Passage: John 20:19-23
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
One of the many breathtaking effects of Jesus’ resurrection is the fact that we can now have deep and durable peace. This is the peace that Jesus extended to his disciples, when he appeared to them on Easter morning, and it’s the same peace that’s available to us today.
To receive this peace, we first need to hear Jesus’ word of peace. Though the disciples had completely failed Jesus, and deserted him in his most crucial hour, the first thing he said when he came and stood among them was “peace be with you” (John 20:19). Rather than castigate them for their failure and unbelief, he offered grace to them at the moment of their deepest need. As his disciples today, we will experience peace when we recognize that this is Jesus’ heart towards us, and offer to us, in our own moments of deepest failure. Jesus meets us with his kindness, and this changes us into a whole new kind of people.
We also need to behold Jesus’ scars of peace. When Jesus pronounced peace to his disciples, he also “showed them his hands and his side” (20:20), making them glad. These wounds from Jesus’ crucifixion, which previously were a sign of defeat, are now a permanent sign of his victory. The fact that Jesus’ own scars carry through to the new creation, in his resurrected body, can give us great hope today that God is able to make even the worst parts of our lives—the worst scars—work for ours and others’ good.
Lastly, we need to receive Jesus’ gift of peace, through the Holy Spirit. Jesus breathed upon his disciples that Easter morning and said “receive the Holy Spirit” (20:22), because he wanted to give them nothing less than his own personal presence with them to comfort and empower them. By doing this, he was re-enacting what God first did in the Garden of Eden, when he breathed his creative life into man. Just as God gave us life to begin with, Jesus breathes his new life into us, sending us out to proclaim the forgiveness and peace we ourselves have received.
Easter represents Jesus’ triumph over sin, death, the devil, and the grave, and it also represents the deep wellspring of peace we can have, if we can humble ourselves to receive it!
· The Word of Peace to Hear (vs. 19)
· The Scars of Peace to Behold (vs. 20)
· The Gift of Peace to Receive (vs. 21-23)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
The Word of Peace to Hear (vs. 19)
1) INTRO: What are some common ways that people in our culture seek to find peace apart from Jesus? Give some examples. Why do these methods fall short of bringing lasting, durable peace?
2) Re-read John 20:19, and meditate on this verse together:
- What do you know about the disciples’ state of mind at this time? What elements of the story communicate this?
- If you were the disciples, what would you have expected Jesus to say to you at this point? Why?
- What do you think is the significance of Jesus coming and “standing among them”? Why is it so profound that he said “peace be with you” at this time?
3) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby emphasized how Jesus’s saying “peace be with you” was a word of grace and assurance spoken directly into our sins, failures, and betrayals.
- Is there a specific area of your life where you are most grateful to hear Christ’s “word of peace” spoken to you?
- Is there a specific area of your life where you struggle to receive Christ’s word of peace? Why do you think that is? What would change if you could receive his word of peace in this area of your life?
4) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby talked about “non-complementary behavior”—that is, behavior that doesn’t match how someone would expect you to respond, particularly when we return kindness when we are wronged. Have you ever been the recipient of non-complementary behavior? How did it change you? Is there an area where you may be called to model this kind of behavior right now? What would it look like to do so and how can Christ motivate you?
5) What would be some characteristics of a whole church who deeply trusted in Christ’s peace spoken over their sins and failures? What would be true of their…worship? Discipleship? Community? Leadership?
The Scars of Peace to Behold (vs. 20)
6) Re-read John 20:20 and meditate on these verses together. Consider:
- What is the significance of Jesus showing his disciples his hands and his side? What would this communicate to them?
- What did Jesus’ hands and his side represent before his resurrection? What did they represent after his resurrection?
- How did the disciples’ reaction change upon hearing Jesus’ word of peace and seeing his hands and his side?
7) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby emphasized that just as Jesus’ scars were a part of the New Creation, so too will our “scars” be folded into the good work that Jesus is doing in our lives, and work to serve it:
- How can the permanence of Jesus’ own scars give us hope that he can redeem our own sorrows and losses (our own “scars”)?
- Is there a “scar” in your life that you’d be willing to share with your group? Can you see a way that Jesus has used the situation that caused the scar to form you into who you are today, or to heal and redeem others? (LEADER NOTE: This question takes quite a bit of vulnerability, so navigate this well with your group. It’s also perfectly okay to have scars and have no idea how the Lord might be working in and through them).
The Gift of Peace to Receive (vs. 21-23)
8) Re-read John 20:21-23 and meditate on these verses together. Consider:
- Why do you think Jesus said, “as the Father has sent me, so am I sending you”, so soon after pronouncing peace to them? What does this tell us about his plan for his disciples, and for us today?
- Why did Jesus breathe on his disciples when he told them to receive the Holy Spirit? What might this emphasize and communicate?
- Why do you think Jesus commissions us to be the ones to pronounce his forgiveness? Why not do it directly himself?
9) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby said that “God announces his forgiveness on the lips of those who have been forgiven”. How might this affect the way we see and practice evangelism?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.