THE WEEK OF TRINITY XIX – FRIDAY
LESSON: PSALM 130
And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:22‒23
The Pharisees knew quite well that it was God’s work alone to forgive sins. They regarded Christ as a blasphemer because He whom they regarded as nothing more than a man presumed to forgive sins.
Sin is forgiven in two ways. First, sin is driven out of the heart and grace is poured in. This God alone can do. Secondly, the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed. This one man can do for another man.
Christ here does both. He gives the paralytic the forgiveness of sins inwardly in his heart, and He proclaims the forgiveness of his sins outwardly to him by means of His Word. This is the forgiveness of sins by means of the Word and the proclamation and public preaching of this internal forgiveness.
This power belongs to all who are baptized Christians. Hereby they praise Christ and carry the Word of the forgiveness of sins in their mouth so that they can and may say whenever they so desire and as often as it is necessary, “Take heart; your sins are forgiven! Believe it; be quite sure of it!” and whatever other words they choose to use.
This proclamation will not cease among Christians until the last day: Your sins are forgiven you; take heart and be assured!” These words a Christian always has in his mouth, and he openly proclaims the Word in which sins are forgiven. In this way, every Christian has power and authority to forgive sins.
PRAYER: We bless and praise You, O Lord, for the wonderful privilege You have conferred on us as Your children, to announce the full and free forgiveness of sins to sinners. May we ever remain conscious of this privilege and practice it in love towards our neighbor, in and through Christ our Savior. Amen.
Editor’s note: No American Edition (AE) equivalent for today’s sermon excerpt exists at the time of this publication. For an alternate English translation of this sermon, see Lenker, Church Postil–Gospels, 5:196-210.