then Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on them.

The peace (or harmony), which merits a double mention, is to accompany them on their mission.

The lesson for us is striking. The Great Commission must be carried out in peace and harmony.

We mess this up big time. We divide over things that aren’t worth dividing over. Frankly, our egos get in the way. We need to get back to kingdom priorities and put doctrinal nuances on the back burner.

Division among Christians is harmful. Jesus gave this double emphasis for a reason.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

Subscribe to Ailbe Newsletters

Sign up to receive our email newsletters and read columns about revival, renewal, and awakening built upon prayer, sharing, and mutual edification.

No