Today’s Reading: Small Catechism: Lord’s Prayer, Fifth Petition
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. (Small Catechism: Lord’s Prayer)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. This is one sentence we wish was two separate things. Having my forgiveness and my willingness to forgive others linked together is a damning thing. Still, Jesus is clear. In Matthew 6:14–15 He says, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” It sounds like my grudge from the sixth grade is enough to undo my Baptism. It sounds like my heart is enough to undo the Cross.
That’s because looking in my heart for forgiveness never goes particularly well. Ask the kid I still don’t like from middle school even though I can’t remember his last name anymore. Forgiveness doesn’t come from your heart. It comes from the Cross. The forgiveness for your sins comes from the Cross, not from your asking for it. Jesus died 2000 years before you could ask Him to forgive you. Faith clings to this forgiveness and finds comfort there.
It works that way for your neighbor, too. Forgiveness for their sins comes from the Cross to address your heart, too. All forgiveness comes from the Cross. When we stop looking there for forgiveness, that’s a problem. We pray in this petition that we would see our enemies the same way Jesus sees them: died for. Either there’s forgiveness for sinners or there’s not. Saying there’s no forgiveness for sinners isn’t going to work out well for you. Taking your grudges to the Cross and seeing that your neighbor’s sins against you were so vile that He had to bleed to cover them is a gift. Look at a crucifix and see the nails in the hands of our Savior. That is where your neighbor’s sins are punished. That is where wrath is abated. Seeing justice was done lets you see your neighbor as someone who doesn’t owe you anything anymore. Jesus paid it.
Forgiveness isn’t about what we deserve. It’s about what was given. You don’t earn your forgiveness by forgiving others. Instead, you get to see the God who forgives whether you’re angry or not, and you get to say, “Amen.” This is true. I’m angry, but they’re still forgiven. Lord, address my heart with comfort so that I can find peace in your Cross, forgiveness for my sins, and forgiveness for my neighbors, too. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Forgive our sins, Lord, we implore, That they may trouble us no more; We, too, will gladly those forgive Who hurt us by the way they live. Help us in our community To serve each other willingly. (“Our Father, Who from Heaven Above” 766, st.6)
-Rev. Harrison Goodman is content executive for Higher Things.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.