THE WEEK OF EPIPHANY V – FRIDAY
LESSON: MATTHEW 18:15-20
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained. John 20:23
In confession, you have the advantage that the Word is applied to you personally, as is also the case in the Sacrament. In the sermon, the Word is proclaimed to the whole congregation, and although it may have impressed you in various ways, it may not have struck you in its full import. But in confession the Word is directed to you alone; it cannot miss you.
Should you not be very happy to discover a place where God speaks to you individually? If we could actually receive a message directly from an angel, we would all probably be prepared to rush to the very ends of the earth.
Are we not crazy, wretched, and ungrateful for closing our ears to the message that is always so readily available to us? We have the Scriptures which attest that God speaks through us, and that, when God speaks to us through men in the Scriptures, it is just as though God Himself were speaking to us from His own mouth. Christ declares: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). He has also given us the assurance: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23). It is God Himself who pronounces the absolution, just as it is God who baptizes a child.
Will you claim that you have no need for confession? Even though you receive the assurance of forgiveness in the Sacrament, you should nevertheless still practice confession, because here God is dealing with you personally.
PRAYER: We thank you, Lord Jesus, for the personal comfort of forgiveness which you have made so readily available to us in the words of absolution, both collectively and individually, for your mercy’s sake. Amen.