In today’s Gospel reading we have John’s account of the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples. John states that they were in Jerusalem in a room behind doors that were “locked for fear of the Jewish leaders” (NIV). The locked doors reflect the fear felt by the disciples because of the events of the previous week.
We witness four things happening here. First, Jesus’ presence: Jesus came and stood among them. The disciples were fearful and behind locked doors, yet the comforting presence of the risen Christ overcame that physical barrier.
Second, Jesus’ offering of peace: Peace be with you. To the frightened disciples Jesus’ peace was a welcome gift. The Greek word for peace, eirēnē, is more than the absence of conflict; it is a gift of God that signifies wholeness in spite of trials and persecution.
Third, Jesus’ proof: He showed them his hands and his side. His wounds confirmed his bodily resurrection, demonstrating that the person who stood before them, alive and well, was the same person who had recently been crucified. Death had been defeated.
Fourth, Jesus’ gift of power: Receive the Holy Spirit. With the abiding presence of the Spirit, the disciples had the authority to act in Jesus’ name.
Today, as we celebrate the Day of Pentecost, let us be reminded of the presence, peace, and proof of resurrection of the risen Christ, our Savior and Lord. As we confront the many challenges and changes in today’s world, let us not yield to the temptation to retreat behind locked doors because of fear. Jesus breathes into our being, as true believers, his Spirit, and we thus have the authority to proclaim in his name the good news of salvation to all people.
Earl Goulbourne, pastor, Grace Moravian Church, Queens, New York