Thursday, August 23, 2007
Absolution is an Absolute Truth
John 20: 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." ESV
One of the most blessed events in being a Lutheran is to hear the pastor say at the beginning of worship. “I as a called and ordained servant of the word in the stead and by the command of my Lord Christ forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father † Son and Holy Spirit.” This is after a prayer as a gathered people of how we by who we are break God’s Law and justly deserve His present and eternal punishment. This is in addition to actual sins and sins of inactivity. By this proclamation we have the presence of Jesus through the throat of the pastor into our ears.
In the previous tradition in which I was raised people would meet with the minister for “counseling.” This was mostly modified pop psychology, assurance of forgiveness and then being thrown back on oneself with encouragement to do better. In later experiences in worship we heard the Law of God, assurance of pardon and thrown back into the law to do better next time out of gratitude. For perhaps and hour or even a day one could feel empowered to do better. If one ignored his or her bible, at least the parts that show us the perfect Christ perhaps that feeling would even linger. But if one was honest he or she would see very quickly more falling short. Some do not see this falling short in themselves but rather advancement which in itself is a terrifying thing to consider.
Jesus is our Crucified and Risen Savior not merely an example, cheerleader, life coach or massage therapist. We need Jesus’ perfect life given to us in our baptism each and every day. Baptism is how we know we are in Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28. Through Baptism we know we have His robe of righteousness in the sight of God even if we cannot see it. How else would we know?
God's peace. †