Posted by Thaddaeus

John 20: 19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,  “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Background:  This is the traditional Gospel reading for Pentecost Sunday.  In Judaism, Pentecost (Heb., “Shavu’ot”), is the second of three major festivals.  The other two are Passover and Sukkot.  It commemorates the giving of the Torah on the 50th day after Passover.  Passover frees the Israelites from slavery.  The giving of the Torah (Heb., the “Law”) redeems them spiritually from the bondage of idolatry and immorality.  Significantly, the feast is called the giving of the Torah; rather than the receiving of the Torah.  Sages draw attention to the idea that we are constantly in the process of receiving the Torah, that we receive it every day, but it was first given at this time. Thus, it is the giving, not the receiving, that makes this holiday noteworthy to them.  Pentecost celebrates the birthday of the Judaism when Israel becomes a distinguished nation, a governing body with a constitution based on God’s Law.

Pentecost:  The reason this is the traditional Gospel reading for Pentecost Sunday is because of what happened on the evening of the Resurrection when Jesus breathed on the Apostles.  Just as God breathed into Adam’s nostrils a breath of life, and thus man became a living being, this action marks the birth of the Church.  The Holy Spirit is poured out on the Apostles, the officers, and the Church becomes a governing body.  Fifty days later, on Pentecost, the universality of the Church is poured out to many, but it is first given at this time.  Is hard to miss the typology concerning the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament.  The Torah is the type.  It prefigures the Church.  The Church is the fulfillment of the Law.  It is noteworthy that the New Testament is not the fulfillment of the Old Testament.  The Church is the fulfillment of the Old Testament.  The New Testament comes from the Church.