20:18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

22 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 them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

Mary’s testimony alone was not enough. Even with her announcement that

I have seen the Lord,

the disciples remain cowering behind locked doors

for fear of the Jews.

It is not enough to hear good news. Knowing the right answers is not adequate. Something more than good theology or even a consciousness of truth is required.

When we are fearful and uncertain, we need to hear the voice of Love speaking in our hearts saying,

Peace be with you.

And then we need to know within ourselves the power that brings that peace. So,

he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit”.

The word translated “receive” is lambano. Its primary meaning is “to take”. The picture here is much less a picture of the disciples being invaded by a foreign substance than it is a vision of them taking hold of that which they already possess (cf. Genesis 2:7). This is a process that must take place repeatedly in the lives of those who seek to live in the power of that Spirit that was embodied in the person of Jesus.

It is the Presence of the Spirit that makes it possible for us to share in the liberating power Jesus unleashed upon the earth. When the Spirit is liberated in our lives, we come to experience the truth that our choices, attitudes and decisions in life can bind or they can liberate. We have the power to contribute to freedom or bondage.

Do my choices, attitudes and decisions produce bondage or do they bring freedom?

What might I need in order to become more fully an instrument of liberation at work in the world?