John 20:19–23 (ESV)
Jesus Appears to the Disciples
19 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.”
Today’s reading states that this is
taking place on the evening of that day, the first day of the week. This is on Sunday, the day that He arose from the dead. I know Jesus knew that the disciples did not understand what was going on. Their dead leader was now alive!
He says to them “Peace be with you.” I’m sure they needed to hear his comforting voice. He also shows them that it is really him by showing him his hands and his side. There was no doubt that this is Jesus. The man
who was dead (water and blood poured out of him), is now very much alive. The disciples are “glad when they saw the Lord.” Jesus then breathes on them and gave them the Holy Spirit.
want to digress to a part of our worship service that occasionally gets questioned. At the beginning of our worship service, we have a Confession and Absolution. This is where we confess that we are sinners and we receive absolution, that is forgiveness,
for our sins. The Absolution goes like this:
P Almighty God in His
mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit.
There are times when someone will ask or even challenge me by asking “Who are you to forgive sins? That belongs to God
alone! I like to respond... Oh, really? Because in today’s text, the “Office of the Keys” is giving to the Apostles. This is based on today’s text “23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them;
if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” This is coming straight from Jesus. But hey wait! What about the Lord’s Prayer where Jesus teaches us to pray “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass
against us.” Jesus is telling us to forgive! In fact... Jesus states in Matthew 6:14-15: Matthew 6:14–15 (ESV) “14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive
others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
My digression takes us to the closing command which is held in the “Office of the Keys”. The keys belong to
the church. The church calls Ordained Pastors who receive the Office of the Keys from the church. Jesus says: 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you
withhold forgiveness from
any, it is withheld.”
I pray: O Lord, help pastors to make wise and careful use of the Office of the Keys. Help us to not abuse or misuse our office in which we have been called and ordained.
Help us all to be a forgiving people. Amen.