Reflections: October 16, 2020
Friday of the 18th Week after Trinity
By Mark Buetow
"At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the LORD's release." (Deuteronomy 15:1-2)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Wouldn't that be great if after seven years mortgages were cancelled? Car payments were no more? Student loan payments were forgiven? The money you owed your friend was forgotten about? In Old Testament Israel, this was a command of Yahweh: that they forget their debts to one another after seven years.
But God is not primarily concerned with financial debts. This forgiving of money debts was a picture of something bigger: the forgiveness of sins. Sin is like a debt. You've done something against someone. You owe them. Forgiveness means they don't hold it against you and you don't hold what they owe against them.
The New Testament declares that Christ cancelled our debt of sin before God. Whatever the Law said we owed and demanded that we pay is forgiven by Christ's death on Calvary and His resurrection on Easter. Whatever the Law demands you pay God, even your own life for your sins, has been paid in full by Jesus. You owe God nothing. Not a penny.
Baptism, Absolution, Gospel, and Supper are all stamps of "paid in full" for you. They are promises and reminders and delivery methods to tell you that your debts before God are cancelled. Let them trouble you no more.
The Holy Spirit, having forgiven your debts, teaches you to love others and forgive their debts. How can you call in what is owed to you, when the Lord doesn't call in what you owe to Him? This is why in one version of the Lord's Prayer, Jesus actually uses that word: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are indebted to us." We don't owe. So they don't owe us either.
This wonderful cancelling of debts is not an every seven years thing but a Jesus thing. Wherever Christ is, there debts are cancelled and forgiven. There payment has been made. There is freedom from sin and death because it's all been taken care of by Jesus. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
"Forgive our sins as we forgive," You taught us, Lord, to pray; But You alone can grant us grace To live the words we say. ("Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive" LSB 843, st.1)
-Rev. Mark Buetow is the pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in McHenry, Illinois.
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