The 3 ‘P’ Promises of The Holy Spirit
By Fin Sheridan
It was the first day of the week, and that very evening, while the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you!” He said to them. After He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so also I am sending you.” When He had said this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.”
This story happens in John’s account of what happens after the resurrection of Jesus. The disciples are confused, disorientated and ultimately, scared. They put their chips on the table, with Jesus, believing and claiming that he was the Messiah. Now he has been killed, will the Jews also seek to kill them? Are they going to be outcasts? Their world is shaken. The door is locked. What now?
Jesus appears to them, right in the midst of this situation. That tells us something about Jesus; he doesn’t solely interact with those who have it all together. The disciples aren’t exactly the picture of faith here. And yet, here he comes.
“The Prince of Peace gives us his Spirit: a Spirit of peace.”
It’s in this interaction that Jesus seems to give the Holy Spirit to his disciples, even before the moment of Pentecost in Acts 2. When we look carefully, we can see there are 3 elements/promises/benefits that come with this encounter with the Holy Spirit. Conveniently, they all begin with the letter ‘P’ so we can easily remember them!
The first thing that Jesus says to them is “Peace be with you!”. Moments, later, he repeats it again and then breathes on them and says “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In other places, such as John 15, he has also talked about the Holy Spirit and peace in the same breath (pun intended). Peace is not only comes with the Holy Spirit, but he is the way we maintain peace. He brings peace, he restores peace, he is peace! The Prince of Peace gives us his Spirit: a Spirit of peace.
Jesus also commissions them in this encounter. “As the Father has sent Me, so also I am sending you”. The disciples fear has paralysed them so Jesus reminds them – they have a job to do and a role to play.
Ultimately, what Jesus is giving them is presence. As he gives the Holy Spirit, he isn’t giving a ministry tool or a teaching, he is giving them a person. His presence, his life, in them, working through them and sustaining them with peace as they live out their purpose. That’s what the Holy Spirit is: the presence of God, living within us, breathed into us through the risen Son!