After - Day 27

John 20:23

23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

This is an interesting little text. We see that the Holy Spirit was given, and this is much before Pentecost. It is a commissioning of sorts, but it is also very specific. It is a continuation of the work that Jesus was doing on Earth, and not a new work. He is trying to get them to understand that this work he began needs to continue through them. In fact, they are to be his proxy, his presence in the world as he is leaving it soon. He is preparing them for what they would receive at Pentecost. In fact, the one who actually gives witness to Jesus, Thomas, was not even there at the time the Holy Spirit was breathed into them. So while the work was started through Jesus, it was to continue through them. This first giving of the Holy Spirit was the beginning of their ministry, and a continuation of the ministry of Jesus, specifically focusing on the forgiveness of sins. 

Now, remember, this was during the time of the sacrificial system that was still happening, and that Jesus indicted during the Passion Week. So when Jesus says that they have the power to forgive sin, and even the mandate to do it, he was also saying that the sacrificial system was no longer relevant to those who believed in Jesus. This was a big deal! We read past it too quickly, but it was a monumental statement that continued to take his followers away from their Jewish background and tradition. They were a different kind of religious tradition beginning with the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. 

  1. Have you ever made a massive change in a tradition that you had? What was it, and was it hard to do? 
  2. How do you think the disciples took this admonition to forgive people’s sins? 
  3. What would you have done if given that declaration? 
  4. How can you go about forgiving those around you when the need arises?
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