John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you.”
John 20:22 After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
John 20:23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
a Holy Spirit sandwich
The disciples are overjoyed at seeing the resurrected Christ. But it is at this point that he reminds them of two enormous responsibilities that he is placing on them. First, they are going to be sent to the nations to represent him. Then, they hold the fate of the lost world in their hands, because he has given them the right to forgive sins or retain them, based on the nations’ response to the gospel.
The substance behind and power for both of these major responsibilities is the Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus encourages the disciples to receive him.
Holy Spirit, we choose to receive you. Empower us to represent Christ, and share his forgiveness with others.