Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
The Christian life is not an easy life. If it seems like an easy life, take that as a warning that we might not be stretching enough… we aren’t stepping far enough outside of our comfort zones. In many ways, true Christianity exists outside of our what we are able to do.
A rational reaction to this would be: “If the Christian life exists outside of our capacities, how is the Christian life possible?”
It is likely that the disciples were asking this same question on the first Easter. In the previous days, they had been moved outside of their comfort zones and found the Christian life too difficult. When Jesus was arrested, they had fled. When they were questioned, they denied. When he was crucified, they hid. The Jesus Way was beyond what they were able to do.
Their failure is heavy in our verse from John 20. It matched the joy they undoubtedly felt in finding Jesus alive. But how could they face this Jesus now that they had proved unable to follow him?
Jesus immediately spoke into this in the same way he speaks into all of our brokenness. He spoke peace. The presence of God brings peace. But then Jesus doubled down on his insistence that the disciples live beyond their capabilities. “Yes, you failed me, fled, denied, and hid. Now, I want you to do the opposite of that and go out and live the kingdom of God in the world.”
Again, a rational reaction to this would be to ask: “How?”
Jesus answer is to breathe upon us and say, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The only way it is possible to do what is impossible with human beings is to be partnered with the God in whom all things are possible.
This is the Christian life. It is moving beyond accepting what Jesus has done for us within our status quo. It is receiving the Holy Spirit. It is moving beyond our own capabilities and comfort zones to live the Christ Way in our world.
Dear Jesus, you know the desires and demands and fears and doubts and limitations that command my world. I know that your love asks more of me. Will you bridge my practical experience and your love with the gift of your Holy Spirit? Breathe upon me this moment that I might know your partnership in the things of my life. Thank you! In Jesus’ name. Amen.