THE WEEK OF EPIPHANY V – THURSDAY
LESSON: MATTHEW 18:23-35
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
As stated above, no one should ever be forced to private confession, but for various reasons it is still good and advisable. You should never despise the Word of God, no matter how often you hear it, but be eager at all times to receive and accept it. God has brought it about that His Word has gone forth into all the world, filling all corners, so that wherever you may go you will find God’s Word everywhere. Whenever I proclaim the forgiveness of sins, I am proclaiming the true Gospel. For the sum and substance of the Gospel is that he who believes in Christ will obtain the forgiveness of sins.
Every time a Christian preacher opens his mouth, he is bound to speak a word of absolution. We should always be eager to accept this proclamation with joy wherever and whenever we hear it and thank God from the bottom of our hearts that we can hear this proclamation in so many places.
This is also the important factor in private confession. It is not your act that is the important thing here, but what the pastor proclaims to you in this act; his declaration that our sins have been forgiven, his absolution. It does not matter whether this absolution comes from a pastor in the course of his duties or from any other Christian. The Word which is proclaimed to you here is not man’s word but God’s Word. Here, in the context of absolution, it is just as though God Himself were speaking to you through your pastor or your Christian brother.
PRAYER: Awake in us such reverence and respect for your saving Word, O God, that we value it wherever and whenever it is offered, especially also in the simple world of absolution heard from a Christian brother, for Christ our Savior’s sake. Amen.