Thursday, April 23

Bringing the forgiveness of sins

Today as we conclude four days in John 20 we look at what happens when we follow Jesus’ summons: “I am sending you.”

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  20   When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  21   Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”  22   And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  23   If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” John 20:19-23

In verse 23, Jesus previews the coming of the Holy Spirit who is revealed in his fullness on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). As Jesus gives his followers the Holy Spirit, he then tells them what will happen as a result. People will be forgiven!  A quick reading of this passage gives the impressions that the disciples have control over the forgiveness of sins. This would be a misreading of the text and of the teaching of Scripture. We don’t control forgiveness of sins; we bring the forgiveness of sins as we connect people to the peace which Jesus Christ gives.   

Imagine that you found a good source for hand sanitizer. Because you wanted to bless your friends, neighbors, and acquaintances with this precious commodity, you went to their homes and apartments delivering this gift to their front door (always maintaining the proper distance 😊). Those who accepted and used your gift experienced the benefit of your gift. But those who chose not to receive it (for whatever reason) did not experience the benefit of your gift. 

Through the work of the Holy Spirit the message of peace (salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ) which we bring to others is inspired and has the power to change lives. That change is directly tied to the forgiveness of sins. 

Prayer: Thank you Lord Jesus Christ, that you bring me peace and have invited me to join you in bringing peace to the world. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit that as you send me with your peace, lives are changed and sins are forgiven. Amen.