Page 5, 24th May 1985

24th May 1985
Page 5
Page 5, 24th May 1985 — The sin umbrella

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Acts 2:1-11 I Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13 John 20:19-23 Pentecost Sunday

EASTERTIDE ends exactly where it began, with the Resurrection. For the author of the fourth gospel the gift of the Spirit and Jesus' victory over death were one and the same thing. The very fact that death had been conquered, and that sin and suffering, along with all the other ills of humanity, had been put to flight, meant that the promised outpouring of the Spirit that would enable Jesus' followers to do his Father's work had already taken place.

It was "late on that day, the first day of the week", the day when tales started to circulate that after all Jesus' story might not have come to an end; but they were still frightened: "the doors were locked where they were, on account of their fear of the Jews".

Into this tearful scene, "Jesus came", and, in a clumsy expression, "stood, in(to) the midst". The rumours, then, are true, as he instantly confirms, saying "Peace is with you" (which is arguably a better translation of the Greek than "peace be with you"). This great statement is a confirmation for the whole human race that all our enemies are conquered because of what God has done in Jesus.

But, of course. II is not in human nature to believe that there is nothing to worry about, just because someone tells us so; and so we find Jesus giving the disciples proof that it is indeed he: "he showed them his hands and his side". Only at this point do we hear of them, they were locked in for fear, and we are left with the impression that Jesus' presence has up to this point generated an uneasy silence.

With the evidence, however, the mood changes: "so the disciples rejoiced, for they saw the Lord" (one could, without stretching the Greek too far, translate "for they saw that it was the Lord").

Now the greeting is repeated: "peace is with you"; but it means something different now, for it k merely the prelude to giving them a job: "as the Father has sent me, so I send you". What the job is, Jesus expresses both in a prophetic gesture: "he breathed on them", and in words; "Receive the Holy Spirit". This is a powerful and definitive commissioning, but it is not to be understdod simply as a kind of early ordination rite, but as a statement of what all Christians must do, namely to loosen the bonds of all that alienation which is the-greatest burden of the human race, and which we gather together under the umbrella-title of "sin".

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