Pam Nobbs, chairwoman of Churches Together in Hexham, comments on John 20 v 19 – 23:

In this passage Jesus is making one of his strange appearances after the resurrection - his rising from the dead - on that first Easter morning.

So the first challenge is ‘what do we think about that?’ Was he really alive in bodily form? There seems to be plenty of evidence from witnesses at the time that he was.

Whilst Jesus had a physicality - he was able to eat and drink - there was something distinctly different about him now.

He could pass through locked doors for one thing and in other encounters he was not immediately recognised.

There were 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension, when he went back into heaven (from whence he came) and there were several appearances during that time.

Jesus continues to try and help his followers understand what is happening.

Their world has been turned upside down - their friend and leader has died - and then the unexpected joy of seeing him back, even though it was frightening and Jesus’ first words had to be ‘Peace’!

In this passage, we have a foretaste of what happens more fully on the day of Pentecost (another 10 days from the ascension). That foretaste is of the Holy Spirit which Jesus ‘breathed’ on his disciples in these verses.

The Holy Spirit - the so-called third Person of the Trinity - is the one who ‘stands alongside us’ in our innermost being and makes Jesus real to us.

The Holy Spirit is also associated with many powerful, supernatural events in the Bible.

The Spirit empowers followers of Jesus, both then and now, to live according to God’s standards and calling.

Christian believers can, and should, be making a difference in our world - which also is being turned upside down in these days.