“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” vs. 23
According to John, after the resurrection, Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the disciples and told them that they were the extension of his mission. Moreover it is clearly implied that forgiving sins would be their central activity, that nothing was more important. Through the years the church has taken this imperative seriously and forgiveness has always been at the center of its proclamation. In fact, there were times in our history when church leaders managed to parlay the forgiveness mandate into a huge money-maker, something that most folks think was not a part of Jesus’s original intention. They could do this because forgiveness is such a big deal in the lives of sinners. All of us sin and all need the assurance of forgiveness…and some were even willing to pay for it! During his ministry, Martin Luther spoke against this abuse of God’s greatest gift. He said that forgiveness was costly, but that it was free and available to all who believe. More than that, he taught that church leaders weren’t the only ones who could forgive but that any believer could and should freely forgive the sins of others. It’s one of the things we’re called to do in our resurrected life. Jesus freely forgave and so will we. We’ll listen to the confessions of brothers and sisters and offer them the sweet forgiveness that is our gospel legacy.
Thought for the Day: What happens when I forgive others?