The beginning is the end is the beginning. Here we are at Day 40 of this journey toward forgiveness, and we’ve reached Christ’s resurrection. Without this eternity-shaking event forgiveness would not be possible for us, and would be that much harder (and less imperative) for us to extend to others.
When Jesus appeared during the 40 days (what is it with the number 40?) between his resurrection and ascension, he granted his disciples the right to forgive people’s sins.
This perplexes me, honestly.
Again, remembering that disciples are supposed to do what their master does/did, and recognizing that Jesus also gave his disciples tongues and healing and every other Holy Spirit gift, it seems that we, as believers, are permitted to forgive or not forgive. Is it ever godly to not forgive, though? We saw earlier that if we don’t forgive others’ trespasses against us, God will not forgive our trespasses against him. Scary stuff, that.
I feel like Jesus gave the disciples way more authority than they deserved, or to that point had shown themselves capable of handling. (Remember, “Which of us is the greatest?!?” and “Should we call down fire to destroy them?!?) I personally don’t want the authority to decide whether someone else gets God’s forgiveness or not, because I’m totally still asking those two petty and childish questions. Keep the authority over forgiveness, Jesus. That one’s all yours. You earned it on the cross.
But, wow. Jesus shared with us everything he won on the cross, didn’t he? Eternal life. Re-connection with the I Am. Total and perfect freedom from Satan and his kingdom. He didn’t hold anything back. Not even the right to withhold forgiveness, apparently.
He tells me to be perfect as he is perfect. Christ’s character encompasses both perfect justice and perfect mercy. Perfect submission and perfect authority. Perfect words and perfect silences.
I cannot help but see that I am unworthy to tie his sandals. Still, he calls me his sister. And he says that everything he has is mine.
Therefore I will choose, through the humility of recognizing how unfit I am to claim anything of God apart from his grace to me through Jesus, from now on and with the ongoing help of my Christ, to forgive each and every offense that comes against me.
This is the end of the matter.
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“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” – John 20:22-23
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(Big sigh.) God, this has been a surprising and mind-churning journey for me. Thank you for prompting me to undertake it. Thank you for meeting me in it. I’m sorry for the ways I haven’t done the subject justice. I’m sure I missed some things, shot outside some of the marks, and probably could’ve spent twice as long here and still not have arrived at the place you really want me to be. But I pray more than anything that I didn’t lead astray anyone who followed along. If I said anything you didn’t want said, or omitted anything you wanted included, in your sovereign grace and wisdom, please correct my errors for whomever needs it.
I love you, Lord, and it is my joy to follow you and be your disciple. Keep me on this path of forgiveness. Please don’t let this journey become just something I did one time. Perhaps second only to humility, I think forgiveness in my own life is the most visibly lacking attribute of a believer. I want to be more like you, ever more all the time, so I don’t misrepresent you and your kingdom to a watching world.
Please bless anyone who chose to take this journey with me. I ask your healing and your wisdom to flow in the lives of those who seek you. For the person who is reading this right now I ask great grace and peace, and that you would be so real in this very moment that your love and delight cover and spill over your beloved like oil over the head and beard of Aaron.
Make us all more like you, Jesus.
40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey is now available in print. With questions for personal meditation and space for journaling, this 40-day devotional series offers a deeper look at Christ's command that we forgive. For a personal pilgrimage, or as a resource for group Bible study, 40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey invites seekers of forgiveness and healing to the path on which God longs to meet us all. Find out more about 40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey.