John 20:19-23 (NRSV)
19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
When did someone or something last surprise you? It can happen when we go shopping and encounter a friend not seen for a long time. It happens in our homes when a spouse or child comes around a corner totally unexpected. It happens at work when a solution to a long-time problem emerges seemingly out of nowhere.
The followers of the crucified Jesus did not expect to see him again alive. Stunned and startled by his appearing, calmed by his greeting of peace, seeing his hands and feet—SURPRISE! They heard and saw Jesus and rejoiced.
Jesus knows our need for more than his words. We need his presence even more. Jesus breathes on us and gives us the Holy Spirit. A new creation happens. His Spirit fills us, sends us with power to boldly declare to a hungry, broken world, “God mends our brokenness with the reconciling love of Jesus.”
Surprise me, Jesus, with your presence and your power for the world and the people you so love. Breathe your Spirit into me to open my eyes to see you, my ears to hear you, my heart to love you, and my hands to serve you by serving all those whom you love so dearly. Amen.