March 18, 2015
Verse 23: If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.
This verse stood out to me because it was contrary to my understanding. It says here that the disciples who have just been given the Holy Spirit now have the power to forgive anyone their sins. Is this where Catholic confessions have originated? Exactly who holds this power today? Was it just those disciples who were there? Is it their descendants? Or is it every follower of Jesus including myself?
My understanding is that when I sin, I need to repent and ask God for his forgiveness directly, and my sins are forgiven on the basis of my faith in Jesus. Jesus has opened this gate for me through his sacrifice. Why then does Jesus say this, and even more questionable is why does he give them power to not forgive, such that they will not be forgiven.
So, looking at some interpretations of this verse on the internet, gave me the perspective that since now Jesus was going away, he intended the disciples to be able to say to the people who accept the Gospel that they have been forgiven, and say to the people who reject the Gospel that they have not been forgiven. This seems to make sense to me. I suppose then this power belongs to all believers and the with this power also comes the responsibility to spread the Gospel.
Application: think about how I can spread the Gospel