Our scripture this week is John 20:19-31.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Jesus reassures the disciples that His peace is with them and breathes the Holy Spirit onto them. He then instructs them about the forgiveness and retention of sins, which sounds like a pretty awesome power. It certainly is, and perhaps as we often do, we misunderstand what He is teaching.
Did Jesus really give us the power to forgive sin or not forgive it? Well, yes…but with authority comes responsibility and consequences. What did Jesus teach when Peter asked about forgiveness? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22).
Jesus taught that forgiving each other was essential to our salvation, not their’s! God will certainly look at their sin, but He will also question our lack of forgiveness in disobedience of the command we were given. We need to see forgiveness not as a power, but as something we give freely as God has forgiven us.
Heavenly Father, help us to forgive others as You forgive us. May we be right with Your kingdom by following Jesus example of forgiveness. Amen.