Jesus' Mercy Changes Me, We and the World

Forgiveness

I thought I would keep my comments light today and talk about forgiveness (not).

I recently saw this post from a member of a discussion group I follow”:

Is Jesus the only son of man (the human one) but aren’t all of us as well? Don’t we not have then the power to forgive….. sins? Whoah!

As you can imagine this started a lively exchange. Some have quoted Hebrews 9:22 (NIV) “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” citing the law under the Old Testament.  I think this is a weak argument.  If you read all of Chapter 9 you will see Paul is comparing the old covenant with the new covenant.

As a young Roman Catholic, I used to go to confession in a little booth with the priest behind a screen. He would pronounce absolution and give me penance by instructing me to say a certain number of prayers depending on how grevious my sins had been. 

I remember from attending Lutheran church services the Confession concluded with “As a called and ordained minister of the church of Christ and by HIS authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  These experiences led me to believe that the forgiveness of sin was a special power bestowed on the Church by Christ which the Church then delegated to it’s ordained priests and ministers. But in Galatians 3:26 (NIV) Paul says: “For you are all (daughters and) sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Matthew has Jesus saying “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV).  And then of course we have the Lord’s Prayer:  Matthew 6:12 (NLT) “and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”

As I study this concept further, I think we not only have the power to forgive sin, but we are directed to forgive sin. What do you think?

I don’t have any answers or authority, but I do know that in these matters, certainty is a myth.  A church that thinks it has all the answers does not have room for questions.

Father/Mother God, walk with us daily and help us to forgive those who sin against us.  If we do not forgive them but instead carry a grudge, we are only giving them a rent-free room in our head.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Mark Autterson