Revelations from the Word

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In the same way I send you: Forgive!

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Jesus said to them again: 'Peace be with you! As the Father sent Me [apostello] I also send you [pempo]'. After saying these words, He breathed on them, and said to them: 'Receive the Holy Spirit; those whose sins you forgive, their sins will be forgiven them; and those whose sins you retain [krateo], their sins will be retained" (John 20:21-23).

After His resurrection Jesus entered the place where His disciples were together. As the Father sent Him, He was sending [pempo] them in the same way with an important message about forgiveness. When He was crucified on the cross, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). So by asking His Father to forgive men for what they had done to Him, Jesus was setting them free and making possible God's forgiveness.

Then, after having breathed His Spirit upon them, as God had done for Adam, Jesus said to them, "You, also, must do the same thing to men". It was exactly what Stephen did when he was stoned, "Lord, do not impute this sin to them" (Acts 7:60), and that allowed Saul of Tarsus who had approved of this murder (Acts 8:1) to receive the forgiveness of God (Acts 9:1-9). Only those who are filled with the Holy Spirit (born again) can do that for they have received authority to forgive (Matthew 9:8) and to bind and loose men spiritually (Matthew 16:19).

By forgiving on the cross those who crucified Him, i.e. all men because of their sins, in that way Jesus released the forgiveness of God for all humanity. We, too, by forgiving those who have hurt us, and who have never asked forgiveness of us, we loose them spiritually and release the grace of God for them.

On the contrary, if we hold onto [krateo] their sins, we keep a certain power over them; and in that way we prevent God from exercising His mercy in their lives. The Greek word krateo means dominate, have power over, be master of; it shows the power that man naturally and spiritually has. As Jesus did it, we have received this mission of forgiving all those who have hurt us, even if they are not aware of it.