July 16, 2008 - Wednesday of the 8th Week after Trinity

Daily Lectionary: Judges 16:4-30; Galatians 4:12-31

What is confession? Confession has two parts. First, that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven. (The Small Catechism, Confession)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. If you've never gone to Confession with your pastor, you should. We like to fool ourselves by acknowledging that God is everywhere and sees everything. But does that stop us from sinning? No! That's why God gives us pastors to hear our confession. When we kneel before our pastor, a real, live human being, and confess what we've done wrong, then we will really know that God DOES see our sins. There really is NO hiding them. We are exposed and laid bare by the Law.

But the purpose of going to confession and the reason God gives us pastors to hear our confession is NOT so we can tremble at how awful we are. No, the Lord gives us a man to hear our sins so that same man can pronounce absolution, that is, give us forgiveness. Just as we can fool ourselves by saying God's watching, but sin anyway, so it's very easy to say that we know our sins are forgiven, yet be pretty sure they're just too bad to be forgiven.

The Lord gives us a pastor to forgive us, so that we will be CERTAIN that our sins are forgiven. Jesus died for the sins of the world. But how can you be certain He died for YOUR sins? Answer: When the pastor lays his hands on your head and says those words, “I forgive you all your sins,” then that is the voice of Jesus speaking. Those are Christ's words. And nothing in heaven or earth or hell itself can say otherwise! In other words, Absolution is the Lord Himself, through the voice of the pastor, declaring your verdict: “Not guilty.” He is handing you your pardon and you walk away a free person, with no guilt or condemnation. That is what confession and absolution is all about.

The Lord gives us a pastor so that there's no thinking we can fool ourselves that He doesn't see our sins. And that same pastor speaks forgiveness so that you will never be fooled into thinking you are not forgiven for Jesus' sake! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

When ministers lay on their hands, Absolved by Christ the sinner stands; He who by grace the Word believes The purchase of His blood receives. (LSB 614:6)