Acts 2:1-11 II:
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."
20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
(v.19) The disciples were afraid. They did not respond to Jesus'
or greeting. They probably did not even recognize him.
(v.20) Jesus identified himself by his hands and his side, which is to say,
his suffering. This brought recognition and joy.
(v.21) Jesus sent the disciples to continue his mission.
(v.22) "He breathed on them." The word Spirit means breath, wind, and
symbolizes power. Wind was experienced as a powerful force in the ancient
world. People in the Old Testament considered the wind as God's breath, or
God's power and spirit. Therefore in Genesis God's breath gave life to Adam,
and now bestows even a greater life as God's children.
(v.23) John mentioned "sin" (singular) 25 times and "sins" (plural) only 6
times. The singular form indicates an evil force in general, instead of a
list of specific sins.
See also the explanations on the second Sunday of Easter (Jn 20:19-31).
One Main Point
The disciples receive the Holy Spirit and Jesus' mission.
Jesus breathed on the disciples to give them new life as children of God.
With this new life or new force, they will be able to fight against sin or the
forces of evil.
See Jesus saying to me "Peace be with you" repeatedly. Notice his tone, his
gestures, his eyes, and so on.
Feel Jesus' breath on me. Have I received such a "holy force"? Have I ever
felt it, and if so, when?
With that holy force, do I struggle against sin or the evil force (my own
evil tendencies as well as those in the greater society around me)?
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community