Jesus With His Disciples John 20:19-23 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
A summary of what we are going to study in this passage of John can be found in Mark 16:14, so we will begin there. In Mark we find Jesus appearing to the disciples as they were having a meal and upbraided them for their repeated demonstrations of unbelief and hardness of heart. After disappearing Jesus later reappears suddenly and with a more reassuring message when He says, “Peace be unto you,” (Luke 24:36). In spite of the reassurance the disciples are frightened because it was a scary time for them.
They were on edge because the guards had reported them as having stolen the body of Jesus. In order to have stolen the body they would have had to do it on the Sabbath day and the disciples weren’t about to do that. They were also frightened because Jesus had suddenly appeared amongst them inside of the room when the doors were shut. Jesus was now in His glorified body which had a molecular arrangement that allowed Him to pass thru solid objects and disappear. Jesus calmed them by showing them the holes in His hands and feet and inviting them to lay hands on Him (Luke 24:39). The disciples were happy to see the Lord (John 20:20, 2Tim 1:7), but they still had trouble believing him (Luke 24:41).
Then Jesus told them that they were to go, “into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,“ (Mark 16:15, John 20:21). Jesus breathed on the disciples and conferred the Holy Ghost on them (John 20:22, Acts 1:2), so that the disciples received the Holy Ghost. This is not the same as the baptism of the Holy Ghost which took place on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:5, 2:1-4). It is important to note here that the Holy Spirit was not inactive in the world before Jesus Christ breathed the Holy Spirit on the disciples (Ex 31:3). This breathing of the Holy Spirit on the disciples allowed them to receive and understand the revelation of the words of God (1Co 2:10). Otherwise, without the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, their minds would have remained darkened.
Then Jesus gave the disciples the power to remit sins (John 20:23). This act did not confer the power of absolution on the clergy of the Catholic Church. Jesus gave the power of remission into the hands of His disciples (Matt. 18:15-20). The disciples could hold the transgression of an unrepentant saint against him and it would be retained against him at the judgment seat of Christ (2Co 5:10). This has nothing to do with the shed blood of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness that was extended at Calvary. This has to do with the practical relationships between people (Acts 5:1-5, 1Co 5:5, 2Co 2:5-6, Luke 17:10).