MK has run out of Easter, so back to JN again, where we meet the same fear as we begin at v.19 as we ended MK with in 16:8. In the latter, fear moves the women's feet to flee, whereas here it immobilises the disciples, men & women no doubt. Locks them in behind barred doors. Does fear either mobilise or immobilise us like that? What are we running away from? What are we locked in behind? In either case, do we believe Jesus can reach out, reach in to us & free us from fear? Free us to live a raised life on the basis of his?
It's as pointless for us to speculate how Jesus walks into a closed room as it is to try to figure out how he walks free from the tomb. We're talking about faith, a different dimension from proof. That's not to say we're to shut down our minds. That's a form of self-imprisonment. But an over- insistence on proof can be our gaoler in the locked rooms of our hearts & minds. Jesus expects us to believe, intelligently, but not dig our own tomb looking for proof. Thomas is an encouragement to us all in this regard! No one can prove Jesus is Lord & God. Believing that is a gift we either accept or turn our backs on.
The raised Christ brings us peace. A quality only God can gift us. Not our own manoeuvrings, not the posturing of politicians & their war machines. But first we need to confront our fear, & believe. Then when God of his grace gives us his peace, it's never just for our own benefit or enjoyment. It is so we are free to go where we are sent. As Jesus is. (Contrast how as MK ends the women are too frightened to go & tell the good news.)
What happens next is a warning to us not to pin Holy Spirit down to Pentecost. God is breathing the Spirit into us & the whole creation all the time. It is a collective gift rather than a private one. Here in the upper room Jesus breathes it upon those who have desperate need of Comfort & Assurance, of Courage. Are we tuned in to God's breathing of the Spirit upon us / into us to meet our needs?
Many of us will be to some extent locked in to a doctrinal stand on the forgiveness / retaining bit. At least let's be aware of that as we ponder what JN says Jesus says. (Most commentators expound the assage from a pre-conceived position.) Given that this is an Easter gift, whatever the binding & loosing, permitting & forbidding, surely it needs to be seen as life-giving rather than life- denying, not the prerogative of control freaks. The closest I can get to understanding what Jesus gives us here is that the forgiving & retaining are gifts for the good of the church as a whole, to be experienced within the loving, serving, compassionate life we live together in Christ. Determining not the fate of an individual so much as the quality of life of a church or congregation.
The original Gospel almost certainly ended with v.31, but the stories we live out in our margins are as valid a continuation of the Jesus story as the next chapter someone later added to JN is. No one can put a full stop to our God story. It goes on & on, more than can be written down in any number of books. Keep it going!