“If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.”
Resurrected Jesus to his disciples, John 20:23
We all mess up. Even my near perfect wife messes up once or twice a year. How do we handle life though when it seems our friends, our family, and those closest to us have wronged us in some major fashion?
Forgiveness is major tenet of the Christian faith. So, how good are you at forgiveness? I’m not talking about letting folks use you and being a door mat, but I am talking about harboring feelings of anger and revenge to those whose mistakes upset your apple cart.
Realize, in the verse above, Jesus is appearing to the one who denied him (Peter) and to the others who ran for the hills when he was arrested. Does he show up with revenge on his mind or a least some bitterness, or an “I told you so”? No, Jesus shows up with forgiveness. His first word to them is “Peace be with you.” In Greek, the word is “eirene” which means “peace”, but Jesus didn’t speak Greek, his actual word here would have been “shalom”. Shalom is usually translated as “peace”, but it’s so much more than that. As a traditional Hebrew greeting and farewell, Strong’s Concordance defines shalom as “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace.” It’s like saying, “We’re good. All is well between you and me.” When Jesus says “shalom” to his disciples as he first appears to them after the Crucifixion, he’s speaking a word of forgiveness.
Then Jesus speaks to them about forgiving (John 20:23 above). He could have held on to their sins, but he didn’t. He forgave. That’s our model. That’s what we are to imitate. It’s the same from the Lord’s prayer, “forgive us…, as we forgive others…”. Simple in principle, but if we are honest, it’s hard to live out.
Forgiveness is a recurring theme in the bible, which means it’s pretty important for us, for our own spiritual well-being, for our relationships and for the world. With these words from the Gospel of John, Jesus sends the disciples into the world to bring the same sense of shalom to others by forgiveness. That’s grace. Grace for your daily grind.
Prayer: Lord, you have forgiven me to many times to count. You bring shalom, where I brought conflict to our relationship. Use me as an instrument of shalom in a vindictive, fearful world. Amen.