Reflections of Our Savior
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 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 his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
[John 20:19-23 NIV84]
Dear Members and Friends of Our Savior:
Ok. Now what?
We’ve heard the good news that Jesus lived, Jesus died, and Jesus rose again. Alleluia!
“Alleluia!!” But is that it? Now what?
Jesus answers that question above. I call these verses “the great commission.” Oh, I know that you have heard that Matthew 28:19 is the “great commission,” to go and make disciples by baptizing and teaching. That is a great charge for the church, and there are many “great commissions” in the Bible. I think that this one, too, to be at peace with God and to bring that peace to others is as great a “commission” as there is.
The resurrected Lord brought peace. He won peace. He gave peace. But clearly he wants that peace to go out to others. We do that by forgiving sins: “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Jesus gives all Christians the keys to heaven’s gate. Forgiving someone’s sins is opening that gate to heaven. We are fully and freely forgiven for all of our sins through faith in Jesus. Others need to know about that forgiveness, too. What a privilege that Jesus gives us to grant peace to a guilty conscience by announcing to them that Jesus lived and died and rose again, and because of everything that Jesus did for them, they are at peace.
Over the next couple of months, our monthly devotions will be about “the Ministry of the Keys.” That is the chief part of Luther’s Small Catechism that teaches about that power and privilege that Christ gave to his Church to forgive sin, or to not forgive those who are impenitent and do not seek forgiveness through Christ.
Until then, peace be to you and to others through you. AMEN.