Gospel: John 20:19-31
Epistle: 1 Peter 1:3-9
Lesson: Acts 5:29-42
Psalm: Psalm 148
CLB Pastors Network – Dr. David Veum –
CLICK HERE for a longer commentary on this text by Dr. Veum.
Jesus sends us to forgive and to withhold the forgiveness of sins. Terrifying.
Ernest Hemingway demonstrates the power of forgiveness in his story, “The Capital of the World.” He tells in the first lines of a boy named Paco who has had a falling out with his father. Paco ran away from home. His father began a journey in search of his boy. He searched the countryside. He found no trace of his Paco. Finally, in Madrid, Spain, in a last desperate attempt to find his son, the father put an ad in the local newspaper. The ad read: “Dear Paco, Meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon. All is forgiven. I love you. Your father.” The next day eight hundred Pacos showed up.
What a terrifying power to put into our hands, this power to forgive and to withhold forgiveness. Eight hundred young men show up to receive forgiveness from their fathers. Eight hundred boys want to come home. Eight hundred sons long to know their father’s love. Seven hundred and ninety-nine Pacos go back empty to their hopeless lives. Forgiveness and forgiveness withheld, what a terrifying power…
… John 20:23, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Of course God is the one who actually forgives sin. We only announce it to those who repent. Even so we are sent by the risen Christ to continue his work. We are sent as forgiving people to a world of dying Pacos to tell them, “All is forgiven.” We are sent to forgive.
The Gospel According to John
“At one level, the greeting ‘Peace be with you!’ is conventional, representing Hebrew ‘Shalom,’ still in use today. Indeed, perhaps when the disciples first heard the risen Lord utter it, they thought little of it, being so astonished and overjoyed that linguistic subtleties would elude them. But the repetition of the greeting (vv. 21, 26) would eventually prompt the reflective amongst them to recall that Jesus before the cross had promised to bequeath to them his peace (14:27; 16:33). Though a common word, ‘Shalom was also the embracing term used to denote the unqualified well-being that would characterize the people of God once the eschatological kingdom had dawned. Jesus’ ‘Shalom!’ on Easter evening is the complement of ‘it is finished’ on the cross, for the peace of reconciliation and life from God is now imparted… Not surprisingly it is included, along with ‘grace,’ in the greeting of every epistle of Paul.”
Carson, D.A., The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991.
The Gospel of John
“Some people, in times of great and desolating sorrow, find comfort in one another’s company. Others prefer to creep into a corner and be alone with their grief. Thomas belonged to this latter category. When the others sought him out and told hi their exciting news, he was not impressed. They might have succumbed to wishful thinking, but he was not to be taken in. Even when they told him how they had identified the Lord by the nail-prints in his hands and the spear-wound in his side, he would not be persuaded; he knew what imagination was capable of. Seeing would not be enough for him; only if he put his finger into the nail-prints and his hand into the spear-wound would he be convinced. Optical illusions were not unknown, but he reckoned that the evidence of touch would show whether there was solid flesh there or not. He has come to be known as ‘doubting Thomas’, but he was not really any more doubting than the others; had he been with them on the evening of that first Easter Day, his doubts would have been removed at the same time as theirs. As it was, he had to wait a further week.”
Bruce, F.F., The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983.
Interpretation of Saint John’ s Gospel
“Sight had its necessary place in the economy of grace which wrought out our salvation and founded the church. But the disciples were not to think that in all future ages Jesus would use sight in this way. Even in their own future work sight will play only a minor part. So after the preamble Jesus adds the main statement, ‘blessed they who did not see and did believe,’… The two aorist participles are by no means to be understood in the sense of future perfects: ‘shall not have seen and yet shall have believed.’ They are timeless. Whoever at any time, past, present, or future, believes without seeing is pronounced ‘blessed’ in the soteriological (the study of religious doctrines of salvation) sense.”
Lenski, C.H., Interpretation of Saint John’s Gospel. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943.